The following are translations of excerpts from the Turkish press.
ERDOGAN STARTS A NEW DISCUSSION
Prime Minister Erdoğan said: "The public should discuss the presidential or semi-presidential systems as well as the powers of the current president. Even if all of the deputies in the parliament support changing the system to a presidential system, this should be put to a referendum."
AN INVITATION TO LIBERALS
Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, leader of the Republican People's Party (CHP), said that, following the recent row between the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the liberals, that he would welcome the liberals under the umbrella of the country's main opposition party. "Liberals have always criticized us. I call on them to look at the new CHP now. Who wants democracy, freedoms, gender equality and honest politics in Turkey more sincerely? Come and join us. We are determined to remove all obstacles in front of democracy," he said.
DAM OF 45 MILLION TL
A ground-breaking ceremony was held in the border region between Turkey and Syria for the Friendship Dam to be constructed by Turkey and Syria on River Asi. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Syrian Prime Minister Naji al-Utri were in attendance at the ceremony.
SIX GOALS WITH DAMASCUS
Prime Minister Erdoğan sent a warm message to Syria as he attended the ground-breaking ceremony for the "Friendship Dam" to be built on River Asi in Turkey's southern Hatay province. "We want this region to become the 'pole star' of the world in the future just like it had been in the past," Erdoğan said.
Listing Turkey's common goals with Syria, the prime minister said the two countries aimed at building a customs gate at Nusaybin, establishing a joint bank, launching speed-train service and a joint natural gas network, as well as Turkish Eximbank's offer of a loan to Syria as well as the dam constructed on River Asi.
LESSONS SHOULD BE DRAWN FROM WHAT HAPPENED
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan met with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Aleppo on Sunday. Commenting on the incidents in Egypt during the meeting, Erdoğan said lessons should be drawn from what had happened. President al-Assad said that his country would increase reform efforts.
THE SOLUTION IS TURKEY AS A MODEL
Both a NATO College report and an analysis by the New York Times share the same opinion: The "Turkish Model" is essential for Egypt. For days, intellectual circles have been discussing the importance of the "Turkish Model" to achieve stability and peace in the Middle East.
NATO Defense College, which trains NATO commanders and diplomats, said in a report that Arab public opinion saw the Turkish regime as a model, although that situation disturbed some people. The report said Turkey was proud of its republic and democracy, openness to the world, strong economy and balanced foreign policy.
Moreover, an analysis in the New York Times said Egypt could draw lessons from Turkey. The paper said that Turkey, which had managed to unify Islam and democracy and build a strong economy, was a model that reformers in the Middle East could not dream to equal for decades.
DO WHAT IS NECESSARY
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan revealed his conversation with Turkish Cypriot President Derviş Eroğlu regarding the anti-Turkish protesters in Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC). "You should do what is necessary. Those people should be brought to justice," Erdoğan told Eroğlu.
TURKEY TO BUILD A HOSPITAL IN SUDAN
State Minister Faruk Çelik attended a ground-breaking ceremony for a hospital to be built by the Turkish International Cooperation Agency (TIKA) in Sudan. The hospital will have a capacity of 150 beds.
SUPPORT FOR THE ARMY
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reached a consensus on Egypt. Saying that "economic problems" triggered the public uprising in Egypt, Clinton said Egypt's major institutions, such as the army, and its strong assets should continue to exist in the upcoming term. Clinton said there were respected institutions that still maintain their influence in the country and they should be supported. The U.S. Secretary of State said she discussed the matter with Davutoğlu.
THE USA NEEDS TURKEY
Lincoln McCurdy, President of the "Turkish Coalition of America" (TCA) sent a letter to the New York Times regarding an article by James Traub published on January 23, 2010. In his letter, McCurdy says: "Our leaders should seriously consider Turkey's comments and advice. Turkey, which has existed for more that 1,000 years and has been a strong ally of the U.S., will help protecting U.S. lives [in Egypt]."
TURKEY'S MAIN OPPOSITION LEADER MEETS NATO SECRETARY-GENERAL
The main opposition leader held meetings with officials during the 47th Munich Security Conference in Germany on Saturday.
Republican People's Party (CHP) chairman Kemal Kilicdaroglu had meetings with several officials including NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen. Kilicdaroglu said that they discussed the recent developments in Tunisia and Egypt during meetings.
TURKISH FM DAVUTOGLU SAID A REASONABLE TRANSITION PERIOD IS NEEDED IN EGYPT
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said a reasonable transition period was needed in Egypt that would allow the political actors to ready themselves for a full fledged multi-party elections.
Davutoglu, who appeared Saturday in a press conference after attending the 47th Munich Security Conference, said it was necessary to lay down the principles for an orderly transition period.
"Once these are laid down, it will be appropriate to schedule the elections at a reasonable future date. If a healthy election is to be held, political parties and actors should be allowed to make preparations. If new political parties are to be formed, time should be allowed. Such a dynamic multi-party election has not taken place in Egypt in the recent past. A reasonable period needs to be allowed for that," said Davutoglu.
Davutoglu returned to Turkey on Saturday.
TURKEY'S AKP FOLLOWING WRONG IRAN, ISRAEL POLICIES, SAYS CHP EXPERT
Foreign policy under a Republican People's Party (CHP) government will be less divisive than that of the present administration, according to the party's new vice-chairman on foreign relations.
