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Entries in Turkey (29)


The Latest from Iran (30 June): Assessing "Crisis"

2025 GMT: Revelations from Evin Prison. Norooz publishes an account from Hossein Nouraninejad, a senior member of the Islamic Iran Participation Front, of a debate between political prisoners: "Many of us came to Evin with a strange illusion and a misguided sense of self confidence thinking our arrest was a misunderstanding that could be cleared thru debate with interrogators, only to realise later how wrong we were. [Journalist Emaduddin] Baghi used to tell us: 'Perhaps you did not expect to be treated this way because you did not know them, but I did."

NEW Iran Eyewitness: “Life Continues for People…With the Hope of Change” (Fatemeh)
NEW Iran Special: The Significance of the “Universities Crisis” (Verde)
Latest Iran Video: Harassment of Karroubi in Mosque (29 June)
Iran: Can the Green Movement Ally with Workers? (Maljoo)
Iran Snap Analysis: Waiting for the Crumbling?
The Latest from Iran (29 June): Grading the Supreme Leader

1745 GMT: Economy Watch. Iranian Labor News Agency, complementing witness accounts on EA, reports on concerns over rising food prices --- especially for chicken, other meat, and fruit --- as Iran approaches the holy month of Ramadan.

1545 GMT: Nuclear Discussions (cont.). EA contacts follow up on the item below, pointing us to a Wall Street Journal article, "Turkey Asks Iran to Return to Negotiating Table":

"If they do not sit down and talk, we will be in a worse situation this time next year," Turkish foreign ministry spokesman Burak Ozugergin told a press conference in Ankara, according to Turkish state news agency Anadolu Ajansi. "President Ahmadinejad mentioned August. We wish [the talks] would take place sooner."

Our contact gets to the point, "Seems someone's been talking to the Turks, getting them to put some pressure back on Iran."

1500 GMT: Resuming Nuclear Discussions? Two pieces of information pointing to a possible resumption of talks --- despite Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's declaration that he would "punish" the West with an embargo until late August --- on Iran's uranium enrichment.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said that Russia, France, and the US have proposed a UN-brokered meeting with experts from all three countries and Iran, provided Tehran stops enriching uranium to 20 percent.

Lavrov's declaration, made during a trip in Israel, follows indications that the Brazil, Turkish, and Iranian Foreign Ministers are meeting this week to consider their joint declaration on uranium enrichment.

1410 GMT: The Kahrizak Verdicts. Of 12 defendants in the closed-door trial over the post-election abuses and killings in Kahrizak Prison, two have been sentenced to death and nine have been given prison sentences.

1350 GMT: Message to Foreigners --- You May Be Bad, but Give Us Your Money (unless You're Israeli). A bit of posturing from the President, who has ordered the implementation of a bill mandating the identification of Israeli companies and institutions to impose a ban on Israeli products. The Iranian Foreign Ministry is required to put forward a proposal for the boycott of Israeli commodities at international meetings, including the Organization of the Islamic Conference and the Non-Aligned Movement.

More substantive is today's announcement, in Fars News, that the Government has eased restrictions on foreign banks seeking to do business in Iran.

1340 GMT: Satire of Day. Ebrahim Nabavi considers "Ten Paradoxes of a Revolution". An example?  "Our people, who wished no foreign intervention during the Shah's time; now, after 30 years without foreigners, they urge all foreign institutions, the European Union, US, and UN to help them to get rid of this regime."

1250 GMT: Today's All-is-Well Alerts (cont.). Hamid Hosseini of Iran's Chamber of Commerce, Industries, and Mines has insisted that the Iranian bank accounts frozen by the United Arab Emirates do not belong to key traders.

The UAE's central bank has ordered that transactions of 41 bank accounts and the holdings of those individuals targeted by the new UN sanctions against Iran be suspended.

1245 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch (Revolving Door Edition). One leading teachers' union activist, Ali Akbar Baghani, has been released from jail; another two, Mokhtar Asadi and Mahmoud Bagheri, have been detained.

1142 GMT: The War Within. Rooz Online claims that the move to exclude Motalefeh, a key party in the Islamic Republic since 1979, has started because of its lack of support for the Government. The website also asserts that internal Revolutionary Guard bulletins are warning of the "menace of war".

