United States shares Turkey's concern that Syria is in need of, a spokeswoman with the U.S. State Department said on Tuesday.
"We believe the time for action is well overdue. We need action now. We share the concerns of the Turkish government. I think you see that their concern is mounting, particularly as they've had to handle all of these refugees and have done so with such a big -- a big heart. But clearly, Turkish patience appears to be wearing thin, and we share all of their humanitarian and political concerns," Victoria Nuland told a Daily Press.
Responding to a question over a Turkish military build-up on the Syrian border, Nuland said the Turkish army was assisting in support for the refugees, the building of the camps, the providing of services and making sure that that border was open and nonviolent.
"In general, we have been very impressed and gratified by Turkish willingness to take these refugees in, their preparedness for it. We have said that we are open to assisting the government of Turkey through the UNHCR as necessary. But as you know, like many governments, the Turks use their military for logistics and for security in refugee situations," she said.
Answering another question on limited media access to the refugee camps, Nuland said the whole world had seen the pictures of the very pristine camps that Turkey has set up as well as the interviews with Syrians who had fled their homes.
"So from that perspective, and the fact that Angelina Jolie got in and really spread the word as a U.N. ambassador, I think speaks volumes about Turkish willingness to open their country and to do all they can for these Syrian refugees," Nuland said.
In a recent telephone conversation between Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and U.S. President Barack Obama on the Middle East peace process, Nuland said the U.S. talked to Turkey about the Middle East peace as part of regular bilateral exchange between the two countries.
Responding to a question on media reports that U.S. administration played a mediation role between Israel and Turkey to repair the relationship between the two countries, Nuland said the U.S. had encouraged the government of Turkey and the government of Israel to work closely together.
"With regard to the flotilla, our policy, you know, hasn't changed. We've made clear to groups, to individuals that are thinking about breaking the Israeli maritime blockade of Gaza, that it would be irresponsible, that it would be provocative, that if they want to help the people of Gaza there are other ways to get the assistance in. We've -- the secretary has talked to her counterpart in Turkey about these issues," she said.
Palestinian President in Turkey
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who arrived in Turkey on Tuesday, will hold talks on June 23 and 24 with Turkish President Abdullah Gul, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, the Turkish Presidency press center said on Tuesday.
Relations between Turkey and Palestine, the situation in Palestine after the national consensus was settled, the Middle East peace process and recent developments in the region will be discussed during the meetings.
Israeli PM Sends Congratulatory Letter to Erdogan
Israel's Prime Minister congratulated his Turkish counterpart in another sign of Tel Aviv's desire to restore ties with Ankara following a Turkish relief group's cancelation of plans for an aid flotilla to sail to Gaza, the Hürriyet Daily News has learned.
"My government will be happy to work with the new Turkish government on finding a resolution to all outstanding issues between our countries in the hope of re-establishing our cooperation and renewing the spirit of friendship, which has characterized the relations between our peoples for many generations," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a letter that was sent to Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Tuesday.
Netanyahu made a verbal statement praising Turkish democracy after Turkey's June 12 elections, but after a decision by the Humanitarian Relief Group, or İHH, to cancel the Mavi Marmara's trip to Gaza as part of an aid flotilla later this month, the Knesset sent a letter of congratulations to Erdoğan with the hope that past grudges would be put aside.
According to the information obtained by the Daily News, Netanyahu's letter is "more than a short message and indicates willingness of Israeli government to mend ties with Turkey."
Turkish diplomats were not able to confirm the letter late Tuesday when the Daily News went to print. "[But] we were expecting such a move [from Netanyahu] following the Knesset's move," one Turkish diplomat said on condition of anonymity.
According to the same diplomat, an evaluation will be made after reviewing the content of the letter. A decision to send a response will be made accordingly, he added.
Tense relations between Turkey and Israel were further strained last year when Israeli commandos killed nine Turkish activists on board the Turkish-flagged Mavi Marmara vessel, which was carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza. A U.N. inquiry panel has not yet finished its investigation on the incident, for which Turkey has demanded a formally apologize from Israel and the compensation to the victims' families.
Under pressure from the United States, the two countries were seeking ways to overcome their hurdles and normalize ties, but recent efforts failed due to strong public reaction on both sides. The İHH's decision to stop the Mavi Marmara's second mission to Gaza due to "technical issues," however, now seems to have provided a new chance for reconciliation.
Turkey's YSK Cancels Dicle's Parliament Membership
Turkey's Supreme Board of Election decided to cancel Hatip Dicle's parliament membership.
Turan Karakaya, acting president of the board, said they decided to drop Dicle's membership after the Supreme Court of Appeals upheld the one-year, eight-month imprisonment term for Dicle on charges of disseminating propaganda of the terrorist organization.
"According to the Constitution, those who are sentenced to imprisonment terms of a year or more cannot be elected as deputy. Dicle has lost his chance to become a lawmaker since he was sentenced to one year and eight months in prison," he said.
YSK's decision came after a seven-hour meeting on Tuesday.
Dicle was elected as an independent deputy from the southeastern province of Diyarbakir during the June 12 parliamentary elections.
Ankara's Chief Prosecutor's Office, with Special Authority, filed a lawsuit on March 31, 2008 against Dicle on charges of disseminating propaganda of the terrorist organization. In 2009, Ankara Criminal Court sentenced him to one year and eight months in prison, but Dicle appealed the verdict. The Supreme Court of Appeals' Criminal Department upheld Dicle's prison term in March 2011.
Dicle is also currently on trial at the 6th High Criminal Court in Diyarbakir as a suspect of the investigation into the terrorist organization's urban branch KCK. He has been under custody since December 2009 as part of the KCK probe.
