Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Post Office Correctly Reclassifies Turkey as Not Part of Europe

Politicians deal in illusion. Insurers deal in reality.
As Turkey moves closer to the EU, the Post Office in Britain has deemed that the nation lies entirely beyond Europe. Last month, at the start of the school summer holidays, the Post Office moved the boundaries used for its travel insurance policies to exclude Turkey from European cover. Even the European part of Turkey, including Istanbul, is deemed as lying outside the Continent for insurance purposes.

A British woman who bought a policy for her package holiday in the resort of Kusadasi discovered she was not covered only when she was hospitalised. Rebecca Thomas, 22, a retail manager from Solihull, was admitted for treatment for a stomach complaint. But when she contacted the travel insurers, she was told her she was not covered. Her father, David Thomas, is paying the bill – currently standing at £1,400 – by credit card. Yesterday he said: "The Post Office are perfectly entitled to change their geographical coverage, but Turkey is such a big destination that they should make it absolutely clear on the website."

For travellers buying online, such as Rebecca Thomas, the change is revealed only by clicking on a small question mark icon on the Post Office's web page offering travel insurance quotes.

Last year, 2.7 million British citizens visited Turkey. Travel insurance policies covering European holidays have traditionally included it, as well as other nations bordering the Mediterranean. The Post Office followed this practice until 15 July, when it decided to exclude Turkey – together with Egypt. Travellers to these two countries who choose Post Office travel insurance must buy a "Rest of the World" policy, priced at £37 for a week – more than twice as much as the price for Europe.
Source: Independent

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Turkey to return seized property to religious minorities

The Turkish government has agreed to return hundreds of confiscated properties to the country's non-Muslim minorities. The European Union has joined Christian and Jewish communities in praising Turkey's historic step.

The Turkish government has pledged to return hundreds of properties confiscated from religious minorities over the last 75 years, a decision lauded by the European Union and Turkey's Christian and Jewish communities.

Former owners of any property or land sold on to a third party are also to be refunded the market value by the state treasury.

The decree was announced ahead of a fast-breaking dinner for the holy Muslim month of Ramadan in Istanbul on Sunday. In attendance was Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan as well as representatives of the Orthodox Christian and Jewish communities.

The decision to return the properties, which include churches, community centers, hospitals, schools, houses and cemeteries, was welcomed by members of Turkey's Greek Orthodox, Armenian Orthodox and Jewish communities.

"This is a restoration, a reparation of an injustice," said Bartholomew I, the spiritual head of the world's Orthodox Christians and the ecumenical patriarch of Constantinople, during the holy dinner.

"This is a extremely great and positive step and certainly an event which the whole world will appreciate," added Pantelis Vingas Lakis, president of Turkey's largest Greek lobby group.

Appeasing the EU

The European Union has also welcomed the move, seen as a step forward in Turkey's candidacy bid for EU membership.

Erdogan could face criticism from Turkish nationalists
A spokeswoman for EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Füle described the return of the property as a positive step, "leading the way for the implementation of religious freedom." Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, a European Parliament deputy of Germany's Free Democratic Party, called it a "historic step."

The Turkish state began seizing properties from religious minorities in 1936, when all non-Muslim foundations in Turkey were forced to register their properties.

In the following decades the Turkish government took many of the buildings and land and sold some of it off. The finances of Christian and Jewish communities were deeply affected and the number of non-Muslim Turks dwindled as many opted to leave the country.

Making amends

On Sunday, Erdogan pledged his remorse for the widespread confiscation and vowed that the new regulation would address Turkey's past mistakes.

"We thus solve a problem that has damaged our reputation in the international arena for decades," he said.

The dispute over the return of Turkey's expropriated property has occupied the European Court of Human Rights for years, and the court has repeatedly ruled against the government in Ankara.

Erdogan may have earned the recognition and respect of the Christian and Jewish communities with the decision, but it's likely he will receive a very different reaction from Turkish nationalists. The response from the country's traditionally strong nationalist opposition party is also still unknown.
Source: Deutsche Welle

The Armenians outside of Turkey take a much more sceptical view of this.
The Turkish Prime Minister has recently signed a decree to return hundreds of properties that were confiscated from religious minorities, Christian and Jewish religious properties by the state or other parties over the years since 1936, and would pay compensation for properties that were seized and later sold. Is this real progress or a demonstration of Turkey’s traditional policy?

From the point of view of the Armenian community of Istanbul the return of the part of the confiscated property should be assessed as a positive step, expert of Turkish studies Anush Hovhannisyan told a press conference today. However, according to her, the step is such a small one and needs to be spoken about.

“It’s a very trifle step, since the loss of Armenians was immense, taking into consideration that the process of confiscation of Armenians’ property was continuous, especially during the genocide and the years that followed,” she said.

Therefore, the expert is assured that this step of Turkey fits into its traditional policy and contains certain danger. According to political scientist Levon Shirinyan, practice shows that no law has ever been fully implemented in Turkey. Both are confident that Turkey has made the step out of its own calculations.

According to Anush Hovhannisyan, this is first of all a PR action. Besides, Turkey thus wants to solve a practical issue: the European Court of Human Rights is flooded with numerous cases against Turkey, and the latter is losing in most cases.

Ankara pursues the purpose to diverge the attention from the Armenian Cause, to separate Turkish Armenians from the rest of Diaspora and prevent the recognition of the Armenian Genocide, as the Congress is expected to start discussions soon.

There is another issue Turkey is trying to solve. “Every fall the Council of Europe discusses the issue of religious minorities in Turkey, and every time it criticizes Turkey. This is an attempt to mitigate the criticism,” Levon Shirinyan said.

Monday, 29 August 2011

Turkey looks to Poland for EU backing

Turkey looks to Poland for EU backing
29.08.2011 12:12

Turkey hopes that Poland's presidency of the European Council, which began 1 July, will accelerate the country's integration into the EU.

At a meeting with Polish journalists in Istanbul, thanks were made for supporting Turkey thus far, while the country's Minister of European Affairs, Egeman Bagis, underlined the question of visas as a key question at accession talks.

“We are expecting a strong position from the Polish side regarding the matter of these nonsensical visas for Turkish citizens,” he said.

“The European Commission is in talks with Ukraine, Russia, Georgia and Moldova about liberalizing the visa regime, but not with Turkey,” he lamented.

“This is nonsense,” he added, stressing that 65 percent of Turkish trade is carried out with Europe.

“We are a full member of the EU Customs Union, our products are allowed to travel within the Union, but the owners of these products are not,” he said.

“Businessmen who want to participate in trade fairs in Warsaw must obtain a visa,” he noted.

“We have to change this.”

Last December, while Prime Minister Donald Tusk was in Istanbul, the Polish premier pledged to do everything in his power to redress the visa situation.

Turkey began official talks about accession to the EU in 2005. Nevertheless, France, Germany and Cyprus are among the most outspoken opponents, citing matters such as gender equality, freedom of speech and freedom of religion.

Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister of Turkey Ali Babacan told Polish journalists that his country was grateful for Polish support thus far, and noted his own country's solidarity with Poland.