1139 GMT: Make of This What You Will. According to Peyke Iran, 30% of those living in Tehran are depressed.

1135 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Interrogations of Mohsen Armin, former Deputy Speaker of Parliament and leading member of the Mojahedin of Islamic Revolution, continue after 41 days in detention.

1120 GMT: Today's All is Well Alerts. Press TV recycles the assurance, which we reported yesterday, by the head of the National Iranian Oil Distribution Company (NIODC), Farid Ameri, that "Iran is capable of meeting its gasoline needs under any circumstances without facing any difficulty".

The insistence comes amid news of more cut-offs of supplies by foreign oil companies.
And the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, Ali Akbar Salehi, says the country's first nuclear power plant will be inaugurated in the southern Iranian port city of Bushehr by late September: "Issuing resolutions against Iran will not have any effect as we are determined to continue with our plans," Salehi said.

Salehi said that a total of 3,000 Russian nuclear experts were working on the power plant and that the final tests for the inauguration of the facility were being conducted with only a two-week delay.

1115 GMT: The Hijab Pretext? RAHANA runs an analysis claiming that the increased enforcement of "proper" clothing is merely a pretext to put more security forces on the streets.

0855 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Yesterday we noted that the trial of Mahboubeh Karimi of the One Million Signatures Campaign had been scheduled for 29 June. It has now been put back to 9 July because of the absence of the judge.

Karimi's request for bail  continues to be denied.

RAHANA reports increasing concern over the health of detained student leader Majid Tavakoli, who is "suffering from abdominal bleeding".
0850 GMT: Transmitting. The new "Green TV" has posted its provisional schedule.

0840 GMT: The Universities Crisis. Complementing the analysis of EA's Mr Verde, Deutsche Welle posts an article claiming that President Ahmadinejad is seeking to organise a "board meeting" of Islamic Azad University with his own representatives.

Iran's Prosecutor General Gholam-Hossein Mohseni Ejei is continuing to press the case for Presidential control, declaring that a judge's rulling supporting Parliament authority is invalid.

0835 GMT: Karroubi Follow-Up. Yesterday we posted the video of the Basiji harassment of Mehdi Karroubi in the mosque of Sharif University in Tehran.

Karroubi has issued a statement on his website, Saham News, concluding with the regret: "If we had one Shaaban Bimokh [a reference to Shaban Jafari, a particularly despised "enforcer" for the regime] during the Shah's times, this regime has brought up hundreds."

0825 GMT: Cyber-Warfare. Roshannews, a site for Iranian intellectuals, has been hacked shortly after its relaunch.

0820 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Ali Bikas, a member of the Student Committee for the Defense of Political Prisoners, has been released from prison.

Bikas, detained since 14 June 2009, had been given a seven-year prison sentence by the Revolutionary Court.

0803 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. The Revolutionary Court of Mashhad has sentenced student Yasser Ghanei to five years' suspended imprisonment for "propaganda against the regime". One of the charges against Ghanei, who spent more than two weeks in solitary confinement, is that he recorded the results of the 2009 Presidential election and made them available online.

Ghanei still faces charges of insulting President Ahmadinejad.

Human rights activist Saied Kalanaki has also been sentenced to one year of imprisonment for propaganda against the regime and two years in prison for insulting the Supreme Leader.

0800 GMT: Rumour of Day. Aftab claims that Ahmadinejad's chief of staff, Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai said in a private meeting that he would accept the presidency of the Islamic Azad Universities.

0750 GMT: Corruption Watch. Member of Parliament Elyas Naderan, pressing his charges of corruption amongst President Ahmadinejad's advisors, has said that 1st Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi --- accused of involvement in an insurance fraud -- should be "sentenced like a common citizen".

0715 GMT: We begin this morning with two features. Mr Verde analyses the wider significance --- for the President, Parliament, and the Supreme Leader --- of the current battle over control of Islamic Azad University. A new correspondent, Ms Fatemeh, writes for EA about her recent, extended visit to Iran.


