|Saturday, 10 April 2021|
Turkish Press Review, 08-04-02
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From: Turkish Directorate General of Press and Information <http://www.byegm.gov.tr>Summary of the political and economic news in the Turkish press this morning
 GUL HOSTS HISTORIANS’ LUNCHEON AT CANKAYA PALACEPresident Abdullah Gul yesterday played host to two prominent historians at the Cankaya Palace, the latest in a series of invitations to distinguished figures since he took office. His guests were Professor Ilber Ortayli, director of the Topkapi Palace Museum, and historian Yilmaz Oztuna. The luncheon hosted by Gul lasted nearly two hours, with Presidential Secretary General Mustafa Isen and the Foreign Ministry’s Gurcan Turkoglu also in attendance. Culture, art, history, and Izmir losing its bid to host Expo 2015 dominated the discussion. /Sabah/
 ERDOGAN: “THE AKP WILL CONTINUE TO SERVE THE NATION”Prime Minister Recep Tayip Erdogan said yesterday that his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) will continue to serve the nation and keep its place in the heart of the people. Speaking to AKP deputies about the closure case against their party, Erdogan said that the issue concerned not only the party but indeed the entire country. He said that attempts to weaken politics will not only hurt the nation but also weaken the state. “We’ll never allow those fear mongers to darken our future,” said Erdogan. “We’re aware of our responsibilities and we’ll handle this process with calm. Let’s hope justice, democracy and the will of the nation emerge triumphant.” In addition, Erdogan yesterday chaired his party Central Executive Board (MYK) to discuss the closure case. /Milliyet/
 BABACAN: “THIS YEAR WILL TEST OUR NATION”At a conference in Istanbul yesterday, Foreign Minister Ali Babacan said that Turkey is attached to its European Union process, and added, “We’ll do everything we can to continue the negotiation process.” Stating that Turkish democracy successfully passed a number of tests last year, Babacan said, “We have a stronger democracy. It seems this year will also be a year of tests for Turkey. I believe our democracy will pass these successfully.” Babacan also said that Turkey’s reform process should continue. In related news, asked about the closure case against the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), Turkey-EU Joint Parliamentary Committee Co-Chair Joost Lagendijk said that this year could be a “lost” one for Turkey’s EU bid, much like 2007, and so the outcome of the case concerns him. /Sabah/
 JUSTICE MINISTER: “KEEP THE PRESIDENT OUT OF THE AKP CLOSURE CASE”Justice Minister Mehmet Ali Sahin said yesterday that bringing President Abdullah Gul into the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) closure case process was harmful and had cast a shadow over democracy. Stressing that the president was not a politician as he cut off his ties with politics, Sahin said that under the Constitution, legally speaking, Gul could only be chrged with treason. Gul, a founding ruling party member who left the party upon becoming president, as is customary, is among the targets of a proposed political ban under the AKP closure case. /Milliyet/
 MHP’S BAHCELI COMES OUT AGAINST CONSTITUTIONAL CHANGE ON PARTY CLOSURESSpeaking at his party’s group meeting, opposition Nationalist Movement Party’s (MHP) leader Devlet Bahceli said that he opposes a referendum on a constitutional change to make closing parties more difficult. “If Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan chooses to force this, he will have to explain it to the nation,” Bahceli added. /Sabah/
VISIT BY EU’S BARROSO, REHN COMING AT CRITICAL TIME
European Union Commission head Jose Manuel Barroso and EU Commissioner for Enlargement Olli Rehn will pay a visit to Turkey on April 10-12. Barroso and Rehn will meet with President Abdullah Gul and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and representatives of other political parties and non- governmental groups. The two high-level EU officials are expected to urge Turkey to continue its reform efforts and to strengthen its ties with the EU. Although the visit isn’t directly related to the case seeking the closure of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) or rising political tension, and it was scheduled before these developments, it is seen as taking place during a critical period for Turkey. Rehn and other EU officials have condemned the closure case and warned that the EU could suspend Turkey’s accession talks. In related news, European Parliament Rapporteur Ria Oomen-Ruijten yesterday said Turkey should change its Constitution through compromise as soon as possible, stressing the importance of the judiciary’s independence. Oomen-Ruijten also said rising political tension and recent developments on the closure case have hurt Turkish markets but this situation shouldn’t slow down reform efforts or Ankara’s pledge to focus on reforms this year. /Hurriyet/
 EXPORT GAINS CONTINUEAccording to the Turkish Exporters Assembly (TIM), Turkey’s export revenues soared to 36.16 percent this January to March to reach $31.4 billion. With this increase, Turkey’s annual export revenues reached $114 billion in March, a rise of 26.59 percent. The figures show that the stable rise in Turkey’s export revenues continues despite the recent political crisis. /Turkiye/
 LABOR UNIONS PROTEST NEW SOCIAL SECURITY BILLWhile Parliament is debating the new social security bill, prominent labor unions yesterday took to the streets all around Turkey to protest the proposed legislation. In Ankara a large number of protesters gathered in Kizilay Square to march to the Parliament building, but police prevented them. Some deputies from the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and Democratic Society Party (DTP) joined the group to lend their support. /Cumhuriyet/
FROM THE COLUMNS...FROM THE COLUMNS... FROM THE COLUMNS...
