THIS WILL BE ERDOGAN'S LAST ELECTION
Speaking at the closed session of the Justice and Development Party (AKP), Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan made important statements regarding his party's candidate lists.
Recalling that members of his party could not be deputies for more than three terms, Erdogan said: "This will be the last election for me and for many of our friends; therefore some members would be left off of the list this term in order to guarantee the future of the party."
PLOTTERS OF 1980 MILITARY COUP WILL GO TO TRIAL
The button has been pushed for the trial of the plotters of September 12, 1980 military coup.
Following a constitutional referendum last fall, Ankara Public Prosecutor's Office has appointed Prosecutor Murat Demir to open an investigation into the September 12, 1980 military coup. Three retired generals who led the military coup may go on trial.
ISLAMIC BANKERS SEEK GLOBAL STANDARDS
Islamic banking is growing rapidly in the aftermath of the global financial crisis but it desperately needs a global set of standards that every country and institution accepts.
Turkey may not be ready to take a prominent place in the world of Islamic finance due to the ongoing political tension on religion's role in the society, but an expert says, "Islamic finance needs input from the nation on how to proceed."
Noting the often-contradictory interpretations of the principles of Islamic banking, Khalid Ferdaus Howladar, the vice president and senior credit officer of Moody's in the Middle East, suggested that the Turkish Central Bank might "take the lead" in establishing a global standard that would help Islamic banking become more transparent. Howladar was speaking to the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review in Istanbul on the sidelines of the "Seminar on Managing Liquidity in the Islamic Financial Services Industry" event held Wednesday.
Speaking at the event, Central Bank Gov. Durmuş Yılmaz said the establishment of a "carefully designed and constructed" Shariah inspection board could be a step in the right direction, without mentioning any possible role Turkey might play.
"As a new and developing banking model, Islamic banking has some drawbacks compared to conventional banks," Yılmaz said. "In the latter, which has a well-developed interbank money market, lenders can choose from various instruments." He noted that because these instruments rely on interest they cannot be a choice for Islamic banks.
"In the Islamic world, there are various problems about the terminology, products and contracts in Islamic banking," Howladar told the Daily News. "The terms used in Islamic banking do not necessarily have the same meaning in different countries. The meaning often changes from one bank to another."
He gave examples of the use of "musharakah," a joint venture agreement between two or more partners, whereby each partner provides funds to be used in a venture, or "mudarabah," a special kind of partnership whereby one partner gives money to another for investing it in a commercial enterprise. The meanings of these two accords are interpreted differently in different countries.
"There is no global standardization in Islamic banking yet," Howladar said, emphasizing the key problem of Islamic banking.
Central banks to the center stage
But Howladar suggested a way out and one that gives Turkey a key role. The much-needed standardization could be attained through the cooperation of the central banks in countries such as Turkey, Qatar and Malaysia.
"In that sense, Turkey might become a model for protection of consumer rights in Islamic banking and lead other central banks in bringing standardization," Howladar said. "Also the conclusions of the Islamic Financial Services Board (IFSB), an international standard-setting organization, are not binding. As opposed to a powerless organization, cooperation among central banks could create 'some power to bring a standard into Islamic banking in the global sense,'" he said.
The interest in Islamic banking has been on the rise, particularly after the global financial crisis. Last year, the global size of the industry stood at around $1 trillion. In 2015, the figure is expected to surge to $2.7 trillion. Interest rose in the aftermath of the crisis, as Islamic banking is strictly linked to underlying real assets, as opposed to "exotic" derivatives that played a great role in triggering the crisis.
"I like the way that Islamic banking is named "participation banking" in Turkey," said Howladar, pointing out that the industry is not just for the use of Muslims, but has become an alternative for non-Muslims, too. Thus, the term "participation banking" might attract non-Muslims, he said. "Risk has no religion," he added.
