GHADDAFI: WHY NOT A NO-FLY ZONE FOR TURKEY?
Speaking to Turkish TRT Turk TV Channel, Libyan leader Ghaddafi says Turkey is fighting with the Kurdish rebels. Why don't the United Nations, European Union and the United States ask for a "no-fly-zone" over Turkey?
Regarding the evacuated Turkish workers, Ghaddafi said: "I understand their concerns about security. But I want them to return to Libya to continue their work on ongoing contracts. We have a common history and we are all Ottomans. We lifted the visa application bilaterally. We are seeing Turkish workers as our brothers and they will have priority among others in our country."
RIGHT TO DEFENSE HAS BEEN VIOLATED
A statement by Ergenekon prosector Zekeriya Öz that some evidence regarding the arrests of Nedim Şener and Ahmet Şık was not disclosed because of a "privacy" issue regarding the file, which has led to fierce debate.
"The lawyer could not examine the file during the interrogation," said Rıza Türmen. "This means there is a violation of the 'right to oppose the arrest' in the European Convention on Human Rights."
Professor Hakan Hakeri said: "You should see all the evidence that forms the basis of the accusation. You cannot make a defense against evidence that you cannot see."
TURKISH PM: LET JUDGES DO THEIR JOB
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said the government wanted the Ergenekon case to be concluded soon. "The recent arrests are in the hands of the judiciary. The government's interference is out of the question. What journalist was arrested because he criticized us? Let them answer. Are there journalists that we interfered with in the past eight years?"
PRIME MINISTER DENIES MOVE AGAINST JOURNALISTS
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said none of the journalists in prison were there because of their writings and accused the journalists of "terrorist organization membership and attempting to change the constitutional order by force."
Reacting against the international media, Erdoğan said, the media "does not ask for coups in those [Western] countries."
'ADVANCED DEMOCRACY' LESSON
The European Parliament listed the steps that the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government should implement. The draft resolution on Turkey, which will be voted on today, listed the steps that should be taken in the democratization process. "We are concerned over the deterioration of the freedom of the press, censorship activities and increasing self-censorship. The Turkish government was called to be loyal to the principles of the freedom of the press," the draft states.
The draft also expressed concern over the Turkish government's artificial impediments in revealing the identitites [journalist] Dink's killers.
TAPS SOUND FOR TURKISH ARMY'S TELEPHONE TAPPING TOOL
No one will be playing 'Taps,' the bugle call used by armies in funerals and flag ceremonies, for the agreement to effectively shut down key military surveillance operations and transfer them to the Prime Minister's intelligence service. The decision is a step toward "lights out" for army eavesdropping. Details are being worked out for the transfer, which is seen as a major structural change and a turning point in civil-military relations.
Control of Turkey's highest-capacity electronic intelligence and wiretapping center will be transferred from the military to intelligence officials on orders from Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, military sources have confirmed. Sources close to the Turkish General Staff and the National Intelligence Organization (MIT), said the transfer was being made to save money and improve coordination. "Technically speaking, wiretapping is a very expensive service, both economically and from a personnel point of view," said a source close to MİT. "Work to unify such a service for the two organizations has been started recently by the General Staff Command." The source said the transfer of the system from the General Staff Electronic Systems Command (GES) to MİT would result in large savings.
The transfer from military to civil authorities is seen as a turning point in civil-military relations and as one of the most important structural changes regarding the military after the demilitarization of MİT, which had previously been under complete control of the General Staff. That shift, as well as the transformation of the National Security Council to a mainly civil body, began in the early 1990s.
Work on the transfer has reportedly already started and is expected to be finalized soon, although sources said talks between the two organizations were still ongoing and that the details of how the unification would be structured had not been entirely worked out.
As part of the move, MİT's unit for Electronic Technical Intelligence (ETI) will be transferred to the GES.
"Work is being carried out to improve coordination of the GES and MİT and prevent duplication" of work, a military source said, confirming the transfer.
