1545 GMT: The President of the Constitutional Court, Hasim Kilic, speaking at the International Judicial Reform Symposium, has said that politics cannot compromise the judiciary. He said that major problems in the Turkish legal system are due to problems in practice, including a lack of objectivity among judges, shortcomings in vocational education, and a distancing from universal values. Hasin continued:
Judicial practices that know no bounds and that cannot be accounted for engendered the outcome of paying heavy prices and formed the justification of amendments in the laws and the Constitution itself. Just as we objected to the aims of the judiciary in surrounding politics, we will not give permission to politics to surround the judiciary today.
The state of law is formed and developed in line with the way you use the language [of laws and rules]. Making judges free from worries, fears, ideological pressures and emotions of "friend & enem"' in his/her inner world is the sine qua non of his/her objectivity. As long as the invasions of consciences are not overcome, it is impossible to provide an independent and objective judiciary.
1500 GMT: Two people were wounded in the explosion inside the Gaziosmanpaşa District Governor’s Office building in Istanbul. It is reported that the bomb was placed in a trash can.
1445 GMT: The Turkish Statistical Institute (TUIK) reports that per capita income reached $10,444 at the end of 2011. Turkey's GDP was $1,294,893 million Turkish Lira, a 17.8% increase at current prices.
1110 GMT: The state-owned Turkish Pipeline Corporation (BOTAŞ) has announced that the price of natural gas for end-users (households) will increase by 18.72% while electricity prices will increase by 9.26% for households and by 8.71% for industrial use.
Energy and Natural Sources Minister Taner Yıldız said today that he is not pleased with recent increases in the retail price of natural gas and electricity, saying they were caused by oil prices and foreign exchange rates.
The Friends of Syria Meeting
On Sunday, 74 countries gathered in Istanbul to discuss the future of the Syrian regime; however, China, Russia, and Iran were absent.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said that the initiative of United Nations envoy Kofi Annan must not be an opportunity to buy time, adding that "murderer and victim cannot be accepted in the same place". While wishing luck to the Annan Plan, Erdoğan said he does not think that it will produce any outcome.
The Prime Minister is still pushing for an intervention legitimised through an international consensus. The question for him: can Erdoğan create the conditions for Moscow to have an interest in attending the next "Friends of Syria" meeting in Paris?
Meanwhile, Turkish Airlines has cancelled its flights to Syria because of escalating violence, issuing a statement, “Due to an acceleration in the extraordinary situation, all our scheduled flights between April 1 and 30 have been cancelled.”
Iranian Nuclear Enrichment and Turkey
Ahead of her weekend meeting with Erdoğan, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in the Saudi capital Riyadh that the policy n Iran was not containment but prevention of the country from obtaining nuclear weapons. Clinton also gave the good news to Turkey that the meeting of the "5+1" Powers with the Islamic Republic would be held in Istanbul on 13-14 April.
Erdogan, with the host's card in his pocket, targeted Israel as he warned that the outcome of an airstrike on Iran’s nuclear facilities would be “disastrous".
At their Sunday meeting, Erdogan informed Clinton about his contacts and observations while he was in Tehran last week. His discourse parallelled that of the Iranians, as he said --- in light with the assertion of the Supreme Leader --- that weapons of mass destruction violate Islamic law and that it was every country’s right to implement a nuclear programme for peaceful purposes.
Turkey’s position is to make sure for all parties that Tehran’s programme will not go beyond 20% enrichment of uranium. Supporting that, Erdogan told Iranian officials that "NATO's radars could be dismantled if the organisation does not comply with Turkey’s conditions” allowing a programme to that level.
Erdoğan and the Enemies Within
Aysegul Er reports from Ankara....
Prime Minister Erdoğan, addressing the Confederation of Businessmen and Industrialists of Turkey (TUSKON) on Saturday in İstanbul, said certain groups were “intriguers”. He said his Government is committed to overcoming obstacles to Turkey's democratisation and prosperity bid created by these groups.
Erdogan added that his government has fought against coup plotters, mafia, and various gangs with the support of Turkish people and they will continue this righteous fight so long as Turkish citizens want the government to do so. Also, Erdoğan thanked the efforts of hard-working businesspeople from TUSKON for contributions to the Turkish economy's development.