AK Party stance on match-rigging bill sparks anger
|The Justice and Development Party’s (AK Party) insistence on passing a law that calls for lower jail sentences for match-fixers, vetoed by the president on Dec. 2 , has sparked outrage among the public and apparent rifts inside the AK Party.|
In addition to the AK Party, the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) are in support of the amendment reducing jail terms for match-rigging convictions to three years from 13. The Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) is the sole party against the change to the law, which was passed in its current form only seven months ago.
The attempt to reduce jail terms has been received highly suspiciously by the general public, mainly due to the fact that there is currently a major match-rigging scandal taking place in Turkish football. The government and opposition parties’ readiness to change the law in such a short time -- saying the initial version was wrong in terms of the proportionality between the offense and the jail time seen fit for it -- has created the impression that Parliament is under pressure from Turkey’s highly organized and powerful football lobby, or has an interest in protecting the individuals currently facing charges of match fixing.
It is also widely known from backstage talk that there is profound queasiness about the amendment among AK Party deputies. Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç and İstanbul deputy Şamil Tayyar have been speaking out against the change for a long time. However, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who has been resting at his home, where he has also received international guests since he had stomach surgery last week, said Parliament should go ahead with the bill as is, without changes, if all the opposition parties are still supportive of it. In the meantime, the İstanbul 16th High Criminal Court on Friday accepted the indictment that accuses 93 suspects of involvement in match-fixing.
Dec. 3 Saturday
The Religious Affairs Directorate, for the first time in its 87-year history, organized memorial ceremonies for the 72 martyrs of the Battle of Karbala, where a grandson of the Prophet Muhammad, Husain ibn Ali, and his supporters were brutally slaughtered. The first official ceremony sanctioned by the Religious Affairs Directorate took place in İstanbul’s Beyazıt Mosque.
Three members of the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) were killed in the Lice district of Diyarbakır during a military operation which was assisted by Cobra helicopters.
US Vice President Joe Biden paid a visit to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and discussed ways to increase cooperation in the fight against the terrorist PKK as well as other regional issues, including Iraq. Biden visited the İstanbul home of Erdoğan, who is recovering from surgery. The meeting lasted about two hours. In a picture distributed by Erdoğan’s office, the prime minister was seen standing next to Biden as the two leaders smiled.
The Second Global Entrepreneurship Summit opened its doors to participants who travelled to Turkey from around the world to take part in this groundbreaking event. The ceremony was held at the İstanbul Congress Center with the participation of Turkish Parliament Speaker Cemil Çiçek and US Vice President Biden as well as a number of ministers from the Turkish Cabinet and Sultan bin Saeed al-Mansuri, minister of economy of the United Arab Emirates.
Dec. 4 Sunday
A Cabinet meeting scheduled to be held on Monday was cancelled as Prime Minister Erdoğan will continue to rest at his İstanbul home after undergoing laparoscopic surgery in late November, the Anatolian news agency reported.
Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu met with Alevi and Christian people of Turkish origin in Cologne. The minister’s decision to meet with Turkish Alevis and Christians living abroad for a long time was welcomed by those communities. Addressing Orthodox and Assyrian communities, Davutoğlu said, “You are the diaspora of the Republic of Turkey.”
A high-level member of the terrorist was captured in İstanbul, Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç said. Arınç, who was speaking to a local TV network in Bursa, did not reveal the identity of the terrorist or when he was captured.
Dec. 5 Monday
President Abdullah Gül explained the reasons behind his veto of recent amendments passed in Parliament for a law covering sports crimes, saying the proposed jail terms were hardly deterrents to the crime of match-fixing. “I saw that there was an imbalance between the crime and punishment [in the amended law] and that its [original] deterrent effect was watered down,” he told reporters.
Nearly a month and a half after a magnitude 7.2 earthquake struck the eastern province of Van, leaving hundreds dead and thousands homeless, schools reopened. When the first temblor hit the province and its districts, especially the northern district of Erciş, situated along Lake Van, the Ministry of Education closed public and private schools, concerned about the children’s safety.
Thousands of Shiites gathered in İstanbul’s Halkalı district -- the 10th day of Muharram in the Islamic calendar, also known as Ashura -- to mourn the martyrdom of Husain ibn Ali, the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad, at the Battle of Karbala 1,372 years ago.
Turkey and Germany, which both maintain a significant number of troops in Afghanistan, agreed to continue helping the war-weary country after NATO troops’ withdrawal in 2014. The agreement was reached during a meeting between Turkish Foreign Minister Davutoğlu and his German counterpart, Guido Westerwelle, on the sidelines of an international conference on Afghanistan’s future in Bonn.
