PRESS DIGEST - Turkey - May 5

ISTANBUL, May 5 (Reuters) - These are the leading stories in the Turkish press on Wednesday. Reuters has not verified these stories and does not vouch for their accuracy.


- There is an escalation of the row between Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan and opposition leader Deniz Baykal over references to Nazi leader Adolf Hitler and Turkish political leaders, with Erdogan alluding to Turkey’s second president Ismet Inonu as being a fascist.


- AK Party leader Erdogan says after a group of deputies from his party vote against a constitutional reform article on banning political parties that the rejection of the amendment shows that he does not rule his party by diktat but allows deputies to make their own choices.


- The government’s morale is boosted in the constitutional reform process by the approval of a key measure changing the structure of the Constitutional Court. Erdogan spoke individually with each of the deputies who had voted against the article on banning political parties.


- One of the AK Party rebels, named in a list prepared by one of the party’s Ankara MPs, responds to that deputy with anger and curses for naming him.


- Soccer clubs Fenerbahce and Trabzonspor will face each other in the Turkish Cup final in the southeastern city of Sanliurfa on Wednesday.


- A top general charged with forming an armed terror group against the government fails to attend the first hearing of the case in the eastern city of Erzincan on the grounds that he is serving in a military operation. A prosecutor who has also been charged calls for the judge to be replaced.


- Two F-16 fighter jets fly over the courthouse in Erzincan during the hearing, raising the question of whether this was planned by the general as a show of power.


- Political tensions and debt crisis in Greece hit Turkish markets as stock index closed down 1.8 percent, interest rates at 9.50 percent and the lira rate to the dollar exceeded 1.50.

- Main opposition party leader Deniz Baykal reiterates that his party members would vote in favor of the constitutional reforms package if the three controversial articles are excluded.

- Anadolu Group Chairman Tuncay Ozilhan said the group would welcome a foreign partner for its banking unit Alternatif Bank ALNTF.IS in the future.


- Umit Boyner, chairwoman of Turkey’s top business group TUSIAD, said her heart was aching as a mother for those killed while serving in the army. She urged the government to pursue its Kurdish initiative plan and take steps in the struggle against terrorism.