By Michael Daventry
British Prime Minister David Cameron must rue the day in 2006 when, as the newish leader of his Conservative Party, he described members of the U.K. Independence Party as “fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists, mostly”.
That same party, commonly referred to as Ukip, comfortably defeated the Conservatives on Thursday to win a parliamentary seat in a special election in Rochester and Strood, a suburban district around 60 kilometers (38 miles) southeast of London.
The right-wing party favors Britain’s immediate withdrawal from the European Union and placing much stricter curbs on migration to the country.
What makes the defeat embarrassing for the British premier is that the winning candidate, Mark Reckless, was the second person in as many months to defect from Cameron’s party and successfully defend the seat for Ukip.
The architect of Turkey’s foreign policy is a pan-Islamist academic who considers Israel a “geopolitical tumour” and believes his country needs lebensraum.
That is according to an analysis of Ahmet Davutoglu’s writing in his former guise as a university professor in the 1990s, before he entered politics as Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s foreign affairs adviser.
This year will be an excellent one for Turkey’s ties with Israel. The two countries are projected to trade a record $6bn (£3.6bn) in goods and services. A quarter of a million Israelis will visit Turkey, the highest number in five years. And this month, 13 daily Istanbul-Tel Aviv flights will facilitate this burgeoning traffic of business and tourism.
It is a remarkably healthy relationship for two countries that have barely spoken to each other in four years. Turkey withdrew its ambassador to Tel Aviv and expelled Israel’s own envoy following the 2010 Mavi Marmara incident, in which nine people died in an IDF raid on a flotilla of ships bound for blockaded Gaza. Despite an Israeli apology, diplomatic ties have not been restored.
Turkey’s outgoing ambassador to London has insisted Britain’s press has shown no sign of vendetta against his country.
Ünal Çeviköz said his four-year posting in London represented a peak in UK-Turkey relations, seeing three presidential visits, two from the prime minister and “countless” trips here by the foreign minister.
In a wide-ranging farewell interview with Londra Gazete, conducted on the day the Alevi community demonstrated outside the embassy building, Mr Çeviköz defended their right to peaceful protest and said he did not feel any pressure from British officials over last year’s Gezi Park incidents.
After 301 people were confirmed dead in Turkey’s single worst mining disaster last month, critics blamed Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. The Turkish prime minister’s business-friendly government had privatised the mine in Soma and its inspectors had given a clean bill of health just weeks before disaster struck.
Mr Erdoğan’s supporters tried to shift the blame elsewhere. Their principal target was the mine’s owning company and its director Alp Gürkan. Among the many personal attacks on Mr Gürkan in the pro-government press, one headline was distinctive: “That boss’s son-in-law is a Jew”. For the pious daily YeniAkit, a board member who changed his name from Mario Asafrana to the more Turkish-sounding “Mahir”was sufficient for a front page splash.
By Michael Daventry
The BBC dramatically suspended its deal with its Turkish broadcast partner NTV tonight after it failed to show an item on media censorship produced by the World Service’s Turkish section.
The item on the flagship Dünya Gündemi programme, which was filed by BBC Turkish correspondents Selin Girit and Göktay Koraltan, covered the atmosphere of media censorship in Turkey and included a candid interview with NTV director Ahmet Yeşiltepe.
An Ankara agreement applicant says she has not seen her passport for six months and feels like a prisoner
AN ACCOMPLISHED Turkish musician whose passport has been held by the Home Office for almost half a year has said she feels like a prisoner in Britain.
Didem Cömertoğlu, who is legally allowed to work as a piano teacher, has not been able to open a bank account, apply for jobs or even board a plane for six months. She sent in her passport when she applied to extend her work permit in January, but the UK Border Agency, which is handling her application, will not even confirm they have it.
POLICE were called in to break up the argument that raged in a Westminster parliamentary committee room after opposition figures hurled abuse at a panel discussing Turkish politics.
Erol Başarık, a Turkish opposition supporter, was ejected from the room by an officer after repeatedly attempting to interject in the proceedings. Members of the panel, which included journalists Amberin Zaman and Hilal Kaplan, were frequently heckled as they spoke.
“We saw every kind of abuse as Hilal Kaplan and I spoke,” Ms Zaman tweeted after the event. “Ergenekon is London is still alive” she wrote, referring to the shadowy ultra-nationalist organisation that is allegedly involved in plots to topple the Turkish government.
Turkish nationals who want to work in Britain under the Ankara agreement scheme are to be subjected to a face-to-face interview as part of Home Office plans to combat fraudulent applications.
The new measure, which is to begin before the end of this month, represents yet another hurdle of scrutiny for a work permit scheme that existing applicants have criticised as slow and inefficient.
It was discussed during a meeting in January between the Turkish consulate and representatives from the Home Office team that handles Ankara agreement applications held in January, but details only emerged this week during a briefing for law firms and visa agencies.
A UK Border Agency spokesman said: “We are introducing sweeping changes to the immigration system while ensuring we continue to attract the brightest and best who will help to drive economic growth.