By Ayla AlbayrakSource: Wall Street Journal
Turkey’s prime minister this weekend waded into a politically charged debate over family planning, causing a furor by likening abortion to a botched military airstrike which in December killed Kurdish smugglers.
Speaking to his ruling AK-Party’s women’s branches on Saturday in Ankara, Recep Tayyip Erdogan said: “I see abortion as murder… I am asking you: what’s the difference between killing a baby inside a mother’s womb and killing a baby after birth?”
The prime minister went further, comparing abortion—which is legal in Turkey up to 10 weeks from conception—to the December killing of 34 Kurdish civilians in Uludere, on Turkey’s Iraqi border, by a Turkish military airstrike. The incident has put Turkish government under intense political pressure.
“Each abortion is one Uludere,” Mr. Erdogan said, adding that abortion and caesarean births were part of “a sneaky plan to wipe the country off the world stage” by slowing the growth of Turkey’s population.
The main opposition Republican People’s Party, or CHP, this weekend reacted furiously, while civic rights groups said the comments showed how the powerful prime minister was increasingly trying to legislate on every aspect of Turkish society.
“The prime minister should stop guarding vaginas,” said CHP lawmaker Aylin Nazliaka on Saturday.
On Sunday, women’s rights activists waved banners outside Mr. Erdogan’s office in Istanbul, stressing that the prime minister should “know his limits” and “pull his hands off women’s bodies.”
The prime minister’s comments were always going to be controversial, but the impact was magnified by the fact that they were unexpected. Turkey’s population—almost 75 million, according to the latest census—has a high birth rate, making it exceptionally young by European standards. In Turkey, unlike in the U.S. and some European countries, abortion has not been a major subject of political debate, despite the fact that Mr. Erdogan’s ruling AK-Party follows an Islamic-conservative line. Nor has abortion been a major source of public debate for clerics in Turkey. There is no clear consensus on the subject in Islam.
However, this weekend’s statement was not the first time the prime minister had rhetorically entered citizens’ bedrooms. Mr. Erdogan has for years promoted his own ‘three-child policy,’ recommending that Turkish citizens should have at least three children to keep the country’s population and workforce dynamically youthful.
Turkey’s cabinet fanned out across the airwaves on Sunday to back the prime minister’s comments. Family and Social Policies Minister, Fatma Sahin, said that criticism against Mr. Erdogan’s words was not “scientific.” She said the ratio of caesarean births in Turkey is dramatically higher than in other comparable countries and that the method has its risks. Ms. Sahin said that recent reports showed that nearly half of all births in Turkey were from caesarean sections.
It is unclear what the Prime Minister’s comments will mean for Turkish family planning policy.
Turkey’s Health Minister Recep Akdag on Saturday warned that measures could be taken against hospitals which have caesarean rates deemed “unnecessarily high” by the government.
But Ms. Sahin didn’t imply that there would be any change in Turkey’s abortion law, saying that every family has the right to plan its size.
“As the political administration, we are not in the position to interfere with that right,” Ms. Sahin said on Sunday, according to Anadolu news agency.
Tuesday, 29 May 2012
Monday, 28 May 2012
ISTANBUL — Turkey is ready to try four Israeli commanders held responsible for the killing of nine Turkish activists in a 2010 raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla, Anatolia news agency reported Monday.Source: AFP
An Istanbul court unanimously approved an indictment finalised Wednesday by Turkish prosecutors, who want life sentences for the Israelis for their alleged role in the deadly flotilla raid, the agency said.
Israeli commandos boarded the Turkish-flagged Mavi Marmara, the largest ship in a flotilla aimed at breaking Israel's Gaza blockade, on May 31, 2010, leaving nine pro-Palestinian activists dead.
The raid triggered a crisis between Israel and Turkey, once regional allies, and resulted in a dramatic downgrade in diplomatic relations and expelling of the Israeli ambassador from Turkey. Military ties were also cut.
The 144-page indictment called for nine life sentences to be given to each of the four commanders, including Israel's former chief of the general staff Gabi Ashkenazi.
