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    Turkish AKP's new alcohol law raises questions marks

    Hurriyet English
    13.05.2008 - 11:57 | Son Güncelleme:

    The new law to overhaul tobacco and alcoholic beverages usage drew fierce criticism from sector representatives, and is seen as another negative factor in the Islamist-rooted AKP's record of conservative arrangements.

    Law No. 5752, which will take effect on Wednesday, bans the sale of alcoholic beverages and cigarettes "by breaking its packaging or dividing them." Sector representatives say if implemented, it would mean that the sale of alcoholic beverages by the glass at establishments like restaurants and bars would not be allowed. 

    Sector representatives say the government should make new regulations detailing the implementation of this article of the law. The government passed the law to ban smoking in public areas and the sale of single cigarettes in small markets, a practice commonly used.    

    The representatives of sector organizations say this law makes it virtually impossible to consume alcohol anywhere but in the home. The marketing director of Doluca Wines told Hurriyet the confusion about alcoholic beverages arises because the law described the new arrangements together with those relating to tobacco usage.

    "The recent shape of the law would kill the sector. Clear definitions should be made," Sibel Kutman said. She added that 35 percent of annual wine sales are sold by the glass.   

    Turkish alcohol producers have already been under pressure since the AKP government took the helm. Winemakers had complained of a heavy tax burden and a government which they feel is unsympathetic to the wine industry due to its Islamist roots, however many Turks drink alcohol. 

    Turkey's Islamist-rooted AKP, who faces a closure case on the charge of becoming the focal point of anti-secular activities, denies the charges but has so far not taken any steps to soothe concerns caused mostly by the implementations of local administrations.

    Under the law no cocktails will be made by mixing different kinds of alcohol, and giving alcoholic beverages as a gift is also banned.

    The chairman of the Tourism, Restaurants, Clubs Investors and Operators said he does "not want to believe" such ban will take effect. "I don't think this will be a problem as long as you have a license to sell open bottle alcohol," Baris Tansever added.



    Kazim Caliskan, chairman of the Tobacco and Alcohol Market Regulation Board (TAPDK), ruled out such interpretation of the law saying it banned the sale of alcohol served by the glass only "in the small markets that do not have a license."

    "Establishments such as restaurants and bars will to continue to be able to sell alcoholic beverages by the glass, but they should get an "authorization certificate from TAPDK," he added.

    "This arrangement is only about those who don't have the authorization to sell alcoholic beverages... This limits only those small markets who serve alcoholic beverages despite the ban," he told the state-run Anatolian Agency.

    Photo: Hurriyet Archives

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