Global News Journal

Beyond the World news headlines

Does Prime Minister Erdogan want to be President Erdogan?


Submitted by Ibon Villelabeitia

TURKEYRecent comments by Turkey’s Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan expressing support for moving to a presidential system of government have renewed speculation the country’s most charismatic politician covets the presidency — an assault some
believe he might launch after general elections due in 2011.

Critics say such calculations, although never made public, ultimately betray authoritarian tendencies of Erdogan, who has fought his way through Turkey’s rough and tumble politics from his days as an Istanbul mayor to the premier’s office.

But few expect Erdogan, a former Islamist whose AK Party ended the secularists’ decades-old grip on power in 2002, would try to claim his ultimate prize without first tailoring the
president’s largely symbolic job to meet his ambitions by drafting a new constitution along U.S. or French lines.

Erdogan suggested in an interview earlier this month he would interpret success in the next general elections as a mandate for sweeping constitutional change.
“After 2011 … a presidential system may again come to Turkey’s agenda … If the people give us their blessing, this can be discussed in the framework of a brand new constitution,” Erdogan said in words that opened up a debate on whether such a system would bring totalitarianism or more democracy to Turkey.

from MacroScope:

Greeks on the grill

When Greece's former economy ministers took to the stage to face a partisan crowd at a public panel discussion in London this week, they were held to answer for the financial profligacy that has put Greece at the centre of the euro zone's sovereign debt crisis.

Yannos Papantoniou and George Alogoskoufis, who were at the helm of the Greek economy between 1996-2003 and 2004-2009, respectively, came in for a rough ride when questioned on the country's financial reporting. You can hear a podcast here.

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

India and Pakistan agree to hold more talks: now comes the hard part

thimphuAs predicted, the prime ministers of India and Pakistan agreed during a meeting in Bhutan that their countries should hold further talks to try to repair relations strained since the 2008 Mumbai attacks.  Foreign secretary Nirupama Rao told reporters at a regional summit in Thimphu that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his counterpart Yusuf Raza Gilani had decided their foreign ministers and foreign secretaries (the top diplomats) should meet as soon as possible.

In agreeing to hold more talks, India and Pakistan have overcome the first major obstacle in the way of better ties - the question of what form their dialogue should take. Pakistan had been insisting on a resumption of the formal peace process, or Composite Dialogue, broken off by India after the attack on Mumbai which it blamed on the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba militant group. India had been seeking a way back into talks which stopped short of a full resumption of the Composite Dialogue.

Rating agencies warned to watch their step


Credit rating agencies cannot win.

They were blamed for carelessness before the crisis, handing out over-generous ratings on the packets of mortgage-backed securities that subsequently unravelled, sending the global economy into a spin and leading to Lehman Brothers collapse. Now they are being criticised again, this time for being too cautious, by dishing out rating downgrades to countries in Europe being sucked into Greece’s debt crisis.

Standard & Poor’s recently downgraded Spain’s rating one notch to AA, warning that the outlook was bleak for the euro zone’s fourth biggest economy. Struggling Greece has also been marked down — to junk status — and now hovers close to Pakistan and Venezuela in the credit stakes. Portugal is another country to be singled out for downgrades from the leading ratings companies.

Searching for silver in Greece’s storm clouds


Greece and the euro zone are still very much in the midst of a debt and deficit storm, with not just Athens but possibly Portugal and Spain at risk of being swept up in the maelstrom.

But that hasn’t stopped economists and political analysts looking for a silver lining in this unprecedented meltdown.

from Emily Flitter:

A spiral for Europe?

Quelling the European debt crisis will take more than just a bailout package for Greece, says one expert in financial contagion. Other countries with shaky fiscal profiles need to get their finances in order--and fast. 

 Lasse Pedersen, a professor of finance at New York University's Stern School of Business, has made a close study of liquidity spirals in financial markets, and he sees parallels between his work and the European crisis. 

Volcano chaos: A pointer to potential Iran/Gulf smoke disruption?


volcanoAs if they didn’t have enough to think about, planners trying to pin down the unintended consequences of a strike on Iran may be required to reorder their lengthy worry list.

The concern? Iceland’s volcano, or rather, the vivid reminder the exploding mountain provided to governments of the importance of civil emergency planning.

from Afghan Journal:

Killing more efficiently: America’s violin-sized missiles

A unmanned Predator being rolled out of a hangar.REUTERS/Chris Helgren)

(An unmanned Predator being rolled out of a hangar. REUTERS/Chris Helgren)

The CIA is using smaller, advanced missiles - some of them no longer than a violin-case - to target militants in Pakistan's tribal belt, according to the Washington Post.

The idea is to limit civilian casualties, the newspaper said quoting defence officials, after months of deadly missile strikes by unmanned Predator aircraft that has so burned Pakistan both in terms of the actual collateral damage and its sense of loss of sovereignty.

Discord in Thai kingdom


THAILAND/ Punchai is arranging strings of flowers under the imposing statue of King Rama VI at the entrance of Lumphini Park in Bangkok. The statue overlooks one end of the sprawling “red shirt” encampment that occupies a 3 square-km area of downtown Bangkok.

An altar has been set up at the base of the statue of a king who ruled from 1910 to 1925 and is generally credited with paving the way for democractic reforms in the kingdom. He is also the creator of Lumphini Park.

The quality of MEPs is sometimes strained


I am not a Eurosceptic, but you do sometimes question whether the billions of euros European taxpayers’ dole out each year to the European Union — and specifically the European Parliament – is always money well spent.

Those doubts came freshly to mind on Tuesday during the presentation of the European Central Bank’s annual report to the parliament’s Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs.