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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
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 5, 2007


In Today's Papers

Abducted Turkish Soldiers Return Home
All papers report that the 8 Turkish soldiers, abducted 14 days ago
during an attack by the PKK, were released and brought home to
Turkey on Sunday. Mainstream Sabah reports that the hostages were
brought to Irbil in a motor vehicle, transferred from Irbil's Ankawa
air-field to Mossul's Barmeri airport, and then transported by
helicopter to Diyarbakir military base in Southern Turkey. Iraqi
Defense Minister Casim and the commandant of the coalition forces in
Iraq, General Petraeus, also accompanied the soldiers to Turkey.
Meanwhile, the Turkish General Staff web site announced that the
soldiers re-joined the Turkish Armed Forces. Papers also highlight
US State Department Spokesman Sean McCormack's remarks that the US
welcomes the return of the eight soldiers to Turkey.

Erdogan-Bush Summit
All papers report that during his meeting with President Bush, Prime
Minister Erdogan will explain Turkey's determination to take
measures to eliminate the PKK in Northern Iraq, including the
possibility of a cross border operation. In addition, he will urge
the US to take concrete steps on this issue. Mainstream Milliyet
notes that the US Administration, in order to convince Turkey not to
launch a cross-border operation into Northern Iraq, intensified its
pressure on Iraqi Government and Northern Iraqi Administration.
Papers note that the release of the 8 kidnapped Turkish soldiers and
the raids against the PKK offices indicate US determination just
before Erdogan-Bush meeting. President Bush is expected to promise
to work with Turkey in its fight against the PKK, namely by sharing
intelligence.

EDITORIAL OPINION: Bush-Erdogan Meeting

Gungor Mengi commented in the mainstream daily Vatan (11/5): "The
abducted soldiers are free, which is very good news. However the
development of recent events related to the abduction and the
release make us to think whether this was part of a game for the
upcoming Bush-Erdogan meeting. Because so far, the US has said they
do not know the whereabouts of PKK while Northern Iraqi leaders
claim that it was impossible to track down the PKK militants. Yet
both of them could made contact with PKK as the soldiers were handed
over. The US has been objecting to a cross border operation and now
the administration has a good excuse since the soldiers are now
free. This unanswered question remains: Did President Bush gain
politically from the timing of this handover and/or was it, indeed,
a staged event to help him out?"

Semih Idiz commented in the mainstream Milliyet (11/5): "Latest
developments indicate that Iraqi Kurds are trying to put President
Bush in a stronger position vis-`-vis PM Erdogan during the upcoming
meeting. Although, release of the Turkish soldiers and closure of
the PKK offices in Northern Iraq are positive developments but
definitely not fully satisfactory for Turkey. Ankara considers
these developments as having secondary importance and not convincing
enough to prevent Turkey from launching a cross-border operation
into Northern Iraq. The Erdogan-Bush meeting will have a
determining role on the issue of elimination of the PKK presence in
the Kandil Mountains."

Washington-based Ali Aslan wrote in the Islamist-leaning daily
Zaman: "The US administration has been pressuring Turkey not to
carry out a cross-border operation. In return, Turkey is also
putting pressure on Washington regarding the PKK. Secretary Rice
reiterated the US stance against a cross-border operation in Ankara,
and now PM Erdogan will repeat his pressure concerning action
against the PKK at the White House meeting. Washington has managed
to stall Turkey's actions on this issue so far. However it seems
things have changed and the US has taken the PKK issue very
seriously, more seriously than ever before. Turkey stood united
with its civilian and military, which was a good signal for

ANKARA 00002716 002 OF 002


Washington to take this issue up seriously. At this point, the US
may arrest some of the identified members of PKK and hand them over
to Turkey, which may work as image-saver. If that is not possible,
Washington will most likely not object Turkey's limited operations,
including air bombardment of Kandil Mountain. There is a Kurdish
lobby in the US, which constantly advises that PKK should not be
touched so that the stability of Northern Iraq will not be harmed.
Nowadays this lobby is losing its influence over Washington. Many
Americans are now aware of the fact that the consequences of not
touching PKK will be very dangerous and that the US will suffer from
a potential loss in Turkish-American bilateral ties and continued
instability in Northern Iraq."

TV News:
NTV

Domestic News

- Former Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Erdal Inonu was
laid to rest in Istanbul over the weekend in a funeral attended by
thousands of people.

- Energy Minister Hilmi Guler said Turkey has not yet imposed any
electricity sanctions on Iraq.

- The Turkish Bar Association has released its own alternative
version of constitutional reforms which focuses on fundamental
rights and freedoms.

- The Turkish Parliament is to discuss this week a draft for the
construction of nuclear power plants in the country.

International News

- Pakistan's President Musharraf has declared a state of emergency
and postponed general elections slated for January.

- Secretary Rice, during a visit to Tel Aviv, said that Turkey's
fight against the PKK should not destabilize northern Iraq.

- Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Palestinians and Israelis
might reach an agreement before the end of President Bush's term in
office.

- Prime Minister Erdogan is to pay a formal visit to Italy on
November 6-8 to meet President Giorgio Napolitano, Foreign Minister
Massimo D'Alema, Parliament Speaker Fausto Bertinotti, and Senate
Speaker Franco Marini.

WILSON

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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