A Turkish government spokesman said on Monday that he considered the latest operations against the terrorist organization a success. After the meeting of the Council of Ministers, Government Spokesman and Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc said there was not a brand new situation, but the government aimed to fight against terrorism more effectively when replying to a question on new models and new solutions in combating terrorism.
"The latest operations targeted Qandil Mountain. The operations targeted shelters, bridges and control points of terrorist organization and they were successful," he said. "Some criticized the operations, but 13 soldiers were martyred recently. You know what happened in Siirt and Cukurca. Every operation by the government for the country's security is legitimate and right. The European Union, the United States and other countries supported Turkey in their messages."
Replying to a question on the government's mandate to stage cross-border military operations, Arinc said that the mandate would expire on October 17.
"The parliament will open on October 1. If a new motion is needed, it will be brought up in Parliament." Arinc said. "I think that it should be extended for another year."
General Staff Says 100 Terrorists Killed
Turkish General Staff made an announcement about the air strikes and artillery fire operations against terrorist orgabizations between August 17-22. The press release read that 132 targets were hit including 73 shelters, 18 caves, 14 buildings, nine anti-aircraft posts, six bunkers, eight storages, three control points, one ammunition camp. Ninety to 100 terrorists were killed and at least 80 wounded.
Issue Not Clear on Alleged Karayilan Capture
Commenting on the developments regarding the alleged capture of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, second- in-command, Murat Karayilan, Turkish Deputy Premier Bulent Arinc said there was still no footage of Karayilan. Although several PKK-linked TV stations announced that he would deliver a statement after the news of his capture and arrest, there has been no live broadcast.
"Even now, there are no broadcasts with his footage. There is something else underneath it all, but we do not have an explanation yet," Arinc said. "We don't know where he is or what he does."
Anti-PKK Operations Will Continue, Erdogan Says
The Turkish military's operations against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, will continue despite criticism from Kurdish politicians in both Turkey and Iraq, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said late Sunday.
"No one can tell us that the government should stop operations. No, carrying out operations for the peace of the nation is the most natural right of the government," Erdoğan said during a fast-breaking iftar dinner in Istanbul. "It is an obligation and we will do whatever it takes. Those who hope for a return to the dark past are waiting for nothing. We will no longer wait until the Ramadan holiday is over."
Erdoğan said the PKK claims to practice Islam, but kills innocent people, adding that the operations carried out by the Turkish military specifically target terrorists and not civilians. The PKK is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.
Unconfirmed reports that seven civilians were killed during Turkey's aerial operations against PKK targets in northern Iraq drew a critical reaction from the Iraqi Kurdish administration. Some Turkish politicians have likewise called for an end to the operations.
"Both sides must immediately drop their weapons. There is no other choice," Hamit Geylani, a deputy from the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party, or BDP, said Monday, criticizing the Turkish government for using the "language of war" and urging dialogue to solve the problem.
The PKK "forces citizens to pay yearly taxes in places like Hakkari [in Southeast Anatolia]. And my Kurdish citizens who are subject to this come to me for help. Is it not our job to protect them?" Erdoğan asked. The prime minister also once again called on the BDP to denounce terror.
"If you do not distance yourself from terror, blood, murder and things that are illegal and inhumane, you are betraying the citizens who voted for you, and your politics will not be legal," the prime minister said. "You must understand immediately that there is no path other than the legal one, and the foundation for that is in Parliament. It is the only place to conduct politics. They [BDP deputies] have to eventually come to Parliament. They have no other choice."
Erdoğan said the government hoped to see the BDP take the oath on Oct. 1, when Parliament reopens and participate in legislative activities, adding that the party's deputies "either take the oath, or else."
BDP Wants Ocalan's Advice for Ending Parliament Boycott
Following the rise in terrorists attacks have caused harsh statements from the ruling and opposition parties, and now the pro-Kurdish party is now seeking jailed terrorist Abdullah Öcalan's advice on shaping a new road map to ending its boycott of Parliament.
Group deputy chairman Selahattin Demirtaş, Siirt deputy Gültan Kışanak and co-leaders of the Democratic Society Congress, or DTK, an umbrella organization of pro-Kurdish figures and groups, Ahmet Türk and Aysel Tuğluk, applied to the Justice Ministry and requested a meeting with Öcalan in an attempt to end the conflict between the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, and the Turkish government.
Due to a breakdown of the coaster that transports his lawyers to İmralı İsland, where Öcalan is serving his life sentence, the imprisoned chief of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, has not been able to communicate with the BDP for the last three weeks. If accepted, the meeting will take place before the Peace and Democracy Party, or BDP, and is set to hold its general convention on Sept. 4, where the party will elect its leader and possibly change its logo and name.
Apart from taking Öcalan's views, the meeting also might replace Öcalan in the center of Kurdish politics and therefore increase his role in the eyes of the state as well.
