AMBUSH TO PRIME MINISTER ERDOGAN'S MOTORCADE IN KASTAMONU
Prime Minister Erdogan's motorcade was attacked late Wednesday in Kastamonu after he departed from the city by helicopter. After the attack, one police officer dead and another injured. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's closest aides were on the party bus, NTV reported. The assailants threw hand grenades at the party bus and then opened fire, escaping after an exchange of gunfire. Security forces have launched an operation in the forested area surrounding the crime scene to catch the perpetrators, NTV said. "I begin my speech by expressing my sorrow about an attack in Kastamonu," Erdoğan said in his speech at a subsequent campaign rally in Amasya. "These terrorists, these separatists who understood that they cannot get any result at the elections think that they will be successful in this way. We will not permit these groups to divide this country."
CITIZENS LIVING ABROAD CANNOT CAST VOTES UNLESS THEY EXTEND PASSPORT VALIDITIES
Turkish citizens living abroad can start casting votes for general elections on May 10 for the June 12th general elections. Almost 2,600,000 Turkish citizens residing abroad will have to travel for thousands of kilometers as the Higher Election Board (YSK) do not let them cast votes at consulates. Moreover, these citizens will have to renew their Turkish passports if they are no longer valid, and cast their votes at customs gates.
FILTER ON WAY FOR INTERNET
Under the rule of "safe use of internet" which will take effect in August, users will select one of the four internet filters. Officials said that the target was to protect children and families from harmful content of internet.
SEVEN INJURED IN VIOLENT KURDISH DEMO IN TURKEY
At least seven people, among them four policemen, were injured in southeast Turkey on Wednesday as Kurds held violent demonstrations at the funeral of militants killed by the army. The unrest broke in Diyarbakir, the largest city of the Kurdish-majority region, as some 5,000 people took to the streets for the funeral of the four rebels from the separatist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). One plainclothes policeman was stabbed and three others were beaten as demonstrators attacked their van, smashing its windows, after the vehicle got stuck amidst the simmering crowd. Police fired shots in the air and sprayed the crowd with pressurized water to rescue their colleagues, an AFP reporter witnessed.
"Revenge, revenge!" the mourners chanted as they marched to a cemetery outside Diyarbakir, with the four coffins carried on shoulders and wrapped in PKK flags.
The dead were among seven PKK rebels whom the army killed in two-day clashes in mountains in the province of Tunceli last week. Following the burials, some 200 people -- mostly youths with their faces wrapped in scarves -- hurled petrol bombs, firecrackers and stones at public buildings.
The security forces used tear gas and water cannons to disperse the group after they attempted to march to the local headquarters of the governing Justice and Development Party.
At least two protestors and a journalist were injured in the melee.
Funerals of PKK militants in Turkey routinely turn into demonstrations of Kurdish militancy and are often marred by violence.
DETENTION SHOULD NOT TURN INTO PUNISHMENT, SAYS FORMER TURKISH PRESIDENT
The arrests should not turn into a means of punishment, said former Turkish President Süleyman Demirel on Wednesday, referring to those who are in prison without any conviction as part of the ongoing Ergenekon coup-plotting case.
"Those committing crimes will of course be seized in Turkey but the detention should not turn into a means of punishment," Demirel said, speaking to journalists prior to a conference on the political landscape prior to the June 12 elections.
"This is what the president and prime minister say. They all say this, but today detention is a punishment in Turkey. Nobody takes any action against this situation and my revolt is for that."
Asked to comment on claims he would campaign for the Republican People's Party, or CHP's, Aydın deputy candidate Metin Baydar, Demirel pointed to a misunderstanding, saying CHP's Aydın deputy candidate just invited him to attend a festival.
"I told them I would not be able to attend the event. I am a supra-party figure and I do not engage in daily political affairs," he said.
Asked to comment on allegations he supported Ergenekon suspect Mehmet Haberal, who was nominated as deputy candidate from the CHP, Demirel said CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu already explained why he run Haberal in Zonguldak.
"Kılıçdaroğlu knows what he does and why he does it. He makes his explanation public but you are not satisfied with that. You should be satisfied as it is the party leader's explanation," Demirel said.
Asked whether he had a phone conversation with Kılıçdaroğlu, Demirel confirmed he talked but avoided making further comment on the content of the talk.