The date for the trial is not yet announced, but it would be held in the absence of the accused, Israel having ruled out any prosecution of those who took part in the attack.
A United Nations report into the raid last September accused Israel of acting with "excessive force" in the operation.
Friday, 25 May 2012
According to a story in the Austrian edition of Today's Zaman, several schools in Austria have instituted bans on speaking Turkish, not only during class or when addressing teachers, but anywhere within the school precincts. This is to encourage the children to learn German and to allow teachers to intervene outside of classes if inappropriate language is being used or an argument is developing.
Some Turkish colonist children have been aggressively defying the ban, however. One stood in the playground, yelling continuously in Turkish and was eventually punished. This provoked an angry reaction from the Turkish colonist community which insisted that the use of Turkish in the school area should not be a punishable offence as using their language was a human right and constituted an essential element of their identity.
Source: Vorarlberg Online Via: SOS Heimat
Friday, 18 May 2012
ANKARA, Turkey—Turkey on Friday called on major international oil and gas companies seeking licenses to search for gas deposits off Cyprus to withdraw their bids, saying it will not allow exploration to go ahead and threatening to ban them from Turkish energy projects.Source: Boston Globe
Companies such as Russia's Novatec, Italy's ENI, France's Total and Malaysia's Petronas are among 15 firms and consortiums seeking licenses to carry out exploratory drilling off southern Cyprus. The island has been divided into a Turkish Cypriot north and internationally recognized Greek Cypriot south since a 1974 Turkish invasion that followed a coup by supporters of unity with Greece.
Turkey says an offshore gas search by the Greek Cypriot government flouts the rights of the Turkish Cypriots and last month began exploratory drilling of its own. Last year, it sent a warship-escorted research vessel south of Cyprus, while Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned that his government would "retaliate even more strongly" to any further search for mineral deposits around the island.
The small Mediterranean island is reeling from Europe's financial crisis and hopes to tap energy sources, both to meet its own energy needs in future decades and for export.
A Turkish Foreign Ministry statement said Friday that some of the fields in question "conflict" with Turkey's continental shelf while others overlap with areas Turkey and Turkish Cypriots plan to explore.
"As announced in the past, Turkey will not allow any activity in these fields," the statement said. "We call on the countries concerned and the oil companies to act with common sense, not to engage in activities in maritime fields that are under dispute due to the Cyprus issue and to withdraw from the bidding."
It said the companies would be held responsible for any tensions that arise from exploration in fields under dispute and would be barred from Turkish energy contracts.
"It will be out of the question for companies that cooperate with (southern Cyprus) to be included into energy projects in the future," the ministry said.
Italy's ENI, which is involved in pipeline projects in Turkey, refused to comment on the Turkish threat. There was also no immediate comment from Novatek and Total.
Cyprus' commerce minister said last week companies from Canada, Britain, Norway, Israel, South Korea and the United States had applied for a license to drill, surpassing the small island nation's expectations.
The companies are bidding in a second round of licensing off the Mediterranean island. In 2007, U.S. firm Noble Energy was the only company to seek a license to drill during an initial round of licensing. Last year, it discovered a natural gas field estimated to be at 5-8 trillion cubic feet (140-230 billion cubic meters).
Cyprus' government said it is scheduled to appraise all bids by the end of the year. Licenses would be granted by mid-2013 following negotiations with the winning bidders.
Thursday, 17 May 2012
ISTANBUL - A last-minute deal has cleared away a dispute over the attendance of senior European Union officials at the NATO summit opening in Chicago Sunday. Analysts saw the dispute as an example of Turkey flexing its growing diplomatic muscle within the military alliance.Source: Voice of America
With only days to go before the NATO summit, the president of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, and the head of European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, finally received an official invitation to attend.
The delay was a result of objections by Turkey over what Ankara perceives as a lack of equal treatment between NATO and EU officials.
Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Selcuk Unal explains.
"Many countries have questions and wonder why two EU chiefs are invited, while the NATO secretary-general is not invited," said Unal. "Second, why are other international and regional organizations who also deal with NATO not invited or thought to be invited?"
