ERDOGAN: "I WILL QUIT IF I LOSE. WHAT ABOUT YOU?"
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan spoke to journalists at the opening of a shopping mall in Istanbul on Sunday and accused opposition leaders of sitting on their hands.
He also made a prediction: "If my party comes in second after the June 12 elections, I will leave leadership. Will you be able to say you will also quit? Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli quit leadership for eight months and returned on the ninth month."
ELECTION DATE WILL BE SET SOON
The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) will submit a draft measure, setting the time for the election, to parliament on Monday. The draft will be considered by the relevant committee on Thursday. It is expected to be put on to the parliamentary agenda on March 1.
54% OF TURKS FAVOR ERDOGAN, FEWER FAVOR EU MEMBERSHIP
The Associated Press-GfK has conducted a poll on attitudes and opinions of Turks. It was based on a national random sample of 1,200 Turks ages 18 and older in 48 provinces in November and December.
About 54 percent of the Turkish public has a favorable opinion of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. About half of Turks see a high level of economic growth as extremely important as a goal for their country. Beyond the economy, terrorism rises as another widespread concern, with 66 percent calling it an extremely serious problem. The poll revealed that half of Turks support their country's accession into the European Union.
ALERT AT FOREIGN MINISTRY
Before his departure for Tunisia later Monday, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu held an emergency meeting with his aides about the recent developments in Libya. They discussed evacuation measures for nearly 25,000 Turkish citizens living in Libya and the impact of a likely regime change in that North African nation.
KILICDAROGLU: EDUCATION IN KURDISH IS HUMAN RIGHT, BUT "DIFFICULT" POLITICALLY
The head of the main opposition party, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, attended a meeting of his political party in the southeastern province of Van. "We need to change people's negative perception about the Republican People's Party (CHP) in the region. Education in one's mother tongue is a human right. But it is not a problem that can be resolved in Turkey today," he said.
NATION WILL DECIDE
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said those who could not accept democracy had accused the government of dictatorship. "The more the nation wins, they lose," Erdoğan said. "That happy minority sees they lost sovereignty. They are trying to wear us down by spreading fear because they cannot compete with us in giving service [to the nation]."
GIANT INVESTMENTS IN 2011
Turkey's leading companies are getting ready to make giant investments in 2011. Five large companies will make investments worth a total of $3 billion. Zorlu group allocated $1.2 billion while Çalık Holding allocated $700 million, Anadolu Group $500 million and Borusan $400 million for their investments in 2011.
"WE NEGLECTED KURDS"
Sezgin Tanrıkulu of the Republican People's Party (CHP), who was the originator of a series of meetings that attempted to solve the Kurdish issue, said the party had Kurdish issues cited "in statements and in its party manifesto. In return for this, the support for our party among Kurds dropped. But we will be involved in the Kurdish problem from now on."
RANSOM DEMANDED FOR TURKS ABDUCTED IN KIRKUK
Ransom has been demanded for three Turkish citizens who were abducted Feb. 15. In an announcement made on streets of Kirkuk, the kidnappers said that three Turkish citizens were abducted because Turkey supported Turkmens in a clash regarding land in Kirkuk province's Besir village. Three Arabs died and five Turkmens were injured in the clash. A broad-scale police operation is underway to rescue the Turkish citizens.
TURKS INVOLVED IN LIBYAN UPRISING
A total of 7,000 Turkish citizens who live near the clashes [between demonstrators and Libyan armed forces] have been targeted by both the looters and Libyan troops.
Turks said the evacuation planes were not enough and have asked for ships.
It was also said that there were Turkish citizens among those who were arrested on charges of inciting the riots.
WHO ARE THOSE TURKS?
Libyan authorities have claimed that some foreigners supported by Israel triggered the chaos in the country and that there were Turks among them.
The Turkish Embassy in Tripoli asked Libyan authorities to identify those Turks.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan telephoned Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi about evacuating Turkish citizens from the country.
DAVUTOGLU AND CLINTON DISCUSS DEVELOPMENTS IN MIDDLE EAST
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu talked by telephone with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Sunday and discussed developments in the Middle East.
U.S. Department of State spokesman Philip Crowley said Clinton and Davutoglu talked about developments in Libya, Tunisia, Egypt and Iran.
