A recent analysis published on the Web site of Committee to Protect Journalists, or CPJ, slammed the treatment of journalists in Turkey, saying that many journalists -- especially Kurdish and leftist sympathizers -- face extremely harsh legal treatment.
Written by the Deputy Director of the CPJ, Robert Mahoney, the article said a critical journalist in Turkey these days needs a lawyer on standby: "The press is laboring under a creaking judicial system and a panoply of antiquated and vague legislation that officials and politicians of every stripe find irresistible as a weapon against muckraking reporters and critical commentators."
Mahoney also said the legal system has become a battleground between the ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, and Kemalists, ultranationalists of the old order known as the "deep state."
"Add to this a concentration of media ownership among conglomerates reluctant to jeopardize their vast non-media business interests by angering authorities, and journalists of all political persuasions feel exposed," the article continued. "The outcome in many cases is chronic self-censorship by reporters and commentators fearful of prosecution or losing their jobs."
Turkey Starts Nuclear Talks with China
Turkey and China will soon start talks for building a third nuclear power plant in the northwestern region of the country, Turkey's Vice Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan said in a Wednesday meeting with Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping in Instanbul, noting that Turkey's doors were wide open for Chinese banks.
"We will start the talks with Chinese authorities and officials regarding nuclear energy," Babacan said, adding that Turkey has a target of having a total of three nuclear power plants by 2023." The talks would focus on building the country's third plant in İğneada, a small town in the northern province of Kırklareli.
"Whether talks with Chinese authorities would be for the third or the second power plant depends on the developments of our talks with Japan," Babacan said. "Our doors are wide open for Chinese banks, as long as the Chinese banks would fully comply with the criteria of the Banking Regulation and Supervision Agency [BRSA]."
The Bank of China had already opened an Istanbul office, and BRSA officials will start talks with Chinese authorities regarding the issue, Babacan said.
$1.4 Billion Worth of Deals
"Turkish and Chinese companies signed 29 business and trade deals worth $1.4 billion," Xi said at the forum organized by the Turkish Exporters' Assembly, or TİM. "Turkey has become an attractive dynamic of its region, playing an active role in regional issues."
In the last 10 years, Chinese firms signed construction deals exceeding $10 billion in Turkey, he said, adding that Turkey and China should be working toward strengthening "strategic cooperation."
China Machinery Engineering Corporation and Yıldırım Energy signed a deal worth $2.8 billion for building 200 megawatt thermal plants in the southeastern province of Elazığ. The Export Import Bank of China signed an agreement to provide $70 million for Global Investment's $100 million project to build four bulk carriers with a capacity of 35,000 deadweight tonnage (dwt) with Avic Weihai Shipyard. China Development Bank Cooperation granted $5 billion for Türk Telekom's network expansion project.
"Trade relations with China are very important for us, but this seems to be a one-sided love," Turkish Economy Minister Zafer Çağlayan said at the meeting, noting the increasing trade deficit that Turkey posts; Turkey and China aim to reach a total of $50 billion bilateral trade volume by 2015 and $50 billion by 2020.
Turkey's exports to China rose to $2.46 billion last year from $2.26 billion, while imports from China jumped to $21.7 billion last year from $17.1 billion.
Turkish Foreign Minister Meets UN Secretary General in London
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu met United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in London Wednesday, where he will attend an international conference on Somalia.
"Their discussions focused on developments in Syria," UN spokesman said. "The Secretary-General said he appreciated Turkey's role in pressing for a solution to the crisis and for providing assistance and shelter to refugees. He said the international community's greatest challenge was the violence on the ground in Syria and the need to stop it.
"He said he hoped the international meeting in Tunis on Friday would be a good opportunity for inclusive diplomatic engagement on Syria and for the international community to discuss how to address the urgent need for humanitarian assistance and access," the office said. "They also discussed Somalia, Cyprus, the Alliance of Civilizations and the Middle East Peace Process."
Foreign Relations Commission Issues Statement on Khojaly Massacre
In a unanimous decision, the Turkish Parliamentary Foreign Relations Commission issued a statement Wednesday pertaining to the Khojaly massacre.
In its statement, the commission said Khojaly was a dark page written by Armenia in history.
"On February 25, 1992 Armenians massacred 613 Azerbaijanis, including 106 women, 63 children and more than 70 elderly people, in the Khojaly town of Azerbaijan. Armenians wounded 487 people and took as hostage 1275 Azerbaijanis on this date. 150 Azerbaijanis are still missing after the Khojaly massacre. What took place in Khojaly constitutes a crime against humanity, according to international laws. As the brothers and sisters of the Azerbaijani Turks, we feel the pain of the Khojaly massacre in our hearts and condemn this massacre committed by Armenians," the statement said.
CHP Requests Legislation Annulment in Alleged Terror Probe
Turkey's main opposition party has appealed to a top court for the annulment of a legislation that seeks the prime minister's clearance to probe the country's intelligence officers for crimes they might have committed due to the nature of their jobs.
The Republican People's Party, or CHP, submitted a petition Wednesday to the Constitutional Court for the annulment of the law, saying it was an open violation of at least seven articles of the Constitution.
The Justice and Development, or AKP, introduced the law, and the Turkish president swiftly ratified it after a Turkish prosecutor ordered the country's top intelligence officer, Hakan Fidan, to testify in a probe over an alleged urban wing of the terrorist PKK organization.
Fidan, head of the National Intelligence Organization, or MIT, along with a former MIT chief and a deputy, were summoned for questioning over secret talks held with the PKK. A voice recording was leaked to the press in 2011, allegedly putting Fidan in attendance of the Oslo meeting with PKK as the "special envoy" of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Fidan was serving as a deputy undersecretary at the Prime Ministry back then, and he had not yet been appointed to lead MIT.The prosecutor of the KCK probe was recently removed from office on the charges of abusing his powers pending an investigation by Turkey's High Board of Judges and Prosecutors.
Turkish Defense Minister Meets Italian Counterpart
Turkish Defense Minister Ismet Yilmaz on Tuesday met with his Italian counterpart, Giampaolo Di Paola, in the Turkish capital of Ankara.
"Our relations are perfect in NATO and in the Mediterranean basin. We have no political issues between our two countries," Yilmaz told reporters before the meeting.
Yilmaz said Di Paola visited Turkey for the first time since he assumed office in Italy's technocratic cabinet, adding that Turkey and Italy were eager to boost cooperation in defense.
Di Paola, on his part, said Italy was ready to share the country's defense technologies with Turkey and the cooperation in defense industry between the two countries had reached to a remarkable level.
"Our visit is of utmost importance. Italy is well aware that Turkey as an emerging regional power is not only significant in its own region, but also in the Mediterranean, Central Asia, the Middle East and in the world," Di Paola said.
Iraq Wants to Hike Oil Exports through Turkey
Iraq is mulling options to boost oil exports through Turkey or to re-open disused pipelines in case Iran blocks the strategic Strait of Hormuz as threatened, the Planning Minister said Wednesday.
Iran has threatened retaliation for fresh Western sanctions over its nuclear program, including a possible disruption of shipping through the Strait of Hormuz, a Gulf chokepoint for global oil shipments.
"Government committees have been formed in Iraq," and have discussed options "if, God forbid, the Strait of Hormuz is closed," Planning Minister Ali Yusuf al-Shukri said in a news conference in Baghdad; the vast majority of Iraq's oil is exported from terminals in the northern Gulf and passes through the Strait.
"We also discussed with the Lebanese and Syrian sides activating the Baniyas-Tripoli pipeline," which has been closed since 1990, he said.