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Turkish Press Roundup

The French genocide law controversy did not fade from Turkey’s domestic news this week, with several newspapers endorsing Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu’s characterization of the episode as an attempt to “Nazify” Turks. Newpapers also cited reported comments by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that the law is incompatible with press freedom, and reported actions taken by French legislators to nullify the law through an appeal to the country’s constitutional council. While in Zurich for a concert by Turkish singer Sezen Aksu, Turkish Minister for EU Affairs and Chief Negotiator Egemen Bağış criticized the French bill, and made a point of breaking a similar Swiss law by denying that the killings of Armenians in Ottoman Turkey in 1915 constituted a genocide.

After filing a petition to abolish the EU’s visa requirements for Turkish citizens, Turkish lawyer Selim Sarıibrahimoğlu was described by major newspapers as having been vindicated by the European Parliament’s decision this week to consider the complaint. On the same day, officials in the Turkish Foreign Ministry confirmed that Turkey would not support the EU’s embargo on Iranian oil and Hürriyet columnist Yalçın Doğan later reported that, contrary to the AKP’s promise, Turkish dependence on foreign sources of energy increased by five percent since 2002. The press noted reports that the Foreign Ministry requested the state-owned TRT television company to send Jewish singer Can Bonomo to represent Turkey at the 2012 Eurovision song contest in an attempt to dispel allegations of Turkish anti-Semitism amid the deterioration of relations between Turkey and Israel. In a nationally televised speech, Erdoğan asserted that Turkey continues to support the quest of Syrian people for freedom and democracy. Daily Sabah reported complaints from Turkey’s Health Minister Recep Akdağ that the government has not been allowed to deliver medication to patients in Gaza, characterizing Israeli officials as having committed “continuing crimes against humanity.”

Erdoğan gave responded to criticism from the CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu that he was exploiting religion by stating that the AKP seeks to “raise a pious generation…which is committed to national values and principles.” Controversy has swirled around an incident on an Istanbul bus, in which policemen beat two university students, claiming they were “making love” on the bus—the students and several eye-witnesses have claimed that they were discussing problems in the Turkish judicial system. Government-friendly Takvim daily newspaper drew attention to speculations that former Chief of the General Staff Işık Koşaner and his commanders would be interrogated. Korean automotive company Hyundai announced plans to make additional investments amounting to 400 million Euros aimed at increasing the production capacity of its plant in Izmit.

Amid reports that Hamas is set to open a political bureau in Turkey, daily newspapers reported President Abdullah Gül’s public assertion about the party’s political legitimacy, while noting the Turkish government’s unwillingness to confirm whether Hamas will open an office in Turkey, along with unattributed comments from officials in Ankara encouraging Hamas to open offices in Arabic-speaking countries first. As a result of escalating tensions between Turkish Prime Minister Erdoğan and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, Erdogan rejected his responsibility for the Uludere bombing and Turkish Interior Minister İdris Naim Şahin canceled his visit to Baghdad, with newspapers placing the blame squarely on al-Maliki for harming the functioning of the three-party mechanism formed by Turkey, the US and Iraq to fight terrorism. Sabah daily newspaper reported that the Foreign Ministry is planning to organize a summit meeting of Iraqi Sunni and Shiite leaders in a bid to defuse tensions in Iraq

Columnist Nazli Ilıcak responded to US Ambassador Francis Ricciardone’s supposed confusion about why journalists have been jailed in Turkey, stating that the detained reporters fall into three categories: collaborators with the army, those linked to Ergenekon, and Kurds accused of violating article 220 of the penal code and provisions of the anti-terror law. Later in the week, Paul Auster stated he would not visit Turkey in protest of the imprisonment of journalists. Erdoğan reproached the author for visiting Israel in 2010, and later allowed Anter Anter, the son of slain Kurdish poet Musa Anter, to return to Turkey after years in exile. Milliyet daily newspaper drew attention to a controversial court ruling against BDP deputy Kemal Aktaş, jail for terror propaganda in a speech delivered in 2006. The AKP took credit for a bill to protect women, redefining “domestic violence” to include incest, among other forms of abuse previously excluded from earlier statutes.

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  • Kris

    Hey, what do you say we go back to my apartment and discuss the problems of the Turkish judicial system? Nudge-nudge-wink-wink.

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