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Turkish Press Scan for Feb. 17

HDN | 2/17/2011 12:00:00 AM |

These are some of the major headlines and their summaries in Turkish press on February 17, 2011. The Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review does not vouch for their accuracy.

From Hürriyet Daily News:

Habertürk

-- Municipality does not budge on construction request

Turkish businessman Erdoğan Demirören has had another request to build on a green field located behind the Lütfü Banaz Primary School in Istanbul’s Levent area, daily Habertürk reported Thursday. Demirören has been negotiating with municipal authorities since 1998 to build a “private kindergarten” on 4,500 square meters designated as a children’s park in the city’s master plan. Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality first accepted Demirören’s offer and changed the zoning on Sept. 17, 1998, but required that the construction be authorized by the local municipality. Subsequently, Demirören applied to Beşiktaş Municipality in 2003 and asked for approval. The mayor at that time, Yusuf Namoğlu, and the Municipality Assembly declined the offer, as the field constituted the only green field left in the area. After waiting eight years, Demirören reapplied to the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality and asked for the field to again be rezoned as a “private education facility.” The Development Directorate evaluated the request on Tuesday but again rejected it.

Akşam

-- Ergenekon suspects get extraordinary care

The military staff at Istanbul’s Silivri prison was warned to show ultimate respect to the commanders who were taken into custody for the Ergenekon and “Balyoz” (Sledgehammer) cases, daily Akşam reported Thursday. High-ranking officers in prison, including retired commanders İbrahim Fırtına and Çetin Doğan, should receive special care, employees were told. The prison guards were instructed to call the arrested suspects “commander.” The gendarmeries’ duty was listed as, “Never keep the prisoners waiting when they want to see the doctor, ask their mood, keep their psychological mood well, observe their health conditions, never behave disrespectfully to them,” according to the report. The Ergenekon case started in June 2007 with the discovery of 27 hand grenades in a shanty house belonging to a retired noncommissioned officer. The finding has led to scores of arrests and put nearly 200 journalists, writers, military personnel, gang leaders, scholars, businessmen and politicians in detention in what has become a terror investigation to stop the alleged ultranationalist gang. In the later stages of the investigation, those in custody have been accused of planning to topple the government by staging a coup, initially by spreading chaos and mayhem. The Sledgehammer case is an alleged military coup plot against the AKP, purportedly drafted in 2003.

Sabah

-- Bathtub tomb fails to save home

A man built a fake holy tomb in his bathtub to prevent the sale of his residence in Istanbul’s Kasımpaşa neighborhood, daily Sabah reported Thursday. Mesut Serteser was unable to pay his rent and built the “Selah Baba Türbesi” as a last-ditch measure to save his home. “Mesut was a tenant of my father. For years, he lived in this house without paying rent to my father. When my father passed away a few years ago, we made the decision to sell the house. He refused to evacuate the house, and Mesut also scared potential buyers away with the presence of the holy tomb,” said Hayri Yetiker, the owner of the house. Yetiker, who said he was forced to sell the house, worth 200,000 Turkish Liras, for 40,000 liras because of the alleged holy tomb of Selah Baba, a reputedly tall swarthy man with a full beard. The fake holy tomb didn’t have a connection with the ground, as there was a basement floor underneath the bathroom where the tomb was placed. Despite that, Serteser applied to Istanbul’s Beyoğlu Municipality to register it. During examinations by the Cultural and Natural Heritage Preservation Board, the fact that there wasn’t a holy tomb was revealed and the registration request was declined.

Star

-- Culture Ministry to protect workers in TV sector

Exploitation is against constitutional law, according to the culture minister, who has said his ministry will not let TV series actors be overworked by the demands of series with episodes longer than two hours, daily Star reported Thursday. Following criticism over long TV series and toxic working conditions in the film and television industry, the Culture Ministry announced that they were collaborating with five other ministries to solve the problem. According to reports, the Culture Ministry met with the Labor and Social Security Ministry and the new Supreme Board of Radio and Television, or RTÜK, to discuss new regulations about TV series, especially those exported to Arab and Turkic countries. “Without underestimating the issue of how long the TV series should be, we considered TV series in general,” said Culture Minister Ertuğrul Günay, adding that the length of the series was related to economic issues. “TV companies may broadcast the TV series at the length they desire, but our concern is that the working conditions are humanistic and the workers have social security in the sector regardless of the length of the series.”