Execution Watch

Writing in The New York Times, Nazila Fathi features the growing campaign against the possible execution of a female Kurdish activist, Zeinab Jalalian, who is accused of membership in the separatist PKK>. Fathi includes the recent statement of Zahra Rahnavard and the activity of Jalalian's lawyer, Khalil Bahramian, who has never been allowed to meet with his client.

Political Prisoner Watch

Azeri student activist Yunis Sulaimani has been seized and taken to Tabriz, where a two-month detention order has been issued.

Parliament v. President

The fight over the Ahmadinejad budget is not over, it appears. Yesterday, we noted the expected approval by a Parliament commssion of the President's 5th Plan. However, Rah-e-Sabz, quoting reformist MP Nasrullah Torabi, reports that Government officials suddenly left the meeting of the commission.

Reformist Backing of Mousavi

The Mojahedin of Islamic Revolution has issued a statement supporting the "Green Charter" of Mir Hossein Mousavi and declaring that the message of the Green Movement is an answer to the unfulfilled goals of the Islamic Revolution.

Turkey Video Special: Prime Minister Erdogan's 50 Minutes on US Television (29 June)

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in a lengthy interview with Charlie Rose on the US Public Broadcasting Service. The video is in five parts, starting at the 6:30 mark of Part 1. The transcript is available on the Charlie Rose website:


Turkey Inside Line: Israel’s Unmanned Planes, Iran’s Uranium, Trouble with the EU, and More





RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN: We had in Turkey some problems in the beginning of the millennium and also in the 1990s, too. When we came to government, we were very much aware of the difficulty and challenges, and we took certain steps. And in the seven and a half years in government, we have been standing firmly on our feet in this financial sector and the economy in general.

Turkey is not a country where everyone and anyone can establish a bank as they please, for example. They have to have a good basis to establish a bank, for example, because otherwise if we were to allow things as they were in the past, we would be having more problems, crises as we had in the past.

So we worked very hard and we never reverted to populism. We were a very determined in the way that we worked in the economic front. And despite all of the difficulties around the world, Turkey has been working to repay the loan from the IMF. We were very determined in reducing our debt to the IMF, and we reduced it from $23.5 billion to $7 billion.
And we had $26.5 billion in reserves and our central banks whereas now
we have $72.5 billion in reserve in the central bank. So those are -- this
is the kind of development that has taken place.

And throughout the process we have not had any banks taken over by the
government. In the past, 21 banks had to be taken over the government in
previous crises. So we did not have that problem. And our private sector,
our business people have also learn to stand on their own feet.

We had some problems in 2008-2009, but in the first quarter of this
year, we started maintaining a level of growth which we had achieved in the
last quarter of last year. And according to IMF estimates, Turkey is
expected to grow about six percent this year, which goes to show that
Turkey has been quite successful, indeed.

CHARLIE ROSE: It also suggests to many people that the changing
economic picture and the changing political picture have given you an
opportunity to play a larger role. So the question is, what does Turkey
want to do?

RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN: Well, I have to say that we do not see the
economy as our only area of concentration. Democracy has been very
important for us, too. We tried to carry on with developments in both

In any case, you can’t really fully succeed if you don’t take both
hand in hand. Democracy, democratic development and economic development
have to go hand in hand, because if you do one, then the other one will be
successful. If not, then there will be problems.

And during our tenure in government, we have seen a lot of development
in fundamental rights and freedoms. We really achieved a lot in that

And there are two basic concept which is we always paid attention to.
One was stability and the other one was security, because if you don’t have
security in a country, if you don’t have stability in a country, then no
investments will come to that country. And when you have no investments,
you cannot create employment. When you have no employment, you cannot
produce. And when you have no production then you cannot be successful

So we focus on peace, stability, prosperity and we have been working
to achieve these three, and this is what we have been doing. And we carry
the same determination looking into the future.

And the state, the government has moved out of the economic field of
activity and this has been transferred to the private sector. We’ve been
very successful in that.

There are still some sectors where the state is still involved, but we
are slowly taking the state out of these sectors. So the state will play a
monitoring, guiding role only. It will not be an actor in the various

This has been important in trying to achieve peace, prosperity,
welfare in Turkey, and that was our goal. And we’re about to achieve this
goal. There’s some problems, but we’re trying to overcome them.

