Turkey plans to hold an international conference on Syria with regional players and world powers to increase pressure on Syria.
"Countries that are concerned with the situation in Syria have to find a solution. We are determined to establish a broad-based forum," Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said in a televised interview Wednesday.
The conference should take place as soon as possible with "broad scale participation" of international actors, the minister said. The conference could take place in Turkey or another country, but it must certainly be in a regional country, he added.
The minister said Turkey's attempt came after a series of international efforts such as the United Nations Security Council resolution draft on Syria that failed by vetoes of Russia and China.
"We can't leave Syria on its own destiny," he said.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was expected to discuss the Syrian crisis with Medvedev in a telephone call Thursday, Davutoğlu said.
Davutoğlu was expected to fly to the United States late Wednesday to meet with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for further discussions on the Syrian crisis. Drawing a parallel with the process of the coalition led by France in Libya before the fall of the Gadhafi regime and Turkey's initiative on Syria would lead to a wrong perception, the minister said.
Davutoğlu said Syria could not use the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, card against Turkey.
"We can't allow a country [Syria] that cannot control the Zabadani region to play the terror card against us. We won't remain silent if it happens," the minister said.
Davutoğlu also said 11 Iranian citizens, who were kidnapped by opposition in Syria and released by the mediation of Turkey, were brought to Turkey.
"I'd like to convey this as a message to Iranian people," he said.
Damascus Radio claimed 49 intelligence officers were detained in Syria. Gürcan Balık, special adviser to Foreign Minister Davutoğlu, denied the claims on his Twitter account.
"Those allegations are totally untrue," Balık said.
Syria Must Respond to Democratic Demands, CHP Leader Says
The head of Turkey's main opposition party, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, has said that the Syrian leadership should meet Syrian people's demands for democracy and freedom, adding that oppressive regimes could not survive.
"Syrian people's demand for democracy and freedom should be met. It has been seen that oppressive regimes cannot live long in the 21st century," Kemal Kilicdaroglu, chairman of the Republican People's Party, or CHP, told the Anadolu Agency in an interview.
Kilicdaroglu said Syria had to transform itself into a regime free of oppression based on democracy, freedom, gender equality and human rights.
"Turkey could have taken a series of very important steps for the democratization of Syria, but it failed. Turkey could have stood side by side with our neighbor and made valuable contributions for Syria's democratization, for freedoms and for legal reforms," Kilicdaroglu said.
13 PKK Militants Killed in Turkey's Southeast
One Turkish soldier and 13 militants from the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, were killed in two separate clashes in Turkey's southeast today. The troops killed nine militants in Bingöl province, state-run TRT television reported. Four other militants were killed in a hot pursuit following a PKK attack on a military outpost on the Iraqi border, Gov. Muammer Türker of Hakkari province said.
Twenty-year-old Sgt. Metin Çetin was killed and six other soldiers were wounded in that PKK attack near the town of Çukurca. The violence comes less than a week after Turkish warplanes bombed three suspected PKK targets in northern Iraq, used by the militants to stage hit and run attacks on Turkish targets. This year, Turkey has launched dozens of air raids on suspected PKK bases and other targets in northern Iraq and along the Turkish side of the mountainous border.
The government held secret talks with representatives from the PKK in 2010 and left the door open for future dialogue while vowing to maintain its military drive until they lay down arms.
Ankara in Shock over Probe on Intel Chiefs
Ankara has been left perplexed after a special authority prosecutor summoned the National Intelligence Organization, or MİT, and two retired officials for questioning over past talks with outlawed Kurdish militants in Oslo.
MİT Chief Hakan Fidan is the first incumbent head of the intelligence service to be summoned to answer questions in a judicial probe. Fidan, his predecessor, Emre Taner, and former MİT Deputy Chair Afet Güneş, who were all involved in talks with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, were summoned Tuesday, Istanbul's Deputy Chief Prosecutor Fikret Seçen told reporters. Seçen declined to say whether the three would be questioned as witnesses, suspects, or just individuals who may possess information related to the judiciary's wide-ranging investigation into the Kurdistan Communities Union, or KCK, the PKK's alleged urban wing.