Asked to comment on Haberal, Demirel said his job was to oppose injustice, and Haberal was being treated with great injustice. "There is no sign of him plotting a coup or joining an organization. People who know him closely also know that he does not carry a pocketknife and is not a violent person."
"I agree with Kılıçdaroğlu" said Demirel. "Haberal is not only the pride of Zonguldak, but he is also the pride of Turkey."
"The issue here is not Haberal becoming a deputy. He was offered the Presidency, which he declined. There is an injustice here, and it has yet to be repaired due to the politicization of the judiciary. The people off Zonguldak will do their part."
TURKEY, IRAN BOOST ENERGY, TRADE TIES DESPITE GROWING US PRESSURE
Turkey and Iran have signed three agreements over the past three weeks to boost their relationship in almost all fields amid growing pressure from the United States on Ankara to halt ties with its neighbor.
Energy ministers from both sides announced late Tuesday the completion of what they called a "road map" detailing their investment projects in the energy field.
"It brings us great joy that the road map will be approved and signed by both sides today," Iranian Electricity Minister Macit Namcu told reporters late Tuesday at a joint press conference with Energy Minister Taner Yıldız.
The other two agreements were signed by the foreign and state ministries of both countries. The foreign ministries have agreed to open three more border gates and to create a trilateral mechanism that includes Azerbaijan to increase regional cooperation. State Minister Hayati Yazıcı meanwhile inked a protocol on cooperation in the field of "public administration" that brings about an exchange of public personnel.
The United Nations Security Council has imposed sanctions against Iran, as have the United States and the European Union. Turkey said it would only obey the U.N.'s sanctions because it does not believe the usefulness of such measures.
The Turkey-Iran road map envisions forming a technical committee that will look into potential investments in both countries and guide private companies. This committee will create the opportunity to set up renewable energy plants and other energy-related facilities in Tehran, Yıldız said.
The road map foresees increasing the 500-megawatt energy-exchange capacity between the two countries to more than 1,000 megawatts, Namcu said. In addition, the plan will allow for investments in setting up heat stations and energy power plants.
"We especially wanted to focus on renewable energy sources," the Iranian minister said.
US critical on Turkey, Iran ties
Turkey's deepened and diversified economic and energy relations with Iran have sparked further U.S. reaction against Ankara. A senior U.S. official recently voiced concerns about Turkey's boosted ties with Iran, saying they could encourage the regime in Tehran to continue its controversial nuclear program.
"One of the issues that concerns us is as Turkey is looking to improve its economy, one of the ways to achieve that is to increase its global exports, and exports to Iran, which carries a substantial risk," the official told the Hürriyet Daily News.
Turkey and Iran have declared a common objective of increasing trade volume to $30 billion.
The same official also expressed unease about the newly established Turkey-Iran-Azerbaijan trilateral mechanism, which places regional cooperation at the center of its plans.
"We have a concern about the expansion of commercial and trade relations between Turkey and Iran. We recognize that they [Turkey and Azerbaijan] are neighbors to Iran and there will be some commerce. That being said, as trade grows, so does the opportunity for Iran to abuse [it]," the official said.
Turkey and Iran have failed in recent years to finalize a comprehensive energy draft agreement due to Washington's pressure on Ankara. Relations between Turkey and the United States have deteriorated since then Ankara distanced itself from Washington over Tehran's controversial nuclear program.
Ignoring the U.S. criticisms, Turkish government members have emphasized that Turkey is committed to developing relations with its neighbor.
"Iran and Turkey are both brother and neighboring countries. Iran is the second-largest provider of natural gas to Turkey after the Russian Federation. Of course the energy sector is not only limited to this. There will be other initiatives related to meeting Turkey's growing needs," Yıldız told reporters, noting that both countries' economies are growing.
"Iran has one of the largest natural gas and oil reserves in the world," Yıldız said. "It is thus my opinion that cooperation in different fields could take place related to developing these. Our efforts are a part of this."
FRENCH SENATE REJECTS BILL CRIMINALIZING REFUSAL OF INCIDENTS OF 1915
French Senate on Wednesday rejected a draft law penalizing the denial of Armenian allegations on the incidents of 1915.The Senate voted a motion 196-74 to reject the legislation before a debate and a voting at the general assembly.
