Turkish Hurriyet Daily News (19.04.18 http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/turkey-to-go-to-polls-for-snap-election-on-june-24-130501) reports that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) have in a surprise move agreed to hold parliamentary and presidential elections on June 24, 2018, 17 months before the scheduled date.
The statement on the snap vote was made by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on April 18 after a brief meeting with his ally, MHP leader Devlet Bahceli, who first proposed early elections in August 2018 on the previous day.
“We have widely discussed the proposal of Mr. Bahceli in our executive board. We have decided to give a positive response to this proposal on holding early elections. The intensification of Turkey’s internal and external agenda has obliged us to remove the uncertainties in front of us through early elections,” Erdogan told reporters.
Ongoing military operations in Syria, regional developments and macroeconomic necessities create an “urgency” for Turkey to immediately start the implementation of the executive presidential model instead of waiting for November 2019, he added.
“Even though the president and the government are working in unison, the diseases of the old system confront us at every step we take,” Erdogan said.
“We have decided to hold the elections on June 24. We, as the AK Party and MHP groups, are immediately launching necessary procedures at parliament,” he added, also underlining that the Supreme Election Board (YSK) will accelerate its work to prepare for the twin elections.
Among the key things the government still has to do before early elections is legislate final laws regulating the procedures and principles of presidential elections.
Some 55 million Turkish people will be eligible to vote for the 600-seat Parliament, as well as for the President who will be able to use all the powers granted to the head of the nation through the controversial April 16, 2017 referendum that replaced the parliamentary system with an executive presidential model.
The upcoming elections will therefore have historic importance, marking the beginning of the implementation of the executive presidency model abolishing the Prime Ministry.
The President needs to garner at least 50 % plus one vote to be elected in the first round. If no contenders receive a simple majority, the two top candidates will run in the second round of presidential elections two weeks after, on July 8.
The paper further reports that the bill on holding snap elections on June 24 was submitted to the office of Parliament Speaker İsmail Kahraman on April 18.
The bill bears the signature of Prime Minister Binali Yildirim and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahceli.
The draft bill will be debated in the Parliament’s constitutional committee on April 20. The general assembly is expected to debate the bill on April 20 and 21.
Turkish daily Sabah newspaper (19.04.18 https://www.dailysabah.com/elections/2018/04/18/geopolitical-issues-affected-decision-for-snap-elections-pm-yildirim-says) reports that Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said that the decision for early presidential and parliamentary elections in Turkey was made after taking into consideration the recent developments in geopolitical and security matters.
Speaking in a news conference in Ankara, Yildirim said the planned snap elections would also make the current situation compatible with the new Turkish Constitution.
Yildirim noted that there was a common expectation among Turkish citizens that constitutional changes, made in a 2017 referendum, would be entered into force immediately.
"As you know, the parliamentary system has been amended with the popular vote on April 16, 2017, and the presidential system has taken its place in our Constitution [...] After adaptation of the constitutional changes some chapters have entered into force immediately and some are expected to enter into force in the first elections [following the referendum]."
"Our citizens hope that this change will take effect as soon as possible and that the current situation will become compatible with the Constitution," Yildirim said. Such a decision was made in consideration of the geopolitical developments and security issues that our country faces, he added.
The Turkish press publishes today the reactions of the Turkish parties regarding the snap election decision.
Turkish Hurriyet Daily News (19.04.18 http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/chp-leader-sure-of-election-victory-on-june-24-130538) reports that the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu has vowed his party will declare victory in the parliamentary and presidential elections on June 24, saying 2018 will be the year Turkey returns to democracy, CHP sources told the daily Hurriyet.
“We are ready for the elections. The statement [President Recep Tayyip] Erdogan made shows that he will lose. The nation will get rid of them. 2018 will be the year for democracy. They will be given a lesson on democracy,” Kilicdaroglu told members of the CHP’s Central Executive Board (MYK) in a meeting on April 18.
The CHP said it formed an election committee to make the party better prepared for early parliamentary and presidential elections on June 24. The committee is set to draft an election manifesto and announce it in the coming weeks.
An issue CHP members reportedly discussed in the meeting was to decide on a Presidential candidate without delay. Kilicdaroglu is one of the names speculated to run for President.
Turkish Hurriyet Daily News (19.04.18 http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/mhp-to-support-erdogan-in-snap-presidential-election-130546) reports that the leader of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) said on April 18 that his party would support President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the planned snap presidential election in June.
