Lawmakers from Turkey's main opposition party took the parliamentary oath Monday, ending a row with the ruling party over the detention of several deputies elected in June's polls.
The Republican People's Party (CHP), which holds 135 seats in the 550-member legislature, had boycotted the opening ceremony of Parliament in June along with Kurdish deputies in protest of the imprisonment of the elected lawmakers.
The CHP and the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) issued a joint statement Monday, calling on all deputies who had refused to take the oath to be sworn in and participate in parliamentary work.
"We believe that all political parties and lawmakers should be in the Parliament to fulfill the honored duty bestowed on them by our nation," the statement said.
The statement implicitly made a call to courts to "interpret and apply" the laws in a way that will "expand freedoms."
Defying a 2007 precedent, courts last month refused to free nine opposition lawmakers elected while awaiting trial in prison. The courts said the deputies' risk to flee trials or hide evidence.
Two of the detained deputies, journalist Mustafa Balbay and professor Mehmet Haberal, were elected on the CHP ticket. They were imprisoned more than two years ago on charges of involvement in alleged plots to destabilize and overthrow the AKP.
Six of them were Kurdish activists in jail on charges of links to Kurdish rebels.
Adding to the controversy, the authorities stripped one of them, a prominent Kurd, of his parliamentary seat and handed it to the AKP, raising the party's majority to 327 seats.
A bloc of Kurdish-backed deputies, who have not shown up at all in Parliament since its opening, were not included in the negotiation process between the CHP and the AKP to find a solution over the row.
The Kurdish lawmakers have convened in Diyarbakir, the largest city of the restive Kurdish southeast, instead of Ankara since Parliament opened.
On Monday, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan praised the decision of the CHP lawmakers to be sworn in.
"As you know, this was our expectation. This means that everything can be (solved) if one acts with common sense," the Anatolia News Agency quoted Erdogan as saying.
Both Erdogan and President Abdullah Gul called on Kurdish deputies to take the parliamentary oath.
"They belong to (Parliament). I believe they will come and take the oath in the shortest possible time," Erdogan said.
"I hope (Kurdish) deputies will participate in the Parliament, fulfill their duties and start working as lawmakers," Gul said, Anatolia reported.
Opposition Deputies Take Parliamentary Oath
The oath-taking crisis, which has been troubling Turkey since the day after elections, has been finally solved. Republican People's Party (CHP) deputies took oath at the parliament yesterday. CHP deputies, who earlier rejected to take oath in an effort to protest court rulings not releasing jailed elected deputies Mehmet Haberal and Mustafa Balbay, have put an end to their boycott as they reached a consensus with the Justice and Development Party (AK).
The declaration, signed by the two parties, said that parliament was the only address for the settlement of problems and people who had been elected with votes of the nation should be present at Parliament.
Turkish, Iranian Foreign Ministers Meet
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu met Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi in Tehran on Sunday.
Holding a joint press conference after his meeting with Salehi, Davutoglu said they discussed regional issues, adding, "Our region is experiencing a very important historical transformation process."
Noting that all countries in the region should exert efforts to restore a more prosperous, peaceful and stable structure in this transformation process, Davutoglu said that peoples in many countries in the region had rightful and legitimate demands.
These demands should be turned into a reform process through peaceful methods, he said.
Davutoglu also said that Turkey was against every type of external intervention in the region.
On the other hand, the Iranian minister said that Turkey and Iran had rooted relations, adding that the trade volume between the two countries was expected to reach $14 billion this year. He expressed hope that the annual trade volume would reach $30 billion within the next few years.
Noting that they discussed recent developments in Syria during their meeting, Salehi said Turkey, Iran and Syria were members of a family, and if a problem appeared in one of them, they all should launch initiatives to solve it.
Salehi said that it was important to meet the demands of the people, adding that developments in the region affected the whole world.
Bill Proposes Commercial Cooperation with Native Americans, Turkish Entrepreneurs
A bill envisaging building of commercial cooperation between Native American tribes and Turkish companies has been presented to the U.S. House of Representatives.
The bill -- submitted to the House by Representative Tom Cole in response to the intense efforts of the Turkish Coalition of America (TCA) -- aims at providing Native American groups with the opportunity to do business with Turkish companies without needing the approval of the federal government.
The draft law is expected to be assessed by the House Subcommittee on Indian and Alaska Native Affairs first. If adopted by the subcommittee, the bill is expected to be voted on by the relevant committee and be brought to the agenda of the General Assembly of the House of Representatives afterward.