Turkey’s annualized inflation of consumer prices increased to 9.48 percent in November from 7.66 percent a month before, inching closer to a double-digit mark by the end of this year, data released by the Turkish Statistics Institute (TurkStat) showed.
Grand Unity Party (BBP) leader Mustafa Destici stated that he provided exclusive information to President Abdullah Gül that will reveal the details of a 2009 helicopter crash in which former-BBP leader Muhsin Yazıcıoğlu and five others were killed. Destici and Yazıcıoğlu’s widow, Gülefer Yazıcıoğlu, visited the president at Çankaya Palace.
Dec. 6 Tuesday
According to research conducted by a team of engineers from Ankara’s Middle East Technical University (ODTÜ) that was released to the media, the quality and strength of the cement used in construction in Turkey does not conform to national construction standards.
The team tested the cement quality of 6,000 buildings in 16 cities and found that the level of durability of cement on average was 9 Megapascals, the unit used for measuring the strength of materials, while according to national construction standards, the megapascal level should be 20.
A Turkish court rejected a request to release 185 suspects, mostly retired and active duty army officers, in the Sledgehammer coup plot case, postponing the court hearing to Jan. 5, 2012.
The debt crisis in the eurozone has not dampened Turkey’s desire to join the European Union, Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan said, as it seeks to carry out political reforms to meet conditions of membership. Speaking at a news conference after meeting with Japanese cabinet ministers, Babacan also urged European countries to act decisively to deal with the sovereign debt crisis there, warning of global consequences if they fail to get their act together. “We hope that EU member states who have problems do their homework, and everybody keeps their houses tidy and clean,” he said.
Foreign Minister Davutoğlu warned against growing racism and xenophobia in Europe, noting that today’s socio-political environment is dangerously similar to that which prevailed in the aftermath of the Great Depression in the early 20th century. Given the economic and financial strains currently besetting European countries, “the socio-political environment unfortunately resembles the aftermath of the Great Depression of 1929 while racism spreads with the increase in unemployment,” Davutoğlu told a ministerial council of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in Vilnius, Lithuania.
Turkey has set a target to increase mutual trade with Arab countries to $100 billion from $33 billion in the next five years as part of efforts to diversify trade partners in the face of global financial risks, the minister of industry, science and technology, Nihat Ergün, said at a conference on Turkish-Arab relations in İstanbul.
Dec. 7 Wednesday
A fire that broke out in a nargile café in İstanbul’s Tophane neighborhood and spread to others burnt down six cafes, rendering them unusable. The fire broke out in one of the cafes early in the morning and quickly spread to several others.
Suphi Yalçınkaya, a high-level member of the terrorist PKK who was captured by police in İstanbul on Sunday, was taken to İstanbul’s Beşiktaş Courthouse following interrogation.
Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç, who spoke to a local TV network in Bursa late on Sunday, did not reveal the identity of the terrorist or the time of his capture.
Turkey said it would begin exporting goods to Egypt via sea and overland through Iraq this week as it seeks to bypass existing trade routes through Syria following a breakdown in ties and rising violence in its southern neighbor. Turkish Economy Minister Zafer Çağlayan also said Damascus had started allowing Turkish trucks to enter Syria on Tuesday after blocking their entry last week in retaliation to sanctions imposed by Ankara.
Fifteen out of 18 individuals who were detained by gendarmerie units last week as part of an investigation into a human smuggling ring across several provinces of Turkey were arrested.
Dec. 8 Thursday
In response to recent claims that the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) used chemical weapons against the PKK, the General Staff announced that the TSK does not possess chemical weapons in its inventory. “It has been seen that untrue, groundless, biased and slanderous reports emerged in local and foreign media organs that the TSK used chemical weapons in the fight against terrorists. There are no chemical weapons in the TSK’s inventory. The fight against the separatist terrorist organization is being carried out in compliance with national and international rules of law,” a statement posted on the General Staff’s website said.
A document that was presented to the president earlier this week about the 2009 helicopter crash of former BBP leader Yazıcıoğlu further raised suspicions that the crash was beyond an accident as the document revealed that the wreckage of the helicopter, found by villagers three days after, was in fact discovered by a military helicopter within two hours after the incident.
Turkey’s exports reached $133.97 billion in the past 12 months, indicating that the country has now broken a new record with the highest level of exports in the history of the republic, Economy Minister Çağlayan said at a meeting in Ankara. Turkey sold $114 billion worth of goods to overseas markets last year. It witnessed a record in export volume in 2008 with $132 billion, but saw the same figure plunge below $100 billion the following year due to the 2009 global financial crisis.
Dec. 9 Friday
An İstanbul court accepted an indictment that accuses 93 suspects, including Turkey’s top football officials, of involvement in match-fixing, amidst controversy over a bill which was vetoed by the president last week that seeks to shorten jail terms for match-fixers.