From Anatolia News Agency:

HÜRRİYET

-- MILITARY SHOULD GET RID OF ROTTEN EGGS, TURKISH MINISTER SAYS

Turkish State Minister Faruk Çelik has said the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) must clean up its own house to eliminate any corrupt personnel within its ranks. "I believe that all of our public institutions, primarily the TSK, need to adapt to the post-Cold War era. The TSK must get rid of the rotten eggs if it has any, and I believe it has," Çelik told reporters when responding to questions over ongoing probes into Ergenekon and Balyoz (Sledgehammer) cases.

-- DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER REACTS TO U.S. AMBASSADOR'S REMARKS

Deputy Chairman Hüseyin Çelik of the Justice and Development (AK) Party on Wednesday reacted to remarks made by the U.S. Ambassador in Ankara, Francis Ricciardone, who had commented on the detention of journalists under an ongoing probe against an alleged plot to overthrow the government. "Ambassadors cannot meddle in our domestic affairs. They cannot design our internal politics," Hüseyin Çelik said.

-- TURKISH PRIME MINISTER TO MEET TURKISH CYPRIOT COUNTERPART

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is set to meet with his Turkish Cypriot counterpart İrsen Küçük in capital Ankara on Thursday. The meeting is the first high-level contact after tensions were heightened between the two countries due to an anti-Turkey demonstration in the TRNC. The meeting will be held on the request of the Turkish Cypriot leadership.

MİLLİYET

-- DO NOT GO BEYOND YOUR AUTHORITIES

The ruling Justice & Development (AK) Party strongly reacted to U.S. Ambassador to Turkey Francis J. Ricciardone's comment on Operation Balyoz (Sledgehammer) and raid on offices of news portal Odatv.com. On the other hand, Washington said the United States was backing the ambassador's remarks. Ricciardone had said the United States was watching the Balyoz Operation very closely, and could not understand the detention of journalists when Turkey was talking about freedom of press. Deputy Chairman Hüseyin Çelik of the AK Party said, "Ambassadors cannot intervene in our internal affairs, they have limits. Neither the prime minister nor the president or the chief of general staff should make suggestions to the judiciary. Foreign mission chiefs do not have such an authority."

On the other hand, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Philip Crowley said the United States stood by the ambassador's statement. "But as I say, we do have broad concerns about trends involving intimidations of journalists in Turkey," Crowley said. He also said, "Turkey is an ally and friend of the United States. But as we've made clear, anytime that we think that a friend or ally or adversary has crossed a line and – in terms of respect for universal principles, we will not hesitate to raise our voice."

-- MEANINGFUL AWARD TO EMİNE ERDOĞAN

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's spouse Emine Erdoğan received the "Prix de la Fondation" (award) from Switzerland-based Crans Montana Forum in Brussels. Fondation's President Jean-Paul Carteron said the award was granted to Emine Erdoğan for the Kemalist reform in Turkey, secularism understanding that respected religion and other values, and for being the symbol of development by being loyal to traditions.

SABAH

-- ‘WOMEN'S FREEDOM PASSES THROUGH DEMOCRACY’

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's spouse Emine Erdoğan received the "Prix de la Fondation" (award) from Crans Montana Forum in Brussels. Speaking at the award ceremony, Emine Erdoğan said, "I dedicate this award to women of Turkey who are the pioneers of peace and freedom in their geography." Erdoğan said the fight for peace, freedom and democracy was hard, and even harder for women. "The struggle of women in Kabul, Baghdad, Tbilisi, Darfur, Cairo and Tunisia for peace and democracy is a struggle of honor, justice and existence," she said. Emine Erdoğan also said, "Rating democracy according to color or belief of people in this globalizing world means racism."

-- NOT ECHR BUT STATE GIVES IT BACK

Turkey has returned 96 properties to minority foundations under the new Foundations Law that entered into force three years ago. Among them is the Selamet Han (Caravanserai) in Eminönü, Istanbul – the ownership of which was under the authority of the Directorate General of Foundations since 1994.

Armenian businessman Kalust Gülbenkyan donated the building to Surp Pirgic Armenian Hospital Foundation in 1953. The foundation resorted to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), however the court rejected the case.

Foundation's President Bedros Şirinoğlu defined the new law as a reform, and said, "We have become real citizens not so-called citizens. We have applied to get back 19 properties including Zeytinburnu Stadium and we have received positive response for seven of them." Şirinoğlu added that the caravanserai would be turned into a boutique hotel.

VATAN

-- TURKISH PRIME MINISTER'S WIFE PRESENTED WITH WOMEN'S AWARD

Crans Montana Forum has presented the Turkish prime minister's wife, Emine Erdoğan, with "the Prix de la Fondation" at a ceremony in Brussels. "I am honored to receive this award and I am dedicating it to the women of Turkey, my country which has always pioneered peace, democracy and freedom," Erdogan said. Crans Montana Forum Chairman Jean-Paul Carteron presented the award to Erdoğan.

