Cablegate: Ankara Media Reaction Report
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SUBJECT: ANKARA MEDIA REACTION REPORT
MONDAY, OCTOBER 1, 2007
In Today's Papers
PKK Kills 12 Civilians in Sirnak
All papers report over the weekend and today that on Saturday PKK
terrorists attacked a minivan in the southeastern province of
Sirnak, killing seven village guards and five construction workers
employed on a nearby water channel project. The attack is the first
one exclusively targeting civilians in recent years. President
Abdullah Gul and Prime Minister Erdogan strongly condemned the
attack. Erdogan stressed that such attacks will not interrupt the
fight against terror, adding that the attack was the last throes of
terrorism. The victims were laid to rest in Sirnak on Sunday with
the participation of a crowd of 2,500. Hurriyet says the attack
aimed to block infrastructural services in the southeast.
The pro-Kurdish DTP released a statement condemning the massacre and
also blaming the ruling AKP government for making no efforts to open
up political channels. "The insensitivity of the government and the
fact that no measures were taken also have a role in the massacring
of our 12 citizens. It is the government's duty to find the
perpetrators and reveal the truth in this incident," the DTP
Start of the New Legislative Year
Hurriyet, Radikal, Sabah and others: Papers report that the Turkish
Parliament will start the new legislative year with the speech of
President Gul at 15:00 today. Mainstream Hurriyet says it is
learned that in his speech Gul will make remarks to ease the
concerns with regard to secularism and reiterated that the guarantee
for secularism is the Presidency. Liberal Radikal says that in a
meeting with representatives of labor union Turk-Is, Gul urged the
government to unveil the draft constitution and to start the public
debates on the draft.
Parliament Speaker Koksal Toptan will host a reception at the
Parliament this evening for the start of the new legislative year.
Vatan and Sabah report that the military won't attend the General
Assembly or this evening's reception because the Commanders will be
in Istanbul today for the opening of the War Academies.
Rumors that Ralston Has Resigned
Mainstream Hurriyet cites reliable sources in reporting that General
Ralston, the US Special Envoy to Combat the PKK Coordinator, has
submitted his resignation to the State Department. Reportedly,
General Ralston claimed that the mechanism doesn't work and he
doesn't want to continue to work as the counter-terrorism special
envoy. Joseph Ralston has been exerting efforts to create new
policies for countering PKK terrorism, since August 2006. His
Turkish counterpart was retired General Edip Baser for a long time.
After Baser's resignation, his successor Ambassador Akgunay and
Ralston had only one courtesy call over the phone.
International Kurdish Conference Held in Diyarbakir
Hurriyet, Milliyet and Radikal report the "Kurds in Turkey and Basic
Requirements for Peace" conference, the first international Kurdish
conference held in Diyarbakir by the German Heinrich Boll Stiftung
Foundation and Diyarbakir Bar Association, called for an end to
violence on Sunday, the last day of the gathering. Tennessee
Technology University member Professor Michael Gunter said if
Ataturk were alive he would agree with the Kurds on some points
within the territorial integrity of Turkey. Columnist Cengiz Candar
called on the Kurds to "be careful" while taking forward steps as
not to harm the Kurdish state that has been forming in northern
Iraq. "Kurds must stay away from violence and thus discourage
Turkey from intervening in northern Iraq. They must also support
Turkey's EU process," Candar said. The pro-Kurdish DTP deputy group
chief Selahattin Demirtas turned down calls for his party to declare
the PKK a terror organization. "You could not manage to resolve the
problem because you have been using this rhetoric for some 30 years.
We will not name terror what you call terror. The state should
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establish channels for the PKK to lay down arms," Demirtas said.
Editorial Commentary on Turkey-Iraq Security Agreement
Semih Idiz writes in mainstream Milliyet: "With the signed
agreement, Iraq has committed to blocking the military, political
and financial activities of PKK. Yet it is not clear how the
central government will be able to persuade Iraqi Kurds on this.
Iraqi Kurds demonstrated their influence by intervening in the
discussion on the content of the Turkey-Iraq security agreement.
Their message was basically this: if Ankara does not want us to be a
part of security negotiations then we will show our power through
outside interference. If the Congressional resolution regarding
the division of Iraq is implemented -- which is not unlikely --
Turkey will find itself alone arguing that Baghdad is the sole
counterpart for discussions. Turkey remains blind to the
developments regarding the new Iraq, which was shaped by Shiites and
Kurds. This approach potentially puts Turkey in some undesirable
de-facto situation. Even though Turkey has the right to and is
capable of taking steps despite the will of the international
community, I think, we should make a good analysis before taking any
steps and try not to row against the current. There are already two
good examples of rowing against the current to learn from: The US in
Iraq and Israel in Lebanon."
- CHP deputy chairman Onur Oymen said the anti-terror agreement
signed between Turkey and Iraq was a "hollow deal."
- Prime Minister Erdogan denied reports that he implied to The Wall
Street Journal that Ataturk's time was over.
- Labor unions will send a letter to the AKP government before the
Council of Ministers makes a decision with regard to the wages of
civil servants in 2008.
- Foreign trade deficit increased by 10.9 percent in the first eight
months of the year and reached USD 40.4 billion.
- EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn said the EU will not meddle
in headscarf debates in Turkey. "The EU's main concern is that a
planned new Turkish constitution should enhance fundamental
freedoms, especially freedom of expression and religion," Rehn said.
- On Sunday, the US military in Iraq said it had seized
sophisticated Iranian-made surface-to-air missiles that were being
used by insurgents in the war-torn country.