CHARLIE ROSE: You have a higher growth rate than some of the other
countries who are already in the European Union, as you well know. Some
have suggested you no longer have the same passion to become part of the
European Union, that your eyes are looking in another direction.

RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN: Well, let me be very clear and specific here.
We have not been able to overcome the prejudice that the European Union has
vis-a-vis Turkey. Some EU member states -- I say some, because there are
also countries where members of EU who are friends of Turkey. But then
there are also other members who really cannot fit in Turkey in their own

We on the other hand have been doing our homework and we have been
successful in doing our homework. But some countries are blocking some
chapters in the accession talks from being open. They’re not being very
honest. These countries are not being very honest and open.

But we are very determined and we continue along this path. Turkey
applied to the European Union in 1959. We are in year 2010, 51 years have
passed. And this has not been the case for any country. And if you look
at the body of legislation that the EU has, there have been things that
have been asked of Turkey which does not exist in that body of legislation,
and they are trying to invent rules as the game is being played.

And this is what we have to overcome. And there are certain issues,
problems here. But in the steps that we take with regard to the opinion,
we have not had a change of heart or mind. We are as determined as we

CHARLIE ROSE: You want to be part of Europe and you will meet with
President Sarkozy, you’ll meet with Chancellor Merkel and you’ll say "We
want to be part of Europe, don’t believe anything that suggests otherwise."

RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN: Well, when we speak of being part of Europe,
what do Mr. Sarkozy and Mrs. Merkel mean? Is it geographically,
economically, or any other way?

If we look at this from a geographic point of view, Turkey is part of
Europe and Turkey is part of Asia as well, geographically speaking. Now
culturally, if that is the interpretation, then I think there’s no question
that Turkey is a part of Europe. Turkey’s taken many steps, and, for
example, at the moment there are five million Turks living in EU member
states. Turkey is a member of NATO.

And Turkey is taking upon itself a great burden, too, in many ways, in
the various institutions that it’s a part of. So it’s very strange,
comical, in fact, to speak of it like this.

CHARLIE ROSE: Secretary Gates said if, in fact, Turkey is looking in
a new place, it’s because they were not given an opportunity to participate
in the European Union and they were -- changed their minds because of that.
You just say "Secretary Gates, it’s not true. Nothing has changed because
of my effort to join the European Union."

RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN: I’ll give you a very interesting answer. When
this statement was made by Mr. Gates, Mr. Barroso was also making
statement. And Mr. Barroso was saying -- while Mr. Gates was saying what
you just said -- that it was the United States, it was the policy approach
of the United States which has made Turkey shift its position.

Look, let me tell you this Turkey cannot be described by what the EU
has said or by what Mr. Gates has said. Nobody should worry. Turkey is
very much aware of its historical responsibility, its geographical
location, and looks to the future in that way.

How does the U.S. look and see the world? The U.S. or the Americans
come to central Asia, they make investments there, they go to the gulf or
to the Islamic countries and talk to all these countries. Is this normal?
It’s normal. It’s usual.

Western countries, they go to all these countries, they make
investments there, they have export/imports with all these countries all
over the world. So why would anyone think it unusual when Turkey does

You can see some western products, German, French products in Iran or
U.S. products or Russian products. This is considered normal. So why is
it not so not normal or unusual when it’s Turkey? In the same in the
Islamic world, in the Arab world, the same thing is true there.

So when other countries do it or has investments with those countries
it’s very usual. When Turkey does it, why is it considered unusual? We
have relationships with Europe. We have western countries which have made
investments in Turkey. So why would one consider them as being out of the

I think we have to be very frank there is no question of any shift in
our axis. Turkey continues to proceed along the path it has been on, and
this is a very normal process. We say that the river flows and follows its
bed. And this determination and aim of Turkey has always been to achieve
modern contemporary standards.

And there’s no shift whatsoever as far as that object is concerned.
We talk to the north, east, west, south, we talk to everyone around the
world because we’re a country of the world.

CHARLIE ROSE: The other argument is that there’s a new northern tier
-- you’ve heard this before -- and Turkey is the leader of it, or plays an
important role, Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Syria.

RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN: This is a very wrong approach. There are many
international organizations, arrangements that we are a part of. As I said
earlier, we’re a member of NATO. We’re a member of the OECD we are an
accession country to the European Union. We are part of the Black Sea
Economic Cooperation. We are a member of the OIC, the Organization of
Islamic conversation.

So we have many relations, and we are not engaged in any sort of
effort to try to create another set of a different kind of relations. But
I don’t understand why people would be so envious of Turkey developing such
relations because, after all, these countries which you list are
neighboring countries to Turkey, and nothing could be more natural than
Turkey to establish relations with neighboring countries.

In the past we had what was called an RCD. This was the case of
countries in that area working together. The RCD is not as active as it
was in the past, but what is being done as far as that should not be
disturbing anyone.

For example, we reached an agreement in the Caucasus which included
Russia, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Turkey, so five countries. In
the same way we have relations with countries in the Mediterranean and the
Middle East, and quite naturally so because of Turkey’s location. We are
engaged in cooperation with these countries.

So there is nothing beyond that. And no one should be worrying about

CHARLIE ROSE: I don’t think they’re worrying about it. I think
they’re just recognizing the changing power reality of the world, which is
happening across the world. China and India is much stronger. Turkey is
much stronger.

RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN: Well, I think we have to say that we should
consider which angle we take -- political, economic, cultural.

If you look at the situation from all these angles, we see change in
all of them. Politically speaking, if we are looking for from a political
angle, we can say that, of course, there are many international
organizations where Turkey is a member.

Economically speaking, Turkey has an important place in the
competitive global economy. And we aim to continue to develop our economic

And I should say that we need to work with many countries around the
world in order to increase our competitiveness and to do -- and so we have
to do business in different countries. We look at Latin American
countries, tens of thousands of miles away and we’re trying to do business
with other parts of the world.

For example, Turkey has been a neighbor with Russia for many years but
we didn’t have much economic relations to speak of with Russia. But we
reached a trade volume of $35 billion in 2008, and we had last year $23.5
billion of trade with the Russians despite the economic crisis.

And our trade with the U.S. is quite low now but even when it was at
its highest, it stood around $10 billion, but $10. But then $20 billion or
$30 billion, this is a very small amount. We have to go much beyond that.
We’re trying to do the same with China, and we will do it, we will work
with all the far eastern countries as well.

And I don’t understand how or why people interpret this effort in a
different way, because no matter what culture, where people come from, we
visit these places with our business people. The African continent, South
America, Latin America, we travel to all of these locations, to the Far

We will be going to all these countries. We have to do that because
otherwise we cannot increase our exports. At its best, Turkey’s exports
stands at $132 billion. Of course, when we came the government it was $36
billion. It has grown but we have to keep going. If we cannot grow it,
then we will have problems.

When we have business, our exports, our employment will not be a
problem. We had at one point our unemployment reach 16 percent. It’s
going down now. It’s now down to 13 percent. Our goal is to reduce the
unemployment rate to 10 percent.

If you look at European countries we see the unemployment rate going
up while in Turkey it’s going down, and that’s the result of the work which
I just explained to you.

On the other hand, we’re moving from a more agricultural society to a
more industrialized society, so there’s a lot of challenge there. We are
moving from a labor-intensive economy to a technology-intensive economy.
And of course in a technology intensive economy you won’t find as many
employment opportunities as you would find in the labor intensive society.
So we have to work very hard.

CHARLIE ROSE: Granted, you have this economic power. There are those
who will say that Turkey has taken over the mantle of being the best friend
of Palestinians in the region.

RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN: I think that this interpretation alone is not
exactly right. We are friends with all the countries in the region. We
have no problems with any of the countries in the region. We are a friend
to Israel as well in this region.

Just two days ago there was a meeting, a summit in Turkey of the
southeast European countries. So Turkey is in contact with many countries.
In the Middle East we’re friends with Israel as well.

But more recently because of the position Israel has taken and also
because they attacked in international waters three ships where there were
Turkish citizens from the air and from the sea, this has creates a
difficulty because there’s no explanation to this situation, to this
incident. It cannot be explained by international law.

This is state terror. It would be impossible to define it in any
international legal terms. In one of the ships, there were volunteers, and
the other two ships had toys, food, medicine, construction material, et
cetera, humanitarian aid.

