PRIME MINISTER'S NEW YEAR SURPRISE
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan gave good news to students, farmers and poor families during his party's group meeting. Erdogan said student grants and loans would be increased by 20 percent. Accordingly, student loans will be raised from 200 TL to 240 TL, while food aid will be increased from 120 TL to 150 TL.
Moreover, Ziraat Bankasi's interest rates on agricultural loans will be reduced from 13 to 10 percent starting from January 1, 2011. The allowance granted to poor families for their children enrolled in schools will also be increased by 22 to 50 percent.
SUGGESTION ON "3 CHILDREN" IS PROVEN RIGHT
Kazakh professor Makas Tatimov, who is a population planning expert, said that even Prime Minister Erdogan's suggestion on having 3 children would not be enough for a healthy population structure.
In the meantime, the efforts EU has been displaying for the last 20 years in order to increase its population have not yielded to any results. Europe started to get old rapidly as no family prefers more than one child.
GOVERNMENT MOVES TO INTRODUCE LAW TO PREVENT SPORTS HOOLIGANISM
The Turkish government has speeded up efforts to introduce a long-expected law to prevent sports hooliganism and game fixing. The government has sent to the parliament the draft law which includes imprisonment terms up to three years for sports spectators who curse and use profane language during games. Those who carry sharp objects on them when attending a sports event could also be sentenced to three years behind bars. Game fixers will face terms up 18 years in prison.
NEW YEAR SURPRISE FROM GOVERNMENT TO FARMERS, STUDENTS, POOR
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday said the government was set to increase student grants and loans by 20 percent. Erdogan said interests on agricultural loans will be reduced from 13 percent to 10 percent as allowance for poor families with children at elementary school will be raised by 20 percent to 50 percent.
CONTRACTED SOLDIER PROJECT ABOUT TO BE CONCLUDED
Ministry of National Defense accelerated works for transition from draft system to contracted soldier system. Under the project 50 thousand privates will be recruited under contract, with a monthly wage of 1,500 TL.
Minister of National Defense Vecdi Gonul said they forwarded the "Contract Soldier" draft -- the ministry and the General Staff has been jointly working on -- to the Prime Ministry. The Prime Minister will review the draft and send it to the Parliament.
"MEHMET AKIF" ANSWER TO TWO LANGUAGE CONTRAVERSY
Premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan commented on the "autonomy and two language" controversy in his address to the group meeting of his party. He reminded that Mehmet Akif Ersoy, the lyricist of the national anthem was an Albanian. He said, "everyone will speak their mother tongue, but our common denominator is Turkish."
SECOND PRICE HIKE IN FUEL OIL IN 18 DAYS
Turkish car owners have seen a second price hike in just 18 days in gasoline. The retail prices of RON 95 and RON 97 octane gasoline increased by 4 to 6 kurus to 3.85 Turkish liras and 3.95 Turkish liras, respectively. The latest price hike in gasoline was on December 9 with 8 kurus.
DEFENSE MINISTRY CONCLUDES DRAFT LAW TO HIRE PROFESSIONAL SOLDIERS
Turkish Defense Minister Vecdi Gonul said a draft law to hire 50,000 professional soldiers had been submitted to the office of the prime minister. Gonul said the soldiers would be paid 1,500 Turkish liras a month plus a 500 TL bonus. Soldiers will be accommodated at military barracks.
STARVATION RAISE TO MINIMUM WAGE
The minimum wage was raised 4.7% for the first half of the year and 5.1% for the second part of the year. A minimum wage worker over 16 years of age will receive net 629.96 TL. This amount will be raised to 655.57 TL in the second half of the year. Head of the Revolutionary Workers Labour Union Suleyman Celebi who regarded the amount as "starvation raise" said, "they want to tame workers with starvation."
"IF THERE IS ANY CRIME, I AM RESPONSIBLE"
The second hearing of the 'Balyoz Coup Plan' was held. The lawyers of Former Force Commanders Ozden Ornek and Ibrahim Fırtına, said their clients were force commanders at the time the alleged charges took place, demanding trial at the high tribunal.