“We very actively supported the process of Poland's accession to NATO and the European Union, and now we are very happy to receive serious and friendly support from the Polish side in our process of integration with the Union,” he said.

“I think that from the very beginning, Poland was very open on this issue, and streadfastly supported our process of integration, and we very much appreciate this,” he added.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Israeli Ambassador Confirms: Erdogan 'Hates Us Religiously'

By Andrew G. Bostom

The progressive dismantling of Turkey's experiment in Westernization/ secularization -- which began within a decade of Ataturk's death -- came to popular, if ugly, fruition with the election of the Necmettin Erbakan government in the early 1990s.

Erbakan was a full-throated, unapologetic promulgator of mainstream, "sacralized" Islamic Jew-hatred. The modern fundamentalist Islamic movement Erbakan founded (the Islamic Milli Gorus movement, which originated in 1969) has continued to produce the most extreme strain of Antisemitism extant in Turkey, and traditional Islamic motifs, i.e., frequent quotations from the Koran and Hadith, remain central to this hatred, nurtured by early Islam's basic animus towards Judaism. For example, Milli Gazete published articles in February and April of 2005, which were toxic amalgams of ahistorical drivel and virulently anti-Semitic and anti-dhimmi Koranic motifs, including these prototypical comments based upon Koran 2:61/ 3:112:

In fact no amount of pages or lines would be sufficient to explain the Qur'anic chapters and our Lord Prophet's [Muhammad's] words that tell us of the betrayals of the Jews. ... The prophets sent to them, such as Zachariah and Isaiah, were murdered by the Jews...

Erbakan mentored current AKP leaders President Gul and Prime Minister Erdogan. Both were previously active members of Erbakan's assorted fundamentalist political parties, serving in mayoral, ministerial, and parliamentary posts. The IHH -- whose violent operatives featured prominently in the Mavi Marmara flotilla anti-Semitic incitement and subsequent bloodshed -- has its origins in this same Orthodox Islamic Milli Görüş movement.

In 1974, Erdogan, while serving as president of the Istanbul Youth Group of his mentor, former Prime Minister Erbakan's National Salvation Party, wrote, directed, and played the leading role in a theatrical play entitled Maskomya, staged throughout Turkey during the 1970s. Mas-Kom-Ya was a compound acronym for "Masons-Communists-Yahudi" - the latter meaning "Jews." The play focused on the evil, conspiratorial nature of these three entities whose common denominator was Judaism.

Now, finally, we learn that Erdogan's religiously-inspired Jew-hatred has not passed unnoticed by Gabby Levy, the Israeli ambassador to Turkey, whose term is scheduled to expire in a week. As recorded in a Wikileaks cable from October 2009, sent by the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, Turkey:

Levy dismissed political calculation as a motivator for Erdogan's hostility, arguing the prime minister's party had not gained a single point in the polls from his bashing of Israel. Instead, Levy attributed Erdogan's harshness to deep-seated emotion: "He's a fundamentalist. He hates us religiously and his hatred is spreading."
Source: American Thinker

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Cyprus wants Israeli support in offshore drilling spat

Cypriot FM tells ‘Post’ Nicosia in conflict with Turkey over exploration rights; J'lem interested in "cooperating in energy field," PM responds.

With her country locked in a nasty tiff with Turkey over maritime gas exploration rights, Cypriot Foreign Minister Erato Kozakou-Marcoullis came to Israel Wednesday looking for signs of support on the matter from Jerusalem, and received it in the form of statement put out by the Prime Minister’s Office.

The Prime Minister’s Office issued a statement following a meeting between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Kozakou-Marcoullis saying among the issues discussed was “expanding the possibilities of cooperating in the energy field, since both countries have been blessed with natural gas deposits in their exclusive economic zones.”

Turkey has threatened Cyprus against going ahead with plans to begin drilling for offshore gas deposits, with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu threatening earlier this month that Ankara would show the “necessary response” if Cyprus went ahead with the plans.

Turkey, which has occupied northern Cyprus since 1974, claims Cyprus does not have the right to exploit the island’s natural resources, and that it cannot ignore the Turkish- Cypriot rights to the resources.

Both the US and Russia have in recent days released statements supporting the Cypriot position, and Kozakou-Marcoullis told The Jerusalem Post in an interview, before meeting Netanyahu, President Shimon Peres and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, that she hoped for a “message going out from Israel regarding the principle regarding sovereign rights in the exclusive economic zone.”

Lieberman, like Netanyahu, also put out a statement signaling support for Cyprus’s position, saying he and his Cypriot colleague praised the agreement reached by Israel and Cyprus in 2010 delineating their maritime boundaries and their respective exclusive economic zones, and saying that beginning work to extract the gas should be done quickly “for the benefit of both sides.”

In the Post interview, Kozakou- Marcoullis said Cyprus was planning exploratory drilling within the next two weeks, regardless of Turkey’s threats.

“We have international law on our side,” she said. “I think Turkey has to listen to the messages being sent by the international community regarding this issue.”

She said while Cyprus has to be concerned about “any kind of threats coming from Turkey, at the same time we are proceeding as scheduled and doing whatever we have to do regarding raising the issue with other countries.”
Source: Jerusalem Post

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Protests Against Turkish Airstrikes in Kurdish Territory

It's astonishing how little criticism of these Turkish airstrikes there has been in the western media. It is just blithely reported that Turkish airstrikes have killed 100 people or so, and the claim of the Turkish government that these were PKK terrorists is accepted without demur. There is already evidence that innocent civilians are being killed in these airstrikes, yet it goes completely unremarked.

When western countries carry out airstrikes somewhere, however, the slightest hint of civilian casualties is relentlessly played up. And if Israel does it, the media goes in to a frenzy. Imagine that this was Israel bombing the Arabs. How different would the reaction of the western media be?
BAGHDAD -- Iraqi politicians in Baghdad are joining Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) officials in condemning three days of Turkish air strikes on Kurdish rebel bases that have hit border villages in Iraq, RFE/RL's Radio Free Iraq reports.

KRG spokesman Kawa Mahmud told RFI on August 19 that the Turkish bombardment "is a violation of Iraq's sovereignty, the norms of international law, and the UN charter."

Mahmud said the attacks "have resulted in peaceful villages being depopulated as their inhabitants flee the bombings."

He added that "the KRG calls for bringing an end to these incursions by diplomatic means -- not out of weakness but because we want strong ties with our neighbors based on cooperation and peaceful coexistence."

Adil Barwari, an adviser to Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki on relations with the Kurdish autonomous region, told RFI that "there is a tripartite committee of Iraq, Turkey, and the U.S. military to deal with the [Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK)] issue, which makes calls for Iraq to complain to the UN about Turkish air strikes irrelevant as the PKK is generally viewed by the international community as a terrorist organization."

Barwari said the solution lies in Turkey itself, which should find a way to resolve the PKK problem.

Hussein al-Asadi, a member of Maliki's parliamentary bloc the National Alliance, told RFI that "Turkish and Iranian bombing of Iraqi territory is aggression against Iraq's sovereignty notwithstanding the fact that it is restricted to the Kurdish region because Iraq's security is indivisible."

