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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
THURSDAY, AUGUST 9, 2007


In Today's Papers

AKP Names Parliament Speaker, Presidential Situation Still Unclear
All papers report the ruling AKP named Koksal Toptan as its
candidate for parliamentary speaker on Wednesday. Toptan, a lawyer
by profession, is known to be a moderate who does not have an
Islamic background and whose wife does not wear the Muslim
headscarf. He has served in several previous governments as minister
of education and of culture. Initial reaction from opposition
parties was positive, with CHP leaders welcoming Toptan and
expressing hope he will not act as a ruling party speaker and will
be fair to all sides. MHP also said Toptan was experienced in
politics and will be a parliament speaker highlighting compromise
and tolerance. MHP, however, nominated former finance minister and
public broadcaster TRT director Professor Tunca Toskay as its
candidate for the post. The Turkish Parliament will elect its new
speaker on Thursday.

Meanwhile, mainstream papers continue to speculate regarding the
next president of Turkey. Vatan, Hurriyet, Radikal and Cumhuriyet
expect Erdogan to continue to press Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul to
withdraw from the presidential race. Some AKP members, however,
predict turmoil in the party if Gul is forced to step aside. Papers
report MHP Chairman Devlet Bahceli said at a group meeting of his
party yesterday the presidency must be an office based on
"democratic compromise." Bahceli said Turkey faces a fresh
political crisis if Gul runs again for president.

The Aftermath of Maliki's Turkey Visit
Hurriyet, Milliyet, Radikal, Cumhuriyet, Zaman, Yeni Safak and
others express doubt in the wake of the Turkey visit of the Prime
Minister Nuri al-Maliki that the Iraqi PM will be able to stick to
the anti-terror pledge he made in Ankara. Cumhuriyet warns that if
Turkey and Iraq fail to sign an anti-terror agreement in two months,
the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed earlier this week in
Ankara will become void. An optimistic Zaman believes the MOU lays
the ground with regard to combating terrorism, as the PKK was named
a "terror organization" for the first time in a document between
Iran and Turkey. The paper also notes that with the signing of the
MOU, the likelihood of a Turkish military incursion into northern
Iraq has diminished at least until next year. Radikal claims that
Turkey turned down a Maliki request that amnesty for PKK militants
be put in the anti-terror deal, and instead insisted on concrete
measures such as cross-border operations and extradition of
terrorists.

Editorial Commentary on Maliki Visit
Erdal Safak writes in the mainstream daily Sabah: "The MOU, signed
by Turkish PM Erdogan and Iraqi PM Maliki, reconfirmed the previous
three agreements between the two countries, namely the 1926 Ankara
Agreement, the 1946 Friendship and Good Neighborhood Agreement and
the 1989 Legal and Judicial Cooperation Agreement. In referring to
those three agreements, Turkey has committed itself to not
interfering in Iraq's internal affairs, and reiterated its
commitment to Iraq's territorial integrity. In other words, the new
MOU implies that Ankara has assured Iraq it would not interfere in
any of Iraq's internal matters, from the Kirkuk issue to the oil
law. In exchange for that Iraq committed to the pursuit of PKK
members as well as to their capture and extradition. Realization of
this commitment requires actual support from the Iraqi Kurdish
region, i.e. the support of Barzani. The fact of the matter is, at
this point, Turkey has to establish contact with Barzani one way or
another in order to have the agreement be actually implemented. By
continuing with the current policy - recognizing Baghdad as the sole
authority -- Turkey cannot get beyond receiving 'we are sorry for
the PKK attacks, but there is nothing we can do' messages from
Baghdad."