The GES command is the largest-capacity intelligence and wiretapping base in the country, a brigade-level unit that serves the General Staff's Combat and Electronic Union Systems Directorate. GES was established in the 1950s and first served as a center for collecting intelligence information from the Soviet Union for the U.S. The center's control was later transferred to NATO and Turkish national control.
GES' wiretapping facilities and antennas are endowed with satellite and terrestrial systems that can provide encrypted communication with Turkish alliances from Afghanistan to Somalia, from the Balkans to the Caucasus and in Middle East countries. Experts say such advanced technology is not available in any other Turkish institutions that also provide intelligence services, such as MİT, the police department, the gendarmerie and the Telecommunication Transmission Directorate (TIB).
DAVUTOGLU CALLS FOR NEW GREEK-TURKISH 'PARADIGM'
Turkey does not perceive Greece as a threat and expects its Aegean neighbor to take a similar tack after decades of antagonism between the two countries, the Turkish foreign minister said Tuesday.
"We need a new paradigm in Turkish-Greek relations, a paradigm under which we can build a future together," Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu told reporters while visiting Greece for preparatory talks for the upcoming Turkey-Greece High Level Strategic Council meeting, which will be held in Istanbul in July.
During his visit, Davutoğlu held meetings in Athens with Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou and Foreign Minister Dimitrios Droutsas. Prior to the meeting, Davutoğlu voiced Ankara's expectation for a "peaceful style" to dominate bilateral relations between Ankara and Athens. Speaking to reporters on his way to Athens, the foreign minister said he would emphasize this paradigm in his talks with Greek officials.
"We should evaluate our common history not in a confrontational way, but rather in a peaceful fashion," he said.
Papandreou was the last high-level Greek official to visit Turkey, making surprisingly critical statements during his visit to Erzurum in January. In his remarks, Papandreou used the word "invader" for Turkey, speaking about the presence of the Turkish army in northern Cyprus. He said this approach, if continued, would keep Turkey out of the European Union. Despite the latest negative remarks from Greek prime minister, Davutoğlu chose not to address Papandreou's statement, but rather underscored "cooperation" and "peaceful language" in bilateral relations.
Athens and Ankara plan to cooperate over humanitarian aid to Libya, Droutsas said following his meeting with Davutoğlu. "We share the same concern over the situation in Libya and our common observation is that the situation cannot, and should not, continue," he said. Citing "complicated problems and prejudgments" coming from the past, Davutoğlu said both countries should "show the will to solve the problems, such as the Aegean dispute, step by step." If the status quo is maintained, the confidence problem between the two countries cannot be solved, he said, adding that Turkey wants the situation to be changed in a positive direction.
"We want a new framework for cooperation in mutual agreement. There is also a new approach on the Greek side too. We are determined to use this atmosphere," he said.
Speaking during a joint press conference with the Greek foreign minister, Davutoğlu underscored that they want to give a joint message on "friendship, neighborliness and a shared destiny," adding that the whole world would witness how the relations between both countries develop. The foreign minister said the "negative doorstep" between Turkey and Greece has been overcome. Mentioning "positive momentum," Davutoğlu said their target was not only having good relations between governments, but also people developing friendships and neighborly associations.
"Come to Turkey as if it was your home, have Turkish friends," he said, addressing the Greek people. "We offer the same for Turkish people," he added.
Davutoğlu described the new paradigm Ankara wants to establish with Greece as "a paradigm that has no secret agendas, concerns or distrust." Regarding the dispute on Cyprus, Davutoğlu expressed Ankara's discomfort with the course of the negotiations between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots. "We want to turn the Eastern Mediterranean into a peaceful basin as soon as possible," he said, adding that it was unfair to block Turkey's membership in the EU due to political problems on Cyprus.
Greek minister Droutsas reaffirmed that the "negative start" in bilateral relations had been overcome and said Greece aimed to develop further relations "in line with a framework respecting national territories," a reference to a territory dispute in the Aegean Sea between Turkey and Greece.
Citing the military flights over Aegean Sea that have caused problems between Ankara and Athens, Droutsas drew attention to "some negative interventions from political or some other circles" and said those interventions should be avoided.
