The following are translations of excerpts from the Turkish press.
PM ERDOGAN WILL CHANGE 100 DEPUTIES FOR THE NEXT ELECTION
Before the June 2011 elections, sources close to AKP administration say that Erdogan will not put former ministers Kemal Unakitan, Kursat Tuzmen and Nazim Erken on the candidate list for the parliament.
ERDOGAN RESPONDS TO 'CYPRUS' MERKEL'S REMARKS FROM QATAR
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who was on the Greek Cypriot side of the island, said: "Southern Cyprus did all within its reach for a solution, but could not find reciprocation."
From Qatar, Erdoğan replied: "Merkel does not even know the issue, and she is forgetful of her earlier remarks. Hasn't she said 'It was wrong to admit Cyprus to the EU'?"
THERE ARE SPIES AMONG US
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan spoke warmly [about Arab-Turkish relations] at the Turkish-Arab Relations Conference in Kuwait. Pointing to the problems in Turkish-Arab relations in the past century, Erdoğan said: "We lost our harmony when our union broke. We know that there are spies in our region who conduct sneaky plans and try to ruin our brotherhood."
Erdoğan also said that Turkey determines its own foreign policy and nobody could intervene. "Arab people are our brothers," he said.
TURKISH PRIME MINISTER SAYS MUSLIM WORLD CAN PROVE SELF-SUFFICIENT
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Tuesday said that Muslim countries are responsible for producing 30 percent of the global economy, adding that the Islamic world could prove self-sufficient with its present and future economic activity. "Islamic countries have a 30 percent share in the world's economy. We have great deal of experience in the constructing business and we are ready to share it with them. Turkey is also strong in technology, the health sector and in tourism," Erdoğan told reporters aboard his plane traveling from Kuwait to Qatar.
ISTANBUL IS THE LAST CHANCE OF THE WEST
The head of Iranian Nuclear Energy committee, Ali Asgar Sultani, said that the nuclear summit in Istanbul on January 21 -22 will be the last chance for the Western countries [to influence] Iran's nuclear program. Asgari said: "If we can produce our own nuclear energy source, we will not share it with the west."
DEVLET BAHCELI INVITES THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE TO RESIGN
The leader of Turkey's opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), Devlet Bahçeli, said Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin should resign over allegations that suspects in the Turkish Hizbullah case had been granted access to the Internet while in prison. "Those who are responsible should face due punishment. The justice minister should quit or be relieved of duty," Bahçeli said.
TWO TURKISH HIZBULLAH LEADERS NOW AT LARGE
Two senior operatives of the Turkish Hizbullah—who have recently been released from prison after an amendment in Turkey's criminal-procedure law came into effect—might have fled to Iran, Lebanon or Syria before their case was heard at the Supreme Court of Appeals, Turkey's highest court. Edip Gümüş and Cemal Tutar have failed to report in for the last three days to a local police station, a measure to make sure that they would not run away. The leader of the organization's armed wing, Mehmet Varol, is also at large.
SUPER AUTHORITY TO SUPREME COURT
A draft law changing the structure of the Constitutional Court envisages controversial changes.
The court, which will be given the authority to rule on individual applications, will also have the power to annul all judicial decisions including the rulings of Supreme Court of Appeals and Council of State and to overturn administrative decisions.
If the draft becomes a law, no one would have the chance to apply to the European Court of Human Rights without first applying to the [Turkish] Constitutional Court.
LEBANON RECOVERS THANKS TO TURKEY
Lebanon, once known as "Paris of the East," suffered a great loss in its war with Israel and is now recovering thanks to Turkey's support.
Turkish investments in the country's construction, foodstuff and textile sectors, which have grown in number especially after the lifting of visa requirements, have made a "doping [positive] effect" on the Lebanese economy.
IRAN CONFIRMS NUCLEAR TALKS SET FOR JAN 21-22
Nuclear talks between the Iranian government and Western powers will resume in Istanbul on Jan 21, Tehran confirms, just one week after it extended invitations to several countries to visit its nuclear facilities.
EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton is expected to arrive in Turkey on Thursday to prepare for the talks, sources say.
Iran confirmed on Tuesday that Tehran and the six world powers have agreed to hold another round of nuclear talks on Jan. 21 and 22 in Istanbul. The talks are aimed at resolving a dispute over Iran's nuclear program, which world powers fear is masking a weapons drive but which Tehran insists is entirely for peaceful purposes. "January 21 and 22 ... the first and second of [the Persian month of] Bahman ... has been agreed by the two parties," foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast told reporters.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has confirmed the two dates as well. European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who represents the six world powers — Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States and Germany — in the talks, had suggested Jan. 20 for the resumption of negotiations. Ashton will visit Turkey on Thursday for preparations ahead of the talks, European sources in Turkey said.
