TALIBAN GETS APPROVAL TO OPEN TURKISH OFFICE
The New York Times was told by former Taliban Administration Minister Arsala Rahmani that the Taliban has obtained permission from the Turkish government to open an office in Turkey.
As a first step, Rahmani says the Taliban will use the office for peace negotiations with the current Afghan government.
It has not been determined if the office will remain after that initial undertaking.
RED LINE DRAWN BETWEEN TURKEY AND SYRIA
A counter-terrorism agreement with Syria has been approved.
The agreement states that Turkey will now extradite PKK members who are Syrian citizens and a direct telephone line will be established between the chiefs of general staffs of the two countries.
ASSAD APPROVES CITIZENSHIP FOR KURDS
Turkey has called on the Syrian government to make reforms and now Syria has taken critical step.
President Assad has encouraged reforms and has heard the demands of the Kurdish people who have been asking for citizenship rights for years.
Now Syrian President Bashar Al-Asad has formally recognized citizenship rights for the Kurds and a decree has been issued that will grant the Kurdish people a path to citizenship.
SOLUTION IS DEMOCRACY IN LIBYA
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan suggested a three-phase plan to end the clash in Libya.
1- A cease-fire shall be declared and Gadhafi shall withdraw from the cities he attacked.
2- Non-discriminatory humanitarian zones will be set up.
3- The change to democracy change shall begin immediately.
Noting that negative propaganda was being made against Turkey, Prime Minister Erdoğan said, "We are noting them down" by mentioning some forces.
ATAC FLIES 15,000 KM TO GET ARRESTED
Turkey's military attache to Australia, Colonel Murat Ataç, for whom the court issued a warrant of arrest under the Balyoz Plan case, arrived in Turkey yesterday.
Colonel Ataç surrendered at the headquarters in Istanbul after flying 20 hours and 15,000 kilometers. After transfer to Silivri, he appeared in court. He was arrested and sent to the Hasdal Prison.
DON'T LET ISRAELIS INTO ALANYA
Chairman of the Humanitarian Aid and Rights Foundation (IHH) Bulent Yildirim says that Turkey should not allow Israelis into Alanya before their government officially apologizes for the Mavi Marmara incident.
He says the foundation is planning a second humanitarian aid flotilla to the Gaza strip on the anniversary of the Mavi Marmara incident. The flotilla will consist of many ships from various countries to show that the eastern Mediterranean is not under control of Israel.
Yıldırım said, "We are also ready to put convoys on the highways and we are in process of purchasing an aircraft to provide aid to the Gaza strip."
PALESTINE SUMMITS BID FOR ISTANBUL
As a self-declared regional mediator, Turkey is hoping to mediate between feuding Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas in the hopes of securing a unified government before possible Palestinian statehood in September.
"It is positive that both sides want national reconciliation to be established as soon as possible," Foreign Minister Davutoğlu said.
Turkey has proposed that the leaders of Hamas and Fatah hold a meeting in Istanbul to resolve their differences and form a unified government.
"Turkish President Abdullah Gül had a phone conversation with Palestinian Administration President Mahmoud Abbas last week and also sent the Turkish ambassador in Jerusalem to talk with Abbas on Saturday about scheduling a meeting," a senior diplomat told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review Thursday on the condition of anonymity.
A similar proposal was made to Hamas political bureau leader Khaleed Meshaal by Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu in Syria late Wednesday. Meshaal had not categorically dismissed the possibility of making contact with Fatah, a Turkish diplomat told the Daily News on Thursday.
Turkey's foreign minister used the Meshaal meeting to test the waters for a new Palestinian reconciliation initiative.
The secularist Fatah, which controls the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, has proposed elections and the establishment of a transitional unified government formed of technocrats instead of politicians from the two factions. Meanwhile, the Islamist Hamas controls the Gaza Strip.
Turkey's initiative emerged following Abbas' call on March 16 to hold elections with Hamas so as to set up a unified government with a six-month mandate ahead of a plan to ask the United Nations in September for official recognition of a Palestinian state based on the pre-1967 borders.
Davutoğlu had a phone conversation with Abbas during a conference in London last week as part of the reconciliation efforts.
Gül has also discussed meeting the two Palestinian leaders.
Abbas did not want to restart the negotiation process again with the same issues that the parties have been negotiating for four years and could not reach an agreement, a senior diplomat told the Daily News. Abbas proposed going directly to elections without any negotiations, the diplomat said, adding that Hamas had not officially responded to the proposal.