"Öcalan made it clear that the problem could be solved within a week if the government calls for peace and implements the solution project," Kışanak said. "We need to make sure the government responds to this suggestion."
The move also coincided with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's strong-worded criticism against the Peace and Democracy Party, or BDP, which urged the party to end their boycott and return to Parliament. The statement was another reflection of the government that said, "They came to the point where words fail."
"Words cannot fail in politics. When words fail, Parliament fails and chaos erupts," said Hasip Kaplan, a senior BDP member told the Hürriyet Daily News on Monday.
BDP brass will hold meetings in Ankara before they meet for a convention on Sept. 4, mainly to discuss on what grounds they would end their boycott and take their parliamentary oaths. Responding to Erdoğan's words, the BDP's Kaplan said it was up to his party to evaluate whether or not they would return to Parliament, and that the prime minister did not have to use such a harsh tone.
"All politicians must be in favor of compromise and dialogue," Kaplan said, adding that their return to Parliament would be discussed at the party's congress on Sept. 4.
Court Decides to Listen to Former PKK Members
The court has decided to listen to 17 former members of the PKK terrorist organization as witnesses in a lawsuit filed by the Danish State Prosecutor's Office to close down Roj TV. A member of the PKK, who joined the raid on military barracks in Daglica which resulted in killing of 35 troops, is among the witnesses.
Rebels Seize Control of Libyan Capitol
NATO hit Libya and opponents seized the control of capitol Tripoli without facing any resistance. Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, whose three sons have been captured, is still hiding. Meanwhile, Libyan opponents lowered their country's flag at the Libyan embassy in the Turkish capital of Ankara and flew the flag of the Interim Transitional National Council instead.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, who held a conference call with foreign ministers of 11 countries, will travel to the Libyan city of Benghazi today. The Libya Contact Group will also gather in Istanbul.
Libya Contact Group to Convene in Turkey
A Libya Contact Group will convene in Turkey on the political directors level this week.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu held a series of phone conversations with foreign ministers of France, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, the United States, Canada, Germany, Italy, Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Britain about the recent developments in Libya on Monday. The leaders decided that the Libya Contact Group would convene on political directors level in Turkey this week. Meanwhile, Davutoglu will travel to Libya on Tuesday. As part of his visit to Libya, Davutoglu is expected to hold talks with representatives of the Libyan Interim Transitional National Council.
Turkish Foreign Minister Says New Libya Should be Democratic, Free, United
Turkey's foreign minister said on Monday that Libya should become a democratic, free and united country in line with the demands of its citizens in the coming term.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, appearing at a press conference with his Ethiopian counterpart Hailemariam Desalegn in Addis Ababa, commented on the latest developments in Libya.
"Today is a historic day for Libya. The new Libya should become a democratic, free and united country in line with the demands of its citizens," Davutoglu said.
The minister said he hoped the situation in Libya would go back to normal as soon as possible and a single authority would give shape to the country's future. Expressing Turkey's support to the Libyan Interim Transitional National Council, Davutoglu said Turkey hoped the reconstruction process of Libya would be conducted under the leadership of the Council and with the support of international community.
Davutoglu said, as the term president of the Libya Contact Group, he had begun holding talks with his foreign counterparts on the latest developments in the country. The minister also noted that what had happened in Libya should be a lesson for other leaders in the region.
"Leaders of other countries should also be aware that they can remain in power on the condition that they care about the demands of their people," he said.
Turkey, Iran to Work Together Against Syria
Details of the telephone conversation between Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad have been revealed.
Erdogan's motorcade pulled over and stopped shortly before crossing the Bosphorus Bridge in Istanbul. During the conversation, which lasted for 37 minutes, Erdogan suggested that Turkey and Iran act together to stop the bloodshed in Syria. Ahmadinejad said that Turkey and Iran should protect Syria and from the pressure of the West.
Syria's Al-Assad Raises Doubts Over Turkey's Sincerity
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has put special emphasis on Turkey while warning against any foreign military intervention as he questioned the intentions of the neighboring country in dealing with the crisis in Syria.
"In general, we always meet with officials from different countries, we take advice. If they have experience, we discuss it, especially countries that resemble us in terms of society, but when it comes to the decision, we don't allow any country in the world, near or far, to interfere in Syria's decisions," al-Assad.
In an interview with state-run television Sunday, al-Assad assumed several possibilities for the Turkish officials' statements, citing that of sincerity, saying, "In this case, we highly appreciate others' sincerity on Syria," the Syrian news agency SANA reported al-Assad saying."It may be a kind of concern that any defect in Syria will affect Turkey and this is normal. The third possibility is that the reason behind these statements is acting as the guide or instructor or the role player at the expense of the Syrian issue. This matter is totally rejected from any official anywhere in the world, including Turkey," al-Assad said.
