The leader of the Justice and Development party (AK Party), prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, met with main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu on Wednesday in what was the first attempt to jointly discuss the Kurdish question.
The meeting, which took place at the AK Party headquarters in Ankara, was initiated by Kılıçdaroğlu, who recently requested a meeting with the prime minister to submit his party’s suggestions for a solution to the Kurdish impasse. Reports said the CHP presented a 10-item plan to the governing party.
The report, which details a 10-point plan, includes as its first point a plan for the establishment of a parliamentary committee to concentrate on the Kurdish question. The suggested name for this committee is the Societal Reconciliation commission, which the CHP says in its report should function according to the principles of equal representation and reconciliation.
AK Party Deputy Chairman Bülent Gedikli told Sunday’s Zaman that it was highly significant that the two leaders met to discuss the Kurdish question. “The mechanism that will be used for a solution is as important as the roadmap that will be followed in the search for a solution.” Speaking to reporters after the meeting, CHP Deputy Chairman Faruk Loğoğlu said the meeting was “positive” and “productive,” adding that officials from the AK Party highlighted during the one-hour meeting that the contribution of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) is key to moving forward with establishing a commission composed of all four parties in Parliament.
Loğoğlu said his party is prepared to do what is required as part of the initiative, which he said is solely aimed at a resolution of the problem. He added that the points in the proposal are not immutable and could be subject to change if needed.
Loğoğlu told reporters that the most important next step is to form a four-party commission and then proceed to establish a group of wise men that will largely deal with sensitive issues, mediation or talks.
June 2, Saturday
Burhan Kuzu, the head of the parliamentary Constitution Commission and a deputy in the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party), said recent claims about a parliamentary plan to release suspects imprisoned for being part of the Ergenekon and Balyoz (Sledgehammer) coup cases do not reflect the truth.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan accused embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad of being dishonest, noting that days dominated by peace will hopefully come to Syria soon. “When there are mass killings in Syria, Bashar al-Assad blames foreign sources. Assad has never engaged in politics in his country until now. The latest elections allegedly put the cards on the table but those were not election results. As the elections were not fair, no one was interested in participating or in the results, as the results disclose Assad’s interests,” Erdoğan said.
June 3, Sunday
The specially authorized Ankara 12th High Criminal court arrested former Land Forces logistics commander retired Lt. Gen. Kamuran Orhon of being part of the Feb. 28, 1997 process which forced a civilian government to resign, popularly known as the “postmodern coup.”
A large number of women gathered in İstanbul’s Kadıköy district to protest against a government plan to restrict abortion in Turkey. Last week, Prime Minister Erdoğan declared that his government was preparing a draft bill on banning abortion. The declaration sparked anger from women’s rights groups and several female deputies, initiating a debate on the government’s right to intervene in people’s choices. Women in İstanbul decided to stage a protest and created a page on Facebook titled “Abortion is a right, which we do not discuss. Our bodies belong to us.” Around 9,000 people pledged to attend the protest. Protestors carried banners that criticized the AK Party government’s anti-abortion stance.
June 4, Monday
A voice allegedly belonging to Gen. Bilgin Balanlı, a prime suspect in the ongoing trial of the Sledgehammer coup plot, was heard saying that the prime minister and president would pay for jailing former and active members of the military as part of the ongoing investigations, in a recording released anonymously. The recording, uploaded on dailymotion.com, was disseminated through the Twitter account ‘ses_tv.’ The voice, allegedly belonging to Gen. Balanlı, said, “The price for all that has happened will be paid either at the presidential or prime ministerial level.” The voice claimed that the government would issue a general amnesty for coup plot suspects and went on to say that he and other military personnel would make the government pay for past grievances. “It is impossible for these people [members of the government] to apologize. They will either have to release us, prolong the trial period or issue a general amnesty.”
A special sergeant and a major were killed when they stepped on an improvised explosive device laid by terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants in the Lice district of Diyarbakır. The two soldiers who were killed in the explosion were Spc. Sgt. Abdullah Açıcı and Maj. Ercan Kurt, according to Diyarbakır Governor Mustafa Toprak. A military funeral ceremony was planned for the slain officers.
The head of Turkey’s Religious Affairs Directorate Mehmet Görmez added his voice to ongoing debates over the issue of abortion in Turkey, saying parents had no authority to end the life of a fetus, who has its own right to life. Görmez shared his views on the much-debated abortion issue during a meeting of provincial muftis in Sakarya.
Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç said the government has submitted a bill that aims to revise an article of the Turkish criminal code that gives special authority to courts and prosecutors to investigate organized crime and coup plots. Arınç added that the bill, authored by the Justice Ministry and approved by the Cabinet, had been submitted. Prime Minister Erdoğan had announced last week that the government was working on an amendment to Article 250 of the Code on Criminal Procedure (CMK), which gives prosecutors special authority and allows them to investigate terrorist groups and crimes organized against the constitutional order.
