GULEN HAS NO COMPLAINTS ABOUT THE BOOK
Fethullah Gulen says that he doesn't have any complaints or objections about the unpublished and banned book Imam's Army. "It is not logical to try to keep something censored in this communication age. There are lots of books published against me; ideas and thoughts can not be banned."
SURPRISING MOVE PRIOR TO ELECTIONS
The government will be authorized to make "decree laws." Accordingly, the Council of Ministers will be able to implement very critical regulations for six months without needing the approval of the parliament.
The authority to make laws by decree, which has been requested by the Justice and Development Party (AKP) for the first time, was most recently used by the coalition government in 2001. The government's aim was to enact a series of regulations regarding public officers at the time. The current government asks for such authority to speed up public services prior to the June 12 elections.
'YES' TO THREE MISSIONS
Prior to his departure for Iraq, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan told reporters at Esenboğa Airport in Ankara that Turkey said "yes" to three missions under NATO.
Erdoğan said Turkey was set to take control of the Benghazi airport in Libya, to coordinate humanitarian assistance, as part of a multinational task force under NATO command.
"We have signed up for three tasks in Libya under NATO's umbrella. One of them is to run the Benghazi Airport for the coordination of humanitarian assistance. We will also take part in monitoring the air space and supervise deployment of Turkish naval forces on the corridor between Crete and Benghazi," Erdoğan said.
EU SHOULD CONSIDER SOFIA & ATHENS
Commenting on Turkish security forces seizing a draft book by journalist Ahmet Şık, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said: "This means the prosecutor's office is investigating a document. Nobody can know anything about it."
Erdoğan also reacted harshly to Brussels' criticism on the issue. "The EU should look at the implementation [of laws] in Bulgaria or Greece. We have taken much more advanced steps compared to them. Nobody sees these," the prime minister said.
A march was organized in southeastern province of Siirt upon allegations that there was a mass grave in Kasaplar Deresi. The Democratic Society Congress (DTK) co-chairpersons, the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) leader, deputies [members of parliament], mayors and nongovernmental organization heads attended the march. DTK co-chairperson Ahmet Türk said: "We don't want war. We want our friendship to grow further. We will ask for freedom with a louder voice than the people in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya."
FIRST TURKISH PRIME MINISTER IN IRAQI 'KURDISTAN'
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is doing three things for the first time during his visit to Iraq.
Erdoğan will be visiting the regional administration of "Kurdistan" for the first time. He is the first Turkish prime minister in history to deliver a speech to the Iraqi parliament.
The prime minister will also have important talks today. The first one will be held with the Shiite leader Sistani in Najaf, while the other meeting will be held with Massoud Barzani, head of the "Kurdistan" regional administration in the north of Iraq.
TURKISH PRIME MINISTER SEEKS TO IMPROVE COOPERATION ON FIGHT AGAINST TERRORISM
The Turkish prime minister and his Iraqi counterpart discussed ways to improve cooperation on security issues and the fight against terrorism, on Monday.
Appearing at a joint press conference with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki in Baghdad, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey not only shared a geographical area, but also a common history and destiny with Iraq.
The premier said Turkey had always defended Iraq's independence, territorial integrity, unity, security and stability on every platform, adding that the country had also stood at an equal distance to all segments of the Iraqi society.
Commenting on his meeting with al-Maliki, Erdogan said bilateral relations, activities of the Turkish-Iraqi high-level strategic cooperation council, as well as the latest developments in North Africa and the Middle East had been on the agenda.
"We have also discussed how to improve our cooperation on security issues and the fight against terrorism within the framework of a tripartite mechanism. I am pleased to say that our parallel views on the matter indicate our governments' will to improve such cooperation," he said.
Pointing out to economic ties as well, Erdogan said both countries were determined to increase their bilateral trade volume that amounted to $7.5 billion in 2010.
Erdogan noted that he would also meet with Iraqi Parliament Speaker Osama Nuceyfi and several political-party leaders. He also plans to visit Najaf and Irbil as part of his trip to Iraq.
Al-Maliki said that Erdogan's trip was a step towards the improvement of Turkish-Iraqi relations in all areas during a period when the two countries had been signing agreements on trade, economics and industry. Noting that regional developments had been discussed during his meeting with Erdogan, al-Maliki said a nations' demands should heard and supported, but this did not mean intervening in a country's domestic affairs. The Iraqi premier also said that both Turkey and Iraq had suffered from terrorism.
Expressing the importance of the two countries' cooperation in the fight against terrorism, al-Maliki said Turkey and Iraq should also cooperate to fight extremists and radical terrorist organizations.
MIDDLE EASTERN LENDERS DISCUSS UNION
Turkish Central Bank Govenor Durmuş Yılmaz called on Turkish lenders to invest in the Middle East to grow their businesses, while making a significant contribution to the banking systems of the region's countries.
Speaking on the first day of the "ShamGen Banking" meeting, an event hosted by Turkey's Central Bank to discuss opportunities among Turkey, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan, Yılmaz said Turkey paved the way for cooperation for the entire region with its policy of "zero problems with neighbors."
The title "ShamGen" points to Middle East cooperation as it combines the name for Europe's borderless Schengen and "Şam," the Turkish word for Damascus.
The conference will improve banking relations between Turkey, Syria, Jordan and Lebanon and could contribute to providing a common market in the region, Yılmaz said. During the meeting, a regional banking cooperation agreement was signed among the Banks Association of Turkey, the Syrian Central Bank, as well as Lebanon's and Jordan's bank associations. With the agreement, the four countries aim to build a bridge between their banking sectors and developing communication channels.