And the attack came from the sea and from the air, and there were
plastic bullets used, guns used. Nine people died, eight of them Turkish,
one a U.S. citizen. The American citizen, the U.S. administration should
take ownership of this situation because there was an American citizen

We as the Turkish government do the same because the families have a
right to ask their government what has happened. That’s what they do.
They ask us, why? Why what has happened, happened? What about my husband
or my son? And the same thing is true for all countries. And we will act
within international law, taking into consideration the medical reports.

Now, in Palestine is America working to achieve peace? Yes. The
other countries, the quartet, they’re all working. Why was the quartet
established? To achieve peace. And we are a country of that region. And
what could be more natural than Turkey, a regional country, working to
achieve peace?

CHARLIE ROSE: Turkey has been a friend of Israel, has had a very good
relationship with Israel. It helped try to bridge a relationship with
Syria, between Israel and Syria. What’s the status of that relationship

RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN: At the moment the problem in Israel is the
coalition government. The coalition government is the biggest barrier to

Secondly, with regard to the problems between Syria and Israel, Syria
is also waiting to see what Israel will want to do, because Syria is ready
to start with those talks again. It’s what Israel is going to say --

CHARLIE ROSE: And you’re prepared to be involved in those talks

RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN: If the parties ask us to be involved we would
be, yes, prepared to work for peace. And we’ve said this before. But, of
course, the parties must be interested.

CHARLIE ROSE: So if Syria is prepared to talk to Israel through you
and if Israel is prepared to talk to Syria through you, you’re prepared to
do it, unlike when you broke it off because of the Gaza invasion?

RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN: As long as the parties involved ask and request

Turkey Inside Line: Israel's Unmanned Planes, Iran's Uranium, Trouble with the EU, and More

Turkish-Made Drones to Take Over from Israeli Herons?: Turkish sources stated that the design, detail production, and assembly of the Turkish MALE (Medium Altitude Long Endurance) Unmanned Aerial Vehicle have been completed and first test flights will be carried out done in the second half of 2010.


Turkey Video Special: Prime Minister Erdogan’s 50 Minutes on US Television (29 June)

Director-General Muharrem Dortkasli said, "We can sell this vehicle for use by many friends and allies. That is our project."

Turkey's Call for Implementation of Iran's Nuclear Swap Deal: Turkey has called on Iran and Western powers to implement the nuclear fuel swap agreement, starting talks as soon as possible.

On Monday, responding to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s remarks that Iran would not join discussions until late August, Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Burak Özügergin said:
If they do not sit down and talk, we will be in a worse-off situation this time next year. Time is working against a solution.

We would like this swap deal to be implemented and for negotiations to be held to resolve outstanding issues to secure a peaceful settlement to the dispute over Tehran's nuclear program.

Visa Requirements Lifted with Indonesia: On Tuesday, following a meeting between Turkish President Abdullah Gül and Indonesian President Susilo Bambangu Yudhoyono, agreement was reached to lift mutual visa requirements.

The approach on visas has been a major foreign policy strategy for the Erdogan Government. Requirements have been lifted with Syria, Pakistan, Albania, Jordan, Lebanon, Qatar, Russia, Iran, and other countries.

Turkey and Indonesia also signed eight agreements including cooperation between defense industries, cultural exchange programmes, and sea transportation . The two presidents agreed to increase the trade volume from the current $1.5 billion to $10 billion in the medium-term.

Turkey-EU Relations: Diplomatic sources expect the next chapter of European Union negotiations, focusing on food safety, veterinary safety, and phytosanitation, to be opened at an intergovernmental conference in Brussels on Wednesday.

There are 35 chapters that Turkey needs to fulfill to attain EU membership. Twelve have been opened, but 18 of the other 23 have been blocked, including eight relating to Ankara'ss failure to open its borders to EU member Cyprus.

Turkish Foreign Minister Spokesman Burak Özügergin said:
We expect consistency from the EU. You don’t open negotiation chapters but then say, [The] axis is shifted." The EU should be coherent.