-- KURDISH FOLK SINGER DECLARES WAR ON PKK

Kurdish folk singer Şivan Perwer has lashed out at the PKK for accusing him of treachery for meeting with Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç in Germany. "If someone is to be called a traitor, it has to be the one who blames others of treachery. I am the same person now as I was before," Perwer said.

-- TURKISH CONSUMERS SPEND 713 MLN TL ON VALENTINE'S DAY

Turkish consumers have spent 713 million Turkish Liras by using their credit cards on Valentine's Day, Turkey's Interbank Cards Center said. The figure marked a 12 percent increase over last year's Valentine Day from 639 million TL.

CUMHURİYET

-- IF YOU ARE TAPPED, DO NOT REMAIN SILENT

Çetin Soysal, a lawmaker from the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), said journalists were tapped illegally. Soysal said he had seen the list of tapped people, which was over 3,000, and among the tapped were CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, former CHP leader Deniz Baykal, executives of CHP and the other opposition party Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), judicial executives, members of security department and journalists.

-- GOVERNMENT UNEASY

The ruling Justice & Development (AK) Party was angry at U.S. Ambassador Francis J. Ricciardone's remarks that he could not understand detention of journalists when Turkey was backing freedom of press. AK Party deputy chairman Hüseyin Çelik said, "Ambassadors cannot intervene in our internal affairs, and cannot design our domestic policy, they have a limit."

RADİKAL

-- HOPES ABOUT VISA LIE WITH ANKARA

After Germany, also the Netherlands has brought visa exemption for Turks under the Ankara Agreement signed in 1963.

-- PATRIOTIC-PERWER

Everything began with a meeting between Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç and Şivan Perwer in Germany ten days ago. The Kurdish singer responded positively to the invitation of TRT-Şeş, the state-run channel broadcasting in Kurdish, which drew reactions of the terrorist organization PKK and the Peace & Democracy Party (BDP). However, the government backed Perwer. Arınç said, "Perwer is a great singer who misses his homeland. I condemn those who threaten our patriotic singer." Selahattin Demirtaş of the DTP said, "Kurdish singer Perwer was loved much with his songs, however he is now convicted with his policy."

TÜRKİYE

-- IRAN WANTS HONORABLE SOLUTION

Turkish President Abdullah Gül made public the content of his meeting with Iran's clergyman Ali Hoseini-Khamenei. Gül said the nuclear crisis was brought up in the meeting. "Iran wants to solve this issue in an honorable way, and progress can be made if the West does not make any procedural mistake," he said.

-- PATRIOTIC-PERWER

There has been a great support for the Kurdish singer who has not yielded to the terrorist organization PKK and supported the government's democratic initiative. Şivan Perwer has responded to the politicians who are the extension of PKK and Qandil and who have declared him a traitor as saying, "You are the real traitors." Kurdish citizens who support Perwer say, "We should not yield to threats, and we should from now on silence PKK."

Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç, who had a two-hour meeting with the Kurdish singer in Germany, said, "Perwer is a distinguished singer, and I have seen a great patriotism in him. He is loyal to his soil and homeland. He wants terrorism and bloodshed to end."

ZAMAN

-- TERRORIST ORGANIZATION PLANNING TO ESCALATE VIOLENCE AHEAD OF ELECTIONS

Terrorist organization PKK's secret urban wing KCK is planning to stage demonstrations to foment chaos in the run to the general elections in June, according to intelligence reports. Security officials say the KCK will intensify provocative demonstrations in March. The terrorist organization has followed the same strategy before ahead of elections in 2004, 2007 and in 2009.

-- GOVERNMENT SUBMITS BILL TO REINSTATE RETIREMENT PENSION FOR SACKED MILITARY OFFICERS

Turkish government has submitted a bill which would allow for the payment of retirement pensions for nearly 1,800 military personnel who had been relieved of duty by Turkey's High Military Council or YAŞ. Decisions taken by the YAŞ cannot be appealed to any higher court for annulment.

YENİ ŞAFAK

-- DUTCH COURT RULES IN FAVOR OF TURKS ON VISALESS TRAVEL

A Netherlands court has ruled in favor of a Turkish national who petitioned to enter the country without obtaining a visa from Dutch authorities. Court ruled that Turkish nationals could stay in the country for up to three months without permission.

-- HIGH COURT WRITES OFF PART OF TAX FINE FOR DOGAN

Turkey's top administrative court, the Council of State, has ruled in favor of the Doğan Holding in a case to cancel part of the group's tax fines. The court has written off 1.04 billion Turkish Liras levied on Doğan TV and D Productions.

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