Senior members of Turkey's main opposition party urged fellow lawmakers Thursday to stop public discussion on internal matters in an effort to contain an intra-party row over the party's role in the Dersim mass killings of 1938.
"We should not discuss our internal problems publicly. No one should abuse the tolerance of our leader," Republican People's Party, or CHP, Deputy Chairman Gürsel Tekin said. "We have created all necessary democratic mechanisms so everyone can express their thoughts at closed group meetings, but I cannot accept the discussion of these issues with the media. I know our chairman thinks the same."
CHP Deputy Group Chairman Akif Hamzaçebi made a similar appeal.
Tensions flared within the CHP earlier this week when 12 lawmakers made a public statement urging chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu to initiate disciplinary procedures against fellow deputy Hüseyin Aygün, who told a pro-government daily: "The state and the CHP were responsible for the [Dersim] massacres and Mustafa Kemal Atatürk was aware of them."
Aygün was referring to military operations in 1937 and 1938 to quash a rebellion in Dersim, in which thousands of Alevis were killed. Aygün is a deputy for Tunceli, what Dersim was called after the operation. Kılıçdaroğlu is also from the eastern province.
In further remarks Thursday, Tekin highlighted the government's plan to introduce paid military service, a CHP election pledge in the June polls that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan had criticized at the time.
"The prime minister and ruling party officials criticized the CHP, asking 'How can that be? Who will protect the country?' Well, we now see that the prime minister is bringing to life all of the CHP's projects step by step," he said.
Hamzaçebi, for his part, lashed out at Erdogan over remarks this week in which he dismissed a declaration the CHP and the ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, signed in July before the CHP ended a parliamentary boycott over deputies who remain in jail.
"The goal of the text was to create the necessary atmosphere in Turkey to overcome the issue of jailed deputies. But we can see that the prime minister's understanding of politics is to deny what he said yesterday," Hamzaçebi said.
Turkish Foreign Minister Stresses Importance of Protecting Syrian Civilians
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Wednesday that protecting Syrian civilians was highly important.
Speaking at a joint press conference with his Moroccan counterpart, Taieb Fassi Fihri, following the fourth meeting of foreign ministers of the Turkish-Arab Cooperation Forum in Rabat, Davutoglu said the Syrian army had to withdraw from Syrian cities and Turkey would support every decision taken by the Arab League on Syria.
"The presence of Syrian troops and uncontrolled forces pose serious risks to the civilians," Davutoglu said. "While Syrian government forces open fire on even the smallest meeting of the opposition, they permit rallies by pro-[Syrian President Bashar] al-Assad groups. All types of rallies should be able to take place in a democracy."
Turkey will continue to hold talks with the Arab League on Syria and determine steps to be taken jointly, and, regardless of Turkey's decision on Syria, it will support the Arab League, Davutoglu said.
Commenting on the Rabat meeting, Davutoglu said it was successful and that he was thankful to Morocco. All the countries at the meeting offered condolences over the death of Turkish citizens in a recent earthquake in eastern province of Van. With this meeting, Turkish-Arab relations will take a great leap forward, Davutoglu said.
"As the Turkish and the Arab world, we will continue to support the Palestinian cause. It is a natural right for the Palestinians to have their own independent state," Davutoglu said.
Moroccan foreign minister Fihri, for his part, said two separate documents that will serve as a map for developing Turkish-Arab relations were published at the end of Thursday's meeting. http://haber.gazetevatan.com/davutoglundan-suriye-aciklamasi/411678/1/Gundem
Turkish Prime Minister Lashes Out at Muted Criticism of Syria
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday criticized the international community for its muted criticism of Syria, saying more would be heard if the country had richer oil resources.
"The world may not be following Syria with sufficient care and sensitivity because it is not a wealthy country in terms of energy resources," Erdogan said at an energy forum in Istanbul. "Syria may not be drawing attention as much as Libya because it does not have sufficient oil resources. The silence and unresponsiveness of those who have an appetite for Libya to the massacres in Syria is creating irreparable wounds in the conscience of humanity."
In September, the European Union banned crude oil imports from Syria, a tough measure against Damascus as the 27-nation bloc buys 95 percent of its oil exports, providing a third of the regime's hard currency earnings.
Turkey, once a close ally of Syria, has become increasingly outspoken in its criticism of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime since the uprisings began.
Ankara has already announced a halt to joint oil exploration with Syria and has threatened to cut electricity exports.
