ELECTION OPERATIONS IN AEGEAN MUNICIPALITIES
Acting on a tip-off, police on Monday raided opposition-held local administrations in the western province of Izmir, and Karabaglar as well as in the Kusadasi town of southwestern province of Aydin. Nearly 40 people were detained in these operations. Police seized documents from the municipalities of Izmir held by the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP). Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, chairman of CHP, said that all these operations were political.
TURKISH PRIME MINISTER VOWS WOMEN MPS TO HAVE HEADSCARVES
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has pledged to resolve the debate whether women wearing headscarves could have a seat in the Turkish parliament. "We want to make progress (in this issue) by settling sensitivities one at a time. There are women who fashion headscarves in my party and they are engaged in politics. Anyway, the parliament is not the only place to do politics. But, with Allah's will, the doors of the parliament will be opened for them and they will continue their struggle there," Erdoğan told a rally of his ruling AK Party in Istanbul's Sultangazi district.
Businessman Serdar İnan made a $30 billion U.S.D. offer for Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's "crazy project." Inan said that they could earn $300 billion U.S.D. from this project in 15 years. The government will create a new Bosphorus with the project, which seeks to fortify the city against environmental disasters that could be caused by tanker collisions.
MIT INFORMS ERDOĞAN
Some claimed that the United States informed its allied countries about the U.S. operation for capturing of Osama Bin Laden, the late leader of the terrorist organization Al-Qaeda. Officials said that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan first received information about the raid from National Intelligence Organization (MİT) Undersecretary Hakan Fidan.
TURKISH EMBASSY IN LIBYA EVACUATED
Turkey has temporarily closed its embassy in the Libyan capital due to increased security risks, the Turkish foreign minister said on Monday. Ahmet Davutoglu said that Turkish Ambassador in Tripoli, Salim Levent, and the diplomatic staff safely crossed into Tunisia. Davutoglu said the shutdown did not mean an end to Turkey's efforts to find a peaceful settlement to the Libyan conflict. Turkey's decision came after British and Italian embassies there came under attack on Sunday.
TURKEY RAISES ALERT LEVEL AFTER BIN LADEN'S DEATH
Turkish security forces raised the level of readiness against possible retaliation after U.S. special forces killed Al Qaeda's founder and long-time leader Osama Bin Laden in a safe house in Pakistan. Security forces have been advised to be on the alert about members of Al Qaeda in Turkey. Security measures have been tightened around state buildings and officials as possible targets. In 2003, an Al-Qaeda-linked group claimed responsibility for Istanbul bombings that killed 60 people at the British consulate, HSBC bank headquarters and two synagogues.
SERBIA APPREHENDS SENIOR OPERATIVE OF TURKISH HEZBOLLAH
Serbian special ops captured on Monday a senior operative of the Turkish Hezbollah, which has no ties to the Hezbollah in Lebanon. Aydin Tamac, the alleged leader of the group's armed wing, who was released from prison in January after an amendment to the country's criminal procedures law -- ordering the release of suspects who have stood trial and arrest for over five years -- entered into force. Tamac was apprehended on Serbia's border with Hungary.
RUNAWAY HIZBULLAH MEMBER CAUGHT IN SERBIA
Aydın Tamak, head of Hizbullah's military wing, who had vanished into thin air after an arrest warrant was issued following his release, was caught at the Serbia-Hungary border while trying to escape to Germany in a cargo truck
A member of Hizbullah, who went missing after being released pending trial in January due to a change in legislation, was found by Serbian police in a cargo truck headed to Germany.
Turkish police had been informed about Aydın Tamak's escape from Turkey using a cargo truck, but were able to identify the truck's license plate only after the head of Hizbullah's military wing had crossed the Turkish border. Police then notified all countries along his expected route, the Anatolia news agency reported Sunday.
After technical searches, the Security Department's Intelligence Directorate learned that Tamak would leave Turkey on April 28 with the help of a human-trafficking network active in Istanbul. The police learned he was hiding in a cargo truck; the intelligence unit informed Interpol about the plate number and model of the vehicle. All countries en route to Germany were also notified.
The truck carrying Tamak was spotted in Serbia, where police, who had received a special note from their Turkish counterparts, pursued the vehicle and stopped it before it entered Hungary at midnight on April 29. SWAT teams recaptured Tamak, who was hiding in the truck.
A Turkish ID was found on Tamak, who criticized the operation by the Serbian police and denied that he was the fugitive sought. Serbian police, however, identified him through his fingerprints, which were also sent to Belgrade by the Turkish Interpol. Tamak admitted his identity in the first round of questioning, and was then arrested.
Serbian Interior Minister İvica Daciç said Sunday that Tamak's identification and fingerprint information had been sent to Ankara, and that further action would be taken once directives were received from Turkey. A special team will reportedly be sent to Serbia to interrogate the Hizbullah member.
Regarding the truck driver, Daciç said he would be charged with human trafficking.
Tamak had been released due to criminal code amendment:
Turkey's Supreme Court of Appeals released Tamak in January after Article 102 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, or CMUK, restricting long detention periods, entered into force. He disappeared sometime thereafter, vanishing as the court handed down a life sentence March 15.
Several members of Hizbullah, a Turkish-based fundamentalist terrorist organization unrelated to the Lebanese Hezbollah, had been accused of killing 150 people and leaving hundreds wounded.
Tamak was first arrested in the southeastern province of Bingöl in July 1997, and released in May 2000. The Hizbullah archive confiscated in Istanbul revealed that he was one of the leaders of the organization's military wing. Tamak was detained again, but no decision was reached in his court case for 10 years. He was set free after the release of the first group of Hizbullah detainees, according to Article 102 of the amended CMUK.