Haider al-Mulla, a spokesman for former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi's parliamentary bloc Al-Iraqiyah, told RFI that "Iraq over the past eight years has been paying a heavy price and, as a consequence, [has other countries] meddling in its internal affairs and [making] crossborder attacks against its territory."

Al-Mulla said "a firm stance is required from the government, backed by all [parliamentary] factions, for an end to these enchroachments."

A PKK spokesman, Duzdar Hammu, told RFI that "the latest round of Turkish air strikes started August 18 continued August 19 focusing on the Qandil Mountains and Zab."

Turkish political analyst Mustafa Dhia told RFI that the Turkish offensive "may check PKK infiltration across Iraq's porous borders with Turkey for some time but, in the long term, there is no military solution to this problem."

Dhia said "the Turkish government has a whole package of economic and social measures to solve the Kurdish question by peaceful means but it has to prepare the ground for it by stemming PKK violence."
Photo credit: Press TV

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

While the West disarms, Turkey is busy arming itself

(Turkey) Last May, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan visited Greece and asked them to cut military spending so that peace could flourish between the two countries and so, ultimately, they could both save money.

Admirable, don't you think? And promotes the message of peace which Muslims the world over are renowned for. Well, here is something the Turks didn't mention when they talked about peace in our time last May.

Turkey is currently running with a program to build its own attack helicopter - TAI/AgustaWestland T-129 - of which it has plans to purchase 60. Greece currently owns 29 AH64 Apache gunships.

Turkey bought 339 German Leopard 2A4 tanks in 2005 and is has set in motion a tender to build 1,000 new Advanced Battle Tanks - Altay - which is based on the current South Korean tank, the K2 Black Panther.

Turkey is currently down to purchase the F35 Lighting. However, of late, Turkey has expresed a desire to pull out of the F35 program and go it alone and build its own 5th generation aircraft.

Turkey is currently looking into building a couple of aircraft carriers.

Turkey is also currently building its own advanced UAV - TAI Anka - of which the Anka-B (TIHA-B) will be an armed version.

As well as those, Turkey is building APCs, mobile rocket launchers and completely re-equipping the navy with frigates, assault docks, tank landing craft, and submarines.

So much for defence cuts then.
Source: Eye on the World

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Tensions Mounting in Cyprus Over Oil, Gas Exploration Plans

Tensions are mounting between the Cyprus and Turkey over the island nation's plans to begin oil and gas exploration in the eastern Mediterranean Sea. Drilling is scheduled to start in just six weeks.

At the heart of the dispute is how any revenues from the oil and natural gas exploration will be shared between Greek Cypriots, who control the internationally recognized government, and Turkish Cypriots in the north.

Turkey, which backs the Turkish Cypriots, says it objects to the drilling and says it will take action if the exploration goes ahead before a solution to the 37-year-old division of Cyprus is found.

Ankara claims that only a peace settlement between the two communities would ensure the Turkish Cypriot community’s share of any natural resources discovered.

The Cyprus government signed a production-sharing contract with U.S.-based Noble Energy to launch exploration activities in an 324,000-hectare economic zone southeast of the island which borders Israeli waters and where massive gas fields were found under the seabed.

Solon Kassinis, director of the Cyprus Energy Services, says all steps have been taken in accordance to international law.

"We are proceeding according to our sort of agreement with Nobel and the rig is going to start working about the first of October," said Kassinis. "They are going to start drilling to see what is happening underneath and see what exists down there."

Solon Kassinis also rejected claims that the Greek side would monopolize any revenue from what is discovered under the seabed.

"We are evaluating the situation of what will happen in case we find oil and I assure you that this is to be taken into serious consideration - and we are not only going to consider the present generations of legal citizens of Cyprus - all Greeks, Turks and many other nationalities who live here legally, but of course this is to consider the future generations as well," said Kassinis.

The island of Cyprus was split in a 1974 Turkish invasion triggered by a Greek-inspired coup. Turkish Cypriots live in its north and Greek Cypriots in the south.

Some analysts say the oil and gas exploration will add extra pressure to the ongoing attempt to re-unite the island which has been at a virtual standstill for three years.
Source: Voice of America

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Turkey stabbing: bodies of Northern Irish women to be flown home

Recep Cetin, 17, is alleged to have confessed that he slit the throat of Marion Graham, 54, and also stabbed her in the heart after she refused to allow him to marry her daughter Shannon.

Cetin is also alleged to have killed Ms Graham's friend Kathy Dinsmore, also 54, after luring the two women to a secluded forest about two hours' drive from the tourist resort of Kusadasi. Their bodies were found in woodland about 20 yards apart.

Yesterday, Shannon Graham's father Raymond McGuinness, who flew to Turkey from his home in Northern Ireland to comfort his daughter, suggested Cetin was determined to marry Shannon in part because he was "keen to get hold" of a holiday apartment which Mr McGuinness owned in Kusadasi, close to the one where the women were living.

Mr McGuinness accused Cetin, who grew up in an impoverished area of eastern Turkey, of being a "gold digger".

Police have interrogated Cetin, who was charged yesterday with murder, over his motive for the attack. The teenager, who had been in a relationship with Shannon for two years, was living with the girl, her mother and Ms Dinsmore in a rented apartment not far from the one owned by Mr McGuinness.

Shannon's father said the boy harboured a "dark side" and was prone to bouts of jealousy, especially if his girlfriend attracted the attention of other Turkish men.

"There was always something that was not quite right. He had a look in his eyes; you could see the jealousy," said Mr McGuinness..

He added that Cetin was "always on Facebook" and frequently telephoned his house in Northern Ireland to "check up" on Shannon. "He was almost, you might say, obsessed by her. He was just mad about her," added Mr McGuinness.

Shannon and her mother, who lived in Newry, County Down, were regular visitors to Turkey, having stayed there last Christmas and returned again at the start of the summer.

Details emerged yesterday of Cetin's tempestuous relationship with his girlfriend. Cetin, a well-known figure on the beachfront who was known to British holidaymakers as "Alex", dropped out of school at 13 and began a relationship with Shannon when he was 15.

In May, Cetin began renting a villa in a quiet residential area of Kusadasi, which he shared with Shannon, and his two victims.

Neighbours claim that they could often hear shouting and arguing coming from the apartment.

One Irish resident said yesterday: "They didn't really fit in here. It's a very quiet, friendly place. There was a lot of aggression and raised voices. We kept our distance."
Last Thursday, according to Cetin's uncle, who did not wish to be named, the waiter dropped Shannon off at the beach in the morning before taking the two older women on a shopping expedition.

Cetin used a local taxi to ferry them to Izmir where his father Eyup runs a corner shop. From there Cetin took a family car to drive the women out to the woodland area of Buca. Exactly what happened in the forest is still being investigated by Turkish police.

Initially Cetin claimed the women had been abducted by three men and that he had suffered a cut to his hand and been knocked unconscious as he tried to fight them off.

But, according to his uncle his story was vague and unconvincing.
"I took a call from a friend of Cetin's about 8.30pm on Thursday night," explained the uncle.

"He said Cetin was at the police station and had been stabbed. I don't have a lot of time for my nephew - he's become disrespectful and arrogant in the last couple of years but he's family and so I had to go and see what had happened.