According to Turkish spokesman Unal, the impasse was resolved after it was agreed that the EU leaders will attend the opening ceremony but will be restricted to only certain sessions of the summit, including those related to Afghanistan.
Turkey's stalled EU membership bid is seen as the underlying factor for Ankara playing diplomatic hardball before the summit, says former senior Turkish diplomat Sinan Ulgen.
"It is an indication of how much frustration, disillusionment and even now antagonism has been built over Turkey's accession process, and this is leading to this type of negative environment, where Turkey is trying to leverage with its own relationship with NATO, to put pressure on the EU. In many ways, we are definitely seeing a much more assertive and robust Turkish foreign policy," said Ulgen.
Political observers say the confidence of Ankara to stand up to the EU comes from Turkey's growing regional importance. Turkey borders Syria, Iran and Iraq. And with its charismatic prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan - whose influence and popularity extends across the Arab Spring countries - Ankara has become an increasingly important ally to the United States.
Cengiz Aktar, an international relations expert at Istanbul's Bahcesehir University, says Washington's support gives Ankara an important strategic advantage.
"Turkey has a sort [of] comparative advantage over other countries in the Middle East, the Mediterranean and even Europe," said Aktar. "The government is using and abusing this situation to the bitter end to push its own agenda."
A report this month by the influential U.S.-based Council on Foreign Relations said the growing importance of Turkey is resulting in Washington cultivating stronger ties.
Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Unal denies Ankara is following a more assertive policy.
"Countries like Turkey in NATO who are not EU members, but who are NATO members, they have to defend their legitimate rights and interests stemming from NATO membership," he said.
With Turkey increasingly playing an active role in NATO from Kosovo to Afghanistan, political observers warn the potential remains for tensions between Ankara and Brussels to be played out within the Atlantic alliance.
Monday, 14 May 2012
With conservative Muslim believers becoming more visible in Turkey these days, a movement founded by a charismatic Islamic theologian, Fetullah Gülen, is attracting increasing outside interest. The Gülen movement's public profile is defined mainly by a worldwide network of schools that it operates, yet little is known about the inner workings of the organization's educational component.Source: The Atlantic
I was recently invited to visit one of the movement's showcase, high-achieving schools, Fatih Koleji, located on the European side of Istanbul. The visit provided greater clarity on a particularly controversial aspect of the schools' operations - religious instruction.
The Gülen movement's stated aim is to create a "golden generation" of educated Muslims, an aim shared by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. At the Fatih Koleji school, statues in Ottoman-era garb and children's artwork sparsely decorate the interior of the sleek, multi-storey school building. Male teachers wear suits, while nearly all the female instructors wear long, white jackets. The obligatory image of the Republic of Turkey's first president, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, hangs in nearly every room.
However, portraits of Gülen, who currently lives in the United States, are not to be seen. Students interviewed I interviewed claimed that they only know about the cleric from reading newspapers stories and books; Fatih Koleji, which has students ranging in age from four to 18, does not offer specific instruction about the movement's founder, they said.
The methods and approach of Gülen schools toward religious instruction has fueled lots of speculation about the movement's intentions. Governments in Central Asia in particular are suspicious that the Islamic values espoused by the Gulen movement could potentially pose a challenge to the political status quo in the region.
Hoping to dispel misconceptions, the 37-year-old vice-principal of Fatih Koleji, Metin Demirci, who taught for five years in the movement's schools in Kazakhstan, stressed that all the schools closely follow the curriculum of the public schools in whichever country they are operating.
In Turkey, he said the basic tenets of Islam are taught in a weekly class lasting 80 minutes that also offers instruction on other world religions. "Students learn our religious principles and other religious principles," Demirci said. Faculty members, he claimed, try to serve as role models of Islamic piety, leading by example.
While Fatih Koleji has a prayer room, no student is forced to pray, Demirci continued. Out of 200 students at the school, only about 10 percent of the children follow the Muslim practice of prayer five times a day, he estimated. "They must want it."