PROSECUTOR ASKS COURT TO REJECT RELEASE OF NEWLY ELECTED MPS
The prosecutor's office has submitted a request for the release of two arrested Ergenekon suspects who were elected as deputies from the Republican People's Party, or CHP, to be rejected by the court.
Istanbul prosecutors Mehmet Ali Pekgüzel and Nihat Taşkın asked for the release of arrested Ergenekon suspects Mehmet Haberal and Mustafa Balbay, who have been elected as CHP MPs in the June 12 elections, to be denied.
Haberal and Balbay have been held under arrest on trial in the framework of the second Ergenekon case. After being elected MPs, a decision by the 13th High Criminal Court regarding the request for their release is expected to be made today.
Ergenekon is part of an alleged ultranationalist, shadowy gang accused of planning to topple the government by staging a coup by, initially, spreading chaos and mayhem. It is an alleged extension of the "deep state," an unofficial organization within the state that has operated independently of elected governments since the beginning of the Cold War.
Court Overturns Leyla Zana Conviction
The Supreme Court of Appeals No: 9 overturned, on procedural grounds, the conviction of Leyla Zana, who is charged with creating propaganda for a terrorist organization.
Zana was elected an independent MP in the June 12 general elections with the support of the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP).
A high criminal court in southeastern province of Diyarbakir had earlier sentenced Zana to eight years in prison for "being a member of the terrorist organization." Later, the same court aggravated the sentence to 12 years, as her offense constituted "terror crime." The court reduced the sentence to 10 years, however, for her good conduct during her trial. The court also ruled to deprive Zana of her rights to get elected, as well as her other political rights, as her sentence was more than two years under the Turkish Penal Code.
In the appeal hearing, the Supreme Court of Appeals No: 9 overturned, on procedural grounds, the conviction of Zana by the Diyarbakir High Criminal Court No: 5. The Supreme Court of Appeals No: 9 said it decided to overturn the Diyarbakir court's decision as it believed Zana's right to defense had been restricted.
Sources reported that the Supreme Court made the decision on May 27, 2011.
CHP Ready for Negotiations with Armenia without Preconditions
Turkey's ruling and main opposition parties are ready to normalize relations with Armenia and open the border, but the two are on conflicting sides of the debate over preconditions for negotiations.
"We are ready to negotiate with Armenians without preconditions," Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, leader of the Republican People's Party, or CHP, told a group of Turkish, Armenian and U.S. journalists late Monday. The statement was in response to a question from a U.S. journalist who said the CHP's policy regarding ties with Armenia was not different from that of the ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, as both parties were putting Armenia's withdrawal from disputed Nagorno-Karabakh as a condition.
"The difference between us and the AKP is that we see a possible withdrawal as a gesture, not a condition," said Osman Korutürk, deputy leader of the CHP and former ambassador. Kılıçdaroğlu added: "No one can say that I agreed with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on this issue."
Speaking to a group of Turkish and Armenian journalists in a separate program, State Minister and Chief EU Negotiator Egeman Bağış said Turkey and Armenia had the chance to work together in order to prevent people, nations and countries from suffering more in the future. "The closed Turkey-Armenia border can be opened the day after Armenia and Azerbaijan agree on Nagorno Karabakh," he said.
Bagis said Turkey wants zero problems with its neighbors and wants its neighbors to have zero problems with their neighbors, too.
"We want a permanent solution between Armenia and Azerbaijan," said Bagis, adding that if they reached a solution, many opportunities would arise in the region and it would be to the interest of all countries.
Asked when the border between Turkey and Armenia could be opened, Bagis said that he thought it would be opened one day after Armenia and Azerbaijan shook hands.
Aselsan to be Responsible for Air Defense in Turkey
Turkey's ASELSAN Corporation will be the primary contractor for low and medium level air defense missile systems.
In a statement released Tuesday, ASELSAN said that the company signed contracts with the Turkish Under secretariat of Defense Industry for the manufacture of the low and medium level air defense missile systems needed by the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK).
The contracts are worth 529 million Turkish liras (TL) and 325.1 million euros.
ASELSAN was established in 1975 to meet the communications electronics requirements of the TSK.
Turkish, Iraqi Trade Federations Sign Action Plan
Turkish and Iraqi trade federations signed an action plan on Tuesday. TOBB chairman said he believed Turkish-Iraqi economic relations would be further improved with a new Iraqi-Turkish Business Council that would be set up.
Rifat Hisarciklioglu, the chairman of Union of Chambers & Commodity Exchanges of Turkey (TOBB), and Jaafar Rasoul al-Hamadani, the head of Federation of Iraqi Chambers of Commerce (FCCI), put their signatures under the action plan in order to boost commercial and economic relations.
"I believe Turkish-Iraqi trade would reach almost $10 billion by the end of this year," Hisarciklioglu said before the signing ceremony in Ankara.
Hisarciklioglu said the next target would be to raise Turkish-Iraqi trade volume to $20 billion.
Speaking in the ceremony, al-Hamadani underlined the importance of private sector in Iraq's reconstruction and said Iraq was rich of natural resources.
Al-Hamadani also said Turkish and Iraqi companies could establish strategic partnerships, and Iraq's 3 million dwelling need offered a huge opportunity for Turkey.
The FCCI chairman said Iraq also needed airports, five-star hotels, bridges and hospitals, and called on Turkish businessmen to invest in his country, not just join tenders.
The action plan aims to boost cooperation between TOBB and FCCI. It envisions the two organizations sharing information about investments, encouraging businessmen who want to make investments, and helping find solution to problems.