ERGENEKON SUSPECT "PREDICTED" OWN ARREST
Soner Yalçın, the owner of dissident online news portal called Oda TV, had foretold his arrest months before he was sent to prison on Friday, daily Hürriyet reported Sunday.
The newspaper quoted journalist Şamil Tayyar, who cited a letter allegedly written by Yalçın to Baki Özilhan, the communication coordinator of the opposition Republican People's Party (CHP). The letter, dated Sept. 27, was in essence addressed to CHP Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu.
In the letter, Yalçın allegedly said he wanted to run "Halk TV," the TV station linked to the CHP. "We are going to present the news with real journalists," the letter said. "We are going to be a media organization that doesn't follow the current news but creates the agenda itself. We are going to be bold. We won't insult anybody; we will just give the news. We will create an atmosphere that will let everybody speak."
The most striking part of Yalçın's letter consists of lines where he expresses worries over what he would be face if he were to lead Halk TV: "I am putting myself on the line. As a result, they can create all kinds of trouble for me, and I am aware of that. However, I believe I am doing my part and my historical duty in the context of intellectual responsibility. This is what I have done yesterday as well. I have always written what I believed to be the truth. This is what I am doing today, and you know that it is what I will be doing tomorrow."
Yalçın was arrested along with two colleagues by a court in Istanbul on Friday morning.
The owner and two editors of Oda TV were taken to Istanbul's Beşiktaş Courthouse on Thursday to give testimony regarding their alleged involvement in the Ergenekon gang. The so-called Ergenekon gang is accused of conspiring against the government and working to trigger a military coup. Hundreds of people, including retired and active duty military officers, lawyers, journalists and politicians, have been arrested on suspicion of being a member of that gang.
Editors Barış Pehlivan and Barış Terkoğlu, who were arrested alongside Yalçın, were also charged with "being a member of the Ergenekon organization" and "inciting hatred and animosity among the public."
Yalçın himself was arrested on charges of "obtaining and publishing documents related to state security," "being a member of the Ergenekon organization" and "inciting hatred and animosity among the public." The three were sent to Metris Prison in Istanbul.
The arrest of the three journalists drew reaction from prominent journalists, media organizations and press freedom organizations both in Turkey and abroad.
ABOUT 3,000 PROTESTERS GATHER IN THE CAPITAL
Thousands of Turks, including the wives of defendants charged with trying to topple the government, marched to the tomb of the founder of modern Turkey on Saturday to protest at the arrests of army officers.
More than 150 active and retired military officers are in jail during hearings in the so-called Sledgehammer trial, on charges that they planned to overthrow the government of Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, which traces its roots to a banned Islamist movement.
Some 3,000 people gathered in a heavy rain at Anitkabir, the sprawling tomb of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, a former officer who led Turkey to independence after World War One, founded the secular republic in 1923 and served as its first president.
They carried flags and shouted "Turkey is secular and will stay secular" and "The army and the people are hand in hand".
Nilufer Cetin told Reuters her husband, an admiral, had been detained three times in the Sledgehammer case, most recently last week. "We want our voices to be heard, we are the victims here," she said. "Our country is being victimized."
Separately, Turkey's top general Isik Kosaner, accompanied by the commanders of the army, navy and air force, spent 3-1/2 hours at the Hasdal Military Prison near Istanbul on Friday meeting 120 defendants charged in Sledgehammer, NTV news channel reported.
The military is Turkey's self-proclaimed protector of secularism in a country that is 99.9 percent Muslim. Generals have toppled three governments since 1960 and pressured a fourth, Turkey's first Islamist-led, to quit in 1997.
But European Union-inspired reforms have curbed the military's influence and generals only occasionally interfere in domestic politics. Erdogan says he is not an Islamist and the AK Party is a center-right political party.
Besides military officers, dozens of journalists, academics, lawyers and activists have been arrested on links to different alleged coup plot since 2008. None have been convicted to date.
On Friday, Soner Yalcin, a prominent journalist and vocal critic of Erdogan, was charged with links to a shadowy, ultra-nationalist group nicknamed Ergenekon. He and his two colleagues' detentions prompted the U.S. ambassador to question Turkey's commitment to freedom of the press.