Semih Idiz writes in the mainstream daily Milliyet: "Our diplomats
call it a success while some observers call it a cosmetic effort

ANKARA 00002039 002 OF 003


with no tangible result. The truth about the Maliki visit lies
somewhere in between. It would be unrealistic to expect that
Maliki, given the political turmoil in Iraq, would make immediately
binding commitments about the PKK. Moreover Maliki and his party
clearly stood against a cross-border operation which means Turkey is
facing a solid 'no cross-border operation' bloc consisting of Iraq,
the US and Iran. On the other hand, with the Maliki visit, Ankara
and Baghdad reached common ground regarding the characterization of
the PKK. Whether Barzani will accept this characterization is
another question. In any case, Ankara now has a diplomatic
instrument to use as a basis toward a comprehensive cooperation
agreement against terrorism. It would be realistic to expect the US
to push Iraq for a comprehensive anti-terrorism agreement. Also,
the Maliki party did not leave empty handed. One of the articles of
the MOU indicates that Turkey and Iraq will not interfere in each
other's domestic affairs. It is obvious that Iraqi Kurds and their
supporters will read this article as Turkey's commitment not to
interfere in the Kirkuk issue."

Congressman Shays Visits MFA
Hurriyet, Cumhuriyet and others report Congressman Christopher Shays
(R-Connecticut) met in Ankara yesterday with Turkish Foreign
Ministry officials, after which he said that a recent anti-terror
deal between Turkey and Iraq made it clear that the PKK is a
terrorist organization, and Turkey has a right to take any necessary
action with a neighbor that is tolerating terrorist activity.
Shays, however, stressed that it is to the advantage of Iraq,
Turkey, and the US to work this out collectively rather than one
country taking "unilateral action."

FBI's Fuentes Visits Turkish Police Chief
"FBI Thanks Turkish Police," says a headline in the
Islamist-oriented Yeni Safak, reporting Thomas V. Fuentes, the head
of FBI's International Operations, paid a visit to Turkish Security
Director-General Oguz Kaan in Ankara yesterday. Fuentes reportedly
praised the work of Turkish police in capturing Atilla E., a Turkish
hacker arrested within the frame of operations against al-Qaeda.
Fuentes said the American public welcomed the hacker's arrest,
according to Yeni Safak.

Mayor Gokcek Blamed for Water Crisis in Ankara
All papers point to the water shortage in Ankara, criticizing Mayor
Melih Gokcek for failing to take timely measures despite the fact
that he had been warned a couple of years in advance before drought
hit the capital. Water distribution was interrupted in Ankara on
Tuesday until Friday midnight when a main water line burst, causing
floods which damaged more than 100 shops and houses in the
Yenimahalle district.

State Water Works (DSI) director said Mayor Gokcek had been warned
about approaching water problems in 2002 and 2004, in letters which
said construction should start for a nearby dam in Isikli to bring
water to Ankara. Gokcek allegedly refused saying the dam's estimate
cost of around USD 250 million was high, but later spent hundreds of
millions on city roads and also imported trees worth USD 500
million. Cumhuriyet reports hospitals in Ankara halted surgeries
except for emergency cases due to lack of water. Papers also report
water levels fell down to 26 percent in the dams around Istanbul as
well.

TV Highlights
NTV

Domestic News

- Energy Minister Hilmi Guler told the press after meeting his
Azerbaijani counterpart Natiq Aliyev that the amount of oil flowing
through the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline has reached 1 million
barrels a day.


ANKARA 00002039 003 OF 003


- Foreign Ministry Deputy Undersecretary Ertugrul Apakan plans to
visit Washington at the end of this month as the official guest of
State U/S Nicholas Burns.

- The Union of Turkish Chambers of Agriculture estimates the cost of
drought to Turkey is 5 billion Turkish Lira.

- A German teenager on trial in Antalya on charges of sexual abuse
of a 13 year-old English girl was ordered to remain in custody
pending the next session of his trial in September.

International News

- The Greek radio and television board has decided to close down
King FM Radio broadcasting in Turkish in Western Thrace.

- Pro-Greek US congressmen have introduced a bill in the Congress
asking Turkey to end its military presence in Cyprus.

- President Peres anticipates US and European support for a peace
proposal according to which Israel will promise a Palestinian state
on territory equal to 100 percent of the West Bank and Gaza.

- The Dutch extreme right leader Geert Wilders has called for the
Koran to be banned in the Netherlands. Wilders claimed the Koran
was "a fascist book which called for violence".


MCELDOWNEY

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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