[Thanks to Via Meadia’s Man in Istanbul for this roundup of the top stories in Turkey over the last few days.]
In a closely watched statement, Interior Minister İdris Naim Şahin articulated what has emerged as the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) line on claims published by the Wall Street Journal that U.S. intelligence prompted the heavily criticized Turkish drone strike at Uludere on the Iraqi border in which 34 civilians perished. Şahin claimed “the strike order was not given by the President, the Prime Minister or the Chief of General Staff. . . . [it] was initiated by commanders who analyzed the images in Ankara.” Shifting blame yet again onto the lower rungs of the Turkish military (which is still a political hotbed, divided on questions secularism and civilian-military control), he implied that the intelligence was Turkish in origin. Milliyet daily newspaper picked up the careful messaging, noting that Şahin’s comments target Brigadier General Ali Rıza Kuğu, the head of General Staff’s Second Analysis Department, while two columns–one by AKP Deputy Şamil Tayyar in Star daily, and Emre Uslu in Taraf —named General Kuğu as the chief culprit.
Later in the week, Haberturk and Hurriyet Daily News gave positive coverage to the news that Istanbul was officially named a candidate to hosting the 2020 Olympic Games. Time Warner, Inc. and Dubai-based Abraaj Capital remain the sole contenders to purchase Turkish ATV television company, since Rubert Murdoch’s News Corp withdrew its bid (Reuters). Organizers of the Eurasian Investors Summit announced the next meeting will take place in Istanbul, in affiliation with the Istanbul Stock Exchange (IMKB) and Federation of Eurasian Stock Exchange (FEAS) (Sabah). While addressing the press on his visit to Kazakhstan, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan echoed the remarks of President Abdullah Gül at the NATO Summit in Chicago, stating that Turkey’s position in NATO would be enhanced as a result of his governments decision to host the recently installed radar base at Turkey’s eastern Kürecik military base (Hurriyet).
On the heels of criticism of Turkey in the U.S. State Department’s 2012 report on human rights, the Diyarbakır 5th High Criminal Court sentenced Leyla Zana, a Kurdish activist and MP from the province to ten years in prison for terrorism, revoking her voting rights and banning her from standing for public office (Radikal). Sedat Ergin of Hürriyet drew attention to the investigation begun this week of celebrated Turkish pianist Fazıl Say for “instigating hatred” through tweets critical of Islam.