One foreign teacher at another of the movement's estimated 30 schools in the Istanbul metropolitan area commented that most students are drawn from religious families, but their faith does not appear to "rub off" on more secular classmates.
One ritual from Turkey's ardently secular public schools, though, appears less prominent at Fatih Koleji. Demirci played down the importance of "Our Oath," a nationalist pledge that students usually recite daily. "It is related to democracy and improving democracy," he said. "I believe in the next two years, we will stop saying this because we don't need it. With democracy, every small child has the right to say anything they choose."
Whether secular or religious, Fatih Koleji's students appear to hail from wealthier families. Tuition stands at 20,000 Turkish lira per year, or about $11,325, nearly the equivalent of Turkey's average per capita income of $14,600. The fee does not include books or transportation to school. Financial assistance is available to qualifying students.
Eager for their children to gain an educational edge amid an overcrowded and underfunded public-school system, many Turkish parents willingly swallow the relatively high cost. "In Turkey . . . the private schools of Gülen are incomparably more successful than the public schools," emailed Bayram Balci, a visiting scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, DC, who has tracked the movement for several years.
"The high quality of the education in these schools is stressed by everybody, even by those who don't like the conservatism of this movement," Balci added.
One 14-year-old boy, playing chess with a girl about his age, said his parents had transferred him to Fatih Koleji from another private school for its higher quality of education and smaller class sizes.
All boys in the school wear blue shirts, girls wear yellow. Class size averages about 20 students, roughly half the size in most Turkish public schools, according to Demirci. Many of the school's classrooms feature digital blackboards controlled from the teacher's laptop that are used for interactive forms of instruction.
Gülen school students begin to learn English in kindergarten, as supposed to 4th grade in Turkish public schools. From the 6th grade, students have the option of learning Spanish or Russian. Special preparatory centers that ready Gülen school students for university entrance exams provide an additional advantage, Balci said.
How the schools are financed remains a murkier detail. Representatives of the movement claim there is no centralized bookkeeping system. Nor even a master roster of how many Gülen schools exist around the world. A senior Gülen movement member, who wished not to be named, told me that "[n]o accurate data is really possible on the number of schools since they are highly localized both economically and management-wise."
Money for Gülen schools is first raised locally, through donations from private individuals and businesses that support the movement, he said. In Turkey, a "sister school" program with longer-established Gülen schools also is a source of funding.
When financial assistance is required outside of Turkey, schools simply bring that "need" to Turkey, the Gülen movement member said.
Some of those schools' students may end up working for the Gülen movement after graduation. Demirci added that the opportunity to travel and to be part of a community attracts many alumni to the teaching profession. "There is an advantage in this," Demirci said. "We have friends everywhere."
Sunday, 13 May 2012
Everything in this report is consistent with the view that Turkey is deliberately facilitating this illegal immigrant invasion to further the islamisation of Europe. The Turkish government has signed visa-free travel treaties with virtually every Islam-dominated country.
Then they use their inaction over these illegal immigrants as an extortion tool to get the EU to grant visa-free travel to Turks! And Europe's leaders are so weak they give in to this!
There is a clear solution to this problem. Whenever the system picks up an illegal immigrant who has made his way into Europe from Turkey, an invoice should be created for the costs of housing and processing him. Interest should be added and the invoice should be continually updated as new costs arise. Until Turkey takes the immigrant back, the costs continue mounting. If the Turkish government refuses to pay, the EU should impose import duties on all imports from Turkey and recover the money in that way. Within a few years of introducing a system like this, I estimate that the problem of illegal immigration from Turkey (80% of all illegal immigration into the EU) would largely have been solved. The problem only exists because the Turkish government tacitly condones it. But Europe's leaders are paralysed by their own psychological weakness.
