The NTV Television Network in Turkish at 1700 gmt on 1 October airs its weekday show "Difference of Interpretation" in the usual format of a point-counterpoint discussion of selected current topics by programme hosts Emre Kongar and Mehmet Barlas.
Barlas opens the show by reviewing recent developments, including the Hrant Dink murder trial, President Abdullah Gul's speech at the opening of the legislative year in the National Assembly, Chief of the General Staff Gen Yasar Buyukanit's speech at the opening of the new academic year at the War Academies, and leadership rivalries within the Republican People's Party [CHP].
Kongar comments on recent "religious attacks" on Ayse Bohurler, a female Yeni Safak columnist, for questioning Gul's candidacy for the presidency in the summer. He says that personal attacks on Bohurler because of her criticism of the Justice and Development Party [AKP] constitute a "very dangerous development."
The discussion then ! turns to the recent debate over whether "Turkey can turn into Malaysia," and Kongar notes that this debate was started by Richard Holbrooke. This leads to an exchange over whether the AKP is a pro-US party. Kongar argues that the AKP "created pro-US Islam," noting that "political Islam is anti-US and anti-imperialist" everywhere else in the world.
Kongar also criticizes Deputy Prime Minister Cemil Cicek for arguing that the opponents of AKP raised the issue of Malaysia in order to stop the government from drafting a new constitution.
Turning to another topic, Kongar notes that the European Parliament has rejected all three judges Turkey has nominated for the European Court of Human Rights [ECHR] and calls this a "scandal" and a "slap" at Turkey and the Turkish Foreign Ministry. He criticizes President Gul for nominating (when he was foreign minister) candidates who do not agree with Turkey's headscarf ban even if they are "mediocre." Barlas agrees that not exten! ding the term of the current Turkish judge on the ECHR was a "mistake" on the part of the AKP.
Continuing this discussion, Barlas says that drafting a new constitution at this stage is also a mistake. He adds: "If the AKP is serious about the EU it should first abolish Article 301 [of the Turkish Penal Code]." Kongar agrees, but notes that it may be possible to "amend" Article 301 by abolishing only its controversial portions.
When Barlas abruptly queries his co-host about the ongoing struggle for the leadership of the CHP, Kongar says that the CHP has some of worst "leadership oligarchy" among all parties and suggests that "the current leadership cannot stay in office with the losses the party has suffered at its base."
Noting the time, Barlas ends the programme at 1720 gmt, commenting briefly that "the entire world is watching what is happening in Turkey."
Source: NTV television, Istanbul, in Turkish 1700 gmt 1 Oct 07