June 5, Tuesday
A report into the death of Col. Kazım Çillioğlu, who allegedly committed suicide in 1994, revealed that the gun found next to the colonel’s body was not the gun that caused his death. Çillioğlu was found dead at a residential military complex in the eastern province of Tunceli, where he served as commander of the local gendarmerie brigade. His death was ruled a suicide. The report also noted the position of the gun did not indicate suicide.
An article on popular news website Yahoo News has drawn widespread criticism from Turkish theologians for its blasphemous content and manipulation of fundamental Islamic principles. The controversial article, written by Donald Pennington, refers to Islam in its headline as “dangerous” and “outdated” and suggests that it should be rejected by all. Referring to the sentencing of a Kuwaiti man, Hamad al-Naqi, to a 10-year jail sentence for insulting the Prophet Muhammad, it describes Islam as a threat to freedom of expression.
The West Study Group (BÇG), a clandestine group formed within the military during the days of the Feb. 28, 1997 military coup, not only categorized individuals within Turkey according to their religiosity and ideology but also Turks abroad, Today’s Zaman has learned. The BÇG, which categorized politicians, intellectuals, soldiers and bureaucrats based on their religious and ideological backgrounds, was formed within the military during the 1997 coup, in which the military overthrew a coalition government led by the now defunct conservative Welfare Party (RP). The BÇG followed the activities of several religious communities abroad and sent a report to the Supreme Court of Appeals and the Constitutional Court about these groups in order to ensure the RP would be closed.
Turkey is concerned about escalating tension along the border separating Azerbaijan and Armenia, saying that Ankara is closely following reports that five Azerbaijani and three Armenian soldiers have been killed in clashes. “We are following the developments with deep concern,” spokesman for the Foreign Ministry Selçuk Ünal told Today’s Zaman when asked about Turkey’s position. Tensions have flared along the Azerbaijani-Armenian border. According to Azerbaijan’s defense ministry, five of its soldiers were killed in clashes with Armenian troops.
June 6, Wednesday
A key meeting between Prime Minister Erdoğan and the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu on the perennial Kurdish issue took place in a mainly “positive atmosphere,” but the main opposition party must seek consensus among other opposition parties for a successful outcome, officials from both parties said. Speaking to reporters after the meeting, CHP Deputy Chairman Faruk Loğoğlu said the meeting was “positive” and “productive,” adding that officials from the ruling AK Party emphasized during the one-hour meeting that the contribution of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) is key to moving forward with the establishment of a commission composed of all four parties in Parliament.
The case of the murder of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrank Dink was sent to the Supreme Court of Appeals. The local court delivered its controversial ruling in the murder case on Jan. 17, acquitting all 19 suspects of charges of membership of any kind of criminal organization. The court’s decision drew widespread ire in Turkey as people took to the streets to protest the verdict. After the court released its detailed ruling this week the case file, including records of the hearings, petitions and defense of both sides, was sent to the Supreme Court of Appeals.
Turkey reacted cautiously to a Russian proposal on Syria articulated by Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov calling for a broader international meeting in which Turkey and Iran would be included. Turkish diplomatic sources, who spoke to Today’s Zaman on the condition of anonymity, have said they were already informed that Russia would come up with such a proposal, and that Turkey is, in principle, ready to take part in any initiative that seeks a solution to the humanitarian crisis in Syria.
June 7, Thursday
A Constitutional Court rapporteur submitted a report of his conclusions regarding an appeal filed by the main opposition party to annul a law on presidential elections, stating that incumbent President Abdullah Gül’s tenure is seven years and that he can be re-elected.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has called on the international community to come together to fight against terrorism, saying, “We cannot fight against terrorism unless we join hands.” US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and other senior international politicians visited Turkey to attend the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF).
Contrary to the concerns of many people in Turkey, Prime Minister Erdoğan said a planned revision to Article 250 of the Code on Criminal Procedure (CMK), which gives special authority to courts and prosecutors to investigate organized crime and coup plots, will not weaken the hand of Turkey in its fight against coups and coup plotters.
The parliamentary Constitutional Reconciliation Commission accepted a bill excluding military actions from the jurisdiction of ombudsman inspections, despite protests from opposition deputies.
June 8, Friday
Turkey’s ninth president and former Prime Minister Süleyman Demirel told a parliamentary commission tasked with investigating past coups that he regrets the 1960 military coup and that Turkey would be different if the coup hadn’t happened, but also that he did not think the intervention that took place in 1997 was illegal.
Ruling AK Party İstanbul deputy Nimet Baş, who is also presiding over the Parliamentary Commission to Investigate Coups and Military Memorandums, told reporters that Demirel had stated to commission members that coups are “bad in every way.” He reportedly regretted the 1960 coup and said Turkey would be in a different situation if it hadn’t undergone the coup and hanged Prime Minister Adnan Menderes.
An additional indictment prepared into the 2007 Zirve Publishing House murders, in which three people who sold Christian literature were brutally killed, points to retired Gen. Hurşit Tolon as the prime suspect in the case.
A voice recording published online on Friday allegedly features a colonel telling young officers that all those responsible for jailing military coup suspects will eventually be executed.