Cablegate: Ankara Media Reaction Report
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SUBJECT: ANKARA MEDIA REACTION REPORT
TUESDAY, MAY 8, 2007
In Today's Papers
Turkish Parliament Debates Constitutional Changes
All papers report the Turkish High Election Board (YSK) rejected an
appeal by a minor opposition party to move the date for general
elections up to June 24, saying parliamentary polls would be held on
July 22, the date set earlier. On Monday, the Turkish Parliament
began debating an AKP proposal for changing constitutional
provisions. The bill drafted by AKP proposes direct popular for the
presidency and limiting the term of the president to two consecutive
five-year terms instead of the existing one seven-year term. The
package also envisions holding general elections every four years,
reducing the government's term from five years to four, and
decreasing the minimum age for election to parliament to 25. The
provision pulling the age limit down to 25 has been dropped due to a
writing error in the text.
Despite the support of 19 Anavatan MPs, the AKP failed to reach the
two-thirds majority needed to adopt the reforms without going to
referendum. The second round in constitutional reform voting will
be held on Thursday. TUSIAD, Turkey's elite business group, said it
would be "more healthy and ethical" if constitutional changes were
handled by a new parliament.
Turkish, EU Reaction to Sarkozy as French President
All papers report Prime Minister Erdogan expressed hope that the
anti-Turkey statements made by President-elect Sarkozy during the
election campaign will not have an effect on Turkey-France ties.
Mainstream Hurriyet quotes Turkish Foreign Ministry (MFA) officials
as saying they believe Sarkozy used Turkey to attract votes in the
elections, but just like German Chancellor Merkel, he will change
his discourse once he assumes office.
Papers report EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn told European
Parliament's commission for foreign affairs, "Turkey is undergoing a
difficult but historic process of transformation. Europe needs to
show patience and prudence with Turkey." He told lawmakers the most
important thing now was to ensure that an early Turkish general
election set for July 22 was conducted freely and fairly, and that a
new parliament revived Turkey's reform process to meet the EU
membership criteria. Rehn also warned any member state which sought
to cut the EU talks with Turkey would have to bear responsibility
for the consequences. European Commission President Jose Manuel
Barroso said it would be impossible for Sarkozy to end talks on
Turkey's EU membership, as the majority in the EU favors the
continuation of the negotiations with Ankara.
Editorial Commentary on French President-Elect Sarkozy
Sami Kohen writes in the mainstream daily Milliyet: "If Sarkozy's
strongly anti-Turkey stance during the campaign was reflecting his
real intentions, Turkey-France relations as well as Turkey's EU
process are about to enter a challenging period. It is also
possible that Sarkozy made those remarks as part of election
campaign populism, which means he may soften his position in the
end. Although it has been the case for many politicians to revise
their stances once they get to high level positions, many analysts
do not think it will be the case for Sarkozy. Coming from an
immigrant family, Sarkozy is believed to act to prove himself,
emphasizing his French national identity. Sarkozy also believes
that the EU should preserve its cultural identity and France can
play a dominant role in that. Whether he is successful or not, it
is clear that Sarkozy will do his best to adapt French politics to
his way of thinking. He may face some opposition from the EU and
from some of the French companies which are engaged in business with
Turkey. But it is unlikely that those pressures will be strong
enough to have him change his policy in the short run."
Erdal Safak writes in the mainstream daily Sabah: "Given Sarkozy's
stance on Turkey, he has the power to block Turkey's EU negotiation
process. The upcoming EU summit in June will serve as a litmus test
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on whether Sarkozy will maintain his anti-Turkey stance. Even
though the EU says that France does not have the power to stop
negotiations with Turkey, the fact of the matter is that Sarkozy
still has the power to block the process. He may simply object to
the opening of chapters which would serve as a de facto stop to
negotiations. As a French saying goes, no disaster comes alone.
Along with the Sarkozy disaster, the British Premiership will go to
Gordon Brown who does not even like the idea of the European Union.
In other words, Turkey is losing its primary supporters of the EU
engine: the UK, Germany and France."
Hrant Dink Assassination Trial
Sabah, Milliyet, Zaman, Bugun and Cumhuriyet: The trial for the
murder of Armenian journalist Hrant Dink will begin July 2 in
Istanbul. Because one of the suspects in the murder, Ogun Samast,
is not 18 yet, this trial will be closed to the press, report the
conservative Bugun and the mainstream Sabah. Sabah also reports
that the Court issued an invitation to author Orhan Pamuk to serve
as a witness at the trial.
Military Operation in Sirnak
Milliyet, Sabah, Hurriyet, Vatan, Cumhuriyet and others: The
Turkish Military started a 20,000-troop operation against the PKK in
the mountains of Cudi, Gabar and Namaz in the Sirnak region, after
four soldiers were killed in the last five days in the area. Air
support was given to the operation by Sikorsky and Cobra type
helicopters. Meanwhile, yesterday during the funerals of two of the
soldiers crowds chanted anti-PKK slogans.
NTV, 7.00 A.M.
- The Istanbul governor has set up a special commission to probe
police brutality against demonstrators during May Day protests.
- The main opposition CHP leader Deniz Baykal said CHP and the
center-left DSP will form an election alliance without closing down
- Turkey's main Kurdish party DTP kicks off two-day meetings in
Diyarbakir to determine its election strategy. DTP deputy chairman
Osman Ozcelik believes his party might win 37 seats in the
parliament through independent candidates.
- A mass rally in support of the secular republic will be held in
the Aegean port city of Izmir on May 13.
- Dutch MEP Ria Oomen Ruijten, the new EP rapporteur for Turkey,
said in her first statement Turkey should continue reforms.
- Yerevan has denied visas to eight Turkish OSCE observers tasked to
monitor the May 12 elections in Armenia, saying the two countries do
not have diplomatic ties.
- The Iranian Foreign Minister Manuchehr Mottaki told Time in an
exclusive interview his country wants talks with US.
- Human rights groups accuse Israeli Shin Bet security forces of
using physical measures and torture against Palestinian prisoners.