ADMINISTRATIVE COURT PARTIALLY SUSPENDS NEW ALCOHOL RESTRICTIONS
Turkey's top administrative court partially suspended restrictions, halting two provisions in the regulation.
Wednesday on alcohol sales that were introduced in January to strong public reaction, The ruling party tabled one of the most disputed articles in the law, one which had banned alcohol sales at events and activities "for children and young people," dealing a blow to festival and concert organizers and attendees.
The regulation had come under particular fire for defining "young people" as those up to 24 years of age, a provision the court said contradicted existing laws that set 18 as the minimum legal age for buying and consuming alcohol.
The Council of State made its decision as it continued to examine a petition by the Ankara Bar Association seeking the annulment of the entire bill. It also suspended a second provision of the law that had prohibited shops from selling liquor in small bottles, which regulators argued made alcohol easier to access for young people.
The regulation was passed in January by the ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, with the aim of protecting young people from alcoholism. Its adoption triggered protests saying that the party was targeting liberal lifestyles.
The law also affects adults attending celebratory events with a provision that bans authorized sellers, such as catering companies, from taking liquor outside their premises.
MHP MAY BE FORCED TO WITHDRAW FROM ELECTIONS
Huseyin Gulerce, known as a very close friend of Fethullah Gulen mentioned that there might be more tapes about MHP officials and MHP might be forced to withdraw from elections. He said whoever was attempted to design a new CHP with sex-tapes of former chairman Deniz Baykal, is the same group that is now attempting to redesign MHP.
SHOCKING ALLEGATION FROM CHP'S SEYHAN
CHP Pariament Member Tacidar Seyhan told the press that he and his team found audio–visual recording devices in 20 houses of Members of Parliament. He said: "I don't want to the give names of those deputies, because they asked for me to keep them confidential. As an expert in Information Technologies, my teammates and I searched over 50 deputies' houses upon their own demand, and we found hi-tech devices in 20 of them. Those deputies are not only from CHP."
QUESTIONS LINGER OVER CANCELED MILITARY DRILLS IN TURKEY'S AEGEAN
The last-minute cancellation of two key military exercises, a first for the Turkish military, has filled the capital with speculations as to the reasons behind the decision, which have not been revealed. The idea that the cancellation was made as a unilateral gesture to Greece has, however, been ruled out.
Turkish Chief of General Staff Gen. Işık Koşaner met with Turkish President Abdullah Gül in an unscheduled meeting late Wednesday, likely to discuss the military's decision to call off the Efes-2011 and Denizkurdu-2011 military drills. The cancellation was announced late Tuesday by the chief of General Staff through a brief statement released on its website. The statement did not say why the drills had been canceled, and there have been no further explanations from the chief of General Staff when the Hürriyet Daily News went to press late Wednesday.
The only public statement on the matter came from Defense Minister Vecdi Gönül, who said Wednesday that "the cancellation was at behest of the military."
"The information I got is that it was canceled as a result of their internal evaluation," he said, adding that he had been scheduled to watch the exercise.
The Efes-2011 exercise began May 3 and was scheduled to be completed May 29, while the Denizkurdu-2011 one was launched May 16 and was scheduled to end May 26. Because of this, what the chief of General Staff called off was only the last, and mostly ceremonial, parts of the exercises.
One of the scenarios discussed in Ankara has been the idea that the cancellations could be seen as a reaction against the government, especially after the arrest of many high-ranking naval officers as part of an ongoing case. A prosecutor recently sought a life sentence for Vice Adm. Kadir Sağdıç, commander of the Southern Sea Area Command, on charges of trying to topple the government.
The fact that neither President Gül nor Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan would attend the closure ceremonies of the exercises may have also pushed the military to call off the last phase of the drills. The meeting between Gül and Gen. Koşaner was seen in this context by many observers in the capital.
Foreign Ministry officials said they had been unaware of the cancellation of the drills and were left uninformed about the reason for the move, although they have sought an answer from the chief of General Staff. "We were told that they have been canceled due to a military-technical reason," a senior official told the Daily News.
The official ruled out the possibility of a unilateral gesture to Greece. "Turkish jets were intercepted by Greek jets almost every day during the implementation of the Denizkurdu exercise. How could we show them a gesture?" the official asked.
The cancellation also came as a surprise to diplomatic missions in Ankara. "Nobody seems to understand the reason behind the cancellation," a senior foreign diplomat told the Daily News on condition of anonymity. "But we don't think it could be a show of goodwill toward Greece."