They were called by prosecutor Sadrettin Sarıkaya, who is in charge of the KCK probe in Istanbul, Seçen added. Politicians in Ankara were surprised by the announcement, with Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç expressing astonishment that they could be called to testify in the KCK probe and wondering whether Fidan could even be legally questioned.
Appointed to the head of the MİT in early 2010, Fidan made headlines in September, following the release of voice recordings of a meeting between the MİT and PKK's senior officials in Oslo.
The meeting reportedly took place between late 2009 and early 2010. MİT's legal bureau was studying the issue Wednesday, sources said, but it was not immediately clear whether the three officials would go to the prosecutor today. Under Article 26 of the law regulating MİT, its employees can be prosecuted only with the prime minister's permission. Legal experts, however, said special authority prosecutors handling terror-related probes could question anybody without permission under the penal code.
The prosecutor may drop the questioning if he becomes convinced that it will lead to the exposure of state secrets. In 2009, MİT's regional chief in Erzurum and two subordinates were arrested as part of the Ergenekon probe. The summonses were first leaked to the media late Tuesday and caught Istanbul's chief prosecutor, Turan Çolakkadı, off guard.
Çolakkadı, who is supposed to be informed of such procedures, said he was unaware of the decision. In Ankara, senior government officials were also perplexed, with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan withholding any immediate comment.
Erdoğan and Interior Minister İdris Naim Şahin refused to take questions from reporters. Arınç, meanwhile, cast doubt on whether Fidan could be questioned without permission.
"I don't know whether they will be questioned as suspects or witnesses. My mind fails to explain how those three people could be part of the KCK probe as suspects. Even if they have been summoned as suspects, I don't think that this is possible for Fidan," he said. Arınç speculated that the three must have been summoned as witnesses or people with information. Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu praised Fidan and defended MİT's contacts with the PKK, which said were conducted upon "political instructions" from the government.
"We think that Fidan and his team's work is important in the context of achieving success in the internal and external intelligence security of the state. It's important to support this team," Davutoğlu said.
Reaction from the opposition was mixed. Atilla Kart of the Republican People's Party, or CHP, played down the prosecutor's move as "for show only," while Oktay Vural of the Nationalist Movement Party, or MHP, argued that Erdoğan should also be investigated for having ordered the MİT-PKK talks.
Peace and Democracy Party, or BDP, Deputy Altan Tan said the summoning of the MİT chief reflected the "tragicomic" stage that the KCK probe had reached.
"If you ask me, the prime minister is the number-one suspect in the KCK case," he said tongue-in-cheek. "Let's see how they will clean this up."
AKP Says Police 'Might Have Briefed' U.S. Embassy
A ruling party official conceded Wednesday that police might have briefed the U.S. embassy about the Ergenekon probe, not upon government instruction, but "on their own initiative."
"Some police officials might have individually briefed the U.S. embassy on their own initiative. Neither the Interior Ministry nor the General Directorate of Security gave instruction for a briefing," Justice and Development Party, or AKP, Deputy Chairman Hüseyin Çelik told reporters.
The controversy has been lingering since last week, when it emerged that U.S. cables published on the whistle-blowing WikiLeaks web site, reported briefings by Turkish police on the Ergenekon investigation on at least two occasions in 2008 and in 2009.
The police denied the briefing. However, main opposition Republican People's Party, or CHP, Deputy Metin Lütfü Baydar Wednesday underlined at a press conference that the name of the policeman who held the second briefing was available in a cable dated June 2, 2009.
The dispatch said the briefing was given by "members of the Turkish National Police Counterterrorism and Intelligence Branches, headed by the Director of International Relations and Analysis Section, Ufuk Ersoy Yavuz," he said.
U.S. officials refuse to comment on issues concerning cables revealed by WikiLeaks. Meanwhile, the CHP's Atilla Kart referred to allegations stemming from earlier cables.
"The allegations over Prime Minister Erdoğan's bank accounts in Switzerland have not been explained yet," he said.
