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November 1, 2010

Turkey lifts ban on YouTube

Turkey lifts ban on YouTube – Wikinews, the free news source

Turkey lifts ban on YouTube

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Monday, November 1, 2010

Screenshot of the message YouTube visitors in Turkey used to find

Turkey has lifted its ban on YouTube, more than two years after it blocked access to the video-sharing website. The government blocked access because the site contains videos deemed insulting to Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the country’s founder. Atatürk founded the country in 1923.

Türk Telekom was ordered to block access to YouTube in May 2008 after Greek users posted some videos insulting the country’s founder Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. As a candidate of the European Union, Turkey implemented reforms in regards to freedom of expression. Under article 301 of the Turkish penal code, public denigration of Turkishness, the Republic of Turkey, Atatürk, and other national symbols, is a crime in Turkey.

The ban was widely criticised by many Turks, even by the President Abdullah Gül who used his Twitter page to condemn the move.

Minister of Transport Binali Yıldırım said “The reasons for the YouTube ban do not exist anymore, because the offending videos had been removed. YouTube will hopefully carry out its operations in Turkey within the limits of law in the future.”

YouTube issued a statement saying that some of the offending material was removed by third parties, and not the website itself. YouTube says the videos were removed after someone used the automated copyright complaint service.

“We want to be clear that a third party, not YouTube, have apparently removed some of the videos that have caused the blocking of YouTube in Turkey using our automated copyright complaint process,” said YouTube in its statement. An investigation is being carried out to determine if the complaints were made according to the site’s terms of use.



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May 13, 2010

Russia agrees to construct Turkish nuclear reactor

Russia agrees to construct Turkish nuclear reactor

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Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Russian and Turkish governments today signed an agreement that would lead to Russia building a US$20 billion nuclear power plant in Turkey, the country’s first.

The plant will be built on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, and construction will commence as soon as the deal is approved by both countries; the building process is expected to take around seven years. The reactor will also be owned by Russia, which will hold “no less than a controlling stake,” according to Sergey Kiriyenko, who is the head of Rosatom, a Russian nuclear energy corporation.

The reactor to be built is the second proposed power plant in the same location; a separate proposal for a four-reactor complex built by a Russian-led consortium was rejected by a Turkish court last year. Russia has attempted to build a nuclear power plant in Turkey, and the contract signed Wednesday “really looks rather impressive,” according to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.

The contract for the reactor was one of 20 signed by the two countries today, expected to result in around US$25 billion of Russian investment in Turkey. Other major contracts signed include projects to transport Russian oil and natural gas through Turkey to ports on the Mediterranean Sea. One such project is a major pipeline between the Turkish ports of Samsun on the Black Sea and Ceyhan on the Mediterranean Sea, built in conjunction with an oil refinery in Ceyhan.

In a press conference, Russian President Medvedev said that the agreements signal “a new page in our cooperation…Our talks today showed that Turkey and Russia are strategic partners not only in words but in deeds.” Turkish President Abdullah Gul said that the two countries “share a determination to increase the trade volume from a current US$38 billion to US$100 billion in five years.”



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December 14, 2009

Turkey bans pro-Kurdish party

Turkey bans pro-Kurdish party – Wikinews, the free news source

Turkey bans pro-Kurdish party

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Monday, December 14, 2009

Turkey’s constitutional court has banned the Democratic Society Party (DTP), the country’s largest pro-Kurdish political party. The court found it guilty on Friday of supporting violence and being linked to the Kurdistan Workers Party, a Kurdish rebel group better known as the PKK.

The move has sparked violent protests across the country and caused the DTP to announce a boycott of parliament.

The party’s two leaders, Ahmet Türk and Aysel Tuğluk, were banned from politics for five years and expelled from the Turkish parliament. On Saturday, Türk announced that the remainder of DTP’s parliament members would also pull out. They had held 21 seats out of a total of 550.

Cquote1.svg No party has the right to utilize discourse and activities that contain terror, violence and pressure. Cquote2.svg

—Haşim Kılıç, head of Turkey’s constitutional court

The verdict comes as the government is attempting to bring an end to 25 years of fighting with the Kurdish rebels, and follows weeks of intensified ethnic violence.

The judges of Turkey’s constitutional court took only three days of deliberating over the evidence to unanimously rule that the DTP was guilty of inciting hatred and violence and was linked to the PKK. Haşim Kılıç, the head of the court, explained their decision.

Flag of the PKK

“No party has the right to utilize discourse and activities that contain terror, violence and pressure. A party should separate activities and discourses that contain violence and terror from the peaceful ones”, he said.

Speaking shortly after the ruling, Türk condemned the court’s decision.

Cquote1.svg We are hopeful that Turkey will find its peace one day. But by closing a political party you can’t solve the problem. Turkey can only solve its problems through reason and dialog. Cquote2.svg

—Ahmet Türk, DTP leader

“This deepens the desperation”, he says. “This is a reality. But we are hopeful that Turkey will find its peace one day. But by closing a political party you can’t solve the problem. Turkey can only solve its problems through reason and dialog.”

Kılıç acknowledged the ramifications of his decision:

“Some people will say this verdict will sabotage the peace process, but this case is two years old, and we are judges not politicians.” He says no country in Europe would allow such a party to exist.

In justifying the ruling Kılıç also said they had studied similar cases in the European Union – in particular the closure by Spanish courts of the pro-Basque Batasuna party. But the EU later issued a statement that “while strongly denouncing violence and terrorism, the presidency recalls that the dissolution of political parties is an exceptional measure that should be used with utmost restraint.”

Such concerns will likely affect Turkey’s relations with the EU, which it is currently seeking to join. This is the 27th time a Turkish political party has been shut down since 1968.

Turkish president Abdullah Gül expressed his approval of the decision. Speaking during his visit to Montenegro, he asked: “What else can the court do when there are party administrators who declare the terrorist organization to be their reason of existence?”

The PKK are listed as a terrorist organisation by Turkish authorities, the EU and the United States. They have been engaged in an armed struggle against the government since 1984. An estimated 40,000 people have been killed in the fighting.

The verdict comes after weeks of ethnic violence, in which Kurdish youths have been clashing with security forces across cities in Turkey’s predominately Kurdish southeast. The demonstrations were in response to alleged mistreatment of Abdullah Öcalan, founder of the PKK, whilst in prison. A pro-Kurdish protester was shot dead in Diyarbakır last weekend, sparking further unrest. Turkish nationalists have also been demonstrating, following the killing of seven Turkish soldiers by the PKK in central Turkey on Monday.

Almost immediately following the verdict, violence erupted in the predominantly Kurdish south-east of the country between advocates of the party and Turkish riot police.



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January 19, 2008

YouTube banned in Turkey once again

YouTube banned in Turkey once again – Wikinews, the free news source

YouTube banned in Turkey once again

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Saturday, January 19, 2008

Screenshot of the message YouTube visitors in Turkey found.

The popular video website YouTube has been blocked in Turkey once more. Several sources quote complaints against a video that insults Atatürk, founder and first president of the Republic of Turkey, as the reason for the block. On Friday, internet users in Turkey found the website replaced by a notice saying:

Access to this web site has been suspended in accordance with decision no: 2008/55 of T.R. Ankara 12th Criminal Court of Peace.

A Turkish court issued a similar order in March last year, after a row between Turkish and Greek users escalated and resulted in insults of Atatürk, a serious offense in Turkey. Internet service providers such as Türk Telekom (the largest and formerly state-owned ISP) can use the domain name system to put the ban into effect.

At the moment, it remains unclear which videos or comments exactly are to blame. Some media sources say that the video compared Atatürk with a monkey. This led some YouTube users to suspect that a video entitled ‘ataturk was a gay and a monkey turkey turkiye turks‘ led to the block. This video was added on November 7, 2007, and is a series of images with Atatürk’s face on monkeys, homosexuals, obese individuals and several pictures of Borat. The uploader of the video, known as gaymal45, has several other videos which mock Prime Minister Erdogan and President Abdullah Gül.

Under article 301 of the Turkish penal code, public denigration of Turkishness, the Republic of Turkey, Atatürk, and other national symbols, is punishable by imprisonment. The article received a lot of attention because it resulted in the prosecution of intellectuals like Literature Nobel Prize Winner Orhan Pamuk and murdered journalist Hrant Dink.

It is also unclear how long the ban would last. The ban in March was lifted after 3 days, when YouTube sent evidence to the Turkish prosecutor that the video had been removed.

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December 26, 2007

Turkey carries out more air strikes in northern Iraq

Turkey carries out more air strikes in northern Iraq

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Wednesday, December 26, 2007

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Officials say that Turkish warplanes have bombed suspected Kurdish rebel hideouts in northern Iraq for the fourth time in five days. There is no information on whether there were any casualties.

The Turkish military says the aircraft hit eight caves and hideouts used by Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) rebels Wednesday in Iraq’s Dahuk Governorate.

Turkish state media quote President Abdullah Gül as saying that Ankara and Washington are satisfied with their cooperation in sharing intelligence to fight the PKK.

A White House spokesman reiterated today that the United States regards the PKK as a terrorist group. But, he says the Bush administration has expressed concern to Ankara about any steps that could lead to civilian casualties.

In another development, the Turkish military says troops killed six PKK rebels and captured two others Wednesday in a security operation in southeastern Turkey, near the Iraqi border.

It says troops have killed 11 rebels in the operation in Şırnak province since Tuesday.

The military said Tuesday that it has killed at least 150 to 175 Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq since December 16, when it began cross-border bombing raids. There has been no independent verification of rebel casualties.

Ankara had threatened to attack PKK bases in northern Iraq in response to a series of deadly ambushes by the group in southeastern Turkey in recent months. The Turkish parliament authorized cross-border operations against the group in October.

The PKK has been fighting for self-rule in southeastern Turkey since 1984. The conflict has killed more than 30,000 people.



Related news

  • “Turkey launches airstrikes against Kurdish rebels” — Wikinews, October 24, 2007
  • “Turkey preparing for incursion into Iraq after PKK militants kill 17 soldiers” — Wikinews, October 21, 2007
  • “Turkish Parliament approves military action in Iraq” — Wikinews, October 18, 2007

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December 25, 2007

Leaders throughout the world deliver Christmas messages

Leaders throughout the world deliver Christmas messages

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Tuesday, December 25, 2007

International leaders have issued Christmas time messages:

Australia

In his first Christmas address as Australia’s Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd called on his nation to drive safely during the holiday season, noting that his father was killed in a vehicle collision in the late 1960s. Rudd also commended the nation’s charities for helping the less fortunate, and Australian troops serving abroad.

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The Bahamas

As Bahamian Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham’s extended Christmas greetings, he noted various challenges such as the economic downturn on Grand Bahama island and the heavy rainfall damage sustained in some regions in October and November. The nation prepares to celebrate its Junkanoo festival on Wednesday.

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Belgium

The Christmas and New Year’s address of Belgium’s King Albert called for national harmony among the national cultures, chiefly the Flemish and Walloon groups. This follows a year in which a national government could not be assembled for many months since elections in June.

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Canada

Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Christmas message paid tribute to the nation’s generous spirit whose “purest expression today is the Canadian mission in Afghanistan, where our soldiers, diplomats and aid workers are, at great cost to themselves helping the Afghan people rebuild their shattered country.” He noted the significant anniversaries to come in 2008 such as the 150 years since the founding of British Columbia colony and the 400 years since Quebec City was created by Samuel de Champlain.

Some controversy arose as the Prime Minister’s greeting omitted the Islamic Eid-ul-Adha observance, while including Hanukkah and Christmas.

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Liberia

Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, President of Liberia, noted progress in the country’s labour and economic situations during her Christmas address.

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Philippines

From the Philippines, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s ‘s Christmas message included a tribute to the nation’s 8 million overseas workers, extending gratitude to their host nations.

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Turkey

Turkish President Abdullah Gül issued a Christmas message on Monday expressing wishes for unity and tolerance in the nation. Although Turkey is a largely Islamic nation, the President indicated its Christian citizens were “equal members of the Turkish nation”.

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United States

American President George Bush’s brief Christmas statement began with a passage from the Gospel of Luke foretelling the Nativity of Jesus, then gave “thanks for Christ’s message of love and mercy” while remembering the nation’s “responsibility to serve”.

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United Kingdom

Queen Elizabeth’s annual Christmas message began and ended footage from her 1957 Christmas address, the first message from a British Monarch to be televised. Her 2007 address mentioned family, the work of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the need for charity. A recently-introduced royal YouTube channel also presented the Queen’s Christmas message for Internet viewers.

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The Vatican

Pope Benedict delivered his Christmas “Urbi et orbi” to many thousands at Saint Peter’s Square in Vatican City after celebrating the traditional Christmas Midnight Mass service. The pontiff remembered the world’s war-torn regions including Africa, the Middle East and the Balkans, calling for the light of Christ to “shine forth and bring consolation to those who live in the darkness of poverty, injustice and war.” He decried the various injustices and conflicts, noting these “are destroying the internal fabric of many countries and embittering international relations.”

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June 6, 2007

Reports say Turkish troops enter northern Iraq

Reports say Turkish troops enter northern Iraq

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Wednesday, June 6, 2007

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Map showing Kurdish-inhabited area overlapping the national borders of Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria. Red arrow indicates alleged Turkish troop movement into Iraq.

Citing unnamed Turkish officials, reports say that hundreds to thousands of Turkish troops have crossed the border to Northern Iraq in pursuit of members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

“This afternoon 10 Turkish helicopters landed in a village in Mazouri, which is … 3 km (2 miles) inside the Iraqi border. They landed with around 150 Turkish special forces,” said deputy minister for Peshmerga Affairs in Kurdistan, Jabar Yawir who also stated that “after two hours they left and there were no confrontations with the PKK.”