There are 18 chapters which are blocked and we expect Belgium's rotating EU presidency to remove defects caused by the EU in the following period. The EU should consider where it wants to go with Turkey. Turkey recognizes EU membership as a strategic target.

Turkey-Russia Competition: Following the G20 summit in Toronto over the weekend, Turkey and Russia have opened a competition to host the bloc’s 2013 meeting.

Arkady Dvorkovich, a consultant to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, said :
As all we know, the next summit in 2011 will be held in South Korea. The 2012 summit will be held in Mexico. Russia wants to host the 2013 gathering. On Sunday, the Russian government made its application. We know that Turkey has also already applied.


The Latest from Iran (27 June): Grumbles

1815 GMT: Rafsanjani (and Supreme Leader) Watching. Former President Hashemi Rafsanjani chaired a meeting today about the Islamic Azad Universities. That might not be a significant event were it not for the timing --- the discussion takes place days after the President's move to assert control over the chain of universities, interpreted by some as an attack on Rafsanjani's political base.

Meanwhile, Ayatollah Khamenei gave a speech today at Tehran's Abuzar Mosque, explaining that the first duty of women is motherhood.

1510 GMT: Hmmm.... Iran's deputy head of judiciary, Ebrahim Raeesi, as quoted by Press TV:

"The major violators of human rights are Western states. If the true face of Western countries which claim to be custodians of human rights is shown, you will see that people's rights are violated most severely in Europe, the US and Israel”....He said Iran has committed itself to protecting people's rights as it firmly believes in religious and Islamic principles.

NEW Shanghai Power Politics: China Shuts Out Iran (Shan Shan)
Iran Document & Analysis: US Gov’t Statement on Sanctions, Nukes, & Human Rights
Iran: Summary of the New US Sanctions
Iran Interview: Ahmad Batebi “The Green Movement and Mousavi”
The Latest from Iran (26 June): Absolute Security?

1410 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Rah-e-Sabz reports concerns about the health of detained journalist Isa Saharkhiz in the clinic of Rejai Shahr Prison.

1405 GMT: The Oil Squeeze (cont.). One more piece of information, courtesy of Iranian Labor News Agency: Iran's oil exports fell almost 50% from 1979 to 2008.

1350 GMT: All is Well Alert. Irrespective of the news in this update, Habibollah Asgarowladi is on hand to assure, "Iran has had never a better position in the world than now."

1340 GMT: The Oil Squeeze (cont.). As we learn that Iran's oil revenues have dropped 24 percent over the last year (see 0945 GMT), Roshanak Taghavi provides essential context and analysis for The Guardian.

Taghavi reveals from a source that about 35 million barrels of oil are in offshore storage tankers. This in itself is not unusual --- Iran's summer holdings have been as high as 60 million barrels --- but the political and economic situation has changed:
What is unique this year, and a rising concern for Iran's oil ministry, is the decision by some of the country's important "eastern" customers, including China, India and Japan – who are among the main purchasers of Iran's heavier grades of crude oil – to either reduce their formal term contracts with the Islamic Republic in favour of better prices from other oil producers, or to cut some of their contracts completely.

1335 GMT: President v. Parliament (University Edition). Golnaz Esfandiari of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has written a useful overview of the rising tension between Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the Parliament over control of Islamic Azad University.

1330 GMT: Visit of the Day. Mehdi Karroubi has visited filmmaker/journalist Mohammad Nourizad, journalist Emaduddin Baghi, and former Vice President and MP Hossein Marashi, all of whom are on bail or temporary release from prison.

1324 GMT: The Hijab Referendum? The head of Iran's police, Esmail Ahmadi-Moghaddam, has announced that a poll will be conducted on the enforcement of hijab in every province.

Not quite sure how Ahmadi-Moghaddam gets the authority to declare public referenda, but I am even more vexed by this question....

Given that President Ahmadinejad has been in conflict with other members of the Iranian establishment over the enforcement of hijab, what will be the announced outcome from the ballot boxes?

1320 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Activist and former Army member Firez Yousefi has been arrested, allegedly for giving away secrets in interviews with foreign media.

1215 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. The former mayor of Ghasr Shirin, Ghodrat Mohammadi, has been released from detention.