Turkey to Intervene in Neo-Nazi Case
Turkey is preparing an application to German courts to get involved in the judicial process being launched against far-right extremist suspects accused of killing of eight Turkish citizens between 2000 and 2004 described as the "döner kebab killings."
"The Vienna Convention gives this right to us. When it comes to protecting the interests of a Turkish citizen, we have the right to get involved in such a judicial process. We are still investigating it," a senior Turkish diplomat told the Hürriyet Daily News Thursday. "Apart from this, we will also give legal assistance to our citizens who lost their relatives in these killings."
German security forces recently revealed that a neo-Nazi cell calling itself the National Socialist Underground is suspected of committing a string of racist murders, including those of eight Turks. The crimes have instigated soul-searching across the country, which is concerned about tarnishing its image in the eyes of the international community.
Turks Concerned about Neo-Nazi Cell
Germany is home to nearly three million Turks with 700,000 of them holding German citizenship. The revelation of the neo-Nazi cell fueled concerns among the Turkish community, which has suffered from similar extreme-right attacks in the past.
"We are following the developments very closely and are in close contact with the German officials," the diplomat said. Germany was in the same position when German citizen Tilman Ekkehart Geske was killed along with two Turkish missionaries at the Zirve Publishing House, a Christian publisher, in Malatya in 2007, the diplomat added.
Turkish Ambassador to Berlin Ahmet Acet met with German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle upon the minister's invitation and the two visited a Turkish association to ease the concerns of the Turkish community. Acet has also demanded a meeting with Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich. He is also expected to raise the issue of unresolved murders of Turks since late 1990s and demand these cases be re-opened. The German government's approach to this issue has been so far satisfactory.
Europe Crisis Threat to Peace, Babacan Says
Turkey categorically supports a strong Europe because the continent, which is currently facing both economic and political problems, stands at a crucial spot in terms of world peace, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan said Thursday.
"The world is experiencing a complicated period that it has not faced during the last 100 years. Debates have even started over the long-appreciated values of Europe," Babacan said, addressing a group of businesspeople, investors and journalists at an Istanbul meeting organized by the Hürriyet Daily News.
"Whatever the consequences are, we want Europe to remain strong and successful," Babacan said. "We believe that a Europe that includes Turkey is vital for peace, stability and security in the world."
Babacan's warnings came only days after a historic statement by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who said the debt crisis in the Eurozone represented Europe's "toughest hour since World War II."
Commenting on the ongoing uprisings and political developments in North Africa and the Middle East, the deputy prime minister said Turkey was even more effective and influential than the 27-nation European Union, which is the most powerful bloc in the world.
"If Europe withdraws into itself, it will become weaker, and its impact across the world will weaken. This will be no good for the world," he said. "The world can only overcome this problematic period by uniting and implementing coordinated policies."
Babacan, who also heads a group of ministers responsible for the economy, trade and finance, is skeptical about the newly appointed governments in both Greece and Italy. Noting that harder times might be on the way, Babacan asked, "How will the Group of 20 countries or the EU develop bigger solutions when they cannot solve the problem in Greece?"
New Prison to Host Active-Duty Soldiers
Sixty-six officers arrested in high-profile coup plot cases were transferred to a former army headquarters in Istanbul's Hadımköy neighborhood that has been partially converted into a penitentiary due to a lack of space in the Hasdal military prison.
Among the active-duty officers transferred to the former First Armored Brigade Command Headquarters in Hadımköy was Gen. Bilgin Balanlı, the former commander of Turkey's military academies and the top suspect in the ongoing "Balyoz" (Sledgehammer) case, as well as Lt. Gen. Korcan Pulatsü.
The suspects were asked by prison authorities whether they would prefer to be transferred to the newly converted prison in Hadımköy or continue to remain in Hasdal, where inmates reside in wards containing around 20 people, according to reports.
The legal proceedings for the transfer of the officers were completed last week.
The suspects in question are on trial in the ongoing Ergenekon, Balyoz and Internet Memorandum cases.
The Ergenekon group is an alleged ultranationalist, shadowy gang accused of planning to topple the government by staging a coup, initially by spreading chaos and mayhem throughout society.
Balyoz is an alleged military coup plot against the ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, drafted in 2003, while the Internet Memorandum case also refers to allegations about the distribution of propaganda on the Internet against the AKP and other targets.