Asked about the problems of the Turkish-Muslim community in Greece, Droutsas dismissed the problems and said Greece respected the rights of all its citizens. Greece is "a model state" in this manner, he said. He added that Greece dismissed the reciprocity principle on minority issues and that no third-party should interfere in the internal affairs of Greece.
Questioned about the latest arrests of journalists in Turkey, Davutoğlu said every one should be sensitive to freedom of the press and free expression. "I see every inappropriate action harming this freedom," he said. However, "there is independence of the judiciary [in Turkey]," he added.
Davutoğlu will visit Thessaloniki, Xanthi and Komotini on Wednesday and will meet with Western Thrace Turks for the first time since being appointed foreign minister.
TURKISH GOVERNMENT TRYING TO 'DESTROY JOURNALISTS,' ARRESTED REPORTER CLAIMS
One of the journalists recently arrested in connected with an alleged coup plot has said he was targeted before, accusing the government in a letter to his family of trying to "destroy journalists like us."
"[My arrest] has no direct connection with the latest TV debates [about which I was questioned]. Apparently they were going to involve me in this kind of operation anyway," journalist Nedim Şener wrote in a letter to his wife and 8-year-old daughter. "Because they have decided to destroy journalists like us and it looks like this process will continue."
Şener also said in his letter that he was targeted two years ago with a fake e-mail. Daily Milliyet previously reported that police received an e-mail on May 6, 2009, from a person identified only as M. Yılmaz, alleging that Şener had a "secret mission in the propaganda unit of Ergenekon," an alleged gang accused of plotting to topple the government.
Both Şener and another Turkish reporter, Ahmet Şık, were arrested Sunday following raids on their homes and those of other journalists as part of the ongoing probe into the alleged Ergenekon gang. Şener wrote the letter to his family, and a separate one to his colleagues at daily Milliyet, from Metris Prison, where he was taken after he was arrested, the paper reported. He was later transferred to Silivri Prison. During the questioning following his detention, Şener said he was asked about many past events which occurred between 2003 and 2006. He said the prosecutor even asked him about a question Şener had posed to former Police Chief Adil Serdar Saçan during a TV program broadcast in 2007.
Questioned about his wife's heart surgery
In the letter he sent to his Milliyet colleagues, Şener objected to a line of questioning by Ergenekon Prosecutor Zekeriya Öz related to his wife. "Did you have your wife get heart surgery in order to prevent the legal operation against you?" the prosecutor asked Şener, according to his letter.
"The most strange and odd question I was asked during the questioning was about my wife's heart surgery," Şener wrote, quoting Öz as saying: "During a phone conversation with your wife, you said, 'If I had known what would happen to me, we would not scheduled your surgery.' That brings one's mind to the [idea] that you had your wife had heart surgery in order to prevent the legal operation against you."
Daily Milliyet reported on March 6 that Şener's phones had been wiretapped since 2009.
The mother of the other arrested journalist has spoken out about the case, saying, "If something happens to my son, I will burn myself," Milliyet reported. The parents of Ahmet Şık, who live in Antalya, said they are very concerned about their son's condition and what is going on in Turkey. "I lost my brother to martyrdom before the 1980 military coup. I will not lose my son the same way," said Fatma Şık, Ahmet's mother and a retired civil servant.
"The prime minister says he has no information; the president says he is concerned about the latest arrests. If something happens to my son, I will burn myself," she said.
The Ergenekon case started in June 2007 with the discovery of 27 hand grenades in a shanty house belonging to a retired noncommissioned officer. In the later stages of the investigation, those in custody have been accused of planning to topple the government by staging a coup, initially by spreading chaos and mayhem.
WE ARE NOT CELEBRATING; WE ARE REVOLTING
Women raised their voices to protest women's murders across Turkey on March 8, International Women's Day. Women gathered in front of the Kadıköy Courthouse in Istanbul and chanted slogans: "We are not celebrating March 8; we are revolting." The group protested the murders by carrying photographs of women killed by their husbands [in honor killings].