1200 GMT: The Battle Within (Hijab Edition). More feuding within the establishment over the President's criticism of "morality police". Partou, the weekly publication associated with Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi, has sharply attacked Ahmadineajad:"Is the hijab situation now better than under former governments?"

And Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami has made the bold declaration, "I insist on all Islamic rules, especially hijab, even if I have to lose my head for it."

1100 GMT: Parliament v. President. Member of Parliament Ali Motahari, a leading critic of the Government, has claimed that pro-Ahmadinejad Mehdi Kuchakzadeh had a central role in this week's organised rally in front of the Majlis, pressuring Parliament to cede control of Islamic Azad University to the President. Motahari said Kuchakzadeh "even threw a paperclip container at me".

1040 GMT: Messages for 7 Tir. Tomorrow is 7 Tir, a date notable in modern Iranian history for  a 1981 bombing that killed 73 leading officials of the Islamic Republic, including Chief Justice Ayatollah Mohammad Beheshti.

The family of the late Grand Ayatollah Montazeri has put out a message: how can you mourn the dead in an atmosphere which knows nothing except violence?

It is reported that the late Ayatollah Beheshti's family will not hold a memorial service for 7 Tir. Ayatollah Behesti's son, Mousavi chief advisor Alireza Beheshti, has been imprisoned during the post-election crisis.

1000 GMT: Happy Father's Day. On Friday, Father's Day in Iran, Mir Hossein Mousavi met the families of detainees Alireza Beheshti Shirazi, Arab Mazar, and Ghorban Behzadian-Nejad.

The central and youth committees of the reformist Islamic Iran Participation Front also met the families of political prisoners.

0945 GMT: The Oil Squeeze. Fars reports, without citing the source, that Iran’s oil sales from March 2009 to February 2010 fell by 24.3 percent, from $78.65 to $59.55 billion dollars.

Fars softened the blow by adding that non-oil exports rose by 12.7 percent to $19 billion.

0710 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. The three-year prison sentence of law student Abolfazl Ghasemi, who was detained during the Ashura protests of 27 December, has been upheld.

0705 GMT: The Attack on the Clerics. Video, claiming to be new footage of the attack earlier this month on the houses of Grand Ayatollah Sane'i and the late Grand Ayatollah Montazeri, has been posted.

0655 GMT: Breaking the Quiet? Ahh, this might stir things up. Looks like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has delivered a statement on the lines of "we need executives who implement the law correctly".

Executives, not Parliament. And judiciary, take that as a directive from y9ur President.

0630 GMT: It appears to be a very quiet morning in Iran.

Iranian state media is preoccupied with criticism of the latest US sanctions. Most of the showpiece reaction is cut-and-paste defiance, as in the statement from Iran's armed forces, "The ploy of imposing sanctions on the Iranian nation is ineffective because the establishment and the people have succeeded in finding their path."

Still, there is a nice touch in one featured critique, from Alaeedin Boroujerdi, the head of Parliament's National Security and Foreign Policy Committee: "The US move to impose sanctions on Iran is in fact imposing sanctions on their own firms."

On the international front, Tehran is claiming --- after a phone call between Brazil's Foreign Minister Celso Amorim and his Iranian counterpart, Manouchehr Mottaki --- that the two will meet Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu in the near-future to discuss further steps over Iran's uranium enrichment.

Inside Iran, there is growing concern over the health of teacher and activist Ali Akbar Baghani, who has been detained for more than two months.

Israel's Political/Military Alternative to Turkey: Romania?

On Wednesday, the Southeast European Cooperation Process (SEECP), meeting in Istanbul,  issued a joint declaration: "We deplore the loss of life and injuries during the incident in international waters", a reference to Israel's raid on the Freedom Flotilla on 31 May. The 13-member-organization also stated that it wants "an impartial, independent and internationally credible investigation on this matter".

The Turkish daily, Hurriyet, points out that there was no specific condemnation of Israel because of an objection by Romania. 

Gaza Latest: Is Egypt Going to Make a Stand Against Israel? (Yenidunya)

That is politically significant, but it may also have military implications. Officials in West Jerusalem have told journalists, "As Turkey no longer allows the Israel Air Force to train in Turkish airspace, maneuvers may in the future take place over Romania."