Davutoğlu proposed holding elections for the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and the Legislative Council first, postponing the presidential elections. However, Abbas refused to separate them and insisted on holding all the elections simultaneously, the diplomat said.
Elaborating on what could be the next move for the reconciliation process, the source said if Abbas sees suitable grounds, then he wants to visit the Gaza Strip to begin talks with the Islamist government about the conditions for reconciliation. Such a meeting could lead to a breakthrough, the source said.
"It is positive that both sides want to secure national reconciliation as soon as possible. Mr. Abbas is giving priority to setting up the government, while Mr. Meshaal attaches importance to implementing all elements of reconciliation. We have the impression that common ground could be found," Turkish Foreign Minister Davutoğlu told reporters late Wednesday.
Abbas is looking for a partner to accompany him during his visit to Gaza, he said, adding that the partner could be any figure from the Arab world, perhaps someone from the Arab League.
"The Israeli-Palestinian conflict should not be neglected when a wave of change is coursing through the Middle East because this is one of the conflicts at the core of the change and many other problems, Davutoğlu said. "A possible crisis in Palestine would cause greater instability in the region. Positive steps on the Palestinian dispute would also affect the wave of changes in a positive manner," he added.
The minister said Israel's recent operations in the Gaza Strip "have posed a great risk."
Davutoğlu said Turkey and Egypt were not rivals, but had similar views on this issue.
ANKARA WELCOMES GCC MEDIATION FOR YEMEN
The Foreign Ministry on Wednesday welcomed and supported a proposal from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), for mediation between the administration of Yemen and opposing groups.
"We expect Yemen's administration to show respect for the fundamental rights and freedoms of demonstrators who have been expressing their expectations and demands through peaceful means," the ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.
"We also expect the administration to take all necessary measures soon to halt attacks on civilians. We wish Yemen's future to be determined within the scope of a comprehensive national dialogue process that would be carried out with the participation of all segments of the society," the ministry said.
'COALITION COMMENTS' TO U.S. DIPLOMATS NOT STRANGE, TURKISH BUSINESSMAN SAYS
Mustafa Koç, head of the ruling board of Koç Holding, has said there was nothing strange about comments he made in 2009 in which he dismissed the government's chances of re-election.
Koç, who was originally quoted by a leaked U.S. embassy cable, said the economic crisis was at its worst in 2009 and that he listed a number of scenarios when he was asked about a possible coalition in the 2011 polls.
"There is nothing strange with that," Koç said.
In the cable published Tuesday by the Wikileaks' Turkish partner, daily Taraf, Koç told then-U.S. Ankara Ambassador James Jeffery in 2009 that he believed the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), would not do well in the 2011 elections and that a coalition would not be a surprise. He also criticized the government for a non-deal with the International Monetary Fund.
Speaking Thursday to business channel CNBC-E, Koç said, "I remember meeting James Jeffery numerous times. A lot of foreigners come here, they ask questions about Turkey's economy, politics and surroundings, and I tell them my opinions."
ANKARA WILL SOON HAVE ITS OWN 'TAHRIR SQUARE'
The Egyptian Embassy in Ankara has contacted the Ankara Municipality to ask about naming a square in the city "Tahrir Square," after the symbol of the Egyptian revolution.
"Very soon, you will have Tahrir Square in Ankara, with the help of the Ankara Municipality," Egyptian Ambassador to Ankara Abderahman Salaheldin told a group of reporters on Thursday. The ambassador said they had not selected a specific park but made a suggestion, which had not yet been decided on by the municipality.
Salaheldin also announced that maritime transportation between Turkey's Mersin and Egypt's Alexandria would begin shortly. "Soon we will be operating at least the first line," he said. The Egyptian envoy said business was getting back to normal in his country after the revolution as it was now looking towards parliamentary elections in September and presidential elections two or three months afterward. He emphasized that the upcoming era would see close cooperation between Turkey and Egypt.
Salaheldin said, "Every country is unique with its own characteristics but Egypt can provide a good example in the region for those who want change." He also said his country welcomed increasing Turkish interest in "it's own backyard." "This is something welcomed by Egypt quite some time ago, not only recently," Salaheldin said.
The envoy praised Turkish President Abdullah Gül as the first head of state who visited his country after the revolution and thanked Turkish efforts for the evacuation of Egyptians from the crisis in Libya.