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Cablegate: Ankara Media Reaction Report

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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 ANKARA 000889

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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
MONDAY, APRIL 16, 2007


In Today's Papers

"Republic Rally" and its Aftermath
All papers over the weekend and today report that more than 300,000
people marched in Ankara on Saturday to protest against Prime
Minister Erdogan's aspirations to become Turkey's next president.
Tens of thousands of people traveled to Ankara from around Turkey to
attend the rally held by non-government groups led by the Ataturk
Thought Association. Academics, retired military officers,
representatives of the judiciary, students and artists were among
the participants in the rally that took place two days before the
start of the presidential nominations. Many opposition politicians
attended the demonstration, including Republican CHP leader Deniz
Baykal and DSP leader Zeki Sezer.

"Turkey is secular and will remain secular," "Mullahs cannot sit in
Cankaya, [the presidential residence]" and "We don't want imams in
Cankaya," shouted protesters as they waved Turkish flags and banners
with Ataturk's picture. Papers note it was the biggest political
rally ever held in Ankara, seen by many as a determined show of
force by the secularists. The demonstration came on the heels of a
statement by the chief of the Turkish military, General Yasar
Buyukanit, saying that the president must have secular values "not
only in words but also in deeds." Outgoing President Sezer said on
Friday that the regime "is under unprecedented threat" from
Islamists since the founding of the republic in 1923. Prime
Minister Erdogan said about the rally he was glad no violence broke
out, adding the demonstrators exercised their democratic rights.
Mainstream papers comment the rally showed the majority of Turks
oppose the mentality of the ruling AKP, and that they want to live
in a secular, democratic regime. Leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet
editorialized on Monday that it would be a mistake to regard the
demonstration solely as a protest against Erdogan becoming
president. "It was also an interesting warning to the US, which has
already made incorrect assumptions about the Middle East. This
demonstration gave Washington the opportunity to think that a
'moderate Islamic state' is not a realistic model for Turkey."

Erdogan on Presidency
All papers: Mainstream papers say Prime Minister Erdogan, on board
his plane with journalists en route to Germany, gave some "signals"
that he will run for the presidency. Islamist-oriented Yeni Safak,
however, evaluated Erdogan's comments as "mixed signals."

"The new president will bring together the values of the republic
and the values of Turkish people," Erdogan said. Erdogan said NGOs
and the ruling AKP branches across Turkey supported his candidacy.
He added that the mass rally held in Ankara over the weekend will
not affect his decision, and that his "consultations" with civic
organizations will continue. Responding to a question, Erdogan
stressed his "brotherly ties" with Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul
will continue whether he becomes president or not. The PM also said
if a party leader is elected president, he should leave party
politics behind. Erdogan has not yet said whether he will run for
president, and has only hinted that he would wait until April 25,
the last day candidacies are accepted, before making an
announcement.

Barzani Meets Crocker
Milliyet, Sabah, Radikal, Cumhuriyet, Yeni Safak and others report
the president of the regional Kurdish administration in northern
Iraq, Massoud Barzani, told the US Ambassador in Iraq, Ryan Crocker,
that Kurds did not want tensions in ties with Turkey, and that the
Kurds' problems with Iraq would be resolved according to Iraq's
constitution. A statement released after the meeting said Barzani
did not threaten Turkey, and the Kurds will not accept threats
directed against them. The statement added Ambassador Crocker said
Kurdish leaders should continue their "constructive" mission in
Iraq.


ANKARA 00000889 002 OF 003


Volker on the PKK, Cyprus
Islamist-oriented Yeni Safak reports on page one that Principal
Deputy Assistant Secretary Kurt Volker said to the Greek daily To
Vima that "our goal is to work together with the governments of
Turkey and Iraq and encourage close cooperation on finding a
solution to the PKK problem." On Cyprus, Volker said the US
supports the efforts of the UN, and that the demolition of the
barricade in the green zone in Nicosia was an opportunity for the
sides to come together.

Editorial Commentary on Possible Turkish Incursions into Iraq
Yilmaz Oztuna warns against a Turkish incursion in the conservative
daily Turkiye: "The policies of Iraqi Kurds rely on US protection
and the fundamental goal is to ensure the continuation of American
support for the Kurds. The northern Iraqi Kurds are very well aware
of the fact that they will be punished by Turkey, Iran and the Arabs
once the American forces pull out of Iraq. Turkey can use its
strategic alliance with the US to its advantage. As soon as Turkey
adopts a policy line parallel to Washington's, the US will have to
abandon the Kurds as a reflection of realpolitik. On the other
hand, a Turkish intervention into Northern Iraq will create a gap
between Turkey and both the US and Europe. It will push Turkey into
alienation and isolation."

In the intellectual Islamist-oriented Zaman, Washington-based Ali
Aslan considers Washington's reactions to a possible Turkish action:
"Americans are preoccupied with the following question: What if the
Turkish army goes ahead with the incursion plan and undermines the
stability in the north? American diplomacy does not want this to
happen. They see a Turkish incursion bringing a series of
consequences, including problems with the Baghdad administration,
providing another advantage to the Bush opponents in American
politics. Therefore they are working really hard to eliminate those
possibilities by giving clear messages to Ankara. The message can
be summed up as 'General Buyukanit's remarks are worrying. A
unilateral Turkish intervention in northern Iraq might cause very
dangerous consequences. We should resolve this issue via diplomacy
and dialogue.' The ideal solution, Washington believes, is for the
PKK issue to be resolved between Ankara, Baghdad and Erbil even
without Washington's direct involvement. It seems the northern Iraq
issue and the Iraq issue in general will remain to be a hot topic on
the Ankara-Washington line in the days ahead."

TV News:
(NTV, 8 A.M.)

Domestic News

- Thousands of people attended funerals held in Izmir for 18 of 33
school students and teachers killed over the weekend during a trip
to the tourist region of Cappadocia. A bus carrying the students
and teachers collided with a truck on the Aksaray-Konya highway on
Saturday, killing 33 people, injuring another thirty.

- Parliament Speaker Bulent Arinc dismissed the warnings of
President Sezer that the secular regime in Turkey was under threat.
Prime Minister Erdogan said Turkish people don't share the concerns
of Sezer over secularism in Turkey.

- The AKP presidential candidate will be announced after Prime
Minister Erdogan meets with the AKP executive board on April 25.

- A woman has been detained in Adana for plotting a bomb attack.

International News

- Iraqi President Jalal Talabani said the number of Turkmen in
Northern Iraq was well below 5 million.

- Nechirvan Barzani, the prime minister of the regional government

ANKARA 00000889 003 OF 003


in northern Iraq, said Turkey is a very important country for the
Kurds.

- US Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Turkish military operations
against the PKK in northern Iraq will not help solve the PKK
problem.

- Two British military personnel died and another five were injured
when two transport helicopters crashed near a US air base in Taji
near Baghdad.

WILSON

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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