|Monday, 19 April 2021|
Turkish Press Review, 08-06-10
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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 DUE IN CROATIA TODAYPresident Abdullah Gul will arrive in Croatia today for a three-day visit at the invitation of his Croatian counterpart Stepan Mesic. Gul will meet with Croatian Prime Minister Ivo Sanader and Parliament Speaker Luka Bebic. In addition to delivering a speech to the Turkish-Croatian Business Council, Gul will also hold talks in Dubrovnik. /Cumhuriyet/
 TOPTAN: "I DIDN'T MEAN THE CONSTITUTIONAL COURT'S POWERS SHOULD BE STRIPPED AND GIVEN TO A SENATE"Parliament Speaker Koksal Toptan yesterday said that he didn't understand the criticism of his suggestions for a new constitution and a bicameral parliament in the wake of a Constitutional Court ruling upholding the headscarf ban at universities. Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) meeting in Athens, Toptan commented that many European countries have bicameral legislatures, saying, "In my opinion, senates can act as filters on constitutional courts by preventing too much paperwork. Some academics interpreted my argument as saying the Constitutional Court would be stripped of its functions, which is baseless." He added, "I didn't mean that the Constitutional Court's powers should be restricted and given to a senate." Meeting with his Greek counterpart Dimitrios Sioufas, Toptan expressed condolences over an earthquake which hit Greece two days ago. Toptan also held talks with ethnic Turkish deputies representing Greece’s Western Thrace region. /Aksam-Milliyet/
 CICEK URGES PARLIAMENT TO ADDRESS CONSTITUTIONAL COURT HEADSCARF RULINGSpeaking to reporters after yesterday's Cabinet meeting, Deputy Prime Minister Cemil Cicek said that with its recent ruling repealing constitutional changes to lift the headscarf ban at universities, the Constitutional Court had interfered with Parliament's legislative authority and violated the principle of separation of powers. Stressing that only Parliament can make constitutional changes, Cicek said that the court can examine constitutional changes only in terms of their form, not their content. Asked about Parliament Speaker Koksal Toptan's proposal to create a senate to avert a crisis, Cicek said that before considering such an idea, Parliament should address "the threat to Turkey's democracy" posed by the court decision. /Turkiye/
 BAHCELI: "THE RULING AKP IS RESPONSIBLE FOR TURKEY'S RECENT PROBLEMS"Parliament Speaker Koksal Toptan's proposal for a bicameral parliament would not solve Turkey's problems, said opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahceli yesterday. Speaking to his party's Executive Board, Bahceli said that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has caused Turkey's recent problems through taking a series of missteps. "The AKP should act properly, because otherwise the polarization will worsen, and Turkey will be dragged into chaos," he added. Touching on last week's Constitutional Court ruling upholding the headscarf ban at universities, Bahceli said that the court had overstepped its authority. /Milliyet/
 SOUTH KOREAN CHIEF OF STAFF TO VISIT TURKEYGen. Lim Choung-bin, the South Korean Army's chief of staff, is scheduled to arrive in Turkey on Thursday as part of a regional visit to the Middle East, his office has announced. Lim will meet with top Turkish military officials, including Land Forces Commander Gen. Ilker Basbug, and the Turkish military is planning to present to him one of its top decorations. /Today's Zaman/
 BYEGM CELEBRATES ITS 88TH ANNIVERSARYThe 88th anniversary of the Directorate General of Press and Information (BYEGM) was celebrated yesterday with a reception at its new headquarters in Balgat, Ankara. Attending the reception were State Minister Mehmet Aydin, Supreme Board of Radio and Television (RTUK) head Zahid Akman, Turkish Radio and Television Corporation (TRT) head Ibrahim Sahin, BYEGM Deputy Director General Salih Melek, Anatolia News Agency head General Hilmi Bengi, members of the press, and many guests and BYEGM's staff. As part of the anniversary celebrations, an awards ceremony for the local press was held, where top local journalists got their prizes from Aydin, Melek and other distinguished officials. Aydin also opened a photo exhibit marking the anniversary. Speaking to the ceremony, Melek said the local press was like the body's blood vessels, adding, "The stronger local press is, the more powerful the national press will become. Local press members go to the national press after they prove themselves in local papers. BYEGM will continue to support the local Anatolian press in all areas." /Turkiye/
FROM THE COLUMNS… FROM THE COLUMNS… FROM THE COLUMNS…
 AN ADMINISTRATIVE PROBLEMBY FIKRET BILA (MILLIYET)
Columnist Fikret Bila comments on Parliament Speaker Koksal Toptan's suggestion to establish a bicameral parliament. A summary of her column is as follows:
"Parliament Speaker Koksal Toptan suggested a bicameral parliament be established at a press conference last week, where he also harshly criticized the Constitutional Court and said it would be useful if Turkey had a senate again. He added that he would discuss the issue with leaders. Toptan's suggestion for a senate is meant to reduce the number of laws challenged at the Constitutional Court, and so act as a kind of filter. Decades ago Turkey had a senate. It made certain positive contributions, but eventually the heart of issues was determined in accordance with preferences of the ruling party and its leader.
