1645 GMT: The establishment of an “International South Azerbaijani Turks' National Council” has been announced in Ankara.
Cemal Mehmethanoğlu, the spokesperson of the council, declared:
Our ultimate aim is the independence of Turks living in ‘Southern Azerbaijan.' But we seek independence by democratic, peaceful means, not through the use of weapons.
1430 GMT: There has been a clash between Turkish soldiers and PKK members in the province of Diyarbakir. Last week, Veysel Celik. Justice and Development Party (AKP)'s chairman of the Kulp district of Diyarbakir had been kidnapped by PKK members. Two village guards are reportedly wounded.
1200 GMT: In response to the demands of public servants for a 16 percent increase in monthly wages, Minister of Labour and Social Security Faruk Celik had stated on May 1 that the proposals were on the table and had continued:
You will demand, as a necessity of democracy, and we will try to give you what you want. We will give less or more than you want, but we will solve this.
However, the government offered much less than what was expected. According to this offer, 3+3 percent increase in the first year and 2+3 percent increase in the second year are offered.
The Syrian Front
Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said on Saturday that two Turkish journalists who went missing in Syria two months ago were released with the help of Iranian officials. Davutoğlu added:
It is pleasing to see happy endings. I hope that both journalists get back into their routines as soon as possible. I would like to say to all our citizens that the Turkish Republic always stands by and will stand by its citizens in all corners of the world.
Reporter Adem Ozkose and cameraman Hamit Coskun said they thought that they would never return home, though they were not tortured while in captivity. The two were first flown to Tehran, from where they headed to Istanbul.
The Kurdish Problem
Last week, the opposition Republican People’s Party chairman Kemal Kilicdaroglu said that the "terror problem" could be solved only through negotiations. He proposed establishing a peace commission in the Parliament, similar to the offer put by outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Ocalan’s offer.
Meanwhile, the co-chairman of the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) said that democratic autonomy shall be discussed, rather than a Presidential system:
Erdogan’s presidential system will not be a cure to Kurdish people’s problem. Kurds want to rule themselves with democratic autonomy in the political realm. The more oppression and cruelty, the more glorious resistance and glorious victory!
Economy Minister Zafer Çağlayan has said Turkey received 8.2% more foreign direct investment (FDI) in the first three months of the year, compared to the same period in 2011. He said $4.6 billion came into the country between January and March. Çağlayan added, "As a result of our new investment incentive package, the volume of international direct investment flowing into Turkey will further increase."
The Road to the European Union
According to diplomatic sources speaking to Today's Zaman, Turkey and the EU could open talks on the “economic and monetary policy” chapter. The other four chapters to be resolved are “agriculture and rural development,” “regional policy and coordination of structural instruments", “institutions”, and “financial and budgetary provisions.”
There has been no chapter opened since June 2010 when the two sides talked on “food safety, veterinary and phytosanitary policy."
EU Affairs Minister Egemen Bağış told the AFP news agency:
We are hoping that he [French President-elect Francois Hollande] would open a new page in the very deep and fruitful historical relations between Turkey and France. Sarkozy was a very smart politician. He saw an opportunity for a vote from the extreme right and he went after that but it did not work in the second election.
Diplomatic sources are hopeful that Hollande’s France will lift its block on Turkey's accession talks. However, there is another problem: on 1 July, Denmark hands over the EU presidency to Greek Cyprus, which Ankara does not recognize.