Although the changes to the criminal code were known in advance, no court ruling was announced in the Hizbullah case prior to its going into effect. Instead, the top appeals court released 23 Hizbullah members, including two leaders of the group, Edip Gümüş and Cemal Tutar, following the implementation of Article 102.
Twenty days after their release, the Penal Department made a final decision sentencing Hizbullah defendants to life in prison. None of the accused, however, could be caught the second time around, and an arrest warrant was issued for all Hizbullah fugitives.
TURKEY SEES IT AS AN IMPORTANT STEP IN FIGHT AGAINST TERRORISM
Turkish Foreign Ministry said Monday that Osama Bin Laden's death marked a significant step in today's fight against terrorism.
The ministry said in a statement that al-Qaeda leader Bin Laden, who was responsible for many terrorist acts that killed thousands of innocent people around the world, was part of an unacceptable effort to legitimize the terrorist acts he plotted and encouraged by exploiting Islam.
Al-Qaeda and Bin Laden were also responsible for linking Islam and terrorism, and by this way they paved the way for those who wanted to harm Islam, the statement said.
"Turkey is strongly against this link and its exploitation," it said. "It is very important for the international community to be aware of this difference."
The statement added that the end of Bin Laden was an example that justice would eventually be done for terrorists who killed innocent people.
"It is a lesson not only for al-Qaeda but also for all terrorist organizations," the statement said.
WORLD MORE SECURE NOW
World leaders reacted to the news that Osama Bin Laden was dead in a U.S. operation in Pakistan on Monday. Turkish President Abdullah Gül said, "This development shows that terrorists and heads of terrorist organizations will end up eventually, either dead or alive, in the hands of security forces." Gül said that the end of the world's most dangerous and sophisticated terrorist should be a lesson to everyone. "I greatly welcome it," he added. The European Union said that it was a great success and the world was a more secure place now.
TURKISH PRESIDENT GUL SAYS TURKEY-EU VISA PROBLEM TARNISHES EU'S CREDIBILITY
Turkish President Abdullah Gul said Monday that the EU's reluctance to start visa talks with Turkey discredits EU, not Turkey.
"The EU starts talks even with Russia and the Ukraine [to remove visa restrictions], but not with Turkey. It discredits the EU, not Turkey," Gul told a press conference with his Austrian counterpart Heinz Fisher in Vienna.
Gul embarked on a visit to Austria earlier in the day; he is the first Turkish president to visit Vienna in 13 years.
Gul said Turkish products can move freely inside the EU, however, the Turkish people cannot; he described it as a "stark contrast."
"We have opened all our doors to European countries. There is no other non-EU country that is in the Customs Union," Gul said.
"We are facing weird problems. For instance, there is a trade fair in Vienna and you are showcasing your products here. Your products can come here, but the producers of them cannot because of visa troubles," he said.
Gul also said that the EU was considering visa-free travel to nationals of countries in the Balkans; however, the bloc was reluctant to start visa talks with Turkey, which signed the Customs Union agreement 16 years ago.
Gul said he expected EU countries and officials to think about the problem and make a fair decision.
On the integration of Turkish people living in Austria, Gul said he discussed the issue in detail with his Austrian counterpart.
There are nearly 200,000 Turkish people in Austria and half of them are Austrian nationals, Gul recalled. He said, "there are some problems about the integration. There is no need to hide them. But we must work together to overcome these problems."
AHMADINEJAD TO ARRIVE IN TURKEY AMID US PRESSURE
Iranian President Ahmadinejad will join the United Nations-sponsored Least Developed Countries Summit, Iranian officials told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review on Monday.
Turkey will host the fourth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries on May 9-13 in Istanbul -- one of the gatherings to help poorer nations improve prosperity and infrastructure. The Iranian leader's trip to Turkey coincides with growing pressure from the United States to halt the activities of the Iranian banks in Turkey.
Meanwhile, Israeli President Shimon Peres will not participate in the gathering, as the summit coincides with an Israeli national holiday. Relations between Turkey and Israel began to strain after an Israeli attack on Gaza that killed about 1,400 Palestinians in 2009.
Relations between the two countries grew even more tense after an Israeli raid on a Gaza-bound Turkish aid ship, during which eight Turks and one Turkish-American were killed in 2010. Following Israel's attack, Ankara demanded an apology and compensation before relations could be normalized.
"As we organize this meeting together with the U.N., I sent letters to all heads of state and government of U.N. member countries and invited them to the meeting. I have invited the Israeli president within this scope," President Abdullah Gül said in April, while underlining that the invitation had been extended by the U.N., not by the Turkish government.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy is also invited, along with the Armenian President, Serzh Sargsyan, whose attendance was unconfirmed.
Turkish President Abdullah Gül and the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon are scheduled to make the opening remarks at the conference.
Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai and Azerbaijan Prime Minister Artur Rasizadea are among the confirmed participants.
PROTOTYPE OF TURKEY'S FIRST NATIONAL TANK "ALTAY" READY, SAYS GONUL
The Turkish Minister of National Defense, Vecdi Gonul, said Saturday that the prototype of Turkey's first national tank "ALTAY" was ready.
Speaking to reporters in the town of Manavgat in the southern province of Antalya on Saturday, Gonul said that "ALTAY" tanks would be better equipped than all tanks presently used by the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK).
What is important is to produce tanks fully made in Turkey; the number of "ALTAY" tanks to be produced will be determined according to needs, Gonul said.
A prototype of the "ALTAY" tank will be on display in the northwestern province of Istanbul on Tuesday, May 10.