"When I arrived at Kusadasi police station, Cetin and Shannon were both there. Cetin had a cut bandaged on his hand. I spoke to him for a few minutes and he told me the story about three men in a black van. He couldn't explain how he returned to Kusadasi.

"I talked to Shannon at the station for a while. She seemed very calm and was coming up with suggestions as to who the men in the black van might be. She was trying to help the police find who had abducted her mum and the other Irish lady."

One friend of Cetin's told police the boy had dumped a bag in a bin on his return from Izmir. A police search discovered Cetin's blood-stained clothes.

"I think his story fell apart and after a few further hours of interrogation Cetin broke down and confessed to killing the two women," said his uncle.

"He told police that Marion planned to take Shannon back to Ireland effectively ending their romance and the pair were heart-broken."

According to Turkish media, Cetin told police that he had tried to plead with Ms Graham one last time in the woods to let Shannon stay in Kusadasi and marry him. But she refused claiming Shannon was too young and her friend backed her up. They were then murdered, dying of multiple stab wounds.

"I know that Cetin and Shannon were very much in love," said the uncle. "They had been virtually inseparable for the last two years.

"They would argue - that's quite normal - but I think he slapped her once or twice. He would get cross if she sunbathed topless."

A spokesman for the Irish foreign ministry said an embassy official was comforting Shannon. She said: "Shannon is very upset at what has happened. She gave a statement to the police, but has not been questioned or held in custody."

The blinds of Ms Graham's Newry home were drawn and the garden of the mid-terraced house overgrown as she has been living in Kusadasi for the last few months.

Members of the Dinsmore family issued a statement yesterday speaking of their sorrow.
It said: "John and George Dinsmore are devastated by the tragic death of their beloved sister Kathy Dinsmore while on holiday in Turkey."
Source: Daily Telegraph

Friday, 19 August 2011

Turk Stabs Two Irish Women to Death After Denied Permission to Marry 15-Year-Old

The 17-year-old is believed to have murdered Marion Elizabeth Graham and Kathy Dinsmore after Ms Graham refused to allow him to marry her daughter, Shannon.

Turkey's state-run news agency Anatolia, reported that teen, named locally as Recep Celik, took them in a taxi to a quiet woodland area of the regional capital Izmir, where he killed them both.

The alarm is said to have been raised by the daughter after the women failed to return home, prompting police to search the estate they were staying where the discovered bloodstained clothing in a bin.

An Irish diplomat has been dispatched from Ankara, to look after Shannon, 15, who was not with the women at the time of attack. Both women were 54 and from the Newry Area of County Down.

The suspect reportedly denied any involvement when first confronted but confessed while being interrogated by police. His father and the taxi driver have also been detained, Anatolia reported.

Ms Graham is said to own property in Kusdasi and spent long spells at the Aegean coast resort, which is visited by thousands by British and Irish tourists every year.

Both women were travelling on Irish passports and are understood not to be British citizens.

South Down MP Margaret Ritchie said she was shocked by the deaths and offered her sympathy to the bereaved families.

"My thoughts are with those involved in this terrible incident," she said.
"And also with their families, who never got the chance to say goodbye to their loved ones. I think all the people of South Down will be saddened by this news."
Source: Daily Telegraph

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Turkish Football Player Justifies Violence Claiming he was Defending Islam

A brawl broke out towards the end of the Barcelona vs. Real Madrid football match last night. The Turk with German nationality, Mesut Ozil, was one of them. David Villa was another. Ozil claimed he was moved to violence because Villa had insulted Islam.
According to [Football.Fr] Real Madrid player Mesut Ozil was quoted, “I did this because I was defending my religion because David Villa insulted Islam.” refering to his actions against Villa at the closing minutes brawl at the Super Cup.

It appeared in TV video clips that David Villa hit Mesut Ozil first and the German international retaliated. The brawl was the reaction when Cesc Fabregas was tackled helplessly by Marcelo right at the closing minutes of the game as both bench emptied.

But Villa making offensive comments towards Islam isn't likely since his teammates Abidal, Keita and Afellay who are muslims and they play on the same team Barcelona.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Turks exempt from Dutch integration courses

The Netherlands cannot require Turkish immigrants with residence permits to follow integration courses. The ruling by the Utrecht Court of Appeals was announced on Tuesday.

Last year, judges from Roermond and Rotterdam ruled in three different cases that imposing integration courses on Turkish residents of the Netherlands is in violation of agreements between Turkey and the European Union. The appeals court has now upheld these rulings.

In 2007, the Netherlands instituted the Civic Integration Act stipulating that everyone who emigrates to the Netherlands, including people from Turkey, must successfully complete integration courses. However, this is in conflict with an EU treaty stating that member states cannot make new laws that restrict the rights granted to Turks. It also says there must be no discrimination between Turkish and EU citizens.

Tuesday’s ruling cannot be appealed against, as it comes from the highest judicial body in the Netherlands. However, the decision will not affect Dutch law regarding integration, said a court spokesperson. Turks will not be obliged to take the courses, but they may still choose to enrol.

Geert Wilders’s anti-Islam PVV party called the ruling bizarre. The party has called on Interior Minister Piet Hein Donner to take measures to ensure that Turks become naturalised citizens.

In a statement released Tuesday, Minister Donner agreed to look into the issue. The cabinet has also announced a commitment to adjusting the treaty between Turkey and the EU. To do that, the Netherlands will need to gain support from other member states.
Source: Radio Netherlands

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Doubts Raised Over American Ambassador to Turkey

Last year, after Senator Sam Brownback placed a hold on the nomination of Frank Ricciardone to be ambassador to Turkey, President Obama sent Ricciardone to Turkey as a recess appointment. Brownback’s reasons for his hold were well-founded. During Ricciardone’s posting in Egypt, he sought to ingratiate himself so much to President Hosni Mubarak that he crippled Bush’s democratization drive and ultimately undercut American interests. Wherever one stands on the wisdom of Bush’s transformative diplomacy, declaring Mubarak so popular that he could win elections in the United States is not something any American Foreign Service officer should do and keep his job.

Ricciardone needs to be confirmed by the Senate by the end of the year if he expects to keep his job. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) appears ready to put a hold on the diplomat because the envoy refuses to acknowledge the Armenian genocide.

Ricciardone deserves to have his posting curtailed, but it would be a shame to do so on the Armenian issue: To allow Armenian Americans to hold up an American envoy to Azerbaijan or Turkey would be as wrong as Turkish or Azeri Americans to hold up an American envoy to Armenia.

If the Senate sinks Ricciardone’s nomination, they should do so for a simple reason: He has failed to promote American interests in Turkey. Rather, he has undercut them. He has downplayed the mass arrest of Turkish generals which has gone beyond serious allegations criminality and has more to do with the Islamist prime minister vendetta against secularists, telling Congress that institutions matter more than individuals. But when secularists are not allowed to serve at senior levels, it matters. When the head of Turkey’s intelligence service favors Iran over the United States, it matters.

