PARLIAMENT APPROVES JUDICIARY REFORM
According to the new law approved by the Turkish Parliament, the number of chambers at the Council of State has been increased from 13 to 15, the number of law chambers within the Supreme Court of Appeals has increased from 21 to 23 and the number of penal chambers increased from 11 to 15. The law also increases the number of members of the Supreme Court of Appeals from 250 to 387 and members of the Council of State from 95 to 156.
"NO VISA" TO GERMANY VERDICT
Germany's Munich Administrative Court ruled that Turks are exempt from tourist visas. The court upheld that Turks can enter Germany without a visa and can remain in Germany without a visa for up to three months. The court kept visits to relatives living in Germany outside the scope of this decision.
CONTRACT SOLDIERS TO WEAR DIFFERENT UNIFORMS
A bill presented to parliament has amended the rights of professional soldiers who will replace anti-terror units in the Southeastern Anatolia Region. The uniforms and ranks of contracted privates will be different from those who serve compulsory military service. The professional soldiers will stay in barracks and have 45 days of leave per year.
INTERROGATION OF BATUM
Zonguldak Chief Prosecutor's Office has asked permission from the Justice Ministry to launch an interrogation under Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code against CHP's Deputy Chairman Süheyl Batum, who said the Turkish military was like a "paper tiger." The Article 301, under which many celebrities like Hrant Dink, Orhan Pamuk and Elif Şafak were tried, was eased in 2008 because it was seen as an obstacle to freedom of expression, and now requires permission from the Ministry of Justice before it can be used for a prosecution.
OUR POLICEMEN ARE PIONEERS OF CHANGE, ERDOĞAN SAID
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan met with police officers who wanted to thank him for the recently adopted law exempting police officers (with 10 years experience) from military service. "Our Police Department is not the guardian of the status quo, but it is the pioneer of change. The department is the defender of an advanced democracy, not a totalitarian structure," Erdoğan stated at the gathering.
Republican People's Party (CHP) chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu commented on the developments in Tunisia and Egypt during his meeting with a group of journalists from Middle Eastern countries. "Instead of intervening in democratic transformation moves from outside, freedom and democracy demands for such countries should be voiced in a louder way," Kılıçdaroğlu said during the meeting. The chairman also added that he would soon pay a visit to Iraq.
'PAPER TIGER' ISSUE CAN BE PUT TO REST, TURKEY'S CHP SAYS
Comments by the deputy leader of Turkey's main opposition that provoked a strong reaction from the military and the government are now in the past and do not to be revisited again, the party's leader said Wednesday.
"The subject is closed," Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said.
Earlier, deputy leader Süheyl Batum said he had "mistaken soldiers for paper tigers," drawing anger from the military, as well as members of the government. Speaking to private news site CNNTürk on Wednesday, State Minister Egemen Bağış said Batum had "crossed the line" and was displaying support for a military coup by daring to prove its strength.
Kılıçdaroğlu touched on Batum's promise never to criticize the military again before encouraging journalists at Wednesday's press meeting to focus on the country's larger issues. "Turkey has more important problems," he said. The leader, however, was asked about Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç's response to the incident criticizing Batum. The CHP chief then quoted Arınç, who had said, "It is a good thing we did not go to war with this military."
"There are no double standards in politics. If the prime minister is going to file a complaint against Batum, then he has to do the same against his own minister," said Kılıçdaroğlu.
Meanwhile, the Zonguldak Public Prosecutor's Office has requested permission from the Justice Ministry to start an investigation into Batum under Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code. The article states that anyone who degrades the country, government or military of Turkey will be sentenced to between six months and two years in prison.
BAHRAIN CROWN PRINCE THINKS INCIDENTS IN EGYPT, TUNISIA WILL NOT SPREAD TO OTHER COUNTRIES
Crown Prince Salman Bin Hamad Al Khalifa of Bahrain said on Tuesday that he did not think the incidents in Egypt and Tunisia would spread to other Arab countries.
Al Khalifa said the incidents in Egypt and Tunisia were separate from each other and said those incidents would not spread to other Arab countries.
The duty of leaders in Arab and other countries was to respond to the demands of their nations, including respect, freedom of life, participation in decision-making and justice, Al Khalifa told a joint press conference in Ankara with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Al Khalifa said the global economic crisis had shaken countries and forced administrators to make economic reforms, ensure transparency in competition, and restore social justice.
Every country has special characteristics, and the reasons and possible solutions to the problems in Egypt and Tunisia are different, Al Khalifa said. Additionally, he said he did not think the protests would have a domino effect; however, nobody should ignore the humanitarian and global realities.
On Turkish-Bahraini relations, Al Khalifa said the two countries could cooperate, particularly in contracting, food safety and services. He added that there are ten Turkish banks in Bahrain and Bahraini banks should also have branches in Istanbul and Ankara.
TURKEY'S COUNTERTERROR BOARD CONVENES IN ANKARA
Turkey's counterterrorism coordination council convened Wednesday under the leadership of Interior Minister Beşir Atalay. No statement was made to the press following the closed-door meeting.
In the meantime, U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano met Monday with Turkish State Minister Hayati Yazıcı to discuss increasing collaboration between the United States and Turkey to combat terrorism and other transnational crime. During the meeting, Napolitano underscored the Obama administration's commitment to working closely with Turkey to strengthen the security of the global supply chain, according to a written statement released by the U.S. Embassy in Ankara. She also noted Turkey's participation in Project Global Shield -- an international initiative launched in 2010 by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the World Customs Organization, the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime, and Interpol -- to interdict precursor chemicals used in building improvised explosive devices. Under Project Global Shield, more than 60 participating countries are currently sharing information with each other to ensure that chemicals entering their countries are being used in safe and legal ways, leading to successful interdictions of a number of suspicious shipments and providing promising investigative leads on the smuggling of precursor chemicals into Afghanistan and Pakistan.