FOUR MESSAGES TO SYRIA'S ASSAD
Turkey's Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu met Syrian leader Bashar Assad in Damascus, and conveyed four messages from Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Erodogan's messages were:
1. Do not postpone reforms.
2. Use your advantage in having a Sunni wife.
3. See the examples in the region.
4. Turkey is backing reforms.
OVERTIME FOR "FIRE FIGHTERS"
In a twenty-four hour trip, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu visited Syria, Bahrain and Qatar, all of which are engulfed in a ring of fire.
Davutoglu met Libyan opponents in Qatar. He addressed ambassadors and said, "If the world is on fire, Turkey is the firefighter. Turkey is assuming the leading role for stability in the Middle East."
Davutoglu's first stop was Bahrain, which the world fears could be a place of sectarian clashes. There he met government executives and opponents, and called on both parties to take action. Davutoglu was expected to proceed to Syria after Bahrain, but he changed plans and met Libyan opponents in Qatar.
Davutoglu explained Turkey's plan to the opponents and said, "First a ceasefire should be ensured and a dialogue process should begin after that."
Davutoglu later went to Syria, and said, "Turkey is ready to extend assistance for implementation of reforms as soon as possible."
LEADERS DISCUSS "ISLAMIC PEACE FORCE" IN INDONESIA
Turkish President Abdullah Gul and his Indonesian counterpart Yudhoyono discussed in detail the establishment of an "Islamic Peace Force" in a meeting they held in Jakarta on Tuesday.
President Gul said that he and Indonesian officials exchanged views on the "Islamic Peace Force."
INITIATIVES LAUNCHED FOR LIBYA
Turkey has taken action after rebels in Libya accused Turkey of behaving unwillingly regarding the NATO operation and attacked Turkey's consulate.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan sent Turkish ambassador Omur Solendil to Benghazi as "a special envoy."
In Qatar Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu met Mahmoud Jibril, a representative for the opponents and conveyed Turkey's uneasiness. During the meeting the message was conveyed that Turkey "was not taking sides."
TIME FOR GADHAFI TO GO, SAYS TURKISH FOREIGN MINISTRY
Turkey does not support the continuation of Col. Moammar Gadhafi's rule over Libya, Foreign Ministry officials said Wednesday following recent diplomatic talks with government and opposition representatives from the North African country.
"We are not in favor of the Gadhafi family's rule continuing in Libya. A new administration should be set up in line with the Libyan people's demands," an official from the Turkish Foreign Ministry told the Hürriyet Daly News & Economic Review on Wednesday.
Paying a short visit to Qatar late Tuesday, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu met Libyan opposition member Mahmoud Jibril, who handles foreign affairs for the Transitional National Council, which is based in the opposition stronghold of Benghazi.
Jibril and Ahmet Davutoğlu talked about a possible truce in conflict-hit Libya.
"We are looking for common ground, a starting point but both sides in the Libyan conflict have lots of objections," the official said.
Ahmet Davutoğlu met Monday with Gadhafi's envoy, Libyan Deputy Foreign Minister Abdelati Obeidi, who delivered the message that Gadhafi wanted to end the conflict.
Jibril had been expected to visit Ankara but "the minister had a telephone conversation on Tuesday and learned he was in Qatar, so they decided to meet there," the official said. "Our efforts aim to achieve an immediate truce, then a political negotiation between the parties and a new administration that will take power following an election," he said.
Ankara also conveyed its disappointment to Jibril about protests Wednesday in Benghazi against Turkey. Libyan rebels attacked the Turkish consulate in the city, removed the signs and demanded that the Turkish flag be lowered. Protesters also said Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was a "persona non grata" to the Libyan people.
"The protestors are saying that Erdoğan disappointed them and are urging him to take his place alongside the Libyan revolutionaries," Turkish Consul Ali Davutoğlu.
Last week, Erdoğan said last week that NATO's mission was not to arm the rebels, but protect them. Nevertheless, many protesters chanted, "The revolutionaries want arms," "Erdoğan don't be blithe, look at Misrata," and "Erdoğan, don't talk to Gadhafi."
