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Cablegate: Ankara Media Reaction Report

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RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 2195
RUEUITH/DET 1 39LG ANKARA TU
RHMFIUU/USDOCO 6ATAF IZMIR TU
RHMFIUU/39OSS INCIRLIK AB TU
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RHMFIUU/AFOSI DET 522 INCIRLIK AB TU
RUEUITH/AFLO ANKARA TU

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 ANKARA 000694

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR INR/R/MR, EUR/SE, EUR/PD, NEA/PD, DRL
JCS PASS J-5/CDR S. WRIGHT

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OPRC KMDR TU
SUBJECT: ANKARA MEDIA REACTION REPORT
TUESDAY, MARCH 27, 2007


In Today's Papers

General Saygun Addresses ATC Conference
Hurriyet, Milliyet, Sabah, Radikal, Cumhuriyet, Zaman, Yeni Safak
and others report General Ergin Saygun, the Deputy Chief of the
Turkish General Staff, told the American-Turkish Council (ATC)
meeting in Washington that Armenian genocide accusations directed
against Turkey were "politically-motivated" noting that Switzerland
convicted a Turkish political party leader [Dogu Perincek] under a
law making it illegal to deny the Armenian incident was a genocide,
and adding that a Turkish writer [Orhan Pamuk] was awarded with the
Nobel prize after holding the Turks guilty for the death of "1.5
million Armenians and 30,000 Kurds." He also showed the gathering
photographs of PKK militants playing soccer and in training in
northern Iraq, saying "They know that they are in a safe area." He
also stressed the importance of Iraq's territorial integrity,
warning Kirkuk was "ready to explode." Zaman reports Saygun said
international agreements gave Turkey the right to infiltrate up to
75 km into Iraq to solve border disagreements. He also mentioned
the defense cooperation between the US and Turkey, stressing the US
should view Turkey as "a partner, not a client," say papers.

Erdogan to Join Arab League Meetings in Riyadh
Sabah, Zaman, Yeni Safak and others report that on March 28-29,
Prime Minister Erdogan will deliver a speech at the Arab League
summit in Riyadh as well as hold talks with other leaders including
President Mahmoud Abbas and the Prime Minister of the new
Palestinian government, Ismail Haniyah. In his address to the
gathering, Erdogan is expected to warn against the rising tensions
between the Sunni and Shiite groups in Iraq, and extend support to
the new Palestinian government. Zaman says this will be Turkey's
second participation in the Arab League meetings with the observer
status since 2005.

Editorial Opinion on Middle East and Sanction Against Iran

Taha Akyol observed in the mainstream daily Milliyet: "When the US
introduced its Greater Middle East project, the goal was to topple
dictatorships in the region and bring democracy as well as market
economy. The very same US, in an effort to find a way to counter
Iran, is now forming strategic alliances with authoritarian Sunni
regimes which indicates the collapse of Greater Middle East project.
The Bush administration is leaning towards a change of strategy
since Iran is now considered a bigger threat than Sunni radicals.
Therefore, the US is watching the Saudi efforts to bring the PLO and
Hamas together and sees it as an effort to eliminate Iranian
influence over PLO. When Turkey tried to exert some effort to
eliminate Iranian and Hizbullah influence over Hamas, Ankara heard
angry messages from the Bush administration. But today Washington
is moving towards that policy line. Along with the policy change in
Washington, certain results could come. If Sunnis and the US get
closer to each other, it can help Iraq's territorial integrity.
Turkey's balancing role might be required in the new equilibrium.
Ankara will participate in the Arab League meeting and the Iraqi
neighbors' conference will also be convened in Istanbul, which both
signify Turkey's role. The Middle East is just about to enter into
a new period although uncertainties remain."

