TURKISH PM PROMISES NEW CONSTITUTION AMID OPPOSITION CRITICISM
The ruling party will launch efforts to prepare a new civilian constitution with broad public participation right after the June 12 general election, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Monday.
"We will form the new constitution that all will call their own by listening to everyone who has a say on the issue, and receiving the contributions and criticism of all," Erdoğan said, addressing the 66th General Assembly of the Turkish Union of Chambers of Commodities Exchanges, or TOBB.
Erdoğan's top political rival, main opposition Republican People's Party, or CHP, chief Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, also participated in the assembly. The two men, who have traded harsh words at their parties' election rallies, only shook hands at the event and did not speak to each other. The prime minister left the hall before Kılıçdaroğlu began his remarks.
"We will eliminate all hurdles before democracy and the economy by changing the most important legal text into a structure that suits Turkey," Erdoğan said.
In his speech, the prime minister also targeted the alleged Ergenekon gang, which is accused of plotting a coup and terrorist attacks; he said his government was carrying out a tough struggle against such forces and would continue to do so in the future.
Indirectly criticizing the opposition parties, including the CHP, for putting Ergenekon suspects on their deputy candidate lists, and referring to the recent "tape scandal" surrounding the Nationalist Movement Party, or MHP, Erdoğan said there was no place in Turkey for gangs that first shaped political parties via plots and then spread to the parties' candidate lists.
"It will not be possible for Turkey to return to the past, in which political engineers and gangs directed the country," Erdoğan said, adding that the so-called gangs have a negative effect not just on democracy but also on the economy, unemployment and people's livelihoods.
Noting that his ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, was subjected to attacks, Erdoğan said the connection between the gangs within the country and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, even took place in the Ergenekon indictments.
Violent acts by terror organizations and their affiliates ahead of every election implied an intervention in public will and aimed to shape political life, he said.
"At first in Kastamonu and then in Silopi, attacks took place against police. Attacks with Molotov cocktails also targeted our election offices in Adana, Van and Diyarbakır. Some try to threaten us but we will not yield," Erdoğan said.
The prime minister also said Turkey suffered a lot from the mentality that "Today is today and tomorrow is tomorrow," referring to a famed statement by former President Süleyman Demirel, who has often been subjected to criticism by Erdoğan during election process.
'Business world scared'
In his speech, CHP chief Kılıçdaroğlu tackled the government's economic policies, saying the economy "is not well-managed in Turkey."
"If it were being handled well, there would not have been four tax amnesties within nine years. Who wouldn't be willing to pay their taxes and premiums? They can't pay and you [the government] add the interest. Then you announce a tax amnesty to enable them to pay their taxes," Kılıçdaroğlu said.
The CHP leader said the business world is scared to level criticism at the government because of its authoritarian approach. "I know and you know why you are scared. They don't know for what purpose their taxes are spent... If the business world can't come up with a healthy criticism, it points to a democracy problem in the country," he said; his words were received with an enthusiastic applause from the audiences.
The CHP does not just criticize the government but also proposes solutions and projects to address Turkey's problems, Kılıçdaroğlu added.
Dialogue with Tüzmen
Kılıçdaroğlu meanwhile held a short chat with former AKP minister Kürşat Tüzmen, who was the subject of the CHP leader's criticism with regard to remarks by Erdoğan; he said he did not include some of his ministers on the list of AKP deputy candidates because of their involvement in corruption.
Kılıçdaroğlu called on Erdoğan to reveal the corrupt ministers, implying that Tüzmen, who was excluded from the list, could be among them.
Tüzmen said he told Kılıçdaroğlu that if he had something to say, he should say it directly to him.
"I told him that I knew him while he was general director [of the Social Security Authority, or SSK.] I also asked whether he knew me while I was undersecretary," Tüzmen told reporters. "He [Kılıçdaroğlu] said his words didn't target [me] as he knew [me] as an honest person. So the issue is over."
ANKARA DID NOT CELEBRATE ISRAEL
Israeli Ambassador Gaby Levy held a reception for the 63rd anniversary of the Israel State yesterday. On the civilian side, no ministers attended the reception and on the military side only low ranking officers were attended. When asked, Ambassador Levy said "There is a saying in Turkish: Hope everything will be fine."
BDP SUPPORTERS PROTEST AGAINST ARMY OPERATIONS
Supporters of Turkey's main pro-Kurdish party gathered in central Istanbul on Monday to protest the recent military operations against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK.
The demonstrators included Sabahat Tuncel and Sırrı Süreyya Önder, who are running as independent candidates in the upcoming general elections with the support of the Peace and Democracy Party, or BDP.
Twelve alleged PKK militants were killed over the weekend in the southeastern province of Şırnak's Uludere district.
The recent escalation in clashes is a sign that the ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, has turned over the job of dealing with the "Kurdish issue" to the Turkish military, said Sırrı Süreyya Önder, an independent deputy candidate supported by the pro-Kurdish BDP.
Speaking during the Istanbul protest, Önder said the Kurdish people would not let the government or the military tread on their rights.
Tuncel, who currently represents Istanbul in Parliament, said the same people who once criticized military operations in the 1990s are responsible for worse events. "There will be more to come after the elections. What will happen after the elections will be done to sustain the revolutionary struggle of Kurdistan," Tuncel said, calling on Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to have a better understanding of Turkey.
Levent Tüzel, an independent candidate from Istanbul's Third Region, blamed the ruling party for "impeding the peace process," adding that they would not be stopped "by any impediments in our cause to liberate their people."
"We made a promise to our people and we will keep it," he said.
