Turkey has rolled up its sleeves to salvage a plan for Palestinian unity as it hosts Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas in Ankara, among parallel efforts to normalize ties with Israel.
Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas has been visiting Ankara since Tuesday, and the Fatah figurehead is scheduled to meet with Turkish leaders on Thursday. Ahead of the meeting, officials were also testing the ground for Palestinian reconciliation by hosting Hamas leader, Khaled Meshaal, who met Tuesday in Istanbul with Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu.
"They discussed the issue of Palestinian unity and regional affairs," a Turkish diplomat, on condition of anonymity, told the Hürriyet Daily News on Wednesday.
Meshaal, however, was scheduled to leave Turkey on Wednesday as the Daily News went to print, and was not expected to meet Abbas, the diplomat added. Palestinian Embassy officials also confirmed to the Daily News that a meeting with Meshaal was not scheduled, adding that they had been unaware that the Hamas leader would visit Turkey. Last month, the secularist Fatah and the Islamist Hamas signed a reconciliation deal in Cairo that was supposed to pave the way toward Palestinian reunification.
But it has floundered due to disagreement on who should be named prime minister. A meeting in Cairo on Tuesday between Abbas and Meshaal was postponed due to Hamas' opposition to the appointment of the Western-backed, Salam Fayyad, to the post. Davutoğlu, meanwhile, discussed the matter with Egyptian counterpart Nabil Elaraby on both Tuesday and Wednesday. Abbas will hold talks with President Abdullah Gül on Thursday and meet with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Friday.
"Turkey will do its best for reconciliation between Palestinians," Davutoğlu told reporters in Konya on Wednesday, adding that he had spoken to Meshaal in this regard.
Meanwhile, Turkey and Israel could take a further step toward normalizing ties if they can reconcile on a final U.N. report on last year's deadly Mavi Marmara incident, diplomatic sources said. "We should watch and see whether the report will be satisfactory for both sides, or if there could be a compromise that satisfies both sides. Then it would be a very big step ahead. If not, maybe we'll change a bit of the atmosphere but in substance we'll be stuck," the diplomat said. The possibility of a bigger thaw in ties comes in the wake of reported secret talks between Israeli and Turkish officials, as well as an Israeli letter congratulating Erdoğan on his election win.
Hamas Chief Arrives in Turkey
Hamas chief, Khaled Meshaal, has arrived in Turkey; a day after Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas began a four-day visit.
Meshaal was currently in Istanbul; it was not immediately clear whether he would meet with Abbas.
Turkish Foreign Ministry officials contacted by the Hurriyet Daily News would not comment.
Abbas arrived in Ankara on Tuesday afternoon as Palestinian officials reported disagreements between his Fatah faction and Hamas over the formation of a unity government.
Turkish officials said Abbas would have a "private program" before talks on Thursday and Friday with President Abdullah Gül, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu.
Cancellation of Dicle's Parliament Membership Clear, Election Board Chief Says
The president of Turkey's Supreme Board of Election (YSK), Ali Em, said Wednesday that their decision to cancel Hatip Dicle's parliament membership was clear.
Speaking to reporters in the capital of Ankara, Ali Em said YSK's decision on Dicle was published in the Official Gazette and it was very clear. "In our decision, we elaborated on objecting to the decision and possibly changing it," Em said.
When reminded that Dicle asked for an additional period to make defense, Em said that the defense reached them and they made a decision accordingly. Our decision on Dicle covers all answers to possible questions, Em said.
Meanwhile, Dicle's attorney, Levent Kanad, arrived at the YSK on Wednesday to obtain YSK's decision on Dicle. Kanad told reporters that they would review the decision and that, according to laws, they had no right to object to YSK's decision on Dicle.
Turkey's Supreme Board of Election decided to cancel Hatip Dicle's parliament membership on Tuesday. Turan Karakaya, acting president of the Board, said that 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 to a 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 to a 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 in custody since December 2009, as part of the KCK probe.