If institutions matter more than individuals, it’s time to bring Ricciardone home and replace him with a new ambassador. Ricciardone struck out on Iraq, where he counseled the rehabilitation of Saddam Hussein. He struck out on Egypt, where he lionized Mubarak. And he struck out on Turkey, where he fiddles while secularism burned. Three strikes should be more than enough for an out.
Source: Commentary

Monday, 15 August 2011

German MP of Turkish Origin Beaten Up By Turks For Eating Sausage During Ramadan

Turkish member of Berlin state parliament Orjam Mutluin [Green Party] was beaten in the restaurant, because he dared to order a sausage during Muslim Ramadan.

Turkish Radikal reports that the incident took place in the restaurant the owner of which is Turkish in one of famous streets of Berlin.

According to the report, the MP entered the restaurant and ordered a pork meat sausage. But the restaurant staff said that the MP should not eat pork sausage during the Ramadan. After short dispute the restaurant staff beat the MP.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Underage Marriages Not a Problem for Turkish Public

Cracking down on child marriage is always awkward in a country dominated by Islam, given that Mohammed, the so-called Perfect Man, "married" a girl when she was 6.
A recent report by the Parliamentary Committee on the Equality of Opportunity for Women and Men reveals that many families in eastern Turkey do not consider underage marriage a problem. Underage marriage causes dropouts, says report

According to the study, underage marriages do not pose a problem for the public.

The latest report from a special parliamentary equality on gender equality has revealed that many families in eastern Turkey do not consider underage marriage a problem.

Recent news that 11 underage girls have become pregnant in the southeastern province of Şanlıurfa has put the official spotlight on the underage marriage issue, daily Radikal reported. As such, members of the Parliamentary Committee on the Equality of Opportunity for Women and Men, as well as representatives of several nongovernmental organizations, held a meeting in the province to discuss the report.

According to the study, underage marriages do not pose a problem for the public. Such nuptials, however, have been highlighted as the main reason for the gradual increase of students dropping out of school, with marriages occurring as early as the age of 11.

It is important to prevent misunderstandings of religion abusing traditions, said the report.

“The meaning, causes and results of a marriage according to Islamic traditions should be explained clearly to the public. In order to do that, we need to cooperate with the Religious Affairs [Directorate] in Turkey,” the report said.

Last week, 11 ill girls between the ages of 14 and 17 were taken to hospitals in the province, where it was determined that they were pregnant. All the girls were reported to be married without a civil marriage. While the girls were kept in the hospital, their spouses were detained by the police, yet they were released by the court pending a trial.

“It should also be underlined that civil marriages provide all the necessary conditions that religious marriages do,” the report added.

Most of the families who force their children to marry at a young age generally have financial difficulties, the report said. It also suggested increasing the mandatory years of education to 13, including preschool training.
Source: Hurriyet

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Turks Sacrifice Lamb Before Football Match

And then smear themselves in its blood. What a bunch of savages.
The bizarre stunt took place at the Sivas 4 Eylül Stadium and was captured by a dozen cameramen and photographers stationed around the animal.

Two of the Turkish team's officials appear to be holding the lamb down with one holding a knife in preparation for the sacrifice. A video taken by a bystander pans away before the incident takes place, but appears to give an indication of what is to come.

Players seemed to be quite casual about the whole thing and even went as far as to smear themselves with blood in an attempt to give them good luck before the game.

FK Rad club officials and players were reportedly left cowering in the tunnel as Sivasspor conducted the religious act.

Once players had basted blood on themselves, they carried promotional gift bags toward fans sitting on the opposite side of the stadium.

The home side went on to clinch the match 4-1.

Friday, 12 August 2011

A system so poisoned that facts carry little currency

It is not surprising that a smell of corruption should hang over one of the most important trials in Turkish history. For decades the country’s court system has been used as a weapon of the Establishment to bludgeon its perceived enemies.

For many, it is poetic justice that a military that long wielded that weapon is now falling victim to it. It was, after all, the army that oversaw the show trial and execution in 1961 of Adnan Menderes, Turkey’s first democratically elected Prime Minister. But the Sledgehammer case is significant not only for the 195 soldiers on trial.

The investigation into the alleged coup plot has played an important role in the Islamist-rooted Government’s victory in its long power struggle with the army.

The generals have cast a shadow over the country’s politics since the soldier-statesman Mustafa Kemal Ataturk founded modern Turkey in 1923. Their ousting from the political sphere has been widely celebrated as a milestone in Turkish democracy.

However, worrying signs of judicial and police corruption, as well as the persecution of those who seek to highlight it, puts this in doubt. There are also fears surrounding what many regard as the growing authoritarianism of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Prime Minister.
Despite EU-backed constitutional amendments last year, which some fear have handed his party control of the justice system, there is little talk of root and branch reform.

Meanwhile, hundreds of people, including journalists and academics, have been imprisoned as part of another sprawling investigation into an alleged criminal network. Critics claim that it is stifling dissent.

Perhaps most depressingly, the fabrications in the Sledgehammer case reveal the rampant culture of disinformation that has poisoned Turkish public discourse for decades. Facts are so willingly faked that they carry little currency.

Army officers may well have been planning a coup in 2003 but, thanks to doctored evidence, we may never know for sure. The defendants will likely remain for ever guilty to their enemies, and for ever innocent in the eyes of their defenders.
Source: The Times (£)

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Mass trial of generals accused of coup plot is based on ‘doctored evidence’

Doctored evidence lies at the heart of a mass trial credited with breaking the power of Turkey’s military, documents seen by The Times suggest.

Material relating to an alleged 2003 coup plot, as a result of which 195 officers from Nato’s second-largest army are being prosecuted, show glaring inconsistencies, suggesting that some suspects may have been framed.

One document detailing the coup plans and dated December 2002 refers to an NGO, the Turkish Youth Union, which was not founded until 2006.

The coup’s alleged ringleader, General Cetin Dogan, whose typed but unsigned name appears at the bottom of the plan, had retired three years earlier.

Other evidence contains references to hospitals, institutions, and a Nato base that did not exist at the time the CD on which they were discovered was supposedly created. A forensic examiner’s report concluded that it was “highly probable” that a suspect’s handwriting on the CD was mechanically forged by copying characters from a diary entry.

At the weekend, the leader of Turkey’s main opposition party, Kemal Kiliçdaroglu, voiced suspicions about the plot. “We are looking for cases with concrete evidence,” he told a Turkish newspaper. “But the 2003 coup attempt case has documents and files that don’t coincide with other file dates.”

In another instance, an officer proved he was at a defence college in Britain when the plans suggest he was filing coup documents in Turkey.

Last month, the country’s military top brass resigned, signalling the end of a power struggle with the Islamist-aligned government. Isik Kosaner, the Chief of General Staff, requested early retirement along with chiefs of the army, navy and air force, and protested about the imprisonment of 250 serving and retired officers implicated in the coup plot and other matters under investigation.

“It is impossible to accept that these detentions are based on any universal laws, justice, or rules of conscience,” he said in a parting statement.

The departure of the top brass was hailed as an historic victory for a country blighted by decades of military coup d’etats, but now proffered as a role model for the Middle East.
But some allege that the coup plot was entirely fabricated. “Either the people who wrote the plan had a time machine, or else it’s a fabrication,” said Gareth Jenkins, a senior fellow at the Central Asia Caucasus Institute at Johns Hopkins University.