Fikret Ertan wrote in the Islamist-intellectual daily Zaman: "The
UN Security Council has adopted new sanctions against Iran. The
list of sanctions as well as the tone of it enhances earlier
resolutions 1737 and 1747. Even though the new resolution is
tougher than the previous two, it still required a consensus among
the permanent members of the UNSC. America and European countries
defended the need for tough actions against Iran while China and
Russia advocated a more softened stance. In the end they all
reached a consensus on the text which comes with an 18-page list.
Iran once again was given a 60 day period in order to stop its
uranium enrichment program. Although the UN resolution lists in a
very detailed manner the names and institutions connected with

ANKARA 00000694 002 OF 003


Iranian nuclear activities, the fact of the matter is that Iran will
continue to defy just like it did for the previous resolutions."

Investigation Launched Against PM Erdogan
All papers report that Ankara's Chief Public Prosecutor's Office
launched an investigation against Prime Minister Erdogan for his
remarks in an interview with an Australian radio station in 2000, in
which he apparently referred to PKK leader Ocalan as "Mr" (Sayin)
and martyrs as "heads". Use of the title "Mr" has led to countless
prosecutions in Turkey when used to refer jailed PKK leader Ocalan.
Earlier this month the leader of the pro-Kurdish Democratic Social
Party (DTP) Ahmet Turk was sentenced to six months in prison for
having used the title at a political rally. The Prime Minister and
other members of Parliament have legal immunity that protects them
from prosecution and Parliament would need to approve any further
legal steps against Erdogan. Since Erdogan is the leader of the
ruling party and has the vast majority in Parliament, it is very
unlikely that the Parliament will annul his immunity.

Foreign Visitors in Ankara
Milliyet, Sabah, Cumhuriyet and others: British Foreign Minister
Margaret Beckett arrived in Ankara on Monday for talks on Turkey's
EU membership, Iraq and Iran. Beckett is scheduled to meet PM
Erdogan and FM Gul in Ankara today before traveling to Istanbul to
hold talks with Minister Ali Babacan. Responding to a question
whether she had any expectations about Turkish intervention on the
issue of seized British soldiers by Iran last week, Beckett said she
had to discuss the issue with Turkish officials first.

Meanwhile, TV channels and Anatolian Agency reported that Iraqi
Vice-President Tariq Al-Hashimi arrived in Ankara today. Al-Hashimi
will hold meetings with Turkish President Sezer, PM Erdogan and FM
Gul during his stay in Ankara on regional issues.

50th Anniversary of the European Union
Radikal, Sabah, Cumhuriyet, Milliyet and others: Today's papers
highlight that German PM Merkel's anti-Turkish attitudes continued
at the EU's 50th anniversary celebrations. Merkel presented
outgoing French leader Chirac, who is a great supporter of Turkey's
EU bid, with a beer mug as a farewell present The mug had a relief
on it depicting the battle in which Napoleon beat the Ottoman army
in 1799 in Egypt. Papers comment that by this 'gesture', Merkel
tried to give Chirac a message that he should think twice before
supporting Turkey's EU membership.

TV Highlights
NTV, 7.00 A.M.

Domestic News

- Four members of the nationalist party BBP have been sent to
Istanbul from Trabzon in connection with the assassination of
Armenian journalist Hrant Dink.

- Turkish General Staff chief General Yasar Buyukanit, accompanied
by force commanders, paid a courtesy visit to Parliament Speaker
Bulent Arinc yesterday.

- "Turkey and Arab Countries' Economy Congress" will be held in the
Aegean city of Izmir on March 29-31.

- The Turkish council of ministers approved the Religious Affairs
Directorate's (Diyanet) request for 15,000 new cadres.

International News

- The outgoing US Ambassador in Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, said he held
talks last year with major insurgent groups in a drive to bring
militant Sunni Arabs into politics.


ANKARA 00000694 003 OF 003


- The Iraqi government said Monday it has officially urged Iran to
release 15 British sailors arrested for allegedly entering Iranian
territorial waters last week.

- The US Senate foreign relations committee will discuss on
Wednesday a resolution drafted by Joseph Biden condemning the murder
of Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, calling for the abolishment of
article 301 and urging Turkey to establish ties with Armenia.

- Martti Ahtisaari, the UN special envoy for Kosovo, said in a
report that independence is the only viable option for the province.


http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/eur/ankara/

WILSON

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