The following are translations of excerpts from the Turkish press.
CLASH BETWEEN NETANYAHU AND LIEBERMAN ABOUT MAVI MARMARA
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday ruled out making an apology to Turkey over an Israeli military raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla that killed eight Turks and one American of Turkish descent.
"We will not apologize but express our regrets to Turkey," the Israeli leader said in an interview with private television network Channel 10.
"We don't want our soldiers to be possibly hauled before international tribunals. ... Our soldiers acted in accordance with standards," he said, stressing an apology could be interpreted as an admission of liability.
Netanyahu's comments came a day after Israel's right-wing Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman vowed Tel Aviv would not apologize to Turkey for the May 31 commando raid.
Lieberman described as "a cheek" Ankara's demand for an apology before normalizing relations between the former allies.
"The ones who have to apologize are the government of Turkey for supporting terror," he said. "There will be no apology" from Israel.
Speaking to Channel 10, Netanyahu explained his foreign diplomatic chief's comments by saying: "In my coalition government, there are different points of view, but the prime minister expresses the voice of the government."
Israel's ties with Turkey plunged into crisis following the raid on the Mavi Marmara, a Turkish ferry carrying aid to the Gaza Strip in defiance of an Israeli blockade on the Palestinian territory.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said Saturday that Ankara wants to turn the page on a year of difficult relations with Israel but that Tel Aviv must apologize for the deadly aid ship assault.
Thousands of Turks gave the Mavi Marmara a rapturous welcome when it docked Sunday at Istanbul's Sarayburnu following a lengthy refit in a port along the Mediterranean.
According to the ferry's owner, a Turkish campaign group called İHH, the boat will be part of a new flotilla that will leave for Gaza on May 31, 2011, exactly one year after the deadly raid.
ERDOGAN TO VISIT IRAQ
Giving significant importance to neighboring Iraq, the Turkish prime minister says he will visit the war-torn country right after his foreign minister concludes a visit. Immediately after PM Erdoğan says doing business is still risky in Iraq, two suicide bombers blow themselves up at a government compound, killing seven people
Iraq will likely be the first focal point of Turkish diplomacy in 2011, as Turkey's prime minister and foreign minister are both set to visit Baghdad early in the New Year.
"I will send my foreign minister to Iraq for a very short time span and right after him I will be going to Iraq with a large delegation," Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Monday during a meeting with the Turkish Constructors' Union. Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu is expected to be in Iraq within days to prepare for the prime minister's visit.
Turkey and Iraq have been developing their relationship by establishing a high strategic council to explore ways to deepen economic, political, energy and transportation projects. The two countries also want to increase the level of interdependency.
Erdoğan said he planned to also travel to Qatar and Kuwait in January. His trip to the Gulf countries is expected to take place between 9 and 12 January. Davutoğlu is scheduled to be in Iraq on Jan. 10 and 11.
There are still risks for visitors to Iraq, the Turkish prime minister said. "But the economy is based on risks. Entrepreneurship is a risk. But if we take these risks all together and take steps accordingly, the future will be a lot different."
Thanking Turkish construction companies throughout the world for contributing to developing Turkey's entrepreneurial reputation, Erdoğan said it was the job of government to prepare the necessary conditions enabling the Turkish private sector to do business abroad.
"We see those who still do not understand our foreign policy and approaches to regional and global issues. There are those who do not want to see our commitment to joining the European Union, those who do not want to comprehend our cooperation with the EU in different geographies, especially in the Middle East," he said.
As the Turkish prime minister announced his plans to visit neighboring Iraq, government offices in Ramadi were targeted by two suicide bombers on Monday in an attack that killed seven people and wounded dozens, news agencies reported.
Police said a car bomb exploded near provincial headquarters in the heart of Ramadi, 100 kilometers west of Baghdad, followed 15 minutes later by a suicide bombing that witnesses said occurred amid ambulances and rescue workers attending to the victims of the first blast. Among the dead were four policemen, while at least 51 people were wounded, including women and children, Agence France-Presse reported, citing Iraqi officials.
The attacks marked the third time this year the headquarters of the Anbar provincial government has been attacked and came only a day after a new police chief for the province in western Iraq took up his post.
They also mark the first major attack since Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki was confirmed for a second term in office last Tuesday and his new government, in which he retains Iraq's three security portfolios, won approval in parliament.
According to police, the two attacks took place at Al-Ziut, a major intersection used by police and government officials on their way to and from their nearby offices. "I was close to the car when it exploded among a big crowd, including women and children," said witness Abdel Hakim al-Dulaimi, 50. "Some victims were literally sent flying through the air."
An AFP reporter said at least 20 cars were destroyed in the blasts, while surrounding buildings and shops were damaged.
"I was at home enjoying my breakfast when the first explosion occurred, rattling my windows," said Majid Shahut, 34, who lives near the targeted intersection. "I ran outside and I saw many vehicles on fire, and women, police and children lying on the ground. As the rescue teams arrived, a man dressed as a policeman blew himself up among the ambulances and the victims. "I was injured in the arms and one leg," Shahut said, speaking from a hospital bed.
Al-Maliki has assumed interim control of the defense, interior and national security ministries. These posts will be responsible for assuring security after the planned exit, by the end of 2011, of the roughly 50,000 U.S. troops still in Iraq.
In his first address after being re-appointed, Maliki last Wednesday committed his new government to tackling the "enormous" challenge of improving security across Iraq.
BDP LEADER DEMIRTAS SAYS PM ERDOGAN IS FUELING NATIONALISM
Criticizing Erdoğan for fueling nationalism through his statements, Demirtaş said Monday that the BDP was trying to defend people's right to use their mother tongue freely. "This is not racism or ethnic division. It's to protect a banned language. We believe in democracy and peace," he said, arguing that the projects put forward by pro-Kurdish groups aim to prevent division in the country. "But if the ruling party is determined to insult Kurds and drive them away from the state, they should come clean and openly say it," Demirtaş said. "His [Erdoğan's] comments will only make the Turkish nationalists happy. The prime minister seems to want to walk hand-in-hand with the nationalists ahead of the general elections; this is his choice. What he is doing will just deepen the crisis."
Demirtaş also used a religious reference to criticize the prime minister, accusing Erdoğan of "defying Allah."
"Erdoğan says, 'I will make you all similar, my nation is one, my language is one,' whereas Allah says, 'I created every one of you different,'" the BDP co-chair said. "Mr. Prime Minister, which holy book says that? How is this being a Muslim?"