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Cablegate: Ankara Media Reaction Report

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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 ANKARA 002718

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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
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 3, 2007

SECRETARY RICE VISIT SPECIAL EDITION

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All papers cover Secretary Rice's visit to Ankara in flashy front
page stories along with commentaries attached. Reports
predominantly keep a positive tone highlighting the Secretary's
emphasis on the US's commitment to fight against the PKK, but also
add that Secretary Rice did not go beyond strong promises and
nothing more than sharing intelligence. Expectations for tangible
results for action against the PKK have moved to the upcoming
Erdogan-Bush meeting at the White House, papers report.

Mainstream daily Milliyet says "Ankara has presented to Secretary
Rice a plan to finish off the PKK. The details of this
comprehensive plan will be discussed at the White House. Meanwhile
Turkey once again reiterated to Rice that words are long gone and
deeds are needed urgently." Hurriyet mentions Secretary Rice's
statement "PKK is also our enemy" and adds that "these words are
good but not enough for concrete cooperation against PKK." Sabah
says during the meeting at the Prime Ministry a Turkish general was
included in the delegation. Therefore, Secretary Rice did the same
by adding her military adviser to the American delegation.
According to Sabah, Secretary Rice presented a plan to Turkey. The
plan aims at finishing the PKK: The initial stage is to cut off
PKK's logistical support and provide intelligence, and during mid
and long term wants to eliminate PKK without harming Iraq's
stability. Vatan maintains a negative tone and says that Secretary
Rice "arrived Ankara empty-handed" and "passed the ball to the
upcoming White House meeting."

Liberal Radikal highlights that with the Secretary's visit, Ankara
had the chance to express its expectations and remind her of the
American obligation to fight against terrorism "in a bold manner."
The paper does quote Rice's statement acknowledging the US's
obligations concerning the PKK "We, also, have an obligation to
counter the PKK and, absolutely, we want a solution."

Islamist Yeni Safak raises expectations for the Bush-Erdogan meeting
by reporting as "PM Erdogan told Rice, when she started talking
about sharing intelligence, that Turkey has gone beyond that point
and waits for steps not words." In addition, the paper reports that
FM Babacan's question to Secretary Rice had a shocking effect when
he stated "We've come to the end of your words. What will you
actually do? We want effective steps." In PM Erdogan's meetings,
he affirmed "No more advice," while President Gul insisted "Turkey's
patience has run out." Yeni Safak argues that "The Washington
meeting will produce the final result." Meanwhile Zaman reports
that PM Erdogan has presented a comprehensive action plan to Rice
which seeks to finish off the PKK. However the paper adds no
concrete result has been achieved on the plan which will be part of
the discussions at the White House.

Leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet fronts "Once Again Words, No Deeds."
According to the paper, Secretary Rice came to Ankara for checking
the pulse prior to the upcoming PM Erdogan and President Bush
meeting. She once again asked for trilateral cooperation between
the US, Turkey and Iraq instead of taking responsibility on fight
with the PKK. Her proposals were just limited to the intelligence
exchange. Rice did not want Turkey to conduct any cross border
operations into Northern Iraq. The AKP government, despite its
earlier statement opposing the suggestion of using trilateral
mechanism, did not formulate any reaction to Rice as she came with
exactly the same proposal for enhancing the trilateral mechanism.

Editorial Commentary:

In the mainstream daily Sabah, Erdal Safak writes: "Secretary Rice
reiterated well-known messages once again. Even though Rice's
remarks are not very satisfactory, it was clear that the parties had
agreed on certain concrete steps and to keep these steps as a
secret. It is the general understanding that the main decision will

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ANKARA 00002718 002 OF 003


be made after the Erdogan-Bush meeting on November 5. However, we
think that the US will take some action as a gesture to Turkey
either before Erdogan-Bush meeting or immediately after the meeting.
For example, yesterday in Pakistan the US hit a Taliban target at
Afghanistan-Pakistan border. Could the US fire a rocket aimed at a
PKK target identified by US intelligence in Northern Iraq? Why not?
Anyhow, if the US does not take a concrete step soon, as General
Ralston warned yesterday, it will be inevitable for Turkey to enter
Northern Iraq."

Mainstream daily Sabah's managing editor Ergun Babahan asserts:
Rice came to Turkey to explain US sensitivities and to show that the
US understands Turkey's sensitivities. In international politics,
there are no lasting friendships or the hostilities, only the
relevant parties' interests. Continuation of this process is very
important for Turkey. That is why the upcoming Erdogan-Bush meeting
has great importance. The United States' determined stance against
the PKK and terrorism, along with its cooperation with Turkey, will
have an immense effect in preventing a military operation into
Northern Iraq. Diplomacy is based on 'give and take' policies and
what is important here is that both sides give and take equally.

