[Via Meadia‘s man in Istanbul provides the blog with updates from Turkish and regional newspapers.]A firestorm of controversy erupted this week regarding Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu’s pronouncement in parliament on April 26 that “we will continue to be the owners, pioneers and servants of the new Middle East,” with journalists across ideological lines debating whether this confirmed longstanding accusations of the AKP’s “neo-Ottoman” outlook. Not long after the first inflammatory interpretations of the statement appeared in the press, other high officials, including Deputy Prime Minister for the Economy, Ali Babacan, issued statements denying any pursuit of hegemony by
Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) (Milliyet).Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan later announced his plans to visit Turkey’s border with Syria today, underlining his intention to console Syrian refugees, while renewing his condemnation of the Assad regime for failing to release the detained Turkish journalists Adem Özköse and Hamit Coşkun. In response, Refik Eryilmaz, a member of the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), publicly accused the AKP of transferring weapons to the Syrian opposition (Posta).Columnists renewed their condemnation of former British royal Sarah Ferguson after Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Ajansı reported the adjournment this week of the Duchess’s ongoing trial for violating the privacy of five children at the orphanages she allegedly filmed for a British ITV program “Duchess and Daughters: Their Secret Mission.” And in another rare eruption of unanimity, while noting the strong backlash overseas against Turkey’s intent to block Israel’s participation in the upcoming NATO summit, columnists roundly supported the Foreign Ministry’s decision to do so.The announcement by US Ambassador Francis J. Ricciardone that the Turkish and American governments would sell some 600 “made in Turkey” Blackhawk helicopters to third countries was met with skepticism (Hürriyet). The Ambassador later confirmed that one hundred of them will be allotted for the Turkish Armed Forces.Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ and deputy party chairman Ömer Çelik both signaled this week that the AKP would not accept a recently submitted joint proposal for the release of eight jailed opposition lawmakers (CNN Türk), citing “many legal drawbacks” to the proposed exemption of MPs from pre-trial detention (Vatan).