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Cablegate: Ankara Media Reaction Report

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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
FRIDAY, APRIL 27, 2007


In Today's Papers

Turkish Parliament to Hold First Round of Presidential Elections
Friday
All papers report the Turkish Parliament will hold the first round
of voting for President of the Republic on Friday amid ongoing
fierce debates regarding the election. The main opposition CHP
plans to boycott the vote, saying it will ask the Constitutional
Court to declare it invalid if less than two thirds of all lawmakers
(367) are in the chamber. Parliament Speaker Bulent Arinc maintains
the presence of 184 MPs in the chamber will be sufficient to go
ahead with the voting today. If the court rules in the opposition's
favor, the government must call a snap general election -- something
opposition parties Anavatan and DYP are demanding. Mainstream Vatan
sees some possibility that the court will rule in favor of the
opposition because seven of the court's 11 members are staunch
secularists who were appointed by outgoing President Sezer. In any
case, Gul is not expected to win in the first or second rounds of
voting as he needs 367 votes; his victory in the third round, set
for May 9, when he needs only 276 votes, is virtually assured,
however. All papers point to opposition party Anavatan's key
position holding 20 seats in the parliament. Papers report Anavatan
will announce its decision on joining the voting after a meeting
with DYP today. Mainstream Sabah says AKP has been working to
convince CHP MPs from southeast Turkey to show up in parliament
today. Islamist-oriented dailies Zaman and Yeni Safak say the
voting process will be "a test for Turkish democracy." Liberal
Radikal warns a cancellation by the Constitutional Court will bring
a period of instability in Turkey. Turkey's constitution stipulates
that if it fails to elect a president by May 16, the parliament will
be dissolved, and early general elections will be called.

Editorial Commentary on Turkish Presidential Elections
Taha Akyol, writing in the mainstream Milliyet, advises calm: "If
the issue is taken to the Constitutional Court, there will be
another challenging period because the ruling will lead to important
political consequences. If the court rules in favor of the
opposition's challenge, the Constitution clearly calls for an
immediate election, most likely in either July or September. In any
case, there is no need for worrying, panicking or tension-building.
After all, the people will have their say in the end."

Similarly Mustafa Unal, commenting in the intellectual
Islamist-oriented Zaman, concludes, "The presidential election issue
is not only a concern for candidate Gul or the AKP, but it is very
much Turkey's concern. Today's voting session is extremely
critical. All political parties are going to go through a democracy
test. Regardless of the outcome, even if it ends up in the court,
the people will have the final say because all paths lead to the
ballot box."

Okay Gonensin points out in the mainstream Vatan that "circumstances
indicate that the election of Turkey's new president will go through
a legal debate and be controversial with the real questions being
who will benefit from this atmosphere and how will that be reflected
at the polls."


Solana-Larijani Wrap Up Talks in Ankara
All papers report EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana and Iran's
chief nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani wrapped up talks on day two of
their gathering in Ankara yesterday. Solana and Larijani have
agreed in Ankara on a formula, says Milliyet, according to which
Iran will limit its uranium enrichment activities in exchange for
the permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany
agreeing not to adopt new sanctions against Tehran.

The Islamist-oriented Yeni Safak says that Turkey has emerged as "a
capital of peace" in its region with its moves as facilitator, as
seen in the efforts of Ankara to bring together Iran's Larijani and

ANKARA 00001002 002 OF 003


EU's Solana as well as the upcoming meeting between the Afghan and
Pakistan presidents Karzai and Musharraf to discuss border security
and terrorism matters.

Zebari Meets Gul on Iraq Talks in Egypt
Milliyet, Sabah, Radikal, Cumhuriyet, Yeni Safak and others report
Iraq's Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari met Thursday with Foreign
Minister Abdullah Gul in Ankara, where Zebari came to rally support
for a summit meeting of Iraq's neighbors in Egypt on May 3-4.
Cumhuriyet claims Zebari told Gul the participation of Iran and
Syria depends on Turkey's powers of persuasion. Gul said he
wouldn't be able to make it to the meeting in Egypt because of the
presidential elections in Turkey, but pledged to send high-level
officials from the Turkish Foreign Ministry (MFA) "if Iraq steps up
the struggle against the PKK." Cumhuriyet expects MFA
Undersecretary Ertugrul Apakan to represent Turkey in Egypt.

Turkish Islamist Charities Not Controlled
Liberal Radikal and the leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet continue
reporting on the German police raid on Islamist leaning Kanal-7
International TV and Islamist charity organization Deniz Feneri in
Frankfurt earlier this week. Deniz Feneri, in an act seen as money
laundering, allegedly gave half of the 14 billion Euros it has
collected in donations to Kanal-7 TV as well as to some Palestinian
organizations. Although the Istanbul-based charity Deniz Feneri
denied any ties with the one in Germany, Cumhuriyet says they share
the same building with Kanal-7 TV in Frankfurt, and the same names
are seen as both institutions' board members. The paper adds Deniz
Feneri Germany has occasionally transferred money to Deniz Feneri
Istanbul, of which another controversial Islamist group of
companies, Yimpas, is a sponsor.

Radikal notes that Islamist charity organizations such as "Deniz
Feneri Dernegi," "Kimse Yok Mu Dernegi," "Istanbul Uluslararasi
Yardimlasma Dernegi," "Can Suyu Yardimlasma Dernegi" and "IHH Vakfi"
were given the status of "organizations working for public good,"
allowing them to collect donations as well as exempting them from
taxes. The Interior Ministry has been ineffective in controlling
such organizations totaling 500 in Turkey, says Radikal.

TV Highlights
NTV (6 a.m.)

Domestic News

- An eight-storey building collapsed in the Sirinevler neighborhood
of Istanbul on Thursday. One man was rescued from the rubble. Most
people had left the building before the collapse when they heard
cracking sounds.

- Four more suspects have been taken into custody in connection with
the foiled assassination attempt against Higher Education Board
president Erdogan Tezic earlier this week.

- Inal Batu, CHP deputy for Hatay, is expected to resign from CHP
and join DYP on Monday.

- Outgoing President Sezer said the president should be elected for
a single five-year term and that presidential powers must be
narrowed.

- Landmines believed to have been planted by the PKK killed two
Turkish soldiers in Sirnak and Bitlis yesterday.

International News

- The US House of Representatives has defied a pledged veto by
President Bush and passed a bill for troop including a timetable for
withdrawal from Iraq.


ANKARA 00001002 003 OF 003


- The Iraqi parliament is to discuss a new oil law which will allow
Iraq to sign oil exploration and production contracts with foreign
companies.

- 10 Iraqi soldiers were killed in a suicide car bomb attack on a
military checkpoint in northern Iraq.

- A top Taliban commander said Osama bin Laden was behind the
February attack outside a US military base in Afghanistan during a
visit by Vice President Dick Cheney.

WILSON

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