Saturday, 12 May 2012
On May 3, Moscow criticized Turkey's plans to explore natural gas deposits around the divided island of Cyprus, under the protection of Turkish naval and air power. Russian Foreign Affairs Ministry's chief spokesman, Aleksandr Lukashevich, cautioned Turkey that its actions "may exacerbate the situation on the territory of Cyprus".Source: Asia Times
The Greek Cypriots and Israel are coordinating their plans to develop offshore gas deposits and export the product in partnerships with international companies. One export route under consideration would run via mainland Greece into Europe.
The Republic of Cyprus, Greece and, recently, Israel are all involved in disputes with Turkey in the Eastern Mediterranean. Explicitly siding with the Greek Cypriots (and implicitly with Israel and Greece), Moscow is positioning to bid for offshore gas exploration licenses, also hoping for control of the delivery route.
These gas projects and potential exports to Europe are creating an economic basis to the geopolitical alignment among Israel, Cyprus and Greece. The swing factor in this development is Israel, now turning toward these historic opponents of Turkey, after Ankara's reversal of the Turkish-Israeli strategic partnership.
Israel, Cyprus and Greece have been holding intensive talks in recent months at the prime minister, ministerial, and chiefs-of-staff levels, about offshore gas projects and regional security.
Greek and Greek Cypriot observers commonly suggest that a Greece-Cyprus-Israel triangle is necessary to counter-balance the increasingly assertive Turkey. The official consultations within this triangle are developing, however, in bilateral formats, carefully avoiding the appearance of a tripartite grouping, although the agenda is largely a shared one.
Turkish naval and air force activities around Cyprus are perceived as intending to discourage offshore exploration and development. Potentially, this affects Russian interests there no less than Western interests.
The Republic of Cyprus (Greek Cypriot government in Nicosia) holds that it is fully entitled to develop offshore mineral resources within the state's internationally recognized borders and exclusive economic zone (as delineated by agreement with Israel).
According to Nicosia, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC, which Turkey alone recognizes) could share the benefits of such development, if and when a federal solution reunifies the divided island.
Ankara and the TRNC argue, however, that Nicosia may not unilaterally initiate exploration and development at offshore deposits, including those off the island's southern coast. Turkey does not recognize Cyprus as a sovereign country with an exclusive economic zone, opposes mineral projects there in the absence of a political settlement, and deems such activity prejudicial to the island's reunification.
Turkey initiated seismic research and exploration drilling for gas and oil off the island's southern coast in September 2011 and off the northern coast in April 2012. Ankara has warned the Greek Cypriots and Israel that Turkish warships and planes based in the TRNC are on hand to escort Turkish exploration vessels.
The Greek Cypriot government has hinted via the press repeatedly that it would allow Israeli warships and planes to operate in its waters and air space. Israel, however, shows no appetite in becoming involved even indirectly in the Cyprus dispute, or otherwise "containing" Turkey.
The process of demarcating exclusive economic zones in the Eastern Mediterranean is far from complete. The Lebanese government officially claims a portion of Israel's Leviathan gas deposit, the richest in Israel's exclusive economic zone.
The Hezbollah movement threatens unspecified "asymmetrical" actions from Lebanon to back up that claim. Syrian claims would likely overlap with Israeli and Cypriot claims, but the Syrian government is currently too distracted by internal unrest to act in the maritime area.
Russia seems willing to put its friendship with Turkey at risk by endorsing the "triangle's" position on zoning and exploration rights, against Turkey's position. Moscow's minimal objective is access to Cypriot offshore gas deposits for Gazprom and Novatek, in the framework of the Greek Cypriot government's international tender for 12 offshore blocks.
Russia's maximal goal is to aggregate Cypriot and Israeli offshore gas volumes for transportation and reselling via Gazprom on international markets. Toward that goal, Gazprom recently concluded a preliminary (non-binding) agreement to purchase liquefied gas volumes from Israel's Leviathan project.
Meanwhile, Gazprom is one of the bidders for DEPA, the gas transmission pipelines in mainland Greece. If successful in that bid, Gazprom would undoubtedly strive to increase its intake of Cypriot and Israeli offshore gas, transport it (probably in liquefied form) to mainland Greece, and use DEPA pipelines to re-sell it on European markets.
