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Cablegate: Ankara Media Reaction Report

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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 ANKARA 000719

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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
THURSDAY, MARCH 29, 2007


In Today's Papers

US Senate Passes Draft on Dink and Turkey
All papers report on Wednesday the US Senate Foreign Relations
Committee passed a draft that condemns the assassination of
Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, asks Turkey to scrap the
controversial article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code, and encourages
Turkey to establish diplomatic, political, and trade ties with
Armenia. Papers note that in the bill, a direct reference to
Armenian "genocide" was "softened" to read "legal action was
launched against Dink under article 301 for calling the 1915
Armenian massacres 'genocide.'" It's unclear when the draft will be
raised on the Senate floor for approval, say papers.

Erdogan Meets Talabani, Abbas, Haniyah in Riyadh
All papers report Prime Minister Erdogan and Iraqi President Jalal
Talabani met in Riyadh on Wednesday on the sidelines of the Arab
League summit talks in the Saudi capital. Iraq's Foreign Minister
Hoshyar Zebari also joined the meeting in which regional matters,
including Kirkuk, were discussed. "It was a very positive and
constructive meeting. We agreed on resolving problems through
dialogue. Mr. Erdogan and I can solve all problems by speaking with
each other, there's no reason for tensions," Talabani was quoted as
saying. Papers also report Talabani said, referring to the PKK,
"Those who stand against Turkey stand against us."

On the other hand, Yeni Safak reports that at the summit talks,
Erdogan also met with Palestine President Mahmoud Abbas. Prime
Minister Ismail Haniyah also joined the meeting. Erdogan reportedly
invited both Palestinian leaders to Turkey.

Paper Discloses Buyukanit Speech
Liberal Radikal carries on page one a speech delivered by Turkish
General Staff (TGS) chief General Yasar Buyukanit on March 16 at the
War Academy in Istanbul. The speech was not made public. In his
speech Buyukanit said the Turkish military will continue to express
concerns over the protection of Turkey's unitary structure and the
basic characteristics of the state. He said the Turkish military is
a "constitutional institution," and it will do its job whenever
necessary. "The Turkish military knows the Constitution and the
laws as well as those who remind us of the regulations. We don't
need such warnings," Buyukanit stressed. Buyukanit also said it
must be accepted that the problems seen today actually stemmed from
the "wrong solutions" applied in the past: "It's a fact that we have
created today's situation in northern Iraq by supporting the 36th
parallel in 1991. We cannot blame others for our own mistakes."
Buyukanit claimed the release of the PKK members detained [in
Europe] indicated that some "feeble measures" adopted in foreign
countries against the terror organization actually aimed to
"camouflage" support given to the PKK. He added, "PKK terrorism is
an issue which must be evaluated separately from the developments in
northern Iraq. The terrorist organization finds support there, and
is being kept on hand with the hope that it can be used when the
time comes." With regard to Cyprus, Buyukanit said the Annan Plan
was "not a fair and lasting" one. "The plan had derogations which
would please both sides in Cyprus. If it was accepted, all
derogations could be scrapped with an application by any Greek
Cypriot national to European courts, ripping from Turkish Cypriots
all the rights they thought they had acquired," Buyukanit
emphasized. On Afghanistan, Buyukanit said he had earlier objected
to NATO demands to send additional troops. "Turkey is the most
prestigious country in Afghanistan. For example, Alliance member
troops fighting against terrorists in the Kandahar province wear
Turkish flag armlets while on duty. We have notified Turkish
Foreign Ministry of this, because if they do something
inappropriate, the blame will be put on Turks," the TGS chief
maintained.

UK Freezes Ties with Iran
Sabah, Milliyet, Cumhuriyet, Yeni Safak and others: British Foreign

ANKARA 00000719 002 OF 003


Secretary Margaret Beckett announced yesterday that Britain has

SIPDIS
suspended all diplomatic ties with Iran. Meanwhile, meeting with
Iranian Foreign Minister Mottaki in Riyadh yesterday, PM Erdogan
requested information about the seized British sailors. Mottaki
informed Erdogan about the sailors' whereabouts and said that they
were safe. Sabah reports that British Prime Minister Tony Blair
said that he had a phone conversation with PM Erdogan to discuss the
British sailors and Erdogan is in touch with the Iranian government
on the issue.

Editorial Commentary on Iran, Israel-Palestine
Fikret Bila commented in the mainstream daily Milliyet (3/29):
"Turkey is exerting diplomatic efforts towards Iran regarding the
detained British sailors. The Turkish Foreign Ministry claims these
efforts are out of humanitarian concerns, not a go-between
mechanism. In fact, Iran has experience in managing crises like
this. Their tactic is to wait until the very last phase of a crisis
and then start to take steps toward a solution at the very last
minute. This same tactic is being applied to the crisis with the
Britain sailors. In the first stage, Iran pursued a harsh attitude
and rejected British requests and insisted the sailors had entered
Iranian territorial waters. When the crisis is reaching its peak,
Iran announces that it will release a female sailor. Similarly,
Iran has been presenting an inflexible stance in tensions with the
US and the UK. Later, it moves to a softer policy line once its
voice heard long enough in international public opinion. With this
crisis management style, Iran is trying to make itself recognized as
an important regional player."