The operation, conducted by the Turkish military after the PKK decided on a cease-fire, was inhumane, said Freedom and Solidarity Party, or ÖDP, leader Alper Taş. "The government says 'Our shared attribute is Islam,' but what has been done is against the rules of this religion," he said.
The PKK has been designated as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.
Following the speeches in Istanbul, some members of the protesting group sought to march but were thwarted by riot police, who used tear gas to disperse the protesters. Some demonstrators threw rocks, bottles and fireworks at the police officers.
TENSION IN EAST
Turkey's west focuses on general elections, but in the country's southeast, the funeral of 12 PKK terrorists caused tension. As the tension has grown -- after the killing of 12 terrorists in the rural region of the southeastern Şırnak province continues -- a group of people, including Diyarbakır Mayor Osman Baydemir and independent deputy candidates Gültan Kışanak and Hasip Kaplan, went to the site of the clash. The group's attempt to take the bodies of 3 terrorists was not permitted by authorities. Shop owners closed their stores and schools were boycotted all across the region.
DEATH KNOWS NO BORDERS
Hundreds of people crossed the border to take the bodies of the PKK members killed in the north of Iraq. Considering the incidents that have taken place in the region for the last 27 years, such a thing happened for the first time. As the election date gets closer, tension has escalated in Turkey's southeast. People who crossed the border ignored security forces' warning fire. A couple of bodies were brought back from the other side of the border. Military forces seized the bodies for autopsy.
CROSS-BORDER MOVE TO GET PKK BODIES
Around 300 supporters of Turkey's main pro-Kurdish party crossed the Turkey-Iraqi border Monday to retrieve the bodies of some of the 12 alleged terrorists killed by the Turkish military during operations Friday and Saturday.
Members of the Peace and Democracy Party, or BDP, assembled Monday morning after learning that the three corpses of alleged Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, members had reportedly been left on the Iraqi side of the border after the clash.
The group, which included independent BDP-backed candidates Gültan Kışanak and Hasip Kaplan, as well as Diyarbakır Mayor Osman Baydemir, walked for about an hour in the Biligan Hill region, part of the border province of Adana's Yemişli village. When they reached the border, they faced resistance from stepped-up Turkish security forces, who shot into the air when the group insisted on crossing to the Iraqi side.
Kışanak, Kaplan and Baydemir waited in the Bilican Hill region while other members of the group retrieved the corpses. Meanwhile, more security special troops landed in the area from Sikorsky helicopters, bringing security measures to a very high level.
The military blocked the BDP convoy carrying the corpses on its way back to Yemişli village, and seized the bodies, which will undergo autopsies. The military also detained some of the people who crossed the border and entered Iraq, although other members of the group were seen escaping from the border gate.
The Turkish General Staff refused to make any comment on the incident to the Hürriyet Daily News on Monday.
Tension in the country continues
Tension has been high in Turkey's southeastern provinces after 12 people, reportedly members of the outlawed PKK, were killed in the border province of Şırnak's Uludere district, in two separate operations by the Turkish security forces over the weekend. Protesters confronted police in Diyarbakır's Silvan district and in Şırnak's Cizre and Silopi districts.
The PKK is designated as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.
Protesters in Diyarbakır set a market on fire, while those in Silopi closed the roads with barricades, set a construction site on fire and threw fireworks and Molotov cocktails at police, who responded with gas bombs and pressurized water.
A three-day period of mourning has been initiated in Şırnak while craftsmen and tradesmen in the provinces of Diyarbakır, Batman and Şırnak, as well as in other surrounding districts, closed up shop in protest to the military operations.
The main opposition Republican People's Party, or CHP, also did not open its Diyarbakır election bureau Monday, out of "respect [for] the decision of the people" there.
"We are closing our only election office [in Diyarbakır], pertaining to Salih Sümer, out of respect for our people's decision," said CHP provincial leader Muzaffer Değer.
Six corpses were brought Monday morning to Şırnak State Hospital, where strict security measures were taken. Relatives of the alleged PKK members came to the hospital to retrieve their bodies.
Silopi Chief of Police Selim Kan has meanwhile been relieved of his duties by the Governor's Office in Şırnak following an investigation launched after the killing of two police officers on May 11. Şırnak Gov. Vahdettin Özkan issued the directive to dismiss Kan from his post on charges of negligence. The family of one of the police officers, Gökmen Şimşek, has filed a lawsuit in the Edirne Prosecutor's Office against the police chief.
NATION TIRED OF TERRORISM
Prior to elections, the terrorist organization turns every development into a demonstration. The terrorist organization, which declared a 3-day period ofmourning after 12 terrorists were killed in southeastern Şırnak province, carries out a "terrorizing shutter campaign" in the region. Shopkeepers cannot open their stores and they don't know what to do. Public transportation has stopped and garbage is not collected in the region. Citizens are experiencing huge difficulty in such an atmosphere. Their reaction is the same: "They cannot shut down the nation's will."
COUP COMPENSATION FROM EUROPEAN COURT OF HUMAN RIGHTS
European Court of Human Rights, or ECHR, made a symbolic decision for victims of 9/11. Osman Erden, who was a primary school teacher in southeastern province of Kahramanmaraş during the 1980 coup, had been dismissed from profession in 1982 on charges that he was "objectionable".
Erden opposed this decision and has struggled against the decision for years. He managed to return to his job in 1989.
Erden many times applied to the ministry to get his salaries and personal rights over the last 7 years. Every time he filed a case it was rejected. When Erden could not get his right from the state, he applied to ECHR. The ECHR ordered Turkey to pay 20,000 euros compensation on charges that it acted against the proncipal of a "fair trial."