Cablegate: Ankara Media Reaction Report
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SUBJECT: ANKARA MEDIA REACTION REPORT
FRIDAY, MAY 11, 2007
In Today's Papers
Turkish Parliament Approves Constitutional Reforms
All papers report that on Thursday, the Turkish Parliament approved
a package of constitutional reforms, which includes the direct
election of the president for a five-year term, renewable for
another five years, and general elections to be held in every four
years. The changes, backed by 376 MPs, more than the two-thirds of
the lawmakers in the 550-seat assembly, have to be approved by
President Sezer. Sezer will either approve the reforms within 15
days or send them back to the parliament for review. Prime Minister
Erdogan said the package would be sent back to the presidency
unchanged in case of a veto by Sezer. The main opposition CHP did
not attend the vote while all 19 lawmakers from opposition Anavatan
Party supported the reforms.
Another provision in the package requires that names of independent
candidates appear on the combined ballot lists rather than on
separate papers in general elections. Columnists criticize the
change as it would make it extremely difficult for illiterate voters
to pinpoint the independent candidates on combined lists, especially
in the Kurdish-majority east and southeast parts of the country.
Several columnists argue the law was designed to block the election
of Kurdish independent candidates. They also expect that as a
deception tactic, many people, who stand no chance of getting
elected, will add their names as independent candidates in order to
make the ballot list look crowded and confusing, making it hard for
voters to identify their candidates.
High Court Chairwoman Warns against Fundamentalism
All papers report that, delivering a speech at a ceremony held
Thursday to mark the anniversary of the founding of the Council of
State (Danistay), the high court's chairwoman Sumru Cortoglu accused
government officials of "encouraging fundamentalist elements."
Cortoglu recalled that the attack staged against the Danistay
members in May last year would be remembered as "a dark stain,"
stressing this attack was actually aimed at the secular state order,
the Republic, democracy and the supremacy of law. "Unfortunately,
the presence of such a danger was ignored by the state authorities,"
Political Parties Campaign Seek Candidates
Mainstream Milliyet and Vatan report that the majority of
bureaucrats who had resigned to run in July 22 general elections
plan to run as AKP candidates. MHP is the next most preferred party.
Former Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz was willing to run under the
Democrat Party, which was formed by ANAP and DYP. However, ANAP
leader Erkan Mumcu objected to this idea and Yilmaz decided to run
in the elections as independent candidate from Rize.
Islamist-oriented Yeni Safak reports that the 9th President Suleyman
Demirel, who is regarded as the architect of DYP-ANAP merger, is
trying to convince Agar to accept the inclusion of Genc Party in the
Land Forces Commander General Basbug at Iraq Border
Hurriyet, Milliyet, Sabah, Cumhuriyet and others: Land Forces
Commander General Basbug said during his visit to the southeastern
city of Sirnak near the border with Iraq that the Turkish Security
Forces "mission to render terrorists ineffective will continue and
with an increasing determination in the coming period. We will
pursue military operations till the separatist terrorist
organization is totally obliterated."
Legal Problems for DTP Mayors
Mainstream Sabah reports that the Diyarbakir prosecutor demanded up
to 10 year prison sentence for Batman mayor Huseyin Kalkan for
referring to jailed PKK Leader Abdullah Ocalan as a "leader of
Kurds" in an interview with the Los Angeles Times in May 2006.
Sabah reports that Cizre mayor Aydin Budak has been removed from his
post by the Interior Ministry because of a speech he made during
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Editorial Commentary on Tony Blair Stepping Down
Zafer Arapkirli writes in the business and political daily Dunya:
"When Blair started his first election campaign, he presented a very
promising image with his vision and political courage. However given
his performance during the last 10 years, unfortunately he will be
remembered as a war monger and occupier. From the British domestic
political angle, he will be remembered as a leader of capitalism
because he turned his back on the labor unions -- groups which
brought him his election victory in the first place. Sorry to say
but with his departure we can remember and repeat his campaign motto
in 1997 -- things can only get better."
Kubilay Celik writes in the nationalist daily Tercuman: "When he
became the Labor Party leader, Blair promised that British youth
would not be engaging in war any more. In reality, Britain engaged
in all kinds of war during his rule, from Kosovo to Sierra Leone,
and certainly the Iraq war. The terrorist attack in London was a
result of his policies. British people have never forgiven him for
following Bush unconditionally on the Iraq issue. He was facing
growing pressure for resignation, and now he has made it official."
Sami Kohen writes in the mainstream daily Milliyet: "Blair's
departure is a serious loss for Turkey. He demonstrated an active
support for Turkey on every occasion, including the EU process, as
he strongly believed in Turkey's geo-strategic importance. On the
other hand, his departure holds a lesson for politicians because he
made the decision to withdraw from leadership by himself. He could
have waited another year until the next elections but he preferred
not to weaken himself politically. The fact of the matter is that
the decrease in popular support for Blair stems from the Iraq war.
Had Britain not been in the Iraq war, Blair would not have faced
negative pressure from the public. Yet he had some significant
successes, especially on two issues. Under Blair's leadership the
British economy has grown faster than that of many European
countries. And he resolved the Northern Ireland problem which is a
very important success. History will certainly find positive
things to say about Tony Blair with the exception of the Iraq war."
NTV, 7.00 A.M.
- Lawyers say the existing laws allow the nomination of candidates
at age 25 in the general elections and that there is no need to wait
for constitutional reforms.
- Prime Minister Erdogan, accompanied by Foreign Minister Abdullah
Gul, will travel to Erzurum over the weekend to address supporters.
- On May 13, a mass rally in support of the secular republic will be
held in the Aegean port city of Izmir.
- The two-day "Forum Istanbul" meetings kicked off yesterday with a
focus on the future of Turkey in light of international
- Secretary Rice praised the Islamist-inspired AKP and noted
whatever the governing party's religious complexion, the Turkish
government has instigated accession talks with the EU and passed a
number of EU-inspired laws on religious and individual freedoms.
- Richard Holbrooke, former assistant US secretary of state, has
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warned Turkey against cooperation with Iran in the fight against the
PKK, stressing this might lead to problems with NATO.
- The Council of Europe has called on PKK supporters outside the EU
offices in Strasbourg to give up a hunger strike, protesting against
the solitary confinement of PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan.