|Wednesday, 20 January 2021|
Turkish Press Review, 08-02-18
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From: Turkish Directorate General of Press and Information <http://www.byegm.gov.tr>Summary of the political and economic news in the Turkish press this morning
 ERDOGAN: “WE’RE THE PROTECTOR OF SECULARISM”Speaking to reporters, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said yesterday that there are expectations that the headscarf issue will be solved, adding that his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) are continuing to work together towards that end. Criticizing main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Deniz Baykal, Erdogan said that politicians are supposed to work to solve problems. He pledged that there would never be discrimination between women wearing headscarves and those who don’t and that they will protect the rights of both. “If you give an opportunity to only one sector of society to go to university, while others cannot, this would be discrimination,” he said. “In this country, no one forces others to wear headscarves.” Addressing Turkish Penal Code (TCK) Article 301, Erdogan stated that he had urged non-governmental organizations to express their views on the controversial law, and that the AKP is determined to change it. Stating that there have long been debates over the regime in Turkey, Erdogan reiterated that his party is not based on religion. “We do not seek to establish a religious state,” he asserted. “We said this when we first established our party. Some circles keep repeating the same thing. Even years ago when I was elected mayor of Istanbul, they used to say Turkey would be a religious state. I have been active in politics for many, many years. Have they seen even the slightest move towards this end?” Erdogan also touched upon a planned change to the Board of Higher Education (YOK) Law. “We will begin work on Article 17 of the YOK Law after the Constitutional Court releases its decision on constitutional amendments (to lift the university headscarf ban), if the CHP challenges them,” he added. /Turkiye/
 TOPTAN SAYS NO NEED FOR CONSTITUTIONAL CHANGES TO SOLVE HEADSCARF ISSUEThere is no conflict between young women wearing headscarves and those who don’t, and many of the latter want the university headscarf ban lifted, said Parliament Speaker Koksal Toptan yesterday. “Solving the headscarf issue doesn’t require constitutional changes, nor changes to the Board of Higher Education (YOK) Law,” Toptan told a TV interview. “It could be solved without any need for constitutional changes.” He also warned, “Whatever the outcome, debates over the headscarf issue will leave Turkey worse off. No attempt to derail Turkey from its main principles can succeed.” /Cumhuriyet/
 NSC TO DISCUSS HEADSCARF ISSUE THIS WEEKThe National Security Council (NSC) is set to convene on Thursday. The council is expected to focus on the headscarf issue as well as cross-border operations into northern Iraq against the terrorist PKK. /Sabah/
 BAYKAL: “IT’S CLEAR THIS GOVT HAS ANOTHER AGENDA”Taking steps on the headscarf issue at the constitutional level will lead to problems in both law and policy, warned main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Deniz Baykal at a CHP meeting in Izmir yesterday. Criticizing Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s statement calling himself the guarantor of secularism, Baykal said, “It’s clear that this government has another agenda.” He added, “I won’t entrust secularism to you (Erdogan).” /Aksam/
 RUSSIAN FM: “TURKEY IS OUR PARTNER”In an interview with Sabah daily, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov yesterday said that though plans for missile defense systems have led to friction between Russia and the US, such systems could be installed in Turkey. “Turkey can contribute to these common efforts,” he said, and added, “We’re partners with Turkey in the area of energy. Russian firms are interested in nuclear energy in Turkey, they’re ready to cooperate.” Touching on Turkey’s cross-border operations into northern Iraq, Lavrov said, “We are definitely in favor of protecting Iraq’s territorial integrity. We also condemn any group’s attempts to launch violent activities from northern Iraq.” /Sabah/
FROM THE COLUMNS...FROM THE COLUMNS... FROM THE COLUMNS...
 AN INDEPENDENT KOSOVO: BOTH GOOD AND BAD FOR TURKEYBY SEMIH IDIZ (MILLIYET)
Columnist Semih Idiz comments on Kosovo’s declaration of independence yesterday. A summary of his column is as follows:
“As expected, yesterday Kosovo declared its independence. So the bloody process which began with Slobadan Milosevic’s separation and war in 1989 has ended with Serbians losing their ‘sacred’ territory.
In other words, Serbs, through trying to accomplish ethnic cleaning, actually caused their own expulsion, in a dramatic example of history meting out justice.
Pathological Serbian nationalism has been punished by the West. Although Serbs, Russians, and their supporters are unhappy with the development, no one can do anything to turn back the clock in Kosovo.
Kosovo is now under the protection of NATO and the European Union, and Serbian ambitions for a new war seem difficult. Even if they dared it, winning one would be almost impossible.
But this happy ending for Kosovars brings many question marks. For Turkey, which has a complex foreign policy, the Kosovar model is both good and bad.
1. The independence of Kosovo is a good model for the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC). But expecting quick benefits from this would be unwise, because both the US and EU have denied it could serve as a model. However, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s remarks last week that Northern Cyrus has been independent for 40 years, and asking why no country recognizes it, caused cracks in the wall against the TRNC.
2. Even though the situations in Iraq and southeastern Europe are in no way similar, and international dynamics are trying to keep Iraq together, not for it to split apart, developments in Kosovo will be seen as a model, especially by Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani’s camp in northern Iraq. Turkey, of course, will react strenuously against such claims.
3. Kosovo’s independence sets a bad model for Turkey’s ally Azerbaijan, as this could encourage Armenians urging independence for Karabakh. The strong Armenian lobby in Europe and the US will try to take advantage of this development.
4. The Kosovo model may also cause instabilities in the Caucasus. Russia, right now, is signaling that it could back separatists in Gerogia’s Abkhazia region if they follow the same pattern. While this could be a good development for Abkhazs’ relatives in Turkey, Ankara may not welcome it, as it is trying to develop strategic relations with Georgia. Moscow’s stance may also influence other regions in the Caucasus.
5. Developments in Kosovo show that the principle of territorial integrity no longer suffices to prevent foreign military and political intervention over ethnic clashes and bloody incidents. In addition, separatist elements in Turkey may use it, and extreme nationalists’ hatred of the West may rise.”
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