Israel is behaving more warmly toward Turkey following a Turkish relief group's decision to cancel its participation in an aid flotilla to Gaza, Turkish officials said Monday.
"Israel's approach to mending fences with Turkey has never interrupted since the Mavi Marmara incident," a senior Turkish Foreign Ministry diplomat told the Hürriyet Daily News.
A report published in the Hürriyet on Monday revealed that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also accepted Turkey's request for an apology for the killing of Turkish citizens onboard the Mavi Marmara on May 31, 2010, but backed out on three separate occasions due to fear his coalition government might fall. The report cited information leaked from secret meetings between Ankara and Tel-Aviv.
"A number of contacts at the technical level took place, but our position has never changed," said the Turkish diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Turkey remains insistent on its demands for an apology and compensation after Israeli forces raided the Gaza-bound Mavi Marmara ship, leaving eight Turks and one Turkish-American dead. The meetings were held in Geneva following a slight thaw in tensions between the two countries in the wake of Turkey's decision to assist Israel in extinguishing forest fires in December.
The diplomat said Israel was giving warmer messages, particularly after the Humanitarian Relief Foundation, or İHH, announced that the Mavi Marmara would not participate in this year's attempt to break Israel's blockade of Gaza "due to technical reasons."
"None of the parties are content with the current state of the relationship between Turkey and Israel. Efforts are under way to repair the ties," said another Turkish diplomat, when asked if another round of talks could take place between the two countries in the future.
The first gesture came from Netanyahu, who praised Turkish democracy in a verbal remark immediately after Turkey's June 12 elections were held. The move was followed by Israeli Knesset members sending a letter to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, whose Justice and Development Party, or AKP, emerged as the winner of the elections.
Last week, Netanyahu sent a letter of congratulations to Erdoğan, urging the Turkish government to renew the relationship.
An opinion article titled "Apologizing to Turkey is in Israel's interest," published in Israel's daily newspaper Haaretz on Monday, said that in the past year, and with greater intensity in recent weeks, people of goodwill from Israel and Turkey had been trying to rehabilitate relations between the two countries.
"This is exactly the right time to initiate a move – not put out feelers – vis-à-vis Turkey, and to pick up the shards. It would not be disastrous for Israel to apologize for killing Turkish citizens. An apology is not an admission of blame – all the more so when even in Israel there are differences of opinion on the wisdom of that military operation," it read.
Ambassador to Syria Attends National Security Council
The National Security Council convened Monday with the attendance of Turkey's ambassador to Damascus, Ömer Önhon.
Önhon briefed the council on the current situation in Syria and presented different scenarios on the possible courses the events could take there.
The council sent out a message to Arab leaders that said: "It is important that reforms to establish constitutional democracy be made urgently in order to answer the legitimate requests of the people. It is of vital importance that the region's countries complete their transitions [to democracy] in peaceful ways in order to ensure stability and peace in our region."
CHP Faction Gets 500 Signatures for Special Convention Push
An opposition group within the Republican People's Party, or CHP, has tallied 500 signatures in its quest to hold an extraordinary convention, former party secretary-general Önder Sav announced over the weekend.
Answering questions from journalists following a wedding in Sakarya, Sav said he was "not occupied with the signatures, but I was informed by my friends that that the number of signatures has surpassed 500 in three days."
Sav said the group must present 651 signatures by July 6 if they want to force the convention.
When asked about deputy leader Gürsel Tekin's statement that "they [dissenters] may be referred to the disciplinary committee" for their efforts, Sav said he did not take the threat seriously.
"These types of statements do not hold any authority in a deep-rooted party such as the CHP. I would like to believe that this was just a slip of the tongue. If I took them seriously, I would need to speak in a different tone," said the former secretary-general.
The dissenters, led by Sav, and former party leader Deniz Baykal, claim the party assembly failed in the elections and should be changed. The dissenters have 15 days to collect 651 signatures from party delegates.
Expectations for their success are low, but if they do succeed, then the party will be forced to meet for an extraordinary convention earlier than planned.
Erdogan: Couldn't the BDP Find Anyone Else?
Turkey's main pro-Kurdish party was informed that choosing a contentious candidate for the June 12 elections was a wrong step, but it refused to listen, the prime minister has said, the Daily Hürriyet reported Tuesday.
The comments mark the first time Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has weighed into the political crisis caused by the Supreme Election Board, or YSK's, decision last week to quash the deputyship of independent candidate Hatip Dicle.
Erdoğan wondered whether the Peace and Democracy Party, or BDP, took the steps it did in full knowledge of the negative consequences that would occur if Dicle were elected.
"Couldn't [the BDP] find anyone else to run as a candidate?" Erdoğan said. "This person is convicted and the status of convicted people [regarding the Parliament] is clear ... We told them they were taking a wrong step at the time, but they did not listen."
People should be asking why the BDP chose convicted and arrested people to run as candidates, said the prime minister.
"They wanted to push the laws to create new tension," he said. "The people do not want a boycott. We will take our Parliamentary oaths and start fulfilling our duties to the people. Everyone will respect the rule of law."