Veto on Elected MP Sparks New Stand-Off
The pro-Kurdish political party has called for a boycott of Parliament in the wake of a court decision to bar an independent candidate.
A decision by Turkey's electoral board quashing a Kurdish deputy's right to enter Parliament has thrown Turkey into a new crisis, with the candidate's colleagues threatening to boycott the legislature in a move that could raise political tensions.
The Democratic Society Congress, or DTK, an umbrella organization of pro-Kurdish groups, called on 35 newly elected Peace and Democracy Party, or BDP, members to boycott Parliament following the Supreme Election Board, or YSK's, decision.
"We will either enter Parliament with 36 deputies or not enter at all. The election board's decision is unacceptable for both the people of Diyarbakır and others in the region," said Filiz Kocali, co-chair of the BDP. "It is now the election board and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's job to find a solution. This ruling ignores the people's will, and is provocative as well as unjust and unlawful."
The decision prompted the BDP to convene Thursday morning in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır to sketch out their next move.
The party is considering avoiding the parliamentary oath-taking ceremony, as well as initial parliamentary sessions; in doing so, they would eventually be barred from participating in Parliament's legislative and supervision activities.
The BDP had already said before the YSK's decision that they would likely boycott Parliament if six BDP-backed independent deputies, including Dicle, were not released from prison, where they are being held pending the ongoing investigation into the Kurdish Communities Union, or KCK, which is alleged to be the urban wing of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK.
"Why was this decision not taken in the past?" asked independent Batman Deputy Bengi Yıldız, pointing out that such a decision would stir up the region, and the YSK was aware that the decision would precipitate a reaction. "This decision will result in irreversible damage."
Ahead of Wednesday's meeting, DTK co-chair Ahmet Türk said the decision regarding Dicle was neither legal nor ethic.
"Our people will show their democratic response to this unlawful decision. They will not stand by idly, they will show their democratic opposition strongly," Türk said.
The YSK's decision drew a variety of reactions from political parties Wednesday, with the Justice and Development Party, or AKP, remaining distant to the decision as the main opposition Republican People's Party, or CHP, criticized the move.
"Common sense should [rule]; the country's spirits should not be spoiled," AKP Deputy Leader Hüseyin Çelik said.
Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç avoided comment, saying it was the YSK's decision. Çelik urged the BDP officials not to ruin the country's stable atmosphere and remain cool-headed. Cemil Çiçek, deputy prime minister, said it was a legal decision and that the government had nothing to do with it.
CHP spokeswoman, Bihlun Tamaylıgil, said the decision was not true in legal or political sense and that new arrangements should be made. She also called for the AKP to take responsibility for the decision.
Tamaylıgil also recalled that two CHP deputies, Mustafa Balbay and Mehmet Haberal, were also in prison and were expecting their releases. "They have been elected with the votes of the people. Now they should be allowed to take their oaths to represent their voters at Parliament."
Turkish Foreign Minister: Country Ready to Support Palestinian Reconciliation
Turkey's Foreign Minister has said the country is ready to make any contribution to make sure reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah lasts.
"We attach great importance to reconciliation between Palestinians. Turkey will do anything in its power for this reconciliation," Ahmet Davutoglu told reporters on Wednesday.
Davutoglu said Turkey had been actively involved in securing an agreement between rival Palestinian factions, adding that he participated in a May Cairo ceremony that saw the sealing of that agreement.
Davutoglu said he met on Tuesday with Hamas leader, Khaled Mashal, in Istanbul, adding that he was also set to meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Turkey on Thursday.
Armenian President Complains About 'Turkish Blockade'
Speaking at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Armenia's President Serge Sarkisian complained about a "Turkish blockade" and warned of a possible war with Azerbaijan.
Sarkisian claimed Armenia is under the blockade of Turkey and Azerbaijan, during his address to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, while Azerbaijani parliamentarians said they were not able to ask their questions during the session Wednesday.