“Our presidential candidate is Recep Tayyip Erdogan,” MHP leader Devlet Bahceli announced on his Twitter account.
Bahceli said he reached a historical agreement with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during their meeting. “As Turkey is under attack and siege from many fronts, resorting to the opportunities of democracy is a legitimate, appropriate, and fair action,” he said.
Turkish Hurriyet Daily News (19.04.18 http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/felicity-party-head-says-he-wants-to-talk-to-former-president-gul-about-elections-130540) writes that Felicity Party (SP) leader Temel Karamollaoglu said on April 18 that his party wanted to hold a meeting with Abdullah Gul, who served as President from 2007 to 2014, if the “opportunity” rises.
The SP had previously hinted that there was a “possibility” of them nominating Gul as their presidential candidate in the upcoming elections.
When asked by journalists if they were holding meetings with other parties for alliances, Karamollaoglu said: “We are open to dialogues. We’ll meet with everyone. We’ll also meet parties that are opposition. We’ll meet with Mr. Abdullah Gul when there is a chance. We are meeting with many other people. If there is anyone who wants to convey their ideas or thoughts to us, we will also conduct meetings with them.”
Turkish Hurriyet Daily News (19.04.18 http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/akp-mhp-will-face-defeat-in-snap-elections-hdp-co-chair-temelli-says-130536) reports that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) will be defeated in the early elections, Kurdish issued-focused Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) co-chair Sezai Temelli has vowed a day after MHP leader Devlet Bahceli called for snap elections on Aug. 26.
Speaking at the HDP’s provincial leaders’ meeting in Ankara, Temelli said Turkey was facing a full-blown “crisis” and early elections had become inevitable for the two parties, which forged an alliance for the parliamentary and presidential elections initially slated for 2019.
“This is not only an economic crisis. The country is sliding toward a political, economic and legitimacy crisis. The country is heading toward a collapse,” Temelli said, adding that the current government is responsible for the crisis.
Turkish daily Sabah (19.04.18 https://www.dailysabah.com/economy/2018/04/18/turkish-lira-gains-markets-relieved-after-erdogan-announces-date-for-snap-polls) reports that markets reacted positively after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's announcement yesterday of early elections to take place on June 24, as uncertainty has weakened. While foreign exchange rates and bond rates fell, making the Turkish lira the best performing currency yesterday, stock markets saw a 1.5 % rise.
When opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) Chairman Devlet Bahceli called for early elections in a speech at a MHP parliamentary group meeting on Tuesday, Turkish markets were affected by jittery investors since it was perceived as creating political uncertainty.
The dollar-Turkish lira exchange rate rose from 4.07 to 4.12 at first while the stock market fell over 1.5 % during the day following Bahceli's remarks.
Immediately after the President's announcement, the Turkish lira rose against the dollar and fell to 4.04 from 4.09. The euro also dropped to 5.01 from 5.08. The Borsa Istanbul was also up by 1.42 % and reached 110,928 points around 4:47 p.m. at local time.
Customs and Trade Minister Bulent Tufenkci said yesterday that decision on the elections will eliminate any uncertainty for the economy and the business world.
Istanbul Chamber of Commerce (ICC) Chairman Sekib Avdagic said in a written statement that early elections offer good prospects for the real sector. The business world will move investment decisions ahead as the new presidential system will start as the mode of governance in the country. The transition to the new system, Avdagic said, will ensure political stability which will support economic growth.
Under the above title, Turkish Hurriyet Daily News (19.04.18 http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/opinion/murat-yetkin/nationalist-party-takes-turkey-to-snap-elections-once-again-130543) publishes the following article by Murat Yetkin:
“A day after his alliance partner, Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahceli, asked for an early election to be held on Aug. 26, President Tayyip Erdogan on April 18 announced that Turkey would hold parliamentary and presidential elections on June 24. It seems that the date was discussed by the two leaders during their rather short, approximately 30-minute meeting yesterday lunch time, a few hours before Erdogan’s announcement.A day after his alliance partner, Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahceli, asked for an early election to be held on Aug. 26, President Tayyip Erdogan on April 18 announced that Turkey would hold parliamentary and presidential elections on June 24. It seems that the date was discussed by the two leaders during their rather short, approximately 30-minute meeting yesterday lunch time, a few hours before Erdogan’s announcement.
