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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


TUESDAY, JULY 31, 2007

In Today's Papers

Novak Article Draws Interest in Turkey
Hurriyet, Milliyet, Sabah, Radikal, Cumhuriyet, Zaman and others
cover the July 30 Robert Novak piece, "Bush's Turkish Gamble," in
which the Washington Post columnist claims US officials are working
with their Turkish counterparts on a joint military operation to
suppress PKK militants and capture their leaders in northern Iraq,
which would avert a Turkish invasion of its neighbor. The
Islamist-oriented Yeni Safak says on page one that following a
statement from Deputy Assistant Secretary Matt Bryza that the US
would move against the PKK, Undersecretary of Defense Eric Edelman
briefed Congress on a joint operation plan. Hurriyet claims the
plan was leaked to the press by those "who don't want it to happen."
Papers quote the US Embassy in Ankara and the Pentagon as saying
that the US "recognizes that the PKK is a serious problem for
Turkey," and that the US is "working closely with the Turkish and
Iraqi governments to solve the problem."

Editorial Commentary on Novak Column
Calling the US administration "shameful" columnist Gungor Mengi
blasts the US for not doing anything against the PKK. In mainstream
daily Vatan he writes: "The US continues to be shameful regarding
the PKK. When it comes down to terrorism against itself, the US
sees no harm in hitting targets across the ocean. But as far as the
PKK is concerned, by its presence in Iraq, the US is a de facto host
country for a terrorist organization which is harming its ally. It
is now only nostalgia to think of the US as a country of justice and
freedom -- neither of them exists any longer. The terrorist
murderers are enjoying shelter in Northern Iraq, and they are
directly or indirectly supported by American weapons as well as
protected by the American and Barzani administrations. The
Washington Post article, if true, will only help the White House
take the possibility of an operation against the PKK off the agenda
because the plan has been unleashed. And Turkish people will remain
suspicious about a deliberate leak of this plan to the Washington
Post."

Sami Kohen writes in the mainstream Milliyet: "Given the reliability
of Robert Novak as a journalist, his column needs to be taken
seriously. It does not really matter whether the plan was leaked by
Congressional sources or by Pentagon/White House sources, the fact
of the matter is that the US has finally thought of doing something
concrete against the PKK following mounting pressure from Ankara.
In fact, the US was planning to take action against the PKK but did
not move forward until the election process was over. The action
plan demonstrates that the US has now taken an inarguably clear
stance against the PKK and enhanced its cooperation with Turkey in
this regard. By taking a lead on this issue, the Bush
administration also prevents a possible unilateral action by Turkey.
Now the question is whether Turkey will be satisfied with a limited
operation against the PKK. Turkish military analysts are saying
that a limited operation to capture PKK leadership can be useful,
but does not mean a complete end to PKK terrorism. At this stage,
knowing what Turkish government and military think on this issue is
as important as the US plan."

Military Breaks Silence
All papers report the chief of Turkish General Staff (TGS) General
Yasar Buyukanit on Monday reiterated at a reception that the
military wanted the next president to uphold secular values. "We
are still behind what we said," Buyukanit told reporters when asked
whether he stood behind his statement on April 12, in which the
military chief had maintained that the new president must adhere to
the principles of a secular democratic state -- not only in words
but in essence. Papers point to the fact that these were the first
comments from the Turkish military on the subject since Prime
Minister Erdogan's AKP won a landslide victory in July 22
parliamentary elections.

ANKARA 00001958 002 OF 003

Meanwhile, the deputy chief of the TGS General Ergin Saygun told
reporters that "a legal counselor" from the Pentagon has visited the
Turkish General Staff recently to explain that the US did not supply
weapons to the PKK. "According to the Pentagon, some US weapons
supplied to the Iraqi security forces might have been given to the
PKK," said General Saygun.

Official Election Results
All papers and TV channels report that the Supreme Election Board
announced the official results of the July 22 general elections.
The board said that participation in the elections was 84.25 percent
and the votes of 1,602,000 voters were ruled invalid. Based on the
election results, AKP will have 341 seats in the parliament, CHP 112
seats, MHP 70 and independents 26 seats. One seat will remain
vacant due to the death of MHP deputy Mehmet Cihat Ozonder, and
parliament will convene with 549 deputies.
The Election Board announced that three parties and independents
crossing the threshold resulted in 28.5 per cent of the people going
unrepresented - a figure composed of those who voted for other
parties and those who did not vote. After the 2002 elections 45
percent of the people were not represented in the resulting
parliament.

According to parliamentary regulations, the parliament will convene
on Saturday, August 4 and the new members of parliament will be
sworn in. The meeting will be chaired by the eldest member of the
parliament, CHP deputy Sukru Elekdag. The next move in the
parliament will be to elect a new speaker. Mainstream Hurriyet gives
the parliamentary time-table and says that the government is
expected to read its program in parliament on August 11 and the new
government will face a vote of confidence on August 16. On August
16 the parliament will start to accept the applications of the
presidential candidates.

Meanwhile, turmoil in the main opposition party CHP continues.
Around 50 CHP mayors supporting Istanbul's Sisli district mayor
Mustafa Sarigul urged Baykal yesterday to resign from the party
chairmanship.

TV Highlights
NTV, 7.00 A.M.

Domestic News

- The Constitutional Court has ruled that government financial aid
will be given to parties that are backed by a minimum of 7 percent
of the voters or have a minimum of three seats in the parliament.

- Two suspects arrested for raiding a church during a ceremony held
to commemorate slain Armenian journalist Hrant Dink have been
released by the court.

- The lawyer of independent Kurdish MP Sebahat Tuncel has asked the
court to suspend the trial of Tuncel for membership in an outlawed
organization.

- Turkish Airlines director Temel Kotil said a possible strike will
lead to the contraction of the company.

International News

- British charity Oxfam said in a report hunger and disease are
spreading in Iraq as violence masks a deepening humanitarian crisis.


- In his first talks with President Bush since becoming British
Prime Minister, Gordon Brown said they are committed to confronting
al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and stabilizing Iraq.

- The US announced military aid packages worth more than USD 43

ANKARA 00001958 003 OF 003


billion for Egypt, Israel, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states in an
effort to bolster Arab allies against Iran and others.

- The European Commission has signed a contract worth Euro 4 million
with the UN Development Program in order to complete the de-mining
of the buffer zone in Cyprus.

WILSON

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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