Regarding a parliamentarian's question on the threats of the Metzamar Nuclear Plant in Armenia, Sarkisian also said Armenia has no other choice but nuclear energy because of the "blockade" imposed by Turkey.
"This unlawful blockade of Armenia must come to an end. Europe cannot, and should not, tolerate new dividing lines," said Sarkisian.
World Bank Official: Turkey Will Emerge a Global Power
Turkey will become one of the global players with a power to influence other countries within the next 25 years, an official with the World Bank estimated.
"In 2025, Turkey will be one of the 15 global poles and it will assume a role to influence other countries," Mansoor Dailami, manager of the Emerging Global Trends Team of the Development Prospects Group at the World Bank, said Wednesday in a meeting in Ankara, on the release of a World Bank report, "Global Development Perspectives 2011."
Dailami said Turkey could also become one of the richest countries in the world within 20 years, with its relatively balanced development coupled with both a vibrant foreign and domestic demand.
"Turkey's economy bodes well for the future with a young population which needs sizable investment in education," Dailami said.
Turkey's Interior Minister Says Investiagtion Launched
Turkey's interior minister said on Wednesday that investigations have been launched into an attack on a police vehicle in eastern Turkey, killing two policemen.
Interior Minister Osman Gunes said terrorists should see that they could reach nowhere with such methods. "Operations have been launched," Gunes told reporters before flying to the eastern province of Tunceli.
Gunes said a remote-control bomb detonated when a police vehicle was passing by, killing two police officers on a village road near Tunceli's Nazimiye. Asked if the terrorist organization PKK staged the bomb attack, Gunes said, "The methods point to (the PKK), and we have taken counter-measures and launched an operation."
Syrian Troops Enter Village by Turkish Border
Syrian troops have entered the Harapcoz village by the Turkish border on Thursday.
The AA correspondent in the region said that Syrian troops could be seen from the Guvecci village in Turkey and that villagers made phone calls to inform authorities about Syrian military activities.
Syrian troops brought down a Turkish flag earlier hoisted by Syrian villagers at a watchtower, and instead hoisted the Syrian flag.
Turkey's Supreme Board of Election Announces Official Results
Turkey's Supreme Board of Election announced the official results of the June 12 ballot.
According to the official results, which were published in Thursday's Official Gazette, 43,914,948 people cast their votes in the election. 973,185 votes were accepted invalid. The voter turnout was 83.16 percent in the election.
Votes received by the political parties and their percentage are as follows:
Political Party Votes
Justice & Development Party 21,320,207 49.80
Democrat Party 278,775 0.65
Republican People's Party 11,122,420 25.98
Labor Party 31,766 0.07
Nation Party 60,673 0.14
Liberal Democrat Party 15,166 0.04
Felicity Party 541,470 1.26
Rights & Equality Party 124,082 0.29
People's Voice Party 329,358 0.77
Nationalist Movement Party 5,575,010 13.02
True Path Party 64,453 0.15
Turkish Communist Party 63,786 0.15
Nationalist Conservative Party 36,105 0.08
Grand Unity Party 322,819 0.75
Democratic Left Party 107,889 0.25
Independents 2,819,917 6.59
TOTAL 42,813,896 100
Officials results of the general elections in Turkey including votes cast at customs gates are as follows:
Number of registered voters 52,806,322
Number of voters who cast votes 43,914,948
Total number of valid votes 42,941,763
Total number of invalid votes 973,185
Voter turnout (percent) 83.16
Distribution of seats at the parliament is as follows:
Political parties number of deputies
Justice and Development Party 327
Republican People's Party 135
Nationalist Movement Party 53
Under the parliamentary bylaws, the general assembly convenes at 3:00 p.m. on the fifth day after the publishing of the official results in the Official Gazette. Accordingly, the parliament will convene on June 28. New members of the parliament will take their oaths during the opening session.