The pro-Kurdish BDP had supported independent candidates in June's elections in order to overcome the 10 percent election threshold.
Dicle, who was one of the BDP-backed candidates to win in the elections, was barred from Parliament on the grounds that he had an outstanding conviction.
Last week, a court ruled to lift the ban on Dicle, but the YSK sustained the previous order and quashed Dicle's deputy status, prompting the BDP to announce plans to boycott Tuesday's opening of Parliament.
HSYK: Those Under House Arrest Should be in Parliament
Ibrahim Okur, the chairman of the first chamber of Higher Board of Judges and Prosecutors, or HSYK, made an interesting statement about the situation of the parliamentarians who are under arrest.
Okur said: "If I was a judge, I would think those who got that number of votes from the nation should be at the parliament." Commenting on the decision of the Higher Board of Election to cancel Hatip Dicle's parliament membership after the Supreme Court of Appeals upheld an imprisonment term for charges of disseminating propaganda of the terrorist organization, Okur said, "I think a delayed justice is not justice. YSK had to make this decision at the moment it was informed about this issue. This decision had to be given before the will of the nation has gone to the ballot box. However, the decision is right. A sentence preventing his parliament membership is in question."
MHP'S Engin Alan Objects his Arrest
The lawyer for retired Gen. Engin Alan, a member of the Nationalist Movement Party, or MHP, who is under arrest within the scope of the"Balyoz (Sledgehammer) Plan" investigation, said they objected the decision to uphold his client's arrest.
CHP Awaiting Historic Decision Before Taking Oaths
If a decision is not made to release journalist Mustafa Balbay and Professor Mehmet Haberal from prison by the time the oath-taking ceremony begins at Parliament today, parliamentarians of the Republican People's Party (CHP) will attend the general assembly gathering, but not take the oath. CHP leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu will announce his reasons with a declaration prior to the oath-taking ceremony. CHP is waiting for a "binding promise" from the Justice and Development Party (AK) or a decision from jurisdiction. Kilicdaroglu said that they did not intend to lock down parliament. He said: "If prime minister gives an assurance in front of the public, we will take oath."
Parliament to Kick Off with a Boycott
For the first time in the history of the Turkish Republic, Parliament's General Assembly is beginning a new legislative term with boycotts and missing members.
As the oldest deputy, main opposition Republican People's Party, or CHP, Istanbul Deputy Oktay Ekşi will preside over Tuesday's opening oath ceremony at 3 p.m. Ekşi is also expected to give significant messages regarding the jailed deputies in his speech to open the 24th Parliament.
The 550-member Parliament will not have a full contingent, as the pro-Kurdish party has already announced that it will boycott the legislature due to the election board's decision to quash the deputyship of one of its colleagues, Hatip Dicle, even though he was elected handily. After the board's decision, the seat was given to the ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, deputy Oya Eronat.
Dicle's lawyers applied Monday to the Constitutional Court for an annulment of the Supreme Election Board, or YSK's, ruling on the matter.
The only two parties that have promised to take the oath Tuesday are the AKP and the Nationalist Movement Party, or MHP. However, MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli, one of whom's deputies is also in prison, warned that the decision not to release elected deputies would cause further consequences if a solution could not be found.
The CHP, which has two deputies still in prison as of late Monday, has said it will decide on its position just before the oath-taking ceremony takes place. A possible boycott from the CHP could throw Parliament into crisis, as it would effectively block all legislative work in the assembly.
Following the ceremony, Parliament will recess for a number of days in order to elect its new speaker. The deadline for members to submit their candidacy is expected to be July 3, with the elections expected to take place on July 4. Following the election of the new speaker, a chairmanship council will be formed. Deputies will receive their first month's paycheck after the ceremony, and will start receiving three months' pay starting July 15.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who will convene the AKP event on Thursday, is to give his first message. It is being reported that Erdoğan could form the Cabinet by Friday, if President Abdullah Gül gives the task of forming the new government to Erdoğan on Wednesday.
Erdoğan is reportedly eager to complete the government's program and the vote of confidence next week. It remains unclear if the newly established "deputy minister" positions will be filled by Erdoğan, or by the newly formed Cabinet.
"I hereby take an oath before the great Turkish nation on my honor and reputation. To protect the independence of the state, the indivisible unity of the homeland and the nation, and the unconditional sovereignty of the people, to stand by the supremacy of law, the democratic and secular Republic, and the principles and reforms of Atatürk, to never refrain from my loyalty to the Constitution and to the ideal that allows every citizen to enjoy basic liberties and human rights within the realm of justice, national solidarity, peace and prosperity."
State Established Contact With Us
Murat Karayilan said they rejected efforts of the state to establish contact with them by showing Imrali as address. Karayilan said demand for Habur came from the prime minister himself. "The environment that 'look they are coming from the mountains,' we carefully chose those who go to Habur and the prime minister changed his idea. The state had searched for a contact with Kandil and established it but we said it would not be right and we closed doors for this. The only address was Imrali for us." "If the two political movements, AK Party and BDP, turn their back to each other, ways for peace will not be opened. The first initiative on the matter should come from the prime minister," Karayilan said.