The previous round of talks took place in Geneva on Dec. 6 and 7, ending a 14-month hiatus in negotiations focused on Iran's uranium enrichment program. In May, Turkey and Brazil brokered a fuel-swap deal with Tehran that would have seen Iran ship much of its low-enriched uranium to Turkey in return for nuclear fuel rods needed for a medical research reactor. Western nations rejected the deal and backed a fourth round of U.N. sanctions against Iran on June 9. Russia on Tuesday said it was interested in Iran's invitation to inspect its nuclear facilities, saying the offer represented a step toward dialogue on the nuclear dispute. In Russia's first official comments on the invitation, which was forwarded Jan. 4 to Russia, China, Egypt, Cuba and rotating EU president Hungary, a senior foreign ministry official called the offer a positive step.
"We received this initiative with interest," Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov was quoted as saying by Interfax. The Iranian move was immediately dismissed as "antics" by the United States, which along with Britain, France and Germany, was not invited.
The European Union responded by noting that it was up to the International Atomic Energy Agency to carry out such visits.
TURKEY SLAMS ISRAEL OVER HOTEL DEMOLITION
Turkey on Tuesday strongly condemned Israel's demolition of a historic hotel in east Jerusalem, to make way for new settler homes, slamming it as a "serious blow" to peace efforts. The move shows Israel's "disregard" for international calls to stop expanding Jewish settlements and "deals a serious blow on efforts to establish an atmosphere of confidence" with the Palestinians, a foreign ministry statement said. Israel's action "further deepens existing suspicions over its commitment to peace," it said, calling on the international community "to fulfill its responsibilities in the face of such provocative acts by Israel."
Bulldozers on Sunday began demolishing the Shepherd Hotel in occupied east Jerusalem to make room for 20 luxury apartments for Jewish settlers. The move triggered widespread international criticism, but Israel insists the move is legal. Palestinian leaders have rejected direct talks with Israel since a freeze on settlement building in the occupied territories was halted in late September.
Turkey's once-close ties with Israel plunged into a deep crisis on May 31 when Israeli forces killed nine Turks in a raid on an activist ship carrying aid to the Gaza Strip.
TURKEY BACKS UNITY OF SUDAN, VOWS SUPPORT FOR PLEBISCITE
Turkey is closely following the referendum in Sudan that began over the weekend. Foreign Ministry officials say Turkey favors the continuation of Sudan's territorial integrity and political unity, while expressing the hope that the vote results will serve peace and stability in the country.
With an ongoing referendum likely to split Sudan along its Arab-African fault line, Turkey has said it favors a unified country, though diplomats will try to maintain good relations with both sides. "We are pursuing two principles in regards to our relations with Sudan. First, we want the continuity of Sudan's territorial integrity and unity. Our desire is in this direction," a Foreign Ministry official told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review on Tuesday.
"Secondly, we want the referendum result to serve peace and stability in the country regardless of the outcome," the official said, while noting that it is too early to comment on the independence vote since the results have not been finalized. Turkey would pursue good relations with Southern Sudan if it splits off from the north, another Turkish diplomat who wished to remain anonymous told the Daily News. Turkey says the oil extracted in the south and carried through the north via pipelines should not become a source of friction between the two sides, but rather a shared resource that links them. Seventy percent of Sudan's oil is in the south.
The referendum that began Sunday is required by a 2005 peace agreement that ended the 21-year civil war between Sudan's predominantly Arab and Muslim north and rebels in the largely Christian-animist south. The vote was still continuing for a third day Tuesday, with news agencies reporting clashes and attacks in several regions.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu spoke on the phone with his Sudanese counterpart, Ali Ahmed Karti, on the eve of the referendum. Diplomatic sources said he conveyed the importance Turkey places on Sudan's territorial integrity, but added that Turkey will respect whatever decision comes out of the vote.
"We will respect the vote result, but would we be happy if the majority votes for independence? The country would be divided, but that would be the will of the people in the end," said one diplomat who spoke on condition of anonymity and indicated that Turkey would not be in favor of such a result. Turkey dispatched diplomat Ahmet Ergin to in the south as an observer of the referendum process, diplomatic sources said.
Ergin was appointed as Turkey's chief consul to Juba in Southern Sudan as part of the government's plans to create stronger ties with Africa. Turkey currently maintains an embassy in Khartoum in the north and a consulate in the south. Following a meeting in October with Davutoğlu in Ankara, Karti said his government would not object if Turkey turned its consulate into an embassy following the referendum. Questioned on the issue by reporters accompanying him to an ambassadors' conference in Erzurum on Saturday, Davutoğlu expressed his hope that the Turkish Embassy in Khartoum would not have to be divided.
If the majority votes for secession, Sudan will have to deal with a number of issues, ranging from confirming citizenship (1.5 million Southern Sudanese live in the north) and establishing a border to negotiating the distribution of natural resources and sharing the current debt of the country. Several commissions are already working on these issues, Karti said in October.
Under the country's regulations, the referendum needs a 60 percent turnout [of eligible voters] to be valid. More than 50 percent of voters must choose independence for the south to secede – seen as the most likely outcome. Final results are due out before Feb. 15 with preliminary figures expected up to two weeks earlier. Around 4 million people signed up to vote in the south and in diaspora communities of southerners in the north and abroad.