Ret. Gen. Cetin Dogan said he was the one who organised the Seminar, and said "If there is any crime, I should be held responsible, my friends are not guilty." Dogan's remarks were applauded in the court room. Delegations from Ankara and Istanbul bars also followed the hearing.
DANCES WITH "ORIGINS" IN TURKISH POLITICS
"Discrimination" issue is high on agenda of the Turkish capital of Ankara especially after Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's recent remarks saying "he was against both Turkism and Kurdism". Members of Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and Peace & Democracy Party (BDP), who were accused of discrimination, replied harshly to the Turkish premier's statements. "The idea of Turkism is nothing like discrimination. Otherwise, you would not have become the prime minister," MHP chairman Devlet Bahceli said in his reply to Erdogan. BDP chairman Selahattin Demirtas also noted that his party did not display any discriminative acts.
UNIVERSITY'S "EUROPE" FEAR
Istanbul University stands by its "preventive search" decision which authorizes police officers to stop and search students wherever they want. Commenting on the issue, Istanbul University's Vice-Chancellor Ahmet Gokcen said they had taken such a decision in line with the rising university clashes in Europe.
IRAQ'S SHIITE LEADER SENDS LETTER TO TURKISH PREMIER, THANKS OVER ASHURA REMARKS
Iraq's Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr has sent a letter to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, thanking the premier for a speech he delivered at a commemoration ceremony in Istanbul on the Day of Ashura, Shia Muslims' day of mourning for the martyrdom of Husayn ibn Ali, the grandson of the Islamic Prophet Muhammad at the Battle of Karbala. "You have touched hearts of each and every Muslim. You have done what no other Muslim leader has done," al-Sadr told Erdogan.
GOVERNMENT, EMPLOYERS AGREE OVER MINIMUM WAGE
A committee in Turkey agreed to set minimum wage as 796.50 TL gross (629.96 TL net) for workers over the age of 16 starting from January 1, 2011. Turk-Is, an influential confederation of labor unions, expressed opposition to the decision. The figure marked an increase of 4.7 percent for the first half of 2011 and 5.1 percent for the second half of the year. Minimum wage for workers below the age of 16 is set as 679.50 TL gross (546.20 TL net) for the first half of the year and as 715.50 TL gross (571.97 TL net) in the second six months.
3-YEAR IMPRISONMENT TO CURSING AT STADIUMS
A draft law on prevention of violence in sports, which has been recently presented to the presidency of the Turkish parliament, envisages heavy punishments to those stating violent acts during sports events. According to the draft law, spectators who curse at sports games might be charged with imprisonment from 6 months to 3 years although no complaint is filed against them. People who carry guns, knives or sharp objects will also be charged with imprisonment from 2 to 5 years. Officials who let drunk spectators into sports games will be sent to prison, while those disturbing the public order through media organs will be faced with monetary fine.
THREE BULLIES STAB DIPLOMAT
Three bullies, whose car was causing danger in traffic, attacked a German diplomat who warned them with flashers. Thomas Eberhard Schultze, the Legal Counsellor of the German Embassy in Ankara, was in a diplomatic car with his wife when he saw a driver causing danger in traffic and warned him with flashers. The car followed Schultze and caught him at a fuel station on Konya highway. The bullies stabbed the German diplomat in the stomach and leg. They were detained by security forces right away.
THREE NEW YEAR'S GIFTS
Premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan gave good news to farmers and poor families: Student loans were raised from 200 to 240 TL, the interest rates on agricultural loans provided to farmers were reduced from 13 to 10%. The allowance is granted to poor families for their children enrolled in schools.
IF THERE IS ANY CRIME, I AM RESPONSIBLE
In the second hearing of the 'Balyoz Coup Plan' case, number one suspect of the case, Ret. Gen. Cetin Dogan said: "If there is crime, I am solely responsible, not those who attended the seminar." Former Force Commanders Ozden Ornek and Ibrahim Fırtına requested to be tried at the high tribunal.