Vladimir Socor is a Senior Fellow of the Washington-based Jamestown Foundation and its flagship publication, Eurasia Daily Monitor, and is an internationally recognized expert on the former Soviet-ruled countries in Eastern Europe, the South Caucasus and Central Asia. Socor is a regular guest lecturer at the NATO Defense College and at Harvard University’s National Security Program’s Black Sea Program. He is a Romanian-born citizen of the United States based in Munich, Germany.
Friday, 11 May 2012
Erdogan recently said that Turkey was a country of "one religion".
Later he backtracked and claimed this was a slip of the tongue. We believe him, right?
Erdoğan made the controversial remarks in two separate speeches over the weekend as part of comments on the Kurdish conflict. Addressing Kurds, he said that he had never advocated one language for Turkey but “one nation, one state, one flag and one religion.”Source: Hurriyet
Later he backtracked and claimed this was a slip of the tongue. We believe him, right?
Thursday, 10 May 2012
Italian Premier Mario Monti says Turkey could give the "tired" European Union vibrant economic, strategic and cultural benefits if allowed to become a member.Source: Hurriyet
Monti effusively praised the Muslim country's EU bid Tuesday in a press conference in Rome with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Turkey's accession talks began in 2005 but have stalled, with EU skepticism over Turkey's bid building as Turkish reform efforts have slowed. Italy has been among EU nations who have long supported Turkey's candidacy.
Monti says Turkey represents an important example of a demographically young, vibrant country on the up-and-up economically.
He says Turkey has "optimism for the future” all characteristics we need to intensify in Europe."
Wednesday, 9 May 2012
A Turkish-German police commissioner was removed from his post for being a Salafi in the German city of Mülheim, daily Hürriyet reported on its website today.Source: Hurriyet
Essen police spokesperson Ulrich Fassbender said the 31-year-old police officer was removed from duty in April.
Fassbender said the commissioner, whose name was not mentioned in the report, had actively participated in a Salafi Quran drive where the group distributed the holy book of Islam for free. The commissioner was reportedly questioned by officials from the Department to Protect the Constitution, where he said his faith was "above all law."
An article published on the newspaper Bild's website claimed that the commissioner also had contacts with imams who had previously called for violence, Hürriyet said.
Tuesday, 8 May 2012
The Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has reacted to the election of François Hollande as France's new President. "Following the election of François Hollande, the Turkish government now hopes that relations between Paris and Ankara can be more constructive and that talks on Turkey's rapprochement with the EU will progress," Erdogan said today in the Slovenian capital Ljubljana, where he is on an official visit.Source: Ansamed
Erdogan was quoted by the Slovenian news agency STA.
"For Turkey dialogue is easier with the social democrat block in Europe, which has always expressed support for Ankara's entry into the EU," said Erdogan, pointing out that his country has been knocking on the door of the EU for 50 years. "I hope that this anomaly can be rectified as soon as possible," he added. "The electoral cycle in France is not yet at an end and only after parliamentary elections in June will we really know real relationships will be," he added.
Asked about Nicolas Sarkozy, Erdogan said that he was saddened by the deterioration in relations between Turkey and France during the defeated French President's term in office, especially after Paris decided to criminalise any public denial of the Armenian genocide.
The website of the leading Slovenian newspaper, Delo, reported that Erdogan appeared happy with the result of the French presidential elections. (ANSAmed).
Sunday, 6 May 2012
THE government is preparing for a bitter clash with Brussels over EU plans to “seize control” of the welfare system by forcing Britain to grant benefits to non-Europeans.Source: Sunday Times (£)
Brussels is planning to sign a deal with Turkey without Britain’s consent that could extend its citizens’ access to the UK social security system.
Chris Grayling, the employment minister, fears the move will lead to a string of welfare deals with countries outside the EU, which this country would be powerless to resist.
He has instructed British officials in Brussels to fight the proposed agreement with Turkey hard when it is presented later this month.
Grayling said: “The government takes the very firm view there should be no opening up of our welfare system to people coming from abroad who do not intend to work and contribute to British society.
