"Yes," answers Republican People's Party (CHP) İstanbul deputy Bülent Tanla. For Tanla, a poll researcher and political scientist, the rate of participation in 2002 elections dropped to 79 percent, which benefited the Justice and Development Party (AK Party).
In order to prevent the AK Party from taking the power as a single party government in the nearing elections, Tanla argues, the rate of election participation should be increased. For Tanla, not only the CHP but also all nongovernmental organizations must work for increasing the rate of participation in the elections.
Any increase in the participation rate would also ensure the accurate representation of more parties in the Parliament, Tanla said. His project, dubbed "Election Math," was adopted by CHP leader Deniz Baykal.
Fostering participation from the approximately 4 billion young people who will acquire the right to vote is an important constituent of the "Election Math" project.
A campaign was urgently needed since the time before elections was running out. The period for filing corrections for the lists of voters will end on March 1.
Senior officials of CHP had been working on an intensive two-week campaign, and in order to make wider groups aware of the lists of voters, a concentrated campaign will be launched.
In a sense, they will call on youth to vote.
In the campaign, figures from popular TV programs and celebrities will be sent letters in which their support will be requested.
To name a few, the list includes Kadir Çöpdemir, Beyaz, Okan Bayülgen, Mehmet Ali Erbil, Serap Ezgü, Seda Sayan, Hülya Avşar and Gülben Ergen.
The letters are ready, and they will be posted under the signature of Baykal in a few days.
So don't be vexed if you hear frequent calls for youth participation on a number of TV programs in the near future.
A lesson from Americans
Last week, the residence of US Ambassador Ross Wilson saw two informative meetings, both of which were held at the cinema hall of the residence through video-conference with Washington. In the first of the meetings titled Ambassador's Forum, the speaker was Albert Eisele, the editor-at-large of The Hill. Eisele told the attendants what the implications of the Democrats' majority in the US Congress would be with respect to US foreign policy. The opposition had secured majority both in the Congress and the Senate for the first time in the last 50 years of US political history, Eisele recalled, arguing that the Democrats would do anything to make the life of Bush miserable and bipartisan cooperation would not work. Turkey is America's best friend in a very bad neighborhood, Eisele said. In response to a Turkish reporter's question as to Turkey's image in the US, he said: "Turkey has no image in the US. Unfortunately, the Americans know little about Turkey." Interestingly, he himself confused Turkey with Iraq saying, "We do not want Turkey to be divided into three pieces."
The second speaker at the Ambassador's Forum was Assistant Secretary Daniel Fried, who answered questions from Turkish reporters on Thursday afternoon. In commenting about the success of Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül's visit to the US, Fried said he believed that arguments that the visit was unsuccessful were the result of internal political conflicts of Turkey. With respect to the Armenian genocide bill at the Congress, Fried's view was gloomy, advising Turkey not to focus on a single issue in its relations with the US, establish constructive dialogue with Armenia and the Armenian diaspora, and not to be afraid of confronting the dark spots in its history.
Turkey's Iron Silk Road
Signatures for the Kars-Tbilisi-Baku Railway Project in Georgia were an important development for the strategic importance of the region. The project will put an end to the dependence of Caucasian countries on Russia for passenger and cargo transportation. The project is faced with Armenian lobbying, Russian opposition and financing difficulties. Azerbaijan, President İlham Aliyev, Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili, and Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan were determined to complete the project, which might be described as the modernization of the historic Silk Road, despite all difficulties.
This project will connect the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean, extending from the port of Amsterdam, the Netherlands, through Kazakhstan to China. Turkey has six other projects of railway lines between Europe and the Middle East: İstanbul-Tehran, İstanbul-Damascus, İstanbul-Bucharest, Van-Tabriz, Tehran-Damascus and the recently launched İstanbul-Salonika Friendship Train.
Who visited Today's Zaman
Last week, Lebanon Ambassador Georges Siam paid a visit to the Ankara office of our newspaper, where he was informed by Ankara Representative Kerim Balcı of the publication policy and future plans of Today's Zaman. They exchanged views concerning Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf's new peace initiative, possibilities for the Sunni-Shiite conflict in the Middle East, the future of Hezbollah in Lebanon and neighboring countries, the apocalyptic movements in Shiite countries, and failure to provide water to Israel from the Manavgat River.
Last week in Ankara
Ankara was shocked by Yasin Hayal's statements.
Ankara was pleased with the completion of the construction Kuğulu Park Junction.
Ankara was astonished by the swearing-in ceremony of "Kuvayi Milliye" (National Force) supporters.
Ankara was unhappy with the US attitude concerning the Armenian genocide bill
Ankara was enthusiastic about the Iron Silk Road Project, which will connect the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans