Cablegate: Ankara Media Reaction Report
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SUBJECT: ANKARA MEDIA REACTION REPORT
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 25, 2007
In Today's Papers
Erdogan Nominates Gul as Turkey's Next President
All papers report Prime Minister Erdogan, in meeting with the AKP
group at the parliament Tuesday, nominated Foreign Minister Abdullah
Gul as the ruling party's presidential candidate. In a press
conference after the announcement, Gul stressed he wold uphold the
nation's moral values and the Republic's principles.
Following the announcement, CHP leader Deniz Baykal said after a
meeting with Gul that his party would not take part in the
parliamentary voting for the next president. Mustafa Ozyurek, a
senior CHP lawmaker, told reporters his party would appeal to the
Constitutional Court if fewer than two-thirds of MPs (367) attend
the first round of voting. Intellectual Islamist-oriented Zaman is
confident that opposition parties Anavatan and DYP will participate
in the first round of the presidential elections on Friday, echoing
the AKP administration's expectation of the participation of at
least 370 MPs.
Several mainstream papers highlight Gul's wife Hayrunnisa would be
the first "first lady" who wears a headscarf and note that in 1998,
she filed a complaint at the European Court of Human Rights against
headscarf restrictions in Turkey, but pulled back her complaint when
Gul became Prime Minister in 2002. Gul responded to questions on
the issue by saying that wearing the headscarf was an "individual
Asked about the candidacy of Gul, deputy chief of the Turkish
General Staff (TGS) General Ergun Saygun recalled remarks by TGS
chief Yasar Buyukanit who expressed hope earlier this month that the
next president would be "loyal to the principles of the
secular-democratic republic, not just in words but in essence."
Leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet says the military has reissued a
covert warning to Gul that he must respect secularism in deed, not
only in words. The paper quotes Gul as saying in the 1990s when he
was the deputy-chairman of the now disbanded RP (Welfare Party) that
"In Turkey, the Republic has come to an end. We definitely want to
change this secular system."
The Turkish business community welcomed Gul's candidacy as "a
positive development." Guler Sabanci, chairwoman of a leading
Turkish conglomerate, Sabanci Holding, congratulated Erdogan for the
"maturity" and "exemplary democratic attitude" the PM displayed.
Hurriyet says Erdogan signaled he has plenty more work to do in
reforming Turkey when he turned down the presidency for himself.
"Historic self-sacrifice" reads a page one headline in the
Islamist-oriented Yeni Safak, praising Erdogan for renouncing the
presidency and proposing his close ally Gul. The
leftist/nationalist mainstream papers also note Erdogan, hoping for
a sweeping victory in the upcoming parliamentary elections, expects
to become strong enough to change the constitution and introduce a
Editorial Commentary on Gul's Nomination
A commentary in liberal Radikal says Gul's presidency obtained
without 367 votes might be carried to the Constitutional Court, and
the ensuing process will inevitably stoke tensions in Turkey. The
paper adds, however, that the resulting tense atmosphere will have
an adverse effect on CHP's chances in the general elections. A
commentary in mainstream Vatan argues the struggle over power within
the AKP will continue since Gul did not want the presidency but was
hoping to take back the post of Prime Minister he handed over to
Erdogan on March 2003, four months after the AKP came to power in
Oktay Eksi, writing in mainstream daily Hurriyet, believes PM
Erdogan made a "great and unexpected sacrifice" by introducing Gul
as the AKP candidate, and concluded that "even though
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presidential-candidate Gul is no different than Erdogan in essence,
Gul has a smoother style. About the headscarf of Mrs. Gul, it will
certainly be a controversial topic. But she now has a chance to
prove being a contemporary woman of modern Turkey and to embrace the
entire nation which will help to eliminate worries."
Melih Asik writing in the mainstream daily Milliyet worries that
"one political party now controls the system with only 25 percent of
the votes by taking over the presidency, prime ministry and the
parliamentary speaker role -- that is impossible to fit in with the
idea of a democracy. There is no hope for secularism either. The
headscarf will be at the highest state rank for the first time.
Erdogan is the head of executive branch, and his very ideas are at
the presidency. It all means that moderate Islam project is
proceeding in a determined fashion."
Optimistic about the future, Sami Kohen writes in Milliyet: "Gul's
Presidency will be a plus for international relations. Gul is
expected to engage more in foreign affairs, so both the Presidency
and the government will be in tune. Through his active style of
diplomacy, Gul also can play a facilitating role in resolving issues
such as relations with the EU and northern Iraq."
Bush's Armenian Remembrance Day Message
Hurriyet, Milliyet, Vatan, Radikal, Zaman and others report that in
his annual April 24 Armenian Remembrance Day message, President Bush
"softened" the statement and, "once again did not use the word
genocide." "Each year on this day, we pause to remember the victims
of one of the greatest tragedies of the 20th century, when as many
as 1.5 million Armenians lost their lives in the final years of the
Ottoman Empire, many of them victims of mass killings and forced
exile. The world must never forget this painful chapter of its
history," papers quote from the statement.
Samsun-Ceyhan Oil Pipeline
All papers report that the groundbreaking of the Samsun-Ceyhan oil
pipeline, also called the Trans-Anatolia Project (TAP), was held in
the Mediterranean coastal town of Ceyhan near Adana. The pipeline
will carry crude oil from Central Asia and the Caspian Basin to the
Mediterranean through Turkey. Papers report the US Embassy in
Ankara, backing the project, issued a statement congratulating
Turkey and the developers of the project. The statement said the
project has "great potential for enhancing global energy security as
an alternative to the congested Bosporus," report papers.
NTV (6 A.M.)
- Abdullah Gul's presidential candidacy was enthusiastically
welcomed in his hometown of the central Anatolian city of Kayseri.
- Turkish Cyprus "prime minister" Ferdi Sabit Soyer welcomed
Abdullah Gul's candidacy for president, stressing the Turkish
Cypriots were pleased to see democratization and
institutionalization taking place in Turkey.
- EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana is to meet Wednesday with
Iran's top nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani in Ankara to discuss
Tehran's nuclear program.
- British Air Chief Marshall Sir Jock Stirrup paid a visit to
Turkish General Staff chief General Yasar Buyukanit in Ankara.
- Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani said they have no hostile
intentions towards Turkey, adding problems in northern Iraq stem
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from the reluctance of Turkey to accept the PKK problem as an
- European lawmakers of Turkish heritage have sent a letter to
German Chancellor Angela Merkel to press for a solution in Cyprus.
- Turkey is reportedly pressing for the sacking of UNSYG special
representative for Cyprus Michael Moller, saying Moller is not
- The armed wing of the Palestinian Hamas movement has said it is
ending a five-month truce with Israel.
- Iran's President Ahmadinejad has proposed public talks with
President Bush on a wide range of issues.