Once it becomes a law, the bill is expected to contribute to the economic development of Native Americans, provide Turkish entrepreneurs remarkable advantages and strengthen Turkey's image in the United States, sources told AA.
TCA has been supporting efforts aimed at establishing ties between Native Americans and Turkish people for years. To that end, the organization has started offering scholarships for Native American students desiring to study in Turkey since 2008, in cooperation with Istanbul Technical University (ITU) and Bahcesehir University.
ITU also currently develops a program, which aims at offering consultancy services to Native American tribes regarding infrastructure-related issues in their regions.
Last November, TCA also brought a group of Native Americans to Turkey to discuss business opportunities. As part of the visit, Native American tribe leaders held talks with high-level Turkish officials including Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and Foreign Trade Minister of the time Zafer Caglayan.
PKK Kidnaps Three, Including One Soldier
Terrorists who blocked the road in Lice town of the southeastern province of Diyarbakir checked the identities of three before they kidnapped a non-commissioned officer, a specialized sergeant and a health officer in a vehicle. According to witnesses, the group of PKK terrorists went toward the rural region of Hazro town. Security forces launched an operation.
CHP Chairman Congratulates Prosecutors on Investigation
The main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) Chairman Kemal Kilicdaroglu congratulated the prosecutors who have been conducting the Deniz Feneri e.V. investigation in Ankara for complying with the rules of law. He also warned the prosecutors, who have been conducting the match-fixing investigation in Istanbul; there is violation of privacy.
Files Erased Before Initial Investigation in Deniz Feneri e.V. Case
It has been determined that hard disks of the computers seized during searches of the Deniz Feneri e.V. facilities had been erased just a short time before the first operation conducted as part of the investigation on October 16, 2009. Prosecutors asked the suspects whether or not they had been informed about the operation. The judge, who examined the evidence in the 139 files, has ruled for the arrest of the former chairman of the Supreme Board of Radio and Television (RTUK) Zahid Akman, private TV channel Kanal 7's Executive Board Chairman Zekeriya Karaman, the channel's editor-in-chief Mustafa Celik, as well as boardmember Ismail Karahan.
Turkey Eager to Boost Relations with Bulgaria: Gul
Turkish President Abdullah Gul said on Monday that Turkey was eager to boost its relations with Bulgaria in every area.
Gul attended a dinner hosted by Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov in Sofia.
Turkey and Bulgaria had an important partnership and solidarity on regional platforms, especially in the Black Sea and Balkans, he said. "The two countries also have a sound cooperation in NATO and the EU," Gul said.
President Gul said his visit would contribute to friendly relations and cooperation between Turkey and Bulgaria.
Middle East Transformation Process was Dynamic, TURKISH FM Says
Turkey's foreign minister said on Monday that the Middle East went through a dynamic transformation process.
Speaking to Turkish reporters in the Iranian capital of Tehran, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said he had held talks in Egypt, Libya, Saudi Arabia and Iran after the latest general elections in Turkey.
"There are dynamic developments in our region. Therefore, friendly and neighboring countries which may have a certain influence on regional developments should be in close contact," Davutoglu said.
Pointing to the incidents in Egypt, Libya and Syria, the minister said Turkey attached great importance to the completion of the reform processes in those countries without causing any security risks.
"It is of vital importance to manage this transformation process by the help of dynamics and studies coming from this region," he said.
Commenting on his talks in Tehran, Davutoglu noted that regional developments, particularly the situation in Syria, had been discussed during his talks with Iran's top officials.
Davutoglu said both Turkey and Iran agreed on the necessity of the reform process in Syria. Moreover, they attached importance to the preservation of the country's stability during such a process.
He also said that Turkey's talks on regional developments would continue.
Touching also on Iran's nuclear program, Davutoglu said Turkey hoped nuclear negotiations between Iran and the P5 1 (five permanent members of the UN Security Council: United States, Britain, France, China and Russia, plus Germany) would be initiated again.
Pointing to the latest summit held by the parties in Istanbul, the minister said Turkey was ready to display every effort concerning the negotiation process.
TUSIAD to Host European Commissioner for Enlargement
European Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighborhood Policy Stefan Fule will visit the Turkish Industrialists' and Businessmen's Association (TUSIAD) on Tuesday.
In a written statement released Monday, TUSIAD said that Fule would meet the President of the Executive Board of TUSIAD, Umit Boyner, and an accompanying delegation in a meeting closed to the press on Tuesday.
TUSIAD and Fule would discuss steps to be taken to speed up Turkey's negotiation process with the European Union. The TUSIAD delegation would share its opinions on the solution of the Cyprus problems, visa exemption process and the EU's free trade agreements with other countries.