Erdogan, Kilicdaroglu Duel over Ties with Israel
The main opposition's chief has fired a new salvo in a verbal battle between himself and the prime minister over Israel, saying the latter had agreed to host a NATO missile defense program that was functioning merely as an "Israel Shield."
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's public image of fighting Israel is a hoax, Republican People's Party, or CHP, leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu told the Anatolia news agency.
"Although he seems like he is against Israel, Erdoğan, behind the curtain, has ordered the establishment of the radar missile to protect Israel. He shall not deceive the public," he said. "The prime minister himself is the reason for this radar to be based in Turkey. He should first be held accountable for this."
The early-warning NATO radar system, which is based at a military installation at Kürecik in the eastern province of Malatya, went online at the beginning of the year and is widely believed to be aimed at preventing missiles from Iran.
Due to cooperation between some NATO members and Israel, many have suspected that the radar system will effectively defend Israel as well, even though it is not an alliance member.
Kılıçdaroğlu also criticized the government's policy on Syria.
"Turkey could have taken major steps in the democratization of Syria, but instead, it has become the spokesperson for the Western powers," he said. "Turkey could have stood by Syria and contributed to the preparation of new laws for democracy and freedom. [If it had], Syria would no be in its current situation."
Bagis Calls for Germany to Open 'Genocide' Archives
Turkey's European Union Minister Egemen Bağış said Germany should open its archives regarding the Armenian genocide allegations in order to help illuminate the issue, German Welt Online posted on its Web site Wednesday.
"Germany was a strong ally of Armenians in 1915, so the Germans should open their archives and give documents to historians for examination," Bağış said.
He added that all documents he had seen regarding the issue did not define the incidents of 1915 as "genocide," and freedom of thought was among the core European values.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan also hailed Azerbaijan for supporting Turkey regarding the French bill to criminalize denial of Armenian genocide allegations.
"Our Azerbaijani brothers and sisters did their best and extended a great support both in France and Azerbaijan," Erdoğan said in an interview with Azerbaijan's national television channel ANS Wenesday.
Erdoğan's remarks came a day after Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev received a delegation of French senators, led by the deputy chairman of the France-Caucasus Friendship Group.
The delegation included French senators who were against the French bill. Meanwhile, Marseille Mayor and ruling UMP party's group head in French Senate Jean Claude Gaudin said he believes the French Constitutional Council may annul the bill, the Hürriyet Daily News reported.
Separately, Socialist lawmakers of the European Parliament Tuesday called for the opening of more policy chapters in Turkey's membership talks, after they met with Bağış.
Turkey Delivers Modernized F-16 Jets to Pakistan
Turkish Aerospace Industries Inc., or TUSAŞ, delivered three modernized F-16 warplanes to Pakistan Wednesday.
The aircraft, which belonged to Pakistani Air Forces, were modernized in Turkey, and delivered to Pakistan in a ceremony.
Turkish Defense Industry Undersecretary Murad Bayar said Turkey and Pakistan have been successfully cooperating in tactical, radio and electronic aspects of warfare, as well as creating a training test center and various military information systems.
Pakistani Deputy Commander of Air Forces Gen. Asim Suleiman said that Pakistan's air defense became more powerful with the aircraft, which were modernized in structural and avionic aspects.
Pakistani Ambassador to Turkey Muhammad Shaukat Haroon said that the project was a sign of friendship and unity of powers between Turkey and Pakistan. The test flights of each modernized aircraft are performed by TUSAŞ's F-16 test pilots.
TUSAŞ was awarded the tender of Pakistani Air Forces F-16 modernization program (Peace Drive II) and signed an agreement with Pakistani defense ministry in June 2009. Under the program, TUSAŞ's engineers and technicians are to perform avionics and structural modernization of a total of 41 F-16 warplanes from Pakistan.
The Peace Drive II program, which started in October 2010, is set to be completed by September 2014. The required parts, material and technical data are furnished to TUSAŞ in accordance with another contract between the U.S. and the Pakistani Air Forces.
Within the Peace Drive II Program, TUSAŞ provides classroom and on-the-job training for 72 technicians from the Pakistani air forces. Upon completion of their training, the technicians directly participate in the ongoing modernization activities at TUSAŞ.