“Our arrangements are for Britain to decide, not Brussels. I’m not happy with the way that the EU is behaving. Europe should not be negotiating social security agreements on our behalf, that’s why we’re going through the courts to stop them.”
Turkey, which has about 75m people, has applied to join the EU. The pact on social security, Brussels believes, will “enhance the special relationship with Turkey” and “permit Turkey to align its policies on social security co-ordination with those of the EU in preparation for future accession”.
The deal would not immediately open the door to large numbers of new Turkish welfare claimants, because this country already has a treaty with Turkey dating from 1961 which gives some access to social security benefits.
However, officials are concerned that, once Brussels has grabbed power over benefits eligibility, rights could later be extended and given to citizens of other countries to claim here without British consent.
Tory ministers are concerned this would add millions of pounds to the welfare bill, harm attempts to cut the deficit and encourage benefit tourists to exploit Britain’s generous social security system.
The government has started a legal battle to stop the EU extending its power, taking a case to the European court to stop similar deals with Switzerland and Norway.
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is also angry at what it sees as underhand tactics used by the European commission to bypass government consent.
The Lisbon treaty gave Britain the choice to opt in or out of agreements between Brussels and non-EU countries. However, the commission is trying to force through the deal using another part of the treaty that is usually used to govern relations between member states.
DWP sources said Brussels was pursuing an attempt to “bypass our rights”, “seize control” of pensions and benefits rights and encroach further on British sovereignty.
“We should have the right to decide whether to opt in or not to these agreements, but the way the EU is putting them together stops us exercising this right,” said a senior source.
Priti Patel, Conservative MP for Witham, said: “All British taxpayers should be deeply concerned about this. It demonstrates the extent of their erosion of British sovereignty.”
The European commission denied it was trying to harmonise social security systems, saying the deal would mean migrant workers were not put at a financial disadvantage when moving between states.
“None of this means anyone, wherever they are from, can just pitch up in the UK and claim benefits. For non-EU citizens, working or not, the UK decides whom to let in and for how long and whether to recognise them as resident,” said the commission.
“What this proposal does is simplify administrative arrangements for the governments concerned.”
Remember that 59% of Turkish immigrants in the UK are without work.
Thursday, 3 May 2012
ANKARA, 9 Jumada Al-Thani/30 April (IINA)-Ankara says it will block EU participation in an upcoming NATO summit unless the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) is also allowed to be present.Source: International Islamic News Agency
EU member states had proposed participation by some of the top EU bureaucrats, including European Commission President José Manuel Barroso and President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy, who are now unsure whether they will be able to attend the summit taking in Chicago on May 20-21 as representatives of the union due to the objections from Turkey, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported on Friday. Raising the EU’s commitment to a NATO peace mission in Afghanistan, EU member countries including France had argued that the EU should be represented, while Turkey is maintaining that there should only be member state participation in the summit, the WSJ claimed.
“If non-NATO members will also participate, the OIC should be represented [in the Chicago summit] first and foremost,” Turkish diplomatic sources said in explaining Ankara’s position, speaking to Today’s Zaman on Sunday. The sources claimed that the OIC’s commitment exceeded the EU contribution in the Afghanistan peace mission.
The EU has exerted efforts for the reconstruction and democratization of Afghanistan in preparation for the post-NATO-mission period in the country. The EU launched a rule of law mission (EUPOL) under the banner of the European Security and Defense Program (ESDP) in June 2007. The union has also initiated a program for justice reform and is helping to fund civilian projects in NATO-run Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs).
Meanwhile, the OIC, a bloc of 56 countries, is also taking a growing interest in the situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and in 2010 it accepted a proposal by member states Turkey and the United Arab Emirates to appoint an OIC permanent representative for Afghanistan.
The US administration has joined the push for greater OIC involvement in Afghanistan for the last couple of years, which would bring benefits in efforts towards reconciliation between the Afghan government and the Taliban.