Ergun Babahan observed in the mainstream daily Sabah (3/29): "As is
apparent once again at the Arab League summit, there is no way to
ensure peace in the Middle East unless the Israel-Palestine issue is
fully resolved. Despite numerous efforts so far on an international
scale, including the Madrid Conference and the Oslo Peace Process,
the Palestine problem remains the same. The people of Palestine
continue to live under a brutal Israeli supervision and to struggle
with poverty. And Israel still cannot accept the terms of a plan to
establish genuine peace with Palestine. Interestingly enough, the
entire world is pressuring Hamas to recognize Israel while there is
no serious attempt to convince Israel to recognize a Palestine state
with the 1967 borders. Another interesting concept is that both the
US and Israel campaigned for free elections in Palestine and later
denied to recognize the free will of Palestinian people. It should
not be surprising in today's world since norms and attitudes are
distorted. For instance, coming all the way from America to invade
Iraq can be presented as an operation for freedom while resisting
against an occupation is presented as terrorism. This is where we
are in today's world. As for the Palestine issue, Arab nations have
broken their silence and have started to take some concrete action.
The peace plan presented by the Arab League in Riyadh was prepared
with clear and precise language which calls for Palestine and Israel
live together and to respect each other's existence. Even though
the plan is realistically formulated, its implementation is still
unlikely. There is no sign from Israel that it will give up the
occupied lands as long as it enjoys full support from the US."

ATC - Gates Remarks
Sabah, Aksam: Speaking at the American-Turkish Council's (ATC)
annual conference, US Defense Secretary Robert Gates was quoted as
saying that 'Turkey is a very valuable ally from every angle.
Despite the struggles US-Turkey relations have had in recent years,
our military, economic, political and personal ties remain strong.
Turkey provided the US access to Iraq and Afghanistan through one of
its air bases, without that access operations in Iraq would be
exceedingly more difficult and vastly more expensive. The situation
on Turkey's border with Iraq's Kurdish region is of particular
concern. Every Turkish citizen killed by the PKK is a setback for
success in Iraq and a setback in our relationship with Turkey.
Retired General Ralston was assigned as special envoy for countering
the PKK, but we know that more needs to be done on this issue.'

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The Armenian Church on Akdamar Island will be Opened Today
Sabah, Milliyet, Bugun, Posta, Hurriyet and others: The
inauguration of the newly renovated Akdamar Church in Van will take
place today. Participating in the ceremony will be Turkish Culture
Minister Atilla Koc, Armenian Deputy Culture Minister Gagic
Gyurjyan, Turkish - Armenian Patriarch Mesrob II, representatives of
the Armenian Diaspora and of foreign missions in Turkey. The US
will be represented by US Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission Nancy
McEldowney. Papers highlight that no cross will be placed on top of
the Church despite requests from the Armenian community. Milliyet
reports Turkish Foreign Ministry Spokesman Levent Bilman said that
'the request to place a cross on the top of the church was conveyed
to the Foreign Ministry through the Culture Ministry and that the
issue is under study.'

TV Highlights
NTV, 6.00 A.M.

Domestic News

- Mustafa Ozturk has been arrested in Erzurum in connection with the
murder of Armenian journalist Hrant Dink. Ozturk, a key suspect in
the killing, was earlier interrogated and released by the court.

- In a meeting with labor union representatives, CHP's Haluk Koc
said Prime Minister Erdogan acts "like a sultan," and advised
Erdogan to "read the constitution three times a day."

- Turkey's elite businessmen's grouping TUSIAD said there were signs
of election-oriented economy, warning such moves would harm Turkey.


- Health Minister Recep Akdag said Turkey is to operate hospitals
abroad, adding the first hospital will be opened in Sudan.

- Three PKK terrorists preparing for bomb attacks have been captured
in Istanbul. Police have discovered seven shelters of PKK
terrorists in the southeastern province of Batman.

International News

- Iranian Foreign Ministry said Tehran does not heed the
intermediation of third countries in the hostage sailors crisis with
Britain.

- At least 50 people were killed and 120 wounded in three separate
car bomb attacks in the northern Iraqi city of Talafar.

- EU has approved the opening of talks with Turkey on enterprise and
industrial policy chapters, introducing, however, two benchmarks for
completing the talks.

- Police carried out over 30 raids in four European countries,
investigating alleged Mafia involvement in EU security and building
contracts worth millions of euros.

WILSON

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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