Both Bahceli’s call for early elections and Erdogan’s acceptance came as a surprise, as the president has repeatedly denied all suggestions of an early election, saying it would be held “on time” in November 2019. Actually, considering the date announced it would not be too wrong to call it a “raid-like” election rather than an “early” one, as there are now only 65 days left until voters to go to the ballot box.
Actually it has been Bahceli’s MHP that has dragged Turkey to early elections in the three most recent examples. In July 2002 it was Bahceli who called for an election, despite the fact that the MHP was part of the ruling coalition at the time. The election in November 2002 ended up bringing the Justice and Development Party (AK Parti) to power and leaving the MHP out of parliament.
In April 2007, during the “presidential election crisis” in parliament, it was Bahceli who urged (then prime minister) Erdogan to hold an early election to refresh confidence. In the July election that year, the AK Parti was able to reinforce its power and, with MHP backing, subsequently elected Abdullah Gul as Turkey’s 11th president.
Then on the night of the June 7, 2015 election, when the AK Parti lost its parliamentary majority, it was Bahceli again who said it would be better to go to an early election rather than form a coalition government. In the subsequent November 2015 election the AK Parti regained a parliamentary majority and started to press for the executive presidential system, which Erdogan had been targeting since 2007.
Whenever Bahceli has asked for an early election Turkey has gone to the polls, with one exemption. In January 2017 he again called for an early election, at a time when Erdogan was trying to take the country to a referendum to give more executive powers to the presidency but lacking the necessary parliamentary support for it. Instead of going to snap polls Erdogan sat and talked with Bahceli. The MHP leader then supported Erdogan in the subsequent parliamentary vote and in the April 2017 referendum, which Erdogan narrowly won by less than two percentage points.
That MHP-AK Parti cooperation paved the way to the alliance that we see today. So in 2017 Bahceli did not get the early election but instead got something he perhaps wanted more: The ability to go to elections without the risk of dropping below the 10 percent national threshold (due to the MHP’s alliance with the AK Parti).
But why so early? A number of factors can be listed:
• Bahceli asked what the point was in waiting another year for the shift to the executive presidential system, risking road accidents. Erdogan apparently agreed, despite his original intention to enjoy his presidential term until November 2019. In return, it seems that Bahceli might want some changes in the draft for restructuring the state apparatus, which he may have thought would work only to Erdogan’s advantage.
• The economy is not going well. Growth is high but so are the current account deficit and inflation, while the depreciation of the Turkish Lira continues. The recent debt restructuring demand of two big business groups, Ulker and Dogus, has agitated other companies and created pessimism in the investment environment. The lira’s gaining of value shortly after Erdogan’s snap poll announcement showed that the markets support early elections, in the hope that it would bring an end to uncertainties.
• The pace of the Turkish military’s operation in Syria against the Syrian extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) was recently completed. It is now time for diplomacy, which means nationalist feelings that raised during the operation in favor of the AK Parti and the MHP could potentially drop away in the coming months. Bahceli therefore might have thought: The sooner the election the better.
• The AK Parti’s extended alliance with the MHP could further risk the continuity of support from conservative Kurdish voters for Erdogan. The vote potential of the Kurdish problem-focused Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) is not likely to drop below the 10 percent threshold, despite all odds, according to pollster Adil Gur speaking to NTV yesterday.
Gur also said that with the current momentum it is possible that the AK Parti-MHP alliance could reach the 50 percent support necessary for the re-election of Erdogan in the first round, while also dominating parliament. The two party leaders thus may not want to miss this opportunity.
Eyes are now on the candidates who will challenge Erdogan for the presidency. Meral Aksener, who resigned from the MHP to form her İYİ (Good) Party, yesterday reiterated her candidacy. But on the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) front there is still no sign from leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu regarding the party’s nominee, although the clock continues to tick fast.
Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (19.04.18) reports that the transfer of the entrance exams in the universities on 1 July after the decision for holding early presidential and parliamentary elections in Turkey on 24 June, has again brought onto the agenda the date of holding “municipal elections” in the occupied area of the Republic of Cyprus.
Replying to questions, Narin Ferdi Sefik, chairperson of the “high election council” said yesterday that the date of the “municipal elections” will be reexamined after the decision to hold the entrance exams on 30 June and 1 July, because these dates coincide with the date of the “municipal elections” in the occupied area of Cyprus. She noted that holding the “municipal elections” on another date in July might bring onto the agenda debates as regards violation of the “constitution”, adding that there is not enough time for the necessary timetable to function in case of holding the “elections” earlier than July.