DEBKAfile quotes unnamed Turkish officials as saying that the Turkish force is made up of 50,000-90,000 troops along with a fleet of armored vehicles and air support. DEBKAfile also says that the force is just the “first wave” of what is said to be an invasion.

Foreign minister Abdullah Gül has denied the reports. “There is no such thing, no entry to another country. If such a thing happens, then we would announce it,” Gül said. “We are in a war with terror, we will do whatever is necessary to fight terrorism.”

The United States military in Iraq has also denied the reports that any Turkish troops entered Iraq.

“We have seen no indication of Turkish troops crossing the border,” said Colonel Steve Boylan, a spokesman for the U.S. military in Iraq.

Iraqi officials also deny the reports, but say that any troops crossing the border into Iraq will not be tolerated.

“We are aware of this Turkish troop buildup on the border and the Iraqi government position has been that we will not accept or tolerate any military incursion into Iraqi territories,” said Hoshyar Zebari, the Foreign Minister for Iraq.

Over 30,000 people have been killed during the PKK’s campaign for independence since 1984.

In April of this year, General Yaşar Büyükanıt, the Chief of the Turkish General Staff, asked the government to authorize an incursion to quell the rebellion. In 1997, Turkey sent about 50,000 troop into the region on just such a mission.

Related news

  • “US Airspace violation raises Turkey regional tensions” — Wikinews, May 28, 2007
  • “Turkey – Two more killed in PKK-related bombings” — Wikinews, September 4, 2006
  • Multiple bombs set off in Turkish resort” — Wikinews, August 28, 2006

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May 2, 2007

AKP calls for early general election in Turkey

AKP calls for early general election in Turkey

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Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Abdullah Gül, deputy Prime Minister and foreign minister of Turkey.
Image: José Cruz/ABr, 2006.

The ruling party in Turkey has asked the Grand National Assembly of Turkey to approve a general election to take place June 24, 2007. The next general election was scheduled for November.

The Justice and Development Party (AKP), which holds 363 of 550 seats in parliament, apparently feels that it will not be able to achieve quorum in the vote on its presidential candidate Abdullah Gül. Analysts reportedly project that AKP would fare well in the elections.

Just yesterday, the Constitutional Court annulled the first round of voting in the presidential election.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
Image: Bertil Videt.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan called the court’s decision “a bullet aimed at democracy… It has made it almost impossible for the parliament to elect a president in the future.” He also called for the constitution to be changed so that the president is elected by popular vote, instead of the current method where parliament elects the president. Erdoğan also proposed to change the constitution to allow the president to serve 2 terms of 5 years instead of the current single term of 7 years.

The Turkish pro-secular movement first feared that prime minister Erdoğan would run for president. When the ruling AKP chose Abdullah Gül as their candidate instead, they feared that Gül might have a hidden Islamic agenda and be a threat to the separation between religion and state in Turkey. But AKP denies such agenda, and Gül has promised to adhere to secularist principles if he would become president. Gül’s wife has in the past fiercely defended her right to wear the Islamic headscarf.

Meanwhile, the United States has joined the European Union in asking the Turkish Armed Forces to stay out of the process. The military sees itself as the guardian of secular government in Turkey and has toppled the government four times since 1960.

The first rally on April 14 in Ankara.
Image: Selahattin Sönmez.

Two pro-secular rallies with several hundred thousand demonstrators took place in April, one in Ankara and the other in Istanbul. National symbols were strongly present during these protests, and people were chanting “Turkey is secular and will remain secular” and “We don’t want an imam as president!”.

Related news

  • “Turkey’s Constitutional Court invalidates first round in presidential elections” — Wikinews, May 1, 2007
  • “Protests in Turkey over Presidential candidate” — Wikinews, April 30, 2007
  • “Wikinews Shorts: April 27, 2007” — Wikinews, April 27, 2007
  • “Turkey’s governing party names Abdullah Gül as presidential candidate” — Wikinews, April 24, 2007
  • “Pro-secular Turks rally against Erdogan’s possible presidential candidacy” — Wikinews, April 15, 2007

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May 1, 2007

Turkey\’s Constitutional Court invalidates first round in presidential elections

Turkey’s Constitutional Court invalidates first round in presidential elections

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Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Abdullah Gül
Image: José Cruz/ABr, 2006.

Turkey’s Constitutional Court has annulled the first round of voting in the presidential election, ruling that there were not enough members present at the parliamentary vote for it to be valid. The court ruled 9-2 in favor of the challenge.

