- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 31, 2006

TURKEY

Professor suspended for views on Ataturk

ANKARA When political science professor Atilla Yayla questioned the legacy of soldier-statesman Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the revered founder of modern Turkey, nationalists called him a traitor and his university suspended him.

Mr. Yayla said he was punished for shattering a taboo: daring to criticize Ataturk, a leader so idolized that his portrait hangs in all government offices, life stops for a minute every year on the anniversary of his death 68 years ago, and his ideas are still the republic’s most sacred principles.

“There was a lynching campaign against me,” Mr. Yayla said in his office surrounded by books on liberal thought. In a Nov. 18 speech, he had said that the era of one-party rule under Ataturk, from 1925 to 1945, was “regressive in some respects.” Ataturk founded secular and Westward-looking Turkey from the ashes of the Ottoman Empire in 1923. He replaced Arabic script with the Latin alphabet, banned Islamic dress and granted women the right to vote.

NIGERIA

President urges care in picking successor

LAGOS President Olusegun Obasanjo, due to step down after eight years in power, urged voters in his New Year’s address not to choose “corrupt and inept” leaders in the April elections.

“I urge you not to allow the realization our collective dream of a just, peaceful and prosperous nation, which we have labored for in the past eight years, to be truncated by the emergence of corrupt and inept leaders as successors to the current administration,” he said.

The former military ruler called on his countrymen to commit themselves “to rejecting all forms of political violence and electoral misconduct.” The coming elections appear to be the first transition in Nigeria’s history from one democratically elected civilian administration to another. The ruling People’s Democratic Party has picked as its candidate Umaru Yar’Adua, governor of the northern state of Katsina, with Mr. Obasanjo’s approval.

BULGARIA

2 nuclear reactors shut before EU entry

KOZLODUY The government yesterday shut down two reactors at its sole nuclear power plant, meeting safety concerns before its midnight entry into the European Union but sacrificing lucrative energy exports.

The decision to close the reactors at Kozloduy was made reluctantly but was part of the price of entry to the European Union, which, with today’s arrival of Romania and Bulgaria, will grow to 27 members with a total population of almost a half-billion people.

The two reactors, each with a capacity of 440 megawatts, were taken off Bulgaria’s energy grid by 9:49 p.m. Reporters watched earlier as Mityo Hristozov, a top official of the national electric company, ordered the shutdown to begin. “Every child in Bulgaria knows the reactors are safe, and everybody knows that their safety is better than that of 80 percent of the reactors in France,” Mr. Hristozov said.

Weekly notes

City authorities in Madrid canceled a traditional New Year’s fiesta in the city center as a precaution after Saturday’s airport bomb blast claimed by Basque separatists. The sound-and-light extravaganza had been due to start in late afternoon at the central Sol Square, but with the bomb blast ending a nine-month ETA cease-fire, authorities called off the gala. Morocco’s and Bahrain’s kings said after a meeting in Rabat yesterday that they are “profoundly worried” about instability in the Arab and Muslim world. King Mohammed VI of Morocco and Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa “insisted on the importance of dialogue and talks in the resolution of disputes and conflicts,” notably in the Middle East, Lebanon and Iraq, said a joint statement issued after the talks.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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