The “municipal elections” in the occupied area of Cyprus should have been held on 24 June, but because this date coincided with the entrance exams in the universities, an “amendment of the law” was made last week for transferring the “elections” to 1 July and reducing the “election bans” from 60 days to 40 days.
Commenting on the issue in Turkish Cypriot daily Havadis newspaper (19.04.18), columnist Basaran Dugun notes that Turkey has taken a decision and chaos was created for the “municipal elections” in the occupied area of Cyprus. “Do you understand how depended we are on Turkey”, he asks adding that at first he thought that the situation was comical but some friends told him that he was laughing with things which are “a sorrowful drama”.
Illegal Bayrak television (19.04.18 http://www.brtk.net/?english_posts=cavusoglu-to-visit-trnc-tomorrow) broadcast that the Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu will pay an illegal visit in the breakaway regime tomorrow.
Cavusoglu will meet with the Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akıncı and with representatives of political parties “with representation in parliament”.
Cavusoglu and Akıncı are expected to hold a joint press conference after the meeting
Illegal Bayrak television (19.04.18 http://www.brtk.net/?english_posts=erhurman-says-any-future-talks-cannot-be-open-ended) broadcast that “prime minister” Tufan Erhurman claimed that the Turkish Cypriot side insists on not entering open-ended talks on the Cyprus problem.
Answering reporters’ questions following his routine weekly meeting with the Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci, Erhurman stated that tomorrow’s meeting with the Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu will focus on evaluating the latest developments following Monday night’s dinner between the two leaders.
Asked about a new road map on the Cyprus problem, Erhurman claimed that a change in the framework of a settlement was highly unlikely due to the international conjuncture.
He however added that “there is a consensus amongst Akıncı, Turkey and the political parties with seats in the assembly regarding the methodology to be followed in the period ahead”.
“Both the president, Turkey and we as the government have repeatedly expressed our opposition to holding endless open-ended talks in the UN buffer zone. Nothing can be the same from now on” he said.
He added that tomorrow’s meetings with the Turkish Foreign Minister “will be a brainstorming exercise on how to go about with the process”.
Turkish daily Sabah (18.04.18-https://www.dailysabah.com/eu-affairs/2018/04/19/ankara-says-eu-progress-report-discouraging-future-negotiations) reported that Turkey’s EU Minister for EU Affairs and Chief Negotiator Omer Celik, commenting yesterday in a press conference Turkey’s EU Porgress Report and the part of the reports related with Cyprus, claimed that the EU continues his “unprincipled” stance on the Cyprus problem. “The EU became the captive of south Cyprus”, Celik alleged.
Celik claimed further that the “EU continues giving a blank check to south Cyprus, which does not recognize the political equality of the two peoples and continues its accusation policy against Turkey and the north”. He further alleged that "connecting a country's accession talks with the Cyprus policy produced by the EU is blackmail”.
Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris Postasi newspaper (19.04.18) reports that the “decision” taken by the so-called council of ministers on August 3, 2017 concerning “the procedure of imposing tariffs on the supplies” sent by the Republic of Cyprus to the Greek Cypriot and Maronite enclaved persons, has been cancelled.
According to a new “decision taken” by the so-called council of ministers on April 12, the practice to be implemented concerning the sending of supplies to Greek Cypriot enclaved and Maronites living in the occupied area of Cyprus will be determined by the so-called foreign ministry.
Turkish Cypriot daily Diyalog newspaper (19.04.18) reports that the former Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat, condemned the “alliance of the four coalition parties of the government towards the local elections”, stressing that the Republican Turkish Party (CTP) should have choose its own candidate especially in the occupied part of Lefkosia.
Speaking to a televised program broadcast by Genc TV, Talat stated that even though he respects the four coalition parties’ decision to enter into an alliance in the forthcoming “local elections”, he expressed his disagreement on this, supporting that it is not right for the CTP not to have its own candidate in “Lefkosia”.