The trade volume between the developing countries has increased in recent years, Yılmaz said. "European countries' share in Turkey's total exports decreased to 46 percent from 56 percent, while the share of the Organization of Islam Conference countries increased to 29 percent from 13 percent."
Speaking at the meeting, Faris Sharaf, the Jordanian Central Bank governor, said that within the ShamGen union, the important thing was to provide for the integration of the economies. The union is currently described as a financial system that will have a great impact on economic and trade relations in the future, Sharaf said. "We hope that the outcome of this conference will create solid guidelines and a timeline for us to integrate the financial systems."
The conference aims to improve the relationship between the ShamGen and the Turkish banking sector, Albaraka Banking Group CEO Adnan Yousif told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review. "Turkey has a very good economy and relationship with foreign countries. Islamic banks in Turkey are growing very fast and their results are very good."
The Arab world is experiencing hard times, according to Banque du Liban Gov. Riad T. Salameh. Central banks in the region have undertaken an important role to maintain stability, Salameh said. "We will leave these hard days behind."
Foreign trade between Turkey and the Arab world, which was $7 billion in 2002, has now increased to $28.8 billion, according to Marwan Awad, chairman of the Association of Banks in Jordan.
"With the ShamGen union, trade among Turkey, Syria, Jordan and Lebanon will increase," he said. "One-fourth of Turkey's total exports go to Arab countries. More than 2,000 Arab companies have investments in Turkey. The number of Arab tourists coming to Turkey reached two million last year."
"We have no time to lose" says bank chief İşbank Chief Executive Officer Ersin Özince.
Although he had been in the banking sector for more than 30 years, he had never visited Lebanon, Syria or Jordan until four years ago. Özince is also the chairman of the Banks Association of Turkey (TBB).
Due to the similarity among the regions investment opportunities should not be missed, Özince said, speaking at the conference. "We should not waste much more time." Commenting on İşbank's attempt to open a branch in Syria, Özince said they wanted to first open a representative office and then a branch.
He said the bank was still carrying out feasibility studies. "Our priority is to open a branch right now. Maybe after the opening a branch, we might be interested in partnerships."
EVIDENCE DENIED TO SIK IS ON TURKISH DAILY'S FRONT PAGE
The publication of a public prosecutor's secret investigation reports on arrested journalist Ahmet Şık's unpublished book manuscript by a string of pro-government newspapers is a "legal scandal," legal experts said Monday.
Şık's lawyers had been refused access to the reports on the grounds that they were part of a "secret investigation," but the documents were apparently leaked to the daily Zaman and the daily Bugün on Sunday.
"This is a serious violation of the law," Köksal Bayraktar, an expert on the Turkish Penal Code, from Yeditepe University's Faculty of Law, told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review.
Daily Bugün published 50 pages of the "secret" investigation on its website, while daily Zaman also discussed the investigation reports in its headlines. Both newspapers have accused Şık of "getting orders from the Ergenekon organization while writing his book."
The reports that claimed the arrested journalist is a member of the alleged Ergenekon gang, which is accused of plotting to topple the government, were not shared with Şık or his lawyers. Legal experts called the move a "violation of Şık's right to defense."
Tora Pekin, a lawyer for Şık, said they had not been able to prepare a proper defense because neither he nor his client were allowed to see the prosecutor's reports, which they were told were part of a "secret investigation."
"Daily Bugün has published 50 full pages of the report full of allegations and my client Ahmet was only asked two questions about these allegations. While he himself was not aware of what he was being accused of doing, the fact that these reports were leaked to some pro-government newspapers is unbelievable," Pekin said.
Bayraktar agreed that keeping the documents from Şık and his lawyers violated the right to defense. "When some newspapers published a couple of questions in the past from the prosecutor's investigation reports, dozens of cases were filed against them. Now some pro-government newspapers are publishing the whole report, which was not shared with the lawyers. This is a huge violation of the law," the academic said.
Copies of Şık's manuscript were seized by the police, in several different raids, this past week.
The unpublished book deals with an alleged organization founded within the Turkish police by the Fethullah Gülen religious community. This has led to suspicions that Şık was arrested due to the book's contents, rather than his involvement in the alleged Ergenekon gang, which he has worked as a journalist to expose.
Daily Bugün, along with Yeni Şafak and Star, all known for their close ties to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), previously published "secret evidence" against another Turkish journalist accused in the Ergenekon case after the arrested reporter, Nedim Şener, and his lawyers were denied access to the documents.
TURKEY: SYRIA IS WORKING ON REFORMS
Turkey's prime minister says Syria is working on reforms, including lifting emergency rule and restrictions on political parties.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Monday he had spoken to President Bashar Assad twice in the past three days and advised the Syrian leader to "answer the people's calls with a reformist, positive approach." Erdogan said: "I did not get 'no' for an answer."
Syria has been rocked by more than a week of demonstrations that began in the southern city of Daraa and exploded nationwide on Friday.
Security forces opening fire on demonstrators in at least six places, killing dozens.
Assad is expected to announce on Tuesday that he is lifting a nearly 50-year state of emergency and moving to annul other harsh restrictions on civil liberties and political freedoms.
CHP DELEGATION IN WASHINGTON
A Republican People's Party (CHP) delegation arrived in Washington on Monday.
The delegation is comprised of CHP deputy chairmen Osman Koruturk, Gulsun Bilgehan, Umut Oran, and Faik Oztrak. The delegation will have meetings at the White House, the Congress, and the State Department. The CHP delegation will also attend meetings at several think-tanks and meet with journalists.