Headlines from the centennial! – a sequel
It is sometimes better to prophesize grace than to philosophize disgrace. Here is a sequel to “Headlines from the Centennial!” published in this column on Jan. 13, 2012. Please enjoy the headlines from the Istanbul press in the year 2023, and blame the monotony on your columnist’s holiday moods:
v Turks voted overwhelmingly in favor of a critical referendum that gives the president powers to call for presidential elections once every 25 years. In his victory speech after the referendum, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan thanked the nation for voting to enhance democratic reforms.
v Secretary of State Ahmet Davutoğlu’s speech at the Security Council of the United Islamic Nations (UIN) called for concerted action against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Mr. Davutogğlu pledged to use Turkey’s veto power as a permanent member of the UINSC against a resolution declaring the Free Syrian Army a terrorist entity. Mr. Davutoğlu also threatened Syria, Iraq, Iran, Russia and China with punishing sanctions if they did not stop supporting Mr. al-Assad. Russia and China protested the threat, saying it had caused near-fatal laughter among their diplomats.
v Mr. Davutoğlu reiterated hope of soon “praying altogether” in the Palestinian capital al-Quds and Sunni-controlled Damascus. However, this time he added new wishes: praying altogether in Baghdad and Tehran and fasting altogether in Moscow and Beijing.
v After pushing the button to build its own fighter jets, spaceships, long-range ballistic missiles and aircraft carriers, Turkey announced plans to build its own nuclear bomb. President Erdoğan said: “Prepare for war if you wish for peace.” Meanwhile, a scientific probe has blamed “our regional rivals’ jealousy” for the perpetual crash of Turkey’s first unmanned aerial vehicle, the Anka, which had undergone its first flight test in 2011.
v The European Union has said it welcomes former candidate country Turkey’s fresh political reforms, including major reductions in sentences for “not being a good Muslim,” an offense that carried a maximum penalty of 20 years in jail. The new law lowers that sentence to 18.5 years. But Brussels expressed doubt over the independence of a special government board that measures a suspect’s “good Muslimness.” It also urged Ankara to remove the campus ban on female students who don’t wear the Islamic headscarf.
v Secretary of State Davutoğlu said Ankara would now pursue an extended version of its “zero problems with neighbors” policy. The announcement came on the second anniversary of the truce between Turkey and its regional neighbors Syria, Iran, Iraq, Greece and Cyprus after major year-long border clashes.
v Turkey said it would be prepared to negotiate resuming diplomatic ties with Israel if the Jewish state unconditionally agreed to surrender Jerusalem and 65 percent of its present territory to Palestine. The Israeli Foreign Ministry replied in a written statement: “That’s not funny at all.”
v The Turkish Olympic Committee renewed the country’s bid to host the games in 2036 after its attempts failed for 2020, 2024, 2028 and 2032.
v A survey has found that xenophobia in Turkey is declining. The Transatlantic Trends survey unveiled that only 92 percent of Turks said they hated Americans, Europeans, Jews, Christians, Hindus, atheists, Africans, South Americans, Russians, Chinese, Haitians and South Koreans, compared to 94 percent in 2021. A spokesman for the German Marshall Fund explained the findings: “You might ask what reason the Turks cited for hating the Koreans. Most said they were upset by the growing number of Christians in Korea. You might also ask why we asked the Turks if they hated the Haitians. Well, we just wanted to test whether Turks expressed hatred without a reason.”
See more headlines on Friday!