Turkish Cypriot daily Afrika newspaper (19.04.18) reports that a “Workshop on the Night Clubs” in the occupied area of Cyprus was held upon an initiative by the self-styled ministry of interior. Addressing the workshop, Aysegul Baybars, self-styled interior minister of the breakaway regime in the occupied area of Cyprus, said that except for the women who work in this sector and conduct regular health controls, there is a “very big prostitution sector” in the occupied area of Cyprus. However, she did not say who controls this sector and gave no details on the issue, writes the paper adding that according to Baybars there are currently 37 night clubs, five of which are not active, and 217 women work as bar girls in them.
She said that every year 1,200 bar girls enter into the occupied area and added that 32 women were sent away because they had syphilis. She also noted that everyday 70 bar girls are examined in the hospital.
Ankara Anatolia news agency (19.04.18 https://aa.com.tr/en/turkey/turkish-foreign-ministry-responds-to-macron-on-balkans/1122268) reports that the Turkish Foreign Ministry said Wednesday that French President's statement on the Balkans is "not constructive".
In a written statement, spokesman Hami Aksoy responded to a question regarding the remarks made by French President Emmanuel Macron about Turkey and the Balkans during a speech at the European Parliament on Tuesday.
Aksoy said Macron, similarly to a speech he made last year, has "used expressions in the European Parliament about the Balkans being an area of rivalry for the EU, Turkey and the Russian Federation".
"This understanding that views the Balkans as a sphere of influence is not constructive," Aksoy stressed.
Aksoy continued: "Being a Balkan country as well, Turkey’s aim and priority in the region today, as it has been in the past, was the maintenance and strengthening of peace, stability and sustainable development."
"With this objective, we continue to support membership of all countries in the region to European and Euro-Atlantic institutions," he added.
Aksoy said Turkey hopes that France will contribute, at least as much as Turkey, to integration efforts of Turkey's friends in the Balkans to the EU and NATO.
"Within this framework, we advise France to try to understand better the contribution efforts of Turkey for the stability of the Balkans," he added.
Turkish Hurriyet Daily News (19.04.18 http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/tanap-to-start-delivering-gas-in-june-130537) reports that the Trans Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline (TANAP) will start to operate at the end of June, General Manager Saltuk Duzyol said on April 18.
“We have planned to open the valve on June 30 to start the commercial gas flow. In total, 93.5 % of the project is completed,” said Duzyol at the compressor station in the Central Anatolian province of Eskisehir, the main unloading point of natural gas in Turkey.
Some “99.9 % of the landline part of the project is completed. We have reached a realization rate of 80.7 % in the Phase-1 part, which will extend to Europe,” he added.
TANAP, running from the eastern province of Ardahan on the border with Georgia towards borders with Greece and Bulgaria, is the central and longest section of the Southern Gas Corridor (SGC). The main aim of SGC is to connect the giant Shah Deniz gas field in Azerbaijan to Europe through the South Caucasus Pipeline (SCP), TANAP, and the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP). The SCP runs from Azerbaijan to Turkey through Georgia and the TAP starts in Greece and runs to Italy through Albania and the Adriatic Sea.
Natural gas has been pumped into the TANAP pipeline for tests since Jan. 23, according to Duzyol’s remarks.
The 1,841-kilometer pipeline was planned to cost $11.7 billion but was decreased to $7.99 billion, he said. The European Union has granted $10.2 million for the project.
The SGC company holds a 51 % stake in the TANAP. The State Oil Company of Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR) recently bought a 7 % stake from SGC, becoming the fourth partner in the project. Turkey’s Petroleum Pipeline Corporation (BOTAS) holds a 30 % stake and the London-based company BP PLC holds a stake of 12 %.
Natural gas from Iraq and the East Mediterranean could be carried by the TANAP in the future despite the fact that it was designed to transport natural gas from Azerbaijan.
“If the host government makes the necessary adjustments, it may be possible to include the natural gas coming from Iraq and the East Mediterranean in the pipeline system in the future. No underground storage facility has been planned so far. We will only give transportation service between the entrance and exit points. When there is a capacity for storage, which is a need, we should consider that,” Duzyol said.
The TANAP is projected to double the amount of natural gas exported from Azerbaijan to Turkey. Turkey imports 6.6 billion cubic meters (bcm) of gas from Azerbaijan annually.
The initial capacity of TANAP is expected to be 16 billion bcm of gas per year, gradually increasing to 31 bcm. Around 6 bcm of gas will be delivered to Turkey, and the remaining volume will be supplied to Europe.
After completion, gas through the TAP will reach Europe by early 2020.
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