The reason for Turkey's problem isn't our single-chamber Parliament. The essence of the problem is the single-person political administration and the lack of intra-party democracy. This structure has made both deputies and Parliament dependent on the leader. Unless this structure is changed, things will stay the same, even if we had three chambers. Parliament's legislative process is completely dependent on one man. Whatever the leader orders, happens. We can see that the majority of the ruling party in Parliament acts in line with the prime minister's decisions. Nobody can take a stance against the leader or say that he's wrong. If somebody mentions his mistakes, nobody takes him seriously. The majority of deputies try to curry favor with their leaders.
In such an atmosphere, would a new senate be any different from the current Parliament? No, unless intra-policy democracy is established. Thus a senate dependent on the leader would be added to the lower chamber dependent on the leader. If the ruling party had the majority in the senate, the senate would be only repeating the work of the lower chamber. The most important problem in Turkish politics is that politicians' fortunes depend wholly on their leader. Only the leader can determine if a deputy can stand as a candidate again. One cannot stand as a candidate or be elected in spite of the leader. As long as this situation stays in place, any senators' situation would be exactly the same as deputies'.
As long as one's political fortune depends on the leader, it's hard to tell the truth, oppose the leader, or criticize him or make suggestions. Doing so means taking the risk of not being elected again. Similarly, nobody had dared tell Erdogan that the Constitutional change on headscarves would be rejected by the Constitutional Court. Preparations for the change began after the prime minister said while abroad, 'Even if it's a political symbol, one must not ban head coverings,' before he even got back to Turkey.
This constitutional change on headscarves was perhaps one of the most important factors in a closure case being filed against the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). Toptan criticized last week's ruling canceling the constitutional changes to lift the headscarf ban at universities. He could have done preliminary work with his advisors and experts when he got the proposal for a new constitutional amendment. He also could have determined that this proposal was an initiative towards changing the Constitution's articles which 'shall not be amended, nor shall their amendment be proposed' and warned Erdogan and the ruling AKP. Doing so would have been better than criticizing the Constitutional Court."
 CONFUSIONBY OKTAY EKSI (HURRIYET)
Columnist Oktay Eksi comments on developments since last week's Constitutional Court ruling upholding the university headscarf ban. A summary of his column is as follows:
"The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is thoroughly flustered. Even veteran politician Koksal Toptan, known for acting with common sense and hailed as a man of law, who was elected Parliament speaker with the support of all parties, was perplexed.
First, AKP leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan is in confusion. He visited Toptan late the evening and probably urged him to move against the Constitutional Court's ruling, as if the court was interfering with Parliament's legislative powers. Toptan, just the other day, held a press conference criticizing the top court.
Then he caused debates both over his character and his impartiality as Parliament speaker. Toptan said the Constitutional Court had overstepped its authority, and furthermore stated, 'In my opinion, the Constitution should be changed and a new senate should be established. The burden of the Constitutional Court should be lightened.'
This proposal could be discussed. But making such a sudden proposal without the knowledge of even his party is proof of his perplexity. The proposal showed that the AKP's mechanisms of consultation and developing ideas are dysfunctional.
It's not clear whether he was serious about this proposal or made it just to divert attention from his remarks at the press conference.
Meanwhile, AKP Ankara Deputy and Parliament Justice Commission head Ahmet Iyimaya yesterday also proposed an odd model enabling suspension of the top court's rulings by Parliament. It is quite difficult to understand how a man of law can put forward such a proposal, as it has no meaning but neutralizing the top court.
If a top court ruling overturning a law is declared invalid by Parliament, which also supports the overturned law, is there any need for the court?'
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