“I don’t think there’s any doubt that the motivation is to try to discredit the military as an institution, partly because it’s seen as a rival centre of power, and partly as revenge because it has persecuted Islamists in the past.”

The alleged plot surfaced in February 2010, after the Taraf newspaper was handed a suitcase of files, CDs and voice recordings. They had been supposedly drawn up by members of Turkey’s staunchly secular military soon after the Justice and Development Party, which has roots in a banned Islamist movement, won power in 2002. Though inconsistencies in the plot emerged soon after its discovery, the details have attracted little attention due to what some claim is a climate of fear.

In March, Ahmet Sik and Nedim Sener, two investigative journalists who had been writing about judicial and police corruption, were arrested as part of an anti-terror investigation. “It’s sad that we now have a media environment in which no one wants to touch this stuff,” said Asli Aydintasbas, a columnist at Milliyet. “I don’t want to touch it any more, because who knows that I won’t be included in the next round-up?”

But the investigation into the alleged coup plot has many defenders. This is partly because the military has toppled four elected governments since 1960 and has, at times, brutalised its own people in its role as self-appointed guardian of the secular political system created by Turkey’s founder, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.

“This trial is extremely important to clean the military of officers who have been involved in undermining the democratic regime in this country,” said Sahin Alpay, a columnist.
Defenders of the trial explain the evidence inconsistencies by claiming that the plotters were still updating the coup plans in 2009. However, they have failed to explain why the creation dates on files and CDs were faked to make it appear that the plans dated from 2003. Mr Jenkins believes that this was done to tie in with another key piece of evidence, the recording of a military seminar in March 2003. Suspects are heard discussing detailed plans to suppress an Islamist uprising. Prosecutors claim they were rehearsing plans for a coup, but those involved say it was a “war game scenario”.
Source: The Times (£)

Monday, 8 August 2011

Brutality of Turkish Police During Erdogan's Recent Visit to Cyprus

The Turkish Cypriot police are clearly shown here brutally attacking peaceful protesters. And these are their own people!

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Greece to Build Ditch To Stem Flow of Illegal Immigrants from Turkey

Athens - Greece on Thursday said it was in the process of digging a 120-kilometer water-filled ditch along its northeastern frontier with Turkey to stop the stream of migrants coming into the European Union, reports said.

The moat, seen as one of the country's largest projects along the Evros River, will be 30 meters wide and 7 meters deep, according to a report in the Greek daily To Vima newspaper.

The report said the officials have already completed 14.5 kilometers of the project near the town of Orestiada.

Greece, together with the European Union border guard Frontex, has increased its sea and land border patrols, fearing the escalating crisis in North Africa and the Middle East could trigger a wave of illegal immigrants.

Greece, which is the destination for tens of thousands of illegal immigrants each year, has long accused Turkey of failing to stop the illegal migrants and of ignoring an agreement to accept their return.

In January, the EU finalized a deal allowing it to send irregular migrants back to Turkey.

Under the agreement, Turkey will be required to take back both its own citizens who enter the EU illegally and citizens of other non-EU states who do the same. The rules would not apply to asylum-seekers.

Athens has said that it will consider using floating prisons and old army bases to house undocumented migrants.

Greek figures put the number at about 128,000 immigrants arriving in the country illegally in 2010, the highest for any European Union member state.

The government has also announced plans to build a 12.5-kilometre fence along a section of the north-eastern border with Turkey, but the plan has met with opposition from leftists and human rights organizations, including the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR).

Friday, 5 August 2011

British Government E-Petition on Turkish EU Membership

The British government has set up a new electronic petitions site. If a petition receives 100,000 signatures, it "could be debated in the House of Commons". One petition opposes Turkish membership of the EU, linked below:

No to Turkey Joining the EU

London should beware if the EU lets Turkey join

One of the very rare articles in the British press expressing scepticism about Turkish entry to the EU:
Just before Poland joined the EU, back in 2004 - and how long ago that seems - I had a chat with a press officer from the Home Office. The then Labour government had been suggesting that the number of Poles expected to come to Britain as a result of its accession would be in the region of 10,000. I put it to the press officer that this figure was a little optimistic. How did they know? And, more to the point, would he be prepared to put money on it?

How about a little bet of, say, £100, that the number of Poles coming here would be quite a bit more than that? The press officer laughed heartily. And then he said no, actually, he wouldn't be prepared to put money on it. But ministers were quite serious about their estimate; it was based on the views of experts.

To this day, I curse myself that I didn't press the man more on the bet. Because it turned out, of course, that the number of Poles who came to Britain was rather greater than that. By about three-quarters of a million, in fact.

The government's insouciance about the consequences of the expansion of the EU to the east, to include eight new members of which Poland was the biggest by a mile, was remarkable in retrospect. Poland and the other new states joined in May 2004. By the last quarter of that year, 116,000 people were working here from those countries, according to the labour force statistics.

By the first quarter of 2011 there were 629,000 people from Poland and the other East European states working in Britain. If you add to that figure their dependants and those on benefits the figure looks more like three quarters of a million. Quite a bit more than 10,000, then.

That miscalculation came to mind this week when the Home Affairs Select Committee issued a report saying it is worried about the potential consequences of Turkish accession to the EU. Turkey is already a candidate for membership, as a result of Tony Blair's and Jack Straw's efforts during Britain's EU presidency. And Turkey is a much bigger country than Poland, nearly twice as big, in fact. The Turkish population now is officially 76 million; Poland had only 40 million.

The committee, led by chairman Keith Vaz, says Turkey needs to do more to tighten border controls before it gets full membership. Drug- and people-smuggling through Turkey is already a problem; the committee thinks it might get worse once it joins the EU.

Mr Vaz also raises the issue of how many Turks might want to come here after accession. Good question. Any citizen of an EU country, remember, has the right to live and work in any other EU state. The committee's estimate of the number of Turks who might want to emigrate to the European Union as a whole is between half a million and
4.4 million by 2030. That strikes me as precisely the kind of back-of-the-envelope sum that produced the underestimate of Polish arrivals.

Let's spell this out. If Turkey gets full membership of the EU, assuming France or Germany doesn't veto it, then an unknown number of its 80 million-odd population would have the right to live and work here or anywhere else in the European Union. We just don't know how many. And it's worth remembering that the Turkish population is increasing and highly mobile precisely because it is so young; the UN says it could reach 97 million by 2050.

The potential consequences should make our hair curl: this would make a nonsense of any notion of Britain being able to control immigration, one of the most highly charged political issues by any reckoning. The only immigration that ministers can do anything about is people wanting to enter from outside the EU. When it comes to a new member state, all they can do is delay their right to come for a limited period, seven years. After that, it's a free-for-all.

Granted, there's a Turkish population here already of about half a million people, much of it in London, and that community is very much part of the vibrant ethnic mix. I may say in passing that all the Turks I know are delightful. The thing is, though, that immigrants tend to head for cities where they can join people from their own country; London would be an inexorable draw for young Turks wanting out, especially from the impoverished east.