The proposal was included in the Senate agenda upon the initiative of senators from the Socialist Party. In 2006, the French parliament passed a similar bill making it a crime to deny Armenian allegations regarding the incidents of 1915.
GERMAN AMBASSADOR SAYS IMMIGRANTS WRITE SUCCESS STORIES IN GERMANY
The German ambassador in Ankara said on Wednesday that immigrants living in Germany had written remarkable success stories.
Speaking at a conference on "Turkish-German relations on the 50th anniversary of Turkish migration to Germany" in capital Ankara, German Ambassador Eckart Cuntz said Turkey had gained a unique position for Germany since the signing of a labor force agreement between the two countries in 1960s.
The ambassador said new generations of the Turkish community in Germany were now German citizens and the exact number of Turks living in the country was not known.
Pointing to the contribution of the immigrant communities to Germany's economy, Cuntz said immigrants had an important role in his country's current success.
Cuntz also noted that "education and language" were the most important issues for immigrants.
Delivering a speech, Konrad Adenauer Foundation's Turkey Representative Jan Senkyr said that Turkish-German ties had a traditional meaning for both countries, however, relations were of more significance this year as it was the 50th anniversary of the labor force agreement between the two countries.
Senkyr also noted that political, cultural and academic relations between Turkey and Germany would be on the agenda of the two-day conference held in the Turkish capital.
DANISH FM SAYS TURKEY IS A EUROPEAN COUNTRY AND STRATEGIC ALLY MORE THAN AN EU CANDIDATE
Danish Foreign Minister Lene Espersen said Tuesday that Turkey, an important partner of EU and a NATO ally, was a European country and a strategic ally more than an EU candidate country.
After her meeting with Turkish counterpart Ahmet Davutoglu in Ankara, Espersen told a joint press conference that Turkey and Denmark were allies and had shared many common interests and values. Expressing hope to raise trade between the two countries, Espersen said Danish government attached great importance to strengthening political and commercial ties. Espersen said Turkey was an important partner of Europe in the Middle East, adding that Denmark appreciated Turkey's active role in relations with Libya. Asked whether or not Danish government would take a new step for suspension of terrorist organization PKK's Roj TV broadcasting from Denmark, Espersen said that such a decision could only be made by Danish courts and the government was not able to intervene in courts. She said Danish judges would announce a ruling on Roj TV case in August.
DANISH COURT TO HEAR ROJ TV CASE IN AUGUST, MINISTER SAYS
A Danish court will hold a hearing in August in the case against the Denmark-based satellite TV channel Roj TV for promoting activities of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, in Turkey, a Danish minister said Tuesday.
"In Denmark, these decisions are made by the courts. The Roj TV [case] is awaiting the court while the prosecutors investigate the evidence. I guess there will be a court hearing in August and the judges will announce a ruling," Danish Foreign Minister Lene Espersen told reporters late Tuesday.
After meeting with his Danish counterpart, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu told a joint press conference that Turkey has been closely monitoring the legal case opened against Roj TV on charges that it broadcast programs encouraging terrorism. "Recent developments have shown that terrorism is a crime against humanity," he added.
Roj TV has a Danish broadcasting license but has no studios in Denmark. In 2010, the Danish government backed the filing of charges against two Denmark-based companies, Roj TV and Mesopotamia Broadcast, which prosecutors accuse of promoting the PKK. Danish prosecutors are seeking to have Roj TV's Danish broadcasting license suspended.
Asked if there would be any change in Turkey's foreign policy after the killing of Osama bin Laden, Davutoğlu said killing bin Laden was a landmark in the fight against international terrorism. "Turkey has an ongoing point of view on the matter and there is no need for a change in this policy."
Davutoğlu said Turkey's stance was definite and clear on the matter. "Turkey actually has a principled foreign policy. However, we expect the entire world to maintain the same determination against all terrorist organizations and be in solidarity with Turkey on the matter."
Expressing hope to raise trade between the two countries, Espersen said the Danish government attached great importance to strengthening political and commercial ties. Denmark appreciated Turkey's active role in relations with Libya, he added.
The Danish foreign minister also brought up the controversial press freedom issue and detained journalists in Turkey during his meetings with both Davutoğlu and State Minister Ali Babacan, Daily News has learned.