 OUR EU PROCESS OFFERS A WAY OUTBY ERDAL SAFAK (SABAH)
Columnist Erdal Safak comments on Turkey’s EU membership bid and how to sustain it. A summary of his column is as follows:
“In the midst of this complex situation, the best analysis came yesterday from Turkish Exporters’ Association (TIM) head Oguz Satici. He said that if we had embraced our European Union membership bid wholeheartedly, we might not have needed to fear for our democracy and economy. But the sooner we end this, the more we can gain. Today the EU can become the life raft for our democracy and the economy. But Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan mentioned the EU only once during this week’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) group meeting.
Chief Prosecutor Abdurrahman Yalcinkaya based his closure indictment against the AKP on two grounds: Article 68 and 69 of the Constitution, and the Political Parties Law. These both result from the 1980 coup period. Our Negotiation Framework Document, the roadmap for our EU membership talks says, ‘The Union expects Turkey to sustain the process of reform and to work towards further improvement in the principles of liberty, democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, including relevant European case law’ (paragraph four). Paragraph 17 says, ‘In all areas of the acquis, Turkey must bring its institutions, management capacity and administrative and judicial systems up to Union standards, both at the national and regional levels, with a view to implementing the acquis effectively or, as the case may be, being able to implement it effectively in good time before accession.’
Before and after this document was issued in the fall of 2005, all the annual EU Commission progress reports said that Turkey should draft a new Constitution and a new Political Parties Law as soon as possible to promote democracy and the rule of law. Unfortunately, all these calls and expectations remained unfulfilled. Now the ruling AKP is preparing a constitutional amendment to make it very hard to close a party which is considered dangerous by lawyers. I think now the AKP can choose a better alternative, that is, it should carry through on its campaign promises. Let me remind you of these: In order to eliminate deficiencies in the areas of basic rights and freedoms, opportunities for consensus and cooperation will be sought with other political parties and with non-governmental organizations. The declaration also says that confidence and dignity in politicians will be strengthened by restructuring politics and that preparations should be made to enact a new constitution and Political Parties Law with the broadest possible social consensus.
While preparations for these two historical initiatives are underway, we should return to our EU bid with force, because, as Satici said, ‘Democracy and stability are matters of confidence, vision and experience. Our EU membership bid is a very important anchor to guarantee put all these elements. Let’s prove without delay that we’ll stick to this anchor.’ As I said yesterday, the ruling AKP can turn such a risk into a historical opportunity as well.
EU Commission Chairman Jose Manuel Barroso and EU Commissioner for Enlargement Olli Rehn will be in Turkey next week. Let’s give them a surprise and strengthen their hands against the anti-Turks within the EU. Let’s give those who favor Turkey within the EU but are pessimistic about Ankara’s reluctance for reforms reason to smile. Most importantly, let’s cleanse our system, get rid of the coup-era laws, and stop denying our nation modern rights and freedoms and advanced democracy. As Erdogan said reforms are his priorities, what are we waiting for?”
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