The consul also said that although the number protestors had decreased, many demonstrators have said they will not leave until the Turkish flag is lowered.
Turkey's former Libyan Ambassador, Ömer Şölendil, was dispatched as Erdoğan's special envoy to the city Wednesday and met with Mustafa Abdul Jalil, head of the Transitional National Council.
"Jibril also expressed regret over the protests and said they could not control all the groups in Benghazi," the official said. The official said the events might also have been a provocation given their sudden appearance. "When our aid ship arrived in Benghazi and evacuated wounded people while delivering humanitarian aid, the Libyans greeted us. But when the ship left the port, some groups started to protest at the Turkish consulate," he said.
Turkey has assumed control of the Benghazi airport to conduct humanitarian relief missions in the war-torn country as part of the multinational operations now under NATO command.
TURKISH FOREIGN MINISTER SAYS TURKEY SUPPORTS REFORMS IN BAHRAIN
Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu held a press conference with Bahrain's Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa in Manama.
"Turkey attaches great importance to integrity, stability and prosperity of Bahrain, Davutoglu said. "We support reforms in Bahrain and reforms will make Bahrain stronger. Also, there have been provocations in the region. We should be very careful," he said.
Davutoglu said that problems in Bahrain should be solved by the Bahraini people.
Bahrain's Foreign Minister Al-Khalifa said, "Tranquility and stability in the region were to the benefits of everyone. Turkey is working for stability in the region."
Foreign Minister Davutoglu also had a meeting with Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa. They discussed regional issues and the situation in Bahrain.
TURKISH MILITARY UNABLE TO UNDERSTAND SOLDIERS' ARREST, STATEMENT SAYS
The General Staff has broken its silence over the "Balyoz" (Sledgehammer) coup plan, saying it had problems understanding the continued detention of 163 military personnel as part of the probe.
Remarks came after a week when Istanbul specially authorized prosecutors Cihan Kansız and Ufuk Ermertcan to handle the ongoing Ergenekon and Balyoz cases, replacing the chief prosecutor, Zekeriya Öz.
The statement posted Wednesday on the website of the General Staff said the prosecution continued with regard to an alleged coup plan which has been linked by some with a military seminar on March 5-7, 2003.
On April 5 the request of the 163 military personnel, currently under arrest, to be released on their own recognizance pending trial was denied for the second time by the court.
"The Turkish Armed Forces, which has avoided involvement in any action which would be interpreted as an intervention in an ongoing judicial process, has repeatedly explained what that seminar is, what it included and who joined the seminar with which instruction by delivering statements and informing the related authorities in a way so as not to affect the judiciary," the statement said.
Similar points have likewise been revealed in expert reports, according to the statement.
"While the picture is like this, it is hard to understand the continued detention of 163 active and retired Turkish Armed Forces personnel," the statement said, adding that it had thus published the court decision demanding the officers' arrests on the forces' website.
TURKEY 'MORE DEMOCRATIC' THAN SOME EU MEMBERS
The Turkish parliament speaker, Mehmet Ali Sahin, said on Tuesday that Turkey had become a more democratic country than several EU-member states.
The Turkish Parliament Speaker, who is currently in the Belgian capital of Brussels to hold a series of talks, addressed the Turkish community living in Belgium. Commenting on Turkey's EU membership process, Sahin said negotiations proceeded slowly due to certain political obstacles presented by the union.
"I can say that Turkey has become a more democratic country than several EU-member states and its economy is steadier than these countries in terms of conformity with Maastricht criteria," he said.
Sahin noted that more than 5 million Turkish nationals currently lived in EU countries and they had become more active in all areas with each passing day. He said there was a Turkish-origin regional minister, a senator, two federal deputies, six regional deputies and nearly 70 municipal council members in Belgium alone.
Pointing to the developments in Turkish economy, Sahin said Turkey had rapidly erased the effects of the global economic crisis and become one of the fastest growing countries in the world. "This process will continue, because there is a political stability in Turkey at the moment," the parliament speaker said.