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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
WEDNESDAY, MAY 23, 2007


In Today's Papers

Blast Kills 6, Wounds 100 in Ankara
All papers report a bomb at a crowded shopping center on Tuesday
evening in the heart of Ankara killed six and injured more than 100
people. Some papers report that a Pakistani was among the killed
and most report that six Pakistanis who were in Ankara for the
defense industry fair "IDEF 2007" organized by the Turkish military
were also among the wounded. Police detained eight suspects in
connection with the powerful blast in the city's historic Ulus
district. There are some reports that TAK, an arm of the PKK
terrorist organization too credit for the blast, but other papers
report that there was no immediate claim of responsibility. Most
papers and TV broadcasts note the A-4 explosives used in the blast
pointed to the PKK. It's not clear yet whether the bomb was placed
at a bus stop or was the work of a suicide bomber. Hurriyet and
Radikal note the explosion occurred along the route which General
Buyukanit and many defense ministers and chiefs of staff would
travel to the International Defense Industry Fair (IDEF) 2007
reception, speculating that the attack may have been an
assassination attempt.

Prime Minister Erdogan, opposition CHP leader Deniz Baykal, and the
Turkish General Staff (TGS) chief General Yasar Buyukanit visited
the site, all denouncing the strike. Erdogan said "We have seen a
ruthless terror attack at Ankara's busiest time. We must work
together against terror in all countries around the world. We see
the results of it in America, Britain, Spain, Italy and all places."
Buyukanit told the press, "This was done by an organized terror
group," warning, "From now on, you can expect this in any big city."


Several papers and TV news broadcasts carry a statement the US
Embassy Ankara released last night, in which the US expressed "shock
and horror at the tragic event," and said it remains steadfast in
its "determination to work together with the government of Turkey to
combat terrorism in all its forms."

Edip Baser Remarks following his Dismissal from the Position of
Counterterrorism Special Envoy
All papers report that at a press conference yesterday retired
General Edip Baser who was fired on Monday by the government as the
special envoy to counter terrorism, said that he was unhappy with
the way he was dismissed and that his remarks concerning the
Presidential election were the main reason. Meanwhile, US State
Department spokesman Sean McCormack stressed that the US special
envoy for countering terrorism General Ralston will continue his
duties.

General Buyukanit Accuses Western Countries of Supporting the PKK
Milliyet, Cumhuriyet, Hurriyet and others: In an article in Defense
and Aviation Magazine TGS Chief General Buyukanit said that PKK
terrorists are enjoying unprecedented freedom in Northern Iraq and
added that an even more alarming issue than this is the support
extended by Europe to PKK. Buyukanit stressed that many of the
countries that ignore Turkey's fight against terrorism are NATO
members.

Admiral Mullen Seeks Turkish Support for Naval Security
Mainstream Milliyet carries an interview with Admiral Michael
Mullen, the US Chief of Naval Operations, who paid a visit to Ankara
and Istanbul for talks. Mullen said during his meetings in Ankara,
he asked for Turkey's contribution to the project of a "world
armada" of a thousand ships which will enforce security on the seas.
"Some 90 percent of immigrant, drugs, and arms trafficking is
carried out on the seas. Not only Turkey, but several other
countries will contribute to the partnership," Mullen said. He
noted Turkey's leadership is important for the sake of naval
security and information sharing in the Black Sea exercises of
Blackseafor and Black Sea Harmony. Mullen also voiced support for

ANKARA 00001257 002 OF 003


the transfer of two US frigates to Turkey, an issue still being
discussed in the US Congress, and added that his Turkish counterpart
Admiral Yener Karahanoglu, too, supported the transfer.

Turkey to Host International Energy Conferences
Leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet reports Ankara will host June 5,
"Turkey and the EU: Together in European Energy Politics" conference
to discuss the EU's search for energy partnerships with Turkey.
Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul, EU Expansion Commissioner Olli Rehn
and EU Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs will participate in the
conference to which Russia will send a high level official. In
Istanbul, energy ministers from Turkey, Egypt, Kazakhstan,
Turkmenistan, Israel, India and China as well as OPEC head Bin
Dhalen al-Hamdi and EU officials will take part in "East Meets West:
New Horizons in Energy Security" conference on June 26-28 under the
auspices of President Sezer. Armenian Energy Minister Armen
Movsisyan, too, will participate in the gathering. The main topic
of both meetings will be the future of Turkey-Europe Natural Gas
Pipeline (Nabucco,) says Cumhuriyet.

Editorial Commentary on Democracy, Secularism in Turkey
Mehmed Ali Birand writes in the tabloid daily Posta: "How should we
interpret the unexpected midnight warning issued by Turkish army on
April 27? The absence of politically motivated press briefings by
the TGS such as the ones before the February 28, 1997, situation
indicates that the Turkish military is staying away from direct
intervention. Instead it has a new approach as evidenced by the
increased communication between secularists and the Turkish. The
opposition party CHP forms the political wing of this spectrum while
the Higher Board of Education symbolizes the university sector. The
judicial bureaucracy and secular leaning non-governmental
organizations are also part of the spectrum. The secular media
serves as a communication tool for public opinion. The Turkish army
sometimes orchestrates these groups, and sometimes it becomes the
address to respond to the demands coming from them. If we take a
close look at the April 27 statement and concentrate on the
developments before and after, we can conclude that the Turkish army
is in the process of changing [in a non-interventionist fashion]."

Hasan Cemal writes in the mainstream daily Milliyet: "Secularism
should not be a taboo -- it should be a subject of discussion just
like in any normal democracy. Debate on secularism does not
necessarily indicate going against the regime. The definition of
secularism in Turkey narrows the arena of faith and religion to
private life, but in practice, the state casts a shadow on religion
and controls it. Secularism requires the state to maintain an equal
distance from all religions and faiths, which is not the case here
in Turkey. Creating taboos and drawing undisputable areas are not
only habits of totalitarian regimes, but also they pave the way for
separatism. For example, the Turkish army warning issued on April
27 was the biggest separatist step in Turkey. In a democracy,
everything and anything should be expressed and should be discussed.
Nothing should be exempt from criticism. Otherwise Turkey moves
toward more polarization which is the very root of separatism."

TV Highlights
NTV (6 A.M.)

Domestic News

- Opposition CHP MP for Hakkari Esat Canan has resigned from his
party. Canan had participated in the presidential elections despite
a CHP decision to boycott the voting.

- A Turkish F-16 jetfighter crashed near the central Anatolian city
of Konya. The pilot survived the crash with slight injuries.

- Prime Minister Erdogan has rejected the invitation of CHP leader
Deniz Baykal to appear together in a live TV debate.


ANKARA 00001257 003 OF 003


- Retired general Armagan Kuloglu claims the counter-terrorism
coordination mechanism was designed by the US to delay Turkey's
fight against terrorism.

International News

- Bulgaria's Rights and Freedoms Movement, the majority of its
members ethnic Turks, earned the right to send five deputies to the
European Parliament, increasing the number of parliamentarians of
Turkish origin in the Strasbourg-based assembly.

- Israel has warned Hamas that none of its leaders were safe from
attack after a rocket fired by Gaza militants killed a woman in the
town of Sderot.

- The Israeli daily Ma'ariv has published a list of names and photos
of Palestinian militant leaders the Israeli forces intend to
assassinate.

- British prosecutors announced they would seek the extradition of
Russian businessman Andrei Lugovoi to charge him with poisoning
Kremlin critic Alexander Litvinenko last November.

WILSON

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