Turkish leaders who once backed al-Assad sounded increasingly frustrated with the Syrian leader in the same way they became frustrated with Muammar Gaddafi after trying to mediate in the Libyan civil war. No country has proposed actions against Syria like those of NATO forces, who have acted in support of the Libyan rebels seeking to topple Muammar Gaddafi, but the West has called on al-Assad to step down and Washington has imposed new sanctions.
Officials at the Foreign Ministry in Ankara on Monday declined to comment on al-Assad's latest remarks concerning Turkey.
World Economic Forum Chairman Meets with Erdogan
Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum, has met Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Istanbul. EU Minister Egemen Bagis said Schwab asked permission to hold a summit that would bring together leading names from the south and the north, from the east to the west.
"Prime Minister Erdogan told him that it would be a pleasure," Bagis said.
Turkey's EU Minister: No Delay in Mavi Marmara Report Can Hide Reality
Turkey's minister for affairs with the European Union, or EU, said on Monday that no delay in the release of a UN report on the Mavi Marmara attack could hide the reality.
Commenting on the UN's latest decision to postpone the release of a report on last year's deadly Israeli attack on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla, Turkish EU Minister Egemen Bagis said no country had the right to kill the citizens of another country on international waters.
"This can only be the work of pirates. They can postpone the report as much as they want, but the truth cannot be hidden," he said. The minister also said Turkey's stance on the matter was clear, listing the country's conditions as receiving an official apology from Israel, compensation for the relatives of the victims of the attack and removal of the embargo over Gaza.
Earlier Monday, a spokesperson for the Turkish Foreign Ministry said that UN had postponed the release of its report on the flotilla attack upon Israel's demand. UN was expected to release the document on Tuesday. On May 31, 2010, Israeli commandos raided an aid flotilla heading for Gaza, killing nine Turkish nationals, one of whom was a U.S. citizen.
Turkey Holding Rival Talks on Fighter Aircraft with Koreans, Swedes
Besides an ongoing plan to develop a fighter jet program with the United States or Europe, Turkey is seeking to broaden its fleet with a second option: South Korea's KAI and Sweden's Saab are the two possible partners, according to a Turkish procurement official.
Turkey is supposed to take part in the design of the possible project. Turkey recently held separate talks with aeronautical officials from South Korea and Sweden for possible cooperation in the design, development and production of a new fighter aircraft in the next decade, a senior procurement official said at the weekend.
"The companies are South Korea's Korea Aerospace Industries, or KAI, and Sweden's Saab," the official said.
KAI is the manufacturer of several military and civilian aircraft and satellites and is planning to produce the fighter aircraft KF-X. Saab is the maker of the multi-role fighter JAS 39 Gripen. Turkey, whose present fighter fleet is made up of U.S.-made aircraft, also plans to buy the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Lightning II planes, a next-generation, multi-national program also led by the United States. But Turkish officials privately say they want another future jet fighter to be developed with a country or countries other than the United States, in an effort to reduce the country's dependence on Washington.
Most of Turkey's present fleet of F-16 fighters, being modernized by U.S. firm Lockheed Martin, and the planned future F-35s are open to U.S. influence. Only its older F-4 aircraft, modernized by Israel, and its oldest F-16s, being modernized by Turkey itself, technologically are free from this influence, the officials said. But these older aircraft are expected to be decommissioned around 2020.
"Turkey wants part of its fighter aircraft fleet to remain outside the technological and other influence of the United States. It believes this scheme would better fit its national interests," said one Turkish defense analyst.
So as part of efforts to select a new fighter for the Turkish Air Force, Turkish Aerospace Industries, or TAI, has been tasked with determining the specifications of the new fighter. It has until the end of next year to finish the process.
In the past, Turkey has assembled and jointly manufactured some military aircraft, but this is the first time the country's developing defense industry fully will be involved in the design of a complex weapons system, such as a jet fighter.The country last year held an initial round of talks with South Korea's KAI on the matter. But the South Koreans then offered only a 20 percent share of the project to Turkey, with another 20 percent going to Indonesia, opting for 60 percent of the program for themselves. Turkey wants an equal share in the development of a new plane and was quick to reject the offer.
"Now the South Koreans are coming much closer to the idea of equal ownership, and this is positive," said the Turkish procurement official. "But there are still many more things to be discussed with them."
In the meantime, Turkey continues to be interested in rival programs, and the recent talks with Saab officials reflect this situation, the procurement official said. "Sweden also is a potential partner for us."
In addition to KAI and Saab, a consortium of European companies, also continues efforts to include Turkey in its program for the Eurofighter Typhoon project. This consortium is Eurofighter, whose members include Italian, German, British and Spanish firms. Italy's deputy defense minister said in May that the pan-European Eurofighter Typhoon fighter aircraft was the only viable alternative to U.S. planes in this category, urging Turkey to join the ambitious European-led defense program.
"The Eurofighter is the only alternative to U.S. aircraft, and provides a great relief to world countries," Guido Crosetto said in Istanbul on the sidelines of the International Defense Industry Fair 2011.