While the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has made some strides in the foreign policy realm, it has pursued bad policies vis-a-vis Israel, Iran and the European Union, said Osman Korutürk, a career diplomat now tasked with directing the CHP's foreign policy.
"What was good about our relations with Israel was, in the past, that behind closed doors, [where we] we openly talked about mistakes. As a result of our direct contacts, we were able to warn them. If you raise your objections behind closed doors, you get a different reaction," Korutürk said. "But if you do this on TV, they get defensive and things get out of hand."
As a result of the AKP's failure to act discreetly, Turkey's position has been shaken, he said. "Today, if we want to go back to mediation between Syria and Israel, do we have a chance to do so? No, we don't. Israel sees us as a [biased] party. So, others are involved in mediating."
Touching on Iran, Korutürk said although they had different regimes, the two countries' relations were based on mutual respect. "This should be maintained. But at the same time, we should be able to say it loud and clear if we believe Iran is making a mistake."
Instead of voting against new sanctions on Iran at the United Nations Security Council, Turkey could have abstained, said Korutürk.
"We, as Turkey, are always against embargos. But our discourse seen as advocating the Iranian view has caused reservations among our Western partners as to whether we are actually changing our direction," he said.
Turkey a beacon for democracy
Asked what the CHP's foreign policy direction under the new Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu government would be, Korutürk said: "We will build our line over what [the previous deputies in charge of foreign policy] built so far. Values are what make our foreign policy different from that of the [current] government. The foundational elements of our foreign policy are democracy, human rights and freedom."
Korutürk said secularism should also be one of the elements giving direction to Turkey's foreign policy. "Turkey's value abroad exists through a collection of values we represent in the West and in the East today. We are a Western country. If some of the initiatives you undertake leads to a questioning of this fact, then you are making a mistake."
Turkey is often held up in the global East and South as an example of democracy, Korutürk said.
"If we fail at democracy, this will have a global effect and the viewpoints of all the regional countries will change," he said. "Why are we setting an example for them? Because Turkey is a country that has been successful at combining Islam and the West."
The European Union, meanwhile, has the best standards in the world, Korutürk said, adding that acceding to the EU would be a culmination of the Kemalist desire to join the civilized countries of the world.
"However, we want to become a full member of the union. The AKP says the same, but if you approach to the issue by saying, 'We will talk about anything, we will discuss anything,' then Europeans might look differently. Parliament can reach a decision like 'Parliament should support the EU membership process. The only option is full membership. Parliament shall not accept other options.' Such a statement might help shut [the Europeans'] mouth. We will probably voice this in the upcoming term," he said.
Summing up the CHP's ultimate foreign policy goals, Korutürk said: "Today we want to find remedies to all international conflicts, but I don't think we have the means for that. We will some day."
Son of the president
Korutürk was born in November 1944 in Istanbul, six years before his father, Fahri Korutürk, was promoted to rear admiral.
During secondary school at the French-language St. Joseph High School, Korutürk seemed determined to join the Navy. As he was preparing for entry exams, he changed his mind with the encouragement of his father, who had served at almost all levels of the Navy.
"He was a tough man but never interfered in his children's choices," said Korutürk about his father.
Korutürk, however, did take into account his father's warning when the latter said: "First finish high school. Decide when you have the maturity to evaluate better whether you want to join the Navy."
Later on, he decided on the Istanbul School of Law instead of the military. After graduation, Korutürk became a member of the Istanbul Bar and worked as attorney for a year.
After graduation, Korutürk went to complete his military service in the Navy; by the time he was discharged in 1973, his father had been elected president of the republic.
Korutürk went to work in the Foreign Ministry but said he was subjected to discrimination in the service during his father's presidential tenure: although legally entitled to sit the mid-career exam required for further promotion, Korutürk was not permitted to take the test, leading him to sue the ministry.
An important portion of Korutürk's career was dedicated to the Cyprus problem as he worked in the ministry's Cyprus department as well as in the Turkish Embassy to Turkish Cyprus between 1982 and 1986.
After working at the Turkish mission in the United Nations, he became the director general of the ministry's Middle East department.
His first appointment as ambassador was to Tehran in 1996 although Korutürk had subsequent postings in Oslo, Berlin and Paris. Before the Paris assignment, however, Ankara sent the diplomat a special mission to Iraq, where he was tasked with building bilateral relations and attempting to normalize relations with Iraqi Kurdish leaders.
Papandreou says 'one minute' to Turkey
Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou was very disrespectful to Turks when he accused Turkey of invading Cyprus in the 1970s during a speech in Erzurum, said Osman Korutürk, the Republican People's Party vice-chairman for foreign relations.
Papandreou effectively said "one minute" to Turkey – much like Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said "one minute" to Israel in Davos in 2008 – when he was invited for a Turkish Foreign Ministry conference in the eastern province, Korutürk said.
"Perhaps Papandreou was invited to Erzurum just for a show, but the result was totally different. Papandreou's mother tongue is English. He never speaks Greek abroad. However, he spoke Greek in Erzurum. Apparently, the Greek prime minister wanted to address his people. Therefore, he had the best chance to express his view that Turkey is an invader in Cyprus. There were about 150 ambassadors at the ceremony to respond to him, but it was the Turkish prime minister's right to rebut him," he said.
"So, what Papandreou did was similar to the 'one minute' move," he said. "Still, it is quite strange why such a possible move was not calculated in advance. Thank God [CHP Chairman Kemal] Kılıçdaroğlu gave the necessary answer."