A low-ranking Greek military delegation has meanwhile held talks in Ankara with the Turkish chief of General Staff to review the implementation of the existing confidence-building measures. Diplomatic sources said the talks were focused on existing measures and there was no expectation on either side to bring about fresh proposals to boost the measures.
AT LEAST SEVEN INJURED IN ISTANBUL EXPLOSION
At least seven people, including one police officer, were injured in an explosion in Istanbul's Beşiktaş district, broadcaster NTV reported, citing police sources on Thursday.
The explosion occurred beneath a overpass in a garbage can in the city's busy Etiler neighborhood, very close to the Police Academy. Questions rise as if the target was police forces.
An eyewitness told broadcaster CNNTürk that he saw at least seven people lying on the ground following the blast, Agence France-Presse reported.
Ambulances, fire engines and police were dispatched to the location of the explosion.
Police were cordoning off the area as a precaution against a possible second explosion, CNNTürk said. There was no information as to the cause of explosion.
PM ERDOGAN PROMISES "SECOND CITY" FOR TURKISH CAPITAL
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan revealed his master plan for Ankara on Wednesday, vowing to create a second city in the Turkish capital with a population of 500,000.
The ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP will give Ankara a face-lift if brought back to power in the June elections, the prime minister said, promising the city a new stadium, zoo and botanic park, while also vowing to turn the capital into a center for the defense industry as well as religious, health and thermal tourism.
"When Ankara was declared the capital, it had a population of 40,000. The population has now reached 5 million. However, the city was not planned for the increase in population, and Ankara [thus] did not urbanize properly," Erdoğan said.
While some areas of the city will be renovated under the AKP plan, "SouthCity" will be a completely new settlement, the prime minister said, declining to reveal its location. "It will be designed not only as a housing suburb, but as a living area," Erdoğan said.
Promised makeovers for other parts of the city include improving living standards in Mamak and beautifying Kızılay.
The need for a new city project that would create new population zones should be questioned, said Orhan Sarıaltun, the Ankara chief of the Turkish Union of Engineers' and Architects' Chambers, or TMMOB's, City Planning Department.
"I think there is a 'calculation error' in the new city project. I don't think there is a need to create new residential and population areas. There are already high-population zones within the existing texture of the city and similar projects have been taken to court for annulment that would cause residential areas to boom," Sarıaltun told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review.
"Projects are being produced to increase the capital's population from around 4 million to 10 million within the next few years. But how would problems such as unemployment or transportation be handled if such a project is to be initiated?" he asked.
According to Sarıaltun, the "SouthCity" project would likely be carried out in the far south of Ankara's Gölbaşı district, and would be disconnected from the city center if it is it not accompanied by a subway or other proper transportation infrastructure.
Defense industry center
The prime minister also vowed that Ankara would become a capital of the Turkish defense industry. A majority of the Turkish Armed Forces, or TSK's, needs are met in Turkey, with 80% of the industry already located in Ankara. In addition to helicopters, tanks, jets, rockets and ships, Ankara has also produced Turkey's first satellite, Erdoğan noted, adding that a $100 million space center would also be set up in the capital.
Ankara is already a center of the defense industry as it is home to top defense manufacturers such as Turkish Aerospace Industries, or TAI, and ASELSAN, retired Maj. Gen. Armağan Kuloğlu told the Daily News.
"The project is not a new one. TAI, the country's second-largest defense company, Aselsan, a military electronics firm, and military electronics company Havelsan are all based in Ankara. The Defense Ministry Undersecretary, which carries out coordination on defense issue, is likewise based in Ankara," Kuloğlu said.
"Some additional departments could be built. But there is a difference in rhetoric between saying they will expand the capacity of Ankara, which is already a defense-industry center, with further investments and saying they would convert the city into a center for the defense industry," the retired officer added.
Vowing to open two city hospitals with a 7,000-bed capacity in Keçiören and Bilkent, Erdoğan also declared that the AKP "wants Ankara to be the capital of health, too."
The social projects announced by the prime minister include opening the largest zoo in the Middle East, setting up a religious museum in the city center, establishing Turkey's first botanical park, constructing a 1.8-million-square-foot fairgrounds and building a 40,000-seat capacity stadium in line with UEFA standards.
Ankara will also receive a new courthouse, the prime minister said.
Transportation will also be improved, with Ankara becoming the center of the country's express train lines and with a tunnel near Keçiören connecting to the Istanbul, Eskişehir and Konya highways to ease city traffic, Erdoğan said. Another attempt to ease traffic will be a rail system constructed between Esenboğa airport and the city center, he added.