Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Parliament Back in Session Today

From TDN:
Parliament is set to return from summer recess Wednesday, with President Abdullah Gül ready to address deputies in an opening speech.

In his keynote speech the president is expected to urge ruling and opposition party deputies to cooperate on adopting the National Program and passing European Union-inspired reforms.

The leaders of the Republican People's Party, or CHP, and the Nationalist Movement Party, or MHP, refused to give an appointment to Foreign Minister Ali Babacan for consultations over the National Program, a key document that outlines the government's timetable to fulfill the reform program for alignment with the EU Acquis. The adoption of the national program before the EU Commission releases its annual progress report due in November could be a good signal for Turkey, which has so far opened and closed only one negotiating chapter or policy area with Brussels.

Ankara began accession negotiations in October 2005, but eight out of 35 chapters were frozen due to the row over Cyprus. In previous remarks, Gül emphasized that Turkey must show the will to proactively open and close the chapters, something he said which would bring about a change in mentality. He highlighted the necessity of consensus between the deputies for progress in negotiations, given that two or three deputies are enough to block the passage of laws in Parliament.

Parliament to extend authorization

Besides the National Program, Parliament will discuss a government motion to extend for another year the military's authorization to conduct cross-border operations in northern Iraq, where outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, terrorists are based. The current authorization expires Oct. 17.

Since December, the Turkish military has launched a number of air operations and one large-scale ground operation against the PKK, which, according to official sources, have severely damaged the terrorists.

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