Opposition parties, who boycotted the vote, challenged the result in court on the grounds that the were not enough MPs in attendance to achieve quorum which is set at two-thirds of the 550 member Grand National Assembly of Turkey. The government argued that only one-third or 184 MPs were needed for quorum.

In Friday’s vote, Abdullah Gül got 357 votes. The governing party, Justice and Development Party (AKP) has 363 of the 550 seats in parliament. The main opposition party, Republican People’s Party (CHP), holds 178 seats. Independents hold the remaining 9 seats.

Government spokesperson Cemil Çiçek said the government will seek to have the required 367 MPs in attendance for a new vote on Wednesday. If the age limit for MPs is lowered to 25 from the current 30, the government is ready to call early parliamentary elections. Early polls have been sought by the opposition and business interests.

Related news

  • Protests in Turkey over Presidential candidate” — Wikinews, April 30, 2007
  • “Wikinews Shorts: April 27, 2007” — Wikinews, April 27, 2007
  • “Turkey’s governing party names Abdullah Gül as presidential candidate” — Wikinews, April 24, 2007
  • “Pro-secular Turks rally against Erdogan’s possible presidential candidacy” — Wikinews, April 15, 2007

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April 30, 2007

Protests in Turkey over Presidential candidate

Protests in Turkey over Presidential candidate

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Monday, April 30, 2007

National symbols were prominently present during the rally.
Image: Miguel Carminati.

Hundreds of thousands of Turks rallied again in Turkey’s largest city, Istanbul on Sunday to protest Abdullah Gül’s presidential candidacy, which they fear would threaten Turkey’s separation between religious and state affairs.

The “Çağlayan Demonstration for the Republic” was centered around the Çağlayan Square. While security forces estimated the number of demonstrators at 700 000, estimates around 1 million and more are reported in the Turkish media.

The scene of the previous “Protect your Republic” demonstration in Turkey’s capital Ankara was repeated, with uncountable Turkish flags and many posters of Atatürk, founder of the modern Turkish state. The protesters shouted slogans like: “Turkey is secular and will remain secular!”.

Between 700 000 and 1,2 million Turks are reported to have demonstrated near the Çağlayan Square.
Image: Miguel Carminati.

The demonstrators fear that current Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül, the presidential candidate of the ruling AK Party of Prime Minister Erdoğan, will allow Islamic influences in Turkey to become more powerful. The party officially denies having such a hidden agenda.

The army, traditionally loyal to the Turkish pro-secular side, accused the government on Friday of tolerating radical Islam. But Gül replied: “It is out of the question to withdraw my candidacy.” In 1997 the democratically elected Islamic-oriented President Necmettin Erbakan was removed from office by the army, with public support.

In Turkey, the president is elected directly by the parliament, and Gül failed to get elected in the first round of the elections, when opposition lawmakers boycotted the vote. The opposition also appealed to the Constitutional Court to declare the process unlawful. A second round is to be held on Wednesday, and a third one on May 9.

Gül’s wife Hayrunisa wears a head scarf and has appealed to the European Court of Human Rights to be allowed to wear it at a university. But secular Turks want to keep the current ban on wearing such scarves in public places.

Reactions

File photo of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
Image: Bertil Videt.

Prime Minister Erdoğan in a national television address on Monday called for national unity: “Unity, togetherness, solidarity, these are the things we need most. We can overcome many problems so long as we treat each other with love.”

“Even four and a half years ago, this country was riven by serious problems, which thank goodness have been overcome one by one,” the Prime Minister said, referring to the many reforms his government has implemented since it came into power. He also pointed out Turkey’s steady growth rate during the last years. To maintain this, he asked the nation for stability: “At this point, it’s enough that we protect the environment of stability, it’s enough that we protect the environment of peace. Enough that we don’t harm the environment of confidence we have worked so hard to attain.”

In reaction to the ongoing uncertainty, the E.U. enlargement commissioner warned the Turkish Army about interfering: “It is important that the military leaves the remit of democracy to the democratically-elected government and this is the test case if the Turkish armed forces respect democratic secularism and the democratic arrangement of civil-military relations,” commissioner Olli Rehn said. Erdoğan and Gül support Turkey’s efforts to join the European Union.

The Turkish stock market lost 4,01 per cent on Monday, which analysts attribute to the current political crisis.



Related news

  • “Turkey’s governing party names Abdullah Gül as presidential candidate” — Wikinews, April 24, 2007
  • “Pro-secular Turks rally against Erdogan’s possible presidential candidacy” — Wikinews, April 15, 2007

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