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Cablegate: Ankara Media Reaction Report

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SIPDIS

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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, AUGUST 14, 2007


In Today's Papers

AKP Names Gul as Presidential Candidate
All papers report Turkey's ruling AKP will re-nominate Foreign
Minister Abdullah Gul as its sole candidate to stand in the
presidential election, to be conducted in the parliament next week.
Papers report Gul, accompanied by Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Ali
Sahin and Labor Minister Murat Basesgioglu, will first meet with
opposition party leaders Tuesday to garner support before officially
announcing his bid for the presidency.

Deniz Baykal, leader of the main opposition CHP, said he is opposed
to Gul as president because of Gul's Islamist past, not because of
his wife's headscarf. Baykal said CHP has "serious doubts about
Gul's loyalty to republican values." CHP has not yet responded to
Gul's request for an appointment with Baykal. The far-right MHP
said it does not want chaos in the presidential election, signaling
it will cooperate with the AKP. MHP leader Devlet Bahceli will meet
with Gul on Tuesday. MHP Secretary General Cihan Pacaci said Gul's
nomination was "expected," noting that as already announced, the MHP
will attend the session on the presidential elections. The
pro-Kurdish DTP, which has 20 MPs, welcomed Gul's nomination and
said they were not concerned about the headscarf issue. DTP
lawmaker Sirri Sakik said the DTP wants a president that "would
cover all the 72 million people in Turkey," hoping that Gul would
put forward projects for freedom, democracy, and human rights.

Under the page one headline "Headscarf on its way to the Palace,"
leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet says Gul chose to ignore calls for
compromise in pressing ahead with his presidential bid. Mainstream
Milliyet is asking whether Gul, if elected president, will take his
headscarf-wearing wife to the August 30 Victory Day reception to be
hosted by the Turkish General Staff (TGS). The Islamist-oriented
Yeni Safak says Prime Minister Erdogan fully backs Gul, rejecting
speculation the PM did not want Gul to run again for the presidency
because of possible strains with the secular establishment. The
paper also expects some CHP lawmakers to support Gul in the
secret-ballot voting.

SIPDIS

The first round of voting has been set for August 20. Gul is not
expected to win until the third round on August 28 when he needs
only a simple majority of votes in the parliament.

Editorial Commentary on Gul's Presidential Bid
Okay Gonensin writes in the mainstream daily Milliyet: "The main
cause of the most recent political crisis was Abdullah Gul's
presidential candidacy. However, the results from the ballot boxes
proved that one of every two voters favored Gul and his party, the
AKP. On the other hand, it will certainly be very difficult for
many people to digest the idea of Gul in the presidential seat with
his wife wearing a headscarf and having sued Turkey in the European
Court of Human Rights over her right to wear it. Democracy requires
that we get used to seeing undesired things or circumstances in
order to preserve the fundamental principles of the regime. Given
Gul's performance as Foreign Minister as well as Prime Minister,
calling his presidency a potential disaster would be an emotional
overreaction. Gul will have the time to eliminate worries during
his presidency. The most important thing is to judge him by what he
does, whether we like him or not."

Seyfettin Gursel writes in the business and political daily Referans
(8/14): "I have no problem with Gul and no problem with his wife's
headscarf. Turkey's real problem is its maturing democracy which
requires fundamental constitutional changes in order to pave the way
for contemporary liberal tendencies and to reshape the army's role.
Unfortunately Gul's presidency will be a reason to slow down or even
prevent the new constitution process. The debate and paranoia over
his presidency will diminish the energy as well as enthusiasm for a
democratic constitution. The AKP should have thought about naming
someone with a lower profile and then exerting all of its energy on

ANKARA 00002080 002 OF 003


getting the reforms."

Erdogan to Submit Cabinet List to Sezer Thursday
All papers report Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Ali Sahin said Prime
Minister Erdogan could submit his new cabinet list to President
Sezer on Thursday, ending ongoing speculation in the Turkish media
that Erdogan would wait for the election of a new president before
submitting his cabinet list for approval by the head of state.
Papers note if Sezer objects to some names in the list, Erdogan will
wait to re-submit it to the new president.

Zebari: Talabani, Barzani Support MOU with Turkey
Milliyet, Radikal, Cumhuriyet and Zaman report Iraq's Foreign
Minister Hoshyar Zebari said on Monday President Jalal Talabani and
Kurdistan regional administration leader Massoud Barzani fully
support the Memorandum of Understanding signed between Prime
Minister Nouri al-Maliki and his Turkish counterpart Erdogan in
Ankara last week.
Maliki told Turkey's English-language daily The New Anatolian's
internet edition that the objections by unqualified Iraqi Kurdish
officials to the MOU signed by Maliki should be disregarded. Zebari
said Talabani and Barzani have no objections to Maliki's statement
that the Iraqis are opposed to all terrorist organizations including
the PKK operating on Iraqi territories.

Kurdish MPs Want to Attend Funerals of Soldiers Killed by PKK
Mainstream Hurriyet reports Kurdish party DTP MPs, after having
shaken hands with nationalist MHP and announced they would go to the
games of the Turkish national soccer team, are now searching for
ways to attend the funerals of martyred soldiers killed in fighting
with the PKK militants. DTP party group chairman Selahattin
Demirtas welcomed the proposal put forth by Kurdish MP Sebahat
Tuncel, but warned that the funerals have been exploited for
political goals and that the participation of DTP members could stir
tensions.

Government to Mediate Between Turkish Airlines, Unions
All papers report the Turkish government has set up a commission to
prevent a Turkish Airlines (THY) strike, Deputy Prime Minister
Mehmet Ali Sahin said on Monday. Sahin said the commission
comprising himself, Finance Minister Kemal Unakitan and Labor
Minister Murat Basesgioglu would work for compromise between THY and
labor unions which are reportedly demanding higher wages and
expanded benefits. The cabinet has the authority to postpone any
strike at companies deemed "strategic," including THY.

TV Highlights
NTV, 7.00 A.M.

Domestic News

- More than 10 days have passed after a main water pipeline burst
and was repaired in Ankara, but some neighborhoods in the capital
still have no water.

- A group of suspected PKK militants threw Molotov cocktails into an
empty commuter bus and street car in Istanbul Monday night.

- Energy Minister Hilmi Guler will travel to Tehran on Friday to
finalize an electricity and natural gas agreement.

- More than 40 passengers were injured when a sea bus collided with
a Ukrainian cargo vessel off the Zeytinburnu district in Istanbul.


International News

- Ankara has offered to host an autumn international conference on
the Middle East peace, first proposed by the US. Israel reportedly
supports the Turkish proposal.

ANKARA 00002080 003 OF 003

- Greek Cypriot Foreign Minister Erato Kozakou Markoulli said
Turkish troops, "occupiers" in northern Cyprus, should pull out of
the divided island.

- Karl Rove, a political advisor to President Bush, will resign at
the end of this month.

- Two South Korean women held hostage by the Taliban for more than
three weeks in Afghanistan were freed on Monday.

MCELDOWNEY

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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