Mainstream daily Milliyet's Semih Idiz observes: During her visit to
Ankara there were good remarks made by Secretary Rice which could be
taken as a 'guarantee.' However, after the recent bloody PKK
attacks, mere words are no longer satisfying the Turkish public.
The Erdogan government should advance with this fact in their mind.
That is why all eyes turned to the Erdogan-Bush meeting to be held
in Washington on Monday. However, the results of Rice's meetings in
Ankara indicate that it will be wrong to expect huge decisions from
Monday's meeting at the White House. Nevertheless, just like
democracies, in diplomacy also, solutions never end. That is why it
will be useful to wait for the results of the meeting at the White
House, even if there is caution and suspicion in this waiting
period.

In the leftist-nationalist daily Cumhuriyet, columnist Cuneyt
Arcayurek blames the Turkish government for not acting
independently: "Everyone knows there is no chance for the Turkish
Government to begin a cross-border operation without permission from
the US. Everyone knows that the so-called independent Turkey is
dependent on the US. While Turkey stays close to the US in its
expressions of friendship and strategic partnership, Turkey also
boasts that it's an independent state. Meanwhile, the US tries to
calm the AKP government, who feels pressured by the public anger,
against terror. Anyone watching these developments can ask: If your
patience has really run out and you are determined to take your own
steps, then why do you have to go to Washington to repeat the same
information to Bush and receive the same response one more time?"

Columnist Murat Yekin writes in the liberal daily Radikal: "It
indicated a toughening of rhetoric for Turkey when its foreign
minister reminded the US Secretary of State, in public, of the US
responsibility concerning the PKK operations in Northern Iraq.
Except for this, no surprises were seen during the visit. Prime
Minister Erdogan said Thursday the Rice visit would be a
'preliminary gathering' before his upcoming November 5 meeting with
President Bush. Erdogan, through his provincial party heads, had
already told the US Embassy in Ankara that Turkey's patience has run
out [on the PKK issue] and he entered the meeting with Rice with no
intention of being submissive. To make the situation clear, he
brought Foreign Minister Ali Babacan, international relations chief
advisor Professor Ahmet Davutoglu, AKP representative Egemen Bagis,
and his chief military advisor General Nusret Tasdelen, who is also
the Turkish General Staff (TGS) Operations Chief. The State
Department's chief military advisor participated in the meeting
together with Assistant Secretary Dan Fried. This is an indication
that Bush may include a four star general in the November 5 meeting
at the White House. This is a point not to be missed, because as of
yesterday, talks between the US and Turkey regarding the PKK

ANKARA 00002718 003 OF 003


presence in Iraq has gained a military dimension, suggesting the US
has consented to discuss the military aspects of the matter.
According to sources, US General Benjamin Mixon's remarks, i.e. that
he has received no instruction to combat the PKK, played a role in
the issue reaching this point. This newly-added military dimension
must be seen as the only sign of hope that the Bush-Erdogan meeting
will produce a tangible result. If not, the Americans seem to have
understood that Turks, who have shown through the example of Cyprus,
that they will cut their nose off to spite their face, and they will
attempt to do more on the PKK issue."

Abdulhamit Bilici, in the Islamist-oriented Zaman, does not speak
directly of Rice's visit, but argues that Turkey should, in essence,
follow Rice's suggestions to engage with Iraq by talking to Barzani.
In today's column, "Why Does Turkey Not Talk to Barzani?" he
asserts that Turkey should engage with Barzani. "It's not true that
Turkey does not speak to the Kurdish leaders in Iraq, because both
Prime Minister Erdogan and Foreign Minister Babacan meet with their
Iraqi counterparts at all international meetings in which Iraq and
Turkey participate. There's no sense in the fact that Iraqi
President Talabani has not yet come to Turkey. It was a significant
inconsistency of Turkey to exclude Talabani, while at the same time
insisting that Iraqi Kurds should not break away from the Iraqi
central administration. Diplomatic sources say that if he distances
himself from terror, Massoud Barzani can visit Turkey as the leader
of the KDP, and that Turkish leaders will meet with him. Barzani
should think about the effects of his own statements [concerning the
PKK] before he criticizes Turkey for not talking to him.

WILSON

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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