The real objection, though, to Turkey joining the EU is more fundamental than that. Turkey isn't really European at all, so much as Asian. Only about three per cent of its land mass is in Europe, on our side of the Bosphorus; 97 per cent is in Asia. Its accession would expand our common EU borders to Iraq, Iran and Syria. Is that honestly what we want?

The most common response by British ministers to objections to Turkish membership is that it encourages moderate Islam by showing that a non-extremist Muslim nation can be part of the European family. That, plus strategic considerations, is why the US is so much in favour of the idea.

Well, if we want to show that Muslims can indeed be part of Europe, let's expedite the membership of those genuinely European countries with large or majority Muslim populations: Albania, anyone? Kosovo? Bosnia? If we're so keen on outreach to Islam, let's start there.

And moderation, when it comes to Islam, is pretty relative, after all. Turkey isn't going to go for sharia law any time soon but a recent poll conducted by Istanbul's Bahcesehir University suggested that 48 per cent of respondents would not want Christians as neighbours, more than half wouldn't want Jews; four-fifths didn't want homosexuals. Moderate Islam, eh?

The trouble is, support for Turkish membership of the EU is now a kind of cross-party political orthodoxy, something that it's positively in bad taste to oppose: last year, David Cameron said he was the "strongest possible advocate" of it joining. Support for Turkey in the EU is shorthand for tolerance, a way of showing that we're keen on what a Bosnian friend calls "multi-multi" - a multi-ethnic, multicultural mix. But if millions of Turks come to Britain and Europe as a result of EU membership, the consequences for London and its ethnic equilibrium could be much bigger than the advent of the Poles. And quite possibly, far less benign.

House Panel Approves Resolution Calling on Turkey to Return Confiscated Christian Churches

Friday, August 05, 2011 By Tierney Smith

( – The House Foreign Affairs Committee recently voted 43 to one in support of a resolution that calls upon the Republic of Turkey “to safeguard its Christian heritage and to return confiscated church properties” – a step the Turkish Embassy described as “deeply regrettable.”

The resolution (H.Res. 306), introduced by Reps. Edward Royce (R-Calif.) and Howard Berman (D-Calif.), cites the “Ottoman Empire’s oppression and intentional destruction of much of its ancient Christian populations, including over 2,000,000 Armenians, Greeks, Assyrians, Pontians, and Syrics,” and adds that Turkey “has been responsible for the destruction and theft of much of the Christian heritage within its borders.”

The Ottoman Empire, from 1300 to 1922, was an Islamic-governed empire that covered much of southeastern Europe and parts of North Africa and the Middle East. In 1923, with the empire’s official dissolution, Turkey became one of its successor states.

According to the congressional resolution, which was passed on July 20, Turkey, “through official and unofficial acts of discrimination, intolerance, and intimidation, has hindered the remaining Christians on its territory from freely practicing their ancient faiths.”

The resolution urges the Turkish government to “end all forms of religious discrimination” and, among other related issues, “return to their rightful owners all Christian churches and other places of worship,” and “allow the rightful Christian church and lay owners of Christian church properties, without hindrance or restriction, to preserve, reconstruct, and repair, as they see fit, all Christian churches and other places of worship … within Turkey.”

According to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), a bipartisan federal commission that reviews violations of religious freedom, “The Turkish government continues to impose serious limitations on freedom of religion or belief, thereby threatening the continued vitality and survival of minority religious communities in Turkey."

The USCIRF also says, “Over the previous five decades, the [Turkish] state has, using convoluted regulations and undemocratic laws to confiscate hundreds of religious minority properties, primarily those belonging to the Greek Orthodox community, as well as Armenian Orthodox, Catholics, and Jews. … The state also has closed seminaries, denying these communities the right to train clergy.”

Aram Hamparian, director of the Armenian National Committee of America, told that Turkey’s human rights violations “are far-reaching and widespread, having been extensively documented by the U.S. State Department, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and many others.”

He added, “The Turkish Government must sincerely accept responsibility for the genocidal crimes that led to the confiscation of these churches, and then work – in partnership with Christian churches, minority communities, and key stakeholders in the international community -- to restore their rightful ownership.”

Hamparian noted that there were over 1,460 Armenian Christian church properties functioning prior to the Armenian Genocide in 1915 that have since been confiscated or destroyed, which would need to be returned to the Armenian Church. Additionally, he said there are church properties that would need to be returned to the Greek and Aramean (Syriac) churches.

Royce said at the committee hearing, “Continued persecution of the vulnerable Christian minority in Turkey threatens the survival of their religious tradition. The adoption of this amendment would support their struggle for religious freedom, a value central to basic human dignity, and a basic civil right.”

According to Berman, “The amendment calls on Turkey to make good on past transgressions and allow true freedom of religion to achieve the standards of democratic behavior to which it says and to which I believe it aspires. We want Turkey to allow its Christian citizens to worship exactly as they want, and to allow them to train their clergy exactly as they want.”

“We want Christians to have the right to preserve, reconstruct, and repair their churches and other communal buildings without hindrance or petty harassment as is the case in all other democracies,” said Berman. “We want Turkey to return confiscated property to Christian communities and, at a minimum, to provide compensation for properties that can’t be recovered.”

The Turkish Embassy released a briefing in opposition to the resolution, stating that the resolution was “deeply regrettable because it unfairly distorts the facts on the ground while flatly overlooking Turkey’s efforts to promote religious freedom and tolerance.”
Further, the embassy said the use of the word “destruction” in the resolution was “absolutely wrong and deceptive again when applied to ancient or disused religious sites.

Preserving the vast number of historical and religious sites that date back to the earliest times of human civilization is a tremendous challenge for any country. In this regard, it is unfair to allege that Turkey has ignored its Christian heritage.”

“Turkey takes pride in repeatedly providing safe haven to those fleeing religious persecution throughout history,” said the embassy briefing.

“Consequently, we respectfully recommend to all the members of the U.S. House of Representatives that they not become co-sponsors of this unfair and inaccurate resolution but rather contribute in other positive and constructive ways to Turkey’s ongoing efforts and positive gestures.”

During the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s discussion of the resolution, Berman added, “The adoption of this amendment would add a powerful voice, the voice of the United States Congress, in the defense of religious freedom for Christians in present-day Turkey and reinforce the traditional leadership of Congress in defending freedom of faith around the world.”

Speaking of the relationship between the Unites States and Turkey, Rep. Russ Carnahan, (D- Mo.) said, “Turkey has been a long-time ally and friend and so we can and should speak frankly to them about this. We should recognize progress they have made, but we should also urge them to do more. They’ve been a key NATO ally, they are a key world economy, and they are, especially today, a key example of a moderate Muslim democratic country.”
He added, “We need them at the table. We need to continue to urge them to do more.”

Hamparian said, “The United States … has a long and proud tradition of actively promoting and defending freedom of faith around the world. Our own Bill of Rights safeguards religious freedom for Americans, and our longstanding leadership in championing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international covenants has helped protect freedom of faith across the globe.”

He cited several pieces of congressional legislation from the past 15 years that were designed to, like the Berman-Cicilline Amendment, demand religious freedom from foreign governments in countries like Cyprus, Lithuania, Romania and Vietnam.