The Turkish diplomatic sources also noted that the different proposals coming from NATO members on who will participate are still being discussed and there is not an ultimate decision yet. They added that there are also objections from other non-EU NATO members to the proposed EU participation in the Chicago summit.
The background to Turkey’s objection to EU participation in NATO activities involves a more long-standing dispute. Greek Cyprus, representing the entire island as a full member of the EU, blocks Turkish participation in European defense institutions such as the European Defense Agency (EDA). Turkey, a NATO member, has responded by obstructing the EU’s integration in NATO activities.
Turkey has also blocked Israel’s participation in the summit in a sign of Turkey’s determination to prevent its new foe from cooperating with the alliance following a deadly ship raid.
Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said during a NATO meeting in Brussels on April that Turkey will not allow Israel, a member of the Mediterranean Dialogue, a NATO outreach program including seven non-NATO nations, to take part in the alliance’s new “Partnership Cooperation Menu (PCM).
Turkish-Israeli relations worsened in May 2010 and have remained strained since then after Israeli naval commandos stormed the Mavi Marmara, a ship carrying humanitarian aid to breach Israel’s Gaza blockade, killing nine Turkish civilians.
Turkey insists that NATO-Israel relations cannot be restored until Turkey-Israel relations are normalized.
Tuesday, 1 May 2012
German court affirms Turkish IHH ban because of Hamas tiesSource: Jerusalem Post
By BENJAMIN WEINTHAL, JPOST CORRESPONDENT
Leipzig’s Federal Administrative Court finds that Frankfurt-based Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief donated money to terror group.
BERLIN – A federal court in Germany upheld the Interior Ministry’s ban on the Frankfurt-based Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief (IHH) because the Turkish NGO contributed funds to Hamas.
Hamas is recognized by the European Union, Israel and the United States as a “terrorist organization” and Leipzig’s Federal Administrative Court found that the IHH donated money to the group.
The NGO challenged the decision of Germany’s former interior minister Thomas de Maizieres, who outlawed the IHH in July 2010. He said at the time that the IHH “fights against Israel’s right to exist.”
Maizieres added that “organizations that operate from German soil, directly or indirectly, with the aim of fighting Israel’s right to exist, have forfeited their right to freedom of association.”
The IHH helped sponsor the 2010 flotilla, a convey that sought to break Israel’s naval blockade on the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. The Turkish vessel Mavi Marmara was intercepted by Israeli naval commandos, which resulted in the deaths of eight Turkish and one Turkish-American activists, and injuries to Israeli sailors.
According to the Federal Administrative Court ruling, “the IHH sent a significant amount of collected money over a long period of time to the Islamic Society and the Salam Society for Relief & Development.
These social organizations, which are active in the Gaza Strip, are, according to the Federal Interior Ministry, part of the overall structure of Hamas.”
The court concluded that Hamas engages in “terroristic actions and violence” against both Israelis and Palestinians.
Reinhard Marx, the attorney representing IHH, told the daily Tagesspiegel on Thursday that the “decision sends a catastrophic decision signal to the Muslim community” because it denounces charity as support for terrorism. Marx, a Frankfurt- based attorney who specializes in international law affecting foreigners, claimed that the IHH has provided support for 3,200 Palestinian orphans in 2009 since Israel’s Cast Lead offensive in Gaza sought to stop Hamas rocket attacks.
The German court viewed IHH’s “social engagement” as a way to enable Hamas to recruit activists, who would function as terrorists, and strengthen its organizational and political legitimacy in Gaza.
The court justified its IHH ban as based in precedent, referencing a 2004 Leipzig court decision that upheld the prohibition on the NGO Al-Aksa. “Although the top members of the IHH were aware of the court’s decision, the now-banned organization took over its activity and sought to conceal its activity. The IHH made clear that it identified with the Hamas and its acts of violence,” the court wrote.
A spokesman for the Israeli Embassy told The Jerusalem Post when the 2010 Interior Ministry ban was issued that “with great satisfaction we have noted the German government’s decision to outlaw IHH, the terror organization that was behind the Gaza flotilla.”