Hamparian added, “To our knowledge, the Obama administration has not weighed in on this resolution.” contacted the White House press office several times for comment on this issue but did not receive any response before this story was posted. The Embassy of Turkey also did not comment before this story was posted.

Via Jihadwatch

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Erdogan Appoints 4 Yes-Men to Head the Military

Turkish Immigrant Children Struggle to Learn German

A study has revealed that 1 out of every 5 children in the German state of Baden-Württemberg cannot speak German well enough to start school successfully. Generally, these children are from households where German is not spoken in the home. The problem is especially prevalent among families of Turkish immigrant background.

The solution proposed by the Socialist-Green government there is to throw more money at the immigrants. To raise this money, the government plans to increase taxes on business.

"The state must end the disadvantaging of immigrant children. This is in its own interests, too, if it wants to have more specialist workers of Turkish origin in future."


Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Albanians, Serbs divided over Turkish role in Kosovo

Turkey's increasing involvement in Kosovo has elevated tensions between the country's ethnic Albanian and Serb populations who maintain different viewpoints on Turkish engagement.

Since Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia in 2008, Turkey has developed a more active foreign policy towards the country. Turkey was among the first to recognise Kosovo's sovereignty, and has been lobbying for its recognition in other Muslim countries.

Stretching back to the Ottoman Empire, Albanians have shared strong cultural links to Turkey. However, the Serbs see these ties as the very reason Turkey should not involve itself in Balkan politics.

According to Dragan Krstic, a journalist from the Serbian-dominated northern Mitrovica, "Turkey is currently [Serbia's] enemy and has been for centuries. They supported the split of [Serbia] and now want to support corrupt politicians in Pristina through the development of highways and airports."

Bayrampasa, a district in Istanbul, has joined efforts with the city of Mitrovica to build the largest mosque in Kosovo -- a move welcomed by Albanians but opposed by Serbs.

"The old mosque was destroyed during the war, and the new one would be warmly received," says Bajram Spahiu, an ethnic Albanian from southern Mitrovica.

However, not all Mitrovica residents like the idea of a new mosque.

Sasa Nadjelkovic from the north says, "The Ottomans came here centuries ago by building mosques and now they want to build the new one to remove the Serbs from Kosovo and Mitrovica."

Tensions run high in the ethnically divided city of Mitrovica. Last year, clashes erupted between Serbs and Albanians after Turkey's defeat of the Serbian national basketball team in the World Championship semi-finals.

Experts believe that Turkey's engagement in Kosovo stems from its desire to act as Kosovo's protector -- a similar role that it served in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH).

"Engagement in Mitrovica is strategic for Turkey. Sooner or later Turkey will try to foster co-operation between Kosovo and Serbia, but it will play the protector role for Kosovo as it has done in other cases," says Hysni Gashi, a PhD candidate who studies Turkish foreign policy towards Kosovo.

Krstic, however, thinks Turkish engagement in Mitrovica will lead to future confrontations between the Albanians and the Serbs.

"If Turkey takes an active role in Pristina instead, Mitrovica will never find its peace and we will have more clashes," he says.

Krstic argues that Turkish and Albanian investments in Kosovo are often politically motivated and do not serve the interests of the Serbs.

"Serbia's interest in Mitrovica is to make [Serbs'] life easier. Turkey, Albania and any other groups who support the Albanians do not serve this interest by investing in the city without Belgrade's permission," says Krstic.

However, now that Belgrade and Ankara have improved relations, Gashi sees Serbian resistance to Turkish policy in Kosovo and the region as short-lived. It's mainly the Serbs in Kosovo and BiH that fear their existence in the case of Turkish intervention.

More than anything, Gashi worries that construction in Mitrovica -- viewed as partial to either the Albanians or Serbs -- could bring conflict, especially a religious building.

"For the northern Serbs, construction of a mosque would be interpreted as Turkey financing the Albanians to take [Serbs'] homes," he says.
Source: SE Times

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Let Turkey into Europol, Say British MPs

The mind boggles at the logic of these MPs. Turkey is a major source or organised criminal activity affecting EU citizens so that strengthens the case for letting it into the EU? And these pitiful dhimmis want to submit to Turkish blackmail over the visa issue.
EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - Turkey should be allowed to become a member of the EU's joint police body, Europol, no matter what happens with its EU membership bid, a new report by the British parliament has said.

The study, published by MPs on the home affairs committee on Monday (1 August), cited Europol director Rob Wainwright and the head of the British Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca), Steve Coats, as favouring the move.

"Because [Turkey is] not a member of Europol ... they don't enjoy the same services that other European law enforcement has in terms of our ability to connect police teams together," Wainwright told the parliamentary enquiry.

"There are advantages to it in terms of our intelligence systems, intelligence pathways and operational ability to work on operations with other partners," Coats told MPs.

The study noted that Turkish-based organised crime groups pose an increasing threat to EU security in terms of heroin smuggling from Afghanistan, cocaine from Latin America, human trafficking and people smuggling.

Turkey already has a basic agreement with Europol, but current arrangements do not allow sharing of operational data, such as personal information on suspects and victims.

"We strongly recommend that Turkey be allowed full membership of Europol ... and of the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Addiction, prior to (and irrespective of) full [EU] membership," the parliamentary committee said.

"Not to admit Turkey to membership of those bodies would be to cut off the European nose to spite our face."

The MPs indicated the EU should also give ground to Turkey on visa liberalisation in order to ease tensions over irregular migration on the Greek-Turkish border.

Around 350 irregular migrants try to cross the 12.5-km-long border into the EU every day. Most of them come from Pakistan, Central Asia and Afghanistan trying to get to Greece, the UK, Sweden, Germany or Italy.

They end up being held in Greek detention camps in "desperate conditions" but are then released because the EU does not have a readmission agreement with Turkey, which has made the move conditional on the union first putting forward a plan for future visa-free travel for Turkish nationals.

"The situation has now reached crisis proportions," the MPs, who visited Greece and Turkey as part of their research, said. "In Athens, for example, residents have become fearful of entering parts of the old town where large numbers of homeless migrants gather."

The MPs added: "Turkish authorities feel that they are grappling with problems that are 'made in Europe' but that their efforts are not recognised in some European countries ...Turkey has a genuine will to achieve agreement and to improve co-operation and practice, but feels that EU decision-making is slow and cumbersome."

On the broader issue of Turkish EU accession, MPs estimated that opening up EU borders to Turkey could see as few as 500,000 or as many as 4.5 million Turkish nationals relocate to the EU after their hypothetical entry date of 2020.

The report added that fewer irregular migrants would come via Turkey into the rest of the union because Turkish EU membership would let asylum-seekers ask for help in Turkey instead of first having to make it across the existing EU border to file their claim.

"More than half of all those asylum-seeking migrants coming to the EU would probably agree to stay in Turkey if they were to get access to asylum procedures," Oxford University migration expert Franck Duvell told the MPs. "People who come from neighbouring countries, there is a familiarity; they have the same religion, languages are similar ... people would be prepared to stay."
Source: EU Observer