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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
SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 4, 2007

SPECIAL EDITION ON IRAQ'S NEIGHBORS MINISTERIAL MEETING IN ISTANBUL

Media Coverage: November 4, 2007


All Sunday papers report that Saturday's Iraqi Neighbors Ministerial
Meeting, including foreign ministers of Iraq's neighbors, permanent
members of the UN Security Council, and the G-8 countries, ended
with a strong condemnation of "all kinds of terrorist activities."
In addition, the participants urged for more efforts from the Iraqi
government to fight against terrorism and prevent the Iraqi
territory from being used as a base for terror attacks against
neighboring countries. Attendees included representatives from
Turkey, Iraq, the United States, Britain, Germany, France, Bahrain,
Iran, Italy, Japan, Canada, Kuwait, Egypt, Russia, Saudi Arabia, the
European Commission, the Arab League, the United Nations and the
OIC. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri
al-Maliki, US Secretary of State Rice and the Foreign Ministers of
France, Germany, Iraq, and Iran were among the key guests of the
conference. A final statement released at the end of the meetings
endorsed the establishment of a "support mechanism" in Baghdad to
help continuation of the talks. It highlighted "the richness of the
multi-cultural, multi-sectarian, and multiethnic structure of Iraq
and the importance of securing a peaceful coexistence of all
communities." It also noted the next meeting would be held in
Kuwait.

Prime Minister Erdogan said the final communiqu incorporated
practical elements pertaining to the implementation of the
principles. "The fact that the final communiqu includes strong
chapters on counterterrorism, over which we should all cooperate,
has pleased us. We find it useful and beneficial to continue the
Iraq neighboring countries process at the expanded level," Erdogan
said. Papers report Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki pledged in
the talks that all PKK offices would be shut down in Iraq,
logistical support going to the PKK would be cut, and that Iraq
would not allow its territory be used for attacks against its
neighbors.

Foreign Minister Ali Babacan reportedly explained to his
counterparts in Istanbul that Turkey keeps all options on the table,
and that a possible Turkish military operation into north of Iraq
would not be an "invasion" but rather an "incursion" designed to
target the terrorist camps. Mainstream Milliyet says in bilateral
talks with Babacan at the Istanbul meetings, the Foreign Ministers
of France and Germany warned Turkey against cross-border operations
into northern Iraq. Sunday papers also reported Foreign Minister
Ali Babacan, Secretary Rice and Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar
Zebari had a trilateral meeting during the summit talks. In a joint
press conference with Babacan after the trilateral, Zebari said they
took several tangible measures to neutralize the PKK, and stressed
that all countries should respect Iraq's sovereignty and territorial
integrity. Zebari said that prior to the Istanbul conference, three
working groups were established in the areas of security, energy,
and displaced people, adding that a center would be established in
Baghdad to continue the activities of these working groups. Zebari
also voiced pleasure with the results of the Istanbul conference.
Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh pledged in Istanbul to
increase the number of checkpoints along the border between Iraq and
Turkey. Following these pledges, three offices of the
PKK-affiliated Kurdistan Democratic Solution Party were closed in
Erbil and Suleymaniye, papers report, however columnists claim the
closures were merely a cosmetic measure. Nechirvan Barzani, the
Prime Minister of the regional Kurdish government in Iraq, told an
exclusive interview with the private NTV news channel that they are
unhappy with the PKK's using the Iraqi territory to attack Turkey,
stressing that, for a solution, the Kurdish government has to be at
the negotiating table as well.

Papers report that Turkey was "relatively satisfied" with the

ANKARA 00002719 002 OF 003


measures the Iraqis have promised to take against the PKK, but that
these measures are still "insufficient," and all possibilities
remain open. Mainstream Hurriyet says many pledges were made at the
summit talks without any commitment for capturing the PKK
terrorists. Leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet claims Turkey could not
get what it wanted from the Iraq summit and that the final
declaration stressed non-intervention in Iraq's internal affairs.
Islamist-oriented Yeni Safak and Zaman believe that Turkey,
displaying a stern attitude, got what it wanted from the talks in
Istanbul. Zaman says the Istanbul talks stressed Iraq's territorial
integrity and that it called on the UN to play an active role in
Iraq.

Editorial Commentary on the Iraqi Neighbors Conference:

In the mainstream daily Milliyet, columnist Taha Akyol says PM
Erdogan is on the way to Washington with Iraqi summit backing: "The
United States felt uneasy when Turkey organized the Iraqi
Neighboring Countries Conference prior to the war in Iraq. It
believed that it was able to deal with all the problems and did not
want anyone to interfere. Although the United States is a
superpower, the tragic situation in Iraq has made it realize that
its might is limited! It is looking for allies and friends in the
area. Of course, countries like Turkey, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, and
Saudi Arabia have friendly relations with the United States. In
fact, they are its allies. However, all the allies of that country
in the area, except Israel, are opposed to its policy on Iraq --
particularly to the support it gives to KDP leader Barzani, which
increases the danger of division in that country. That is what has
caused problems in Turkey's relations the United States. The
neighboring countries have become more important because of the
deadlock the United States is confronted with in Iraq. The regional
countries being more involved in matters related to Iraq will
strengthen Iraq's integrity. The statement the Arab League issued
two days ago to the effect that the 'PKK must move out of Iraq' is a
typical example. The draft final communiqu of the Second Expanded
Meeting of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Iraqi Neighboring
Countries contains many important points on that subject. Article 9
calls for the disbanding of all the militia (peshmerge) forces and
armed groups without exception. Article 10 says that multicultural
cities should not be placed under the control of only one group and
that the Iraqi government should be advised to agree to a committee
that will be established with the participation of UNESCO and the
neighboring countries for that purpose. Article 17 criticizes all
terrorist activities and calls for the establishment of a mechanism
for the obstruction of terrorist activities that are carried out
from outside the borders of a target country. Article 18 recalls
that in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 1546, no
country should allow terrorist activities in its territory. Article
19 stresses the importance of the effective control of borders.
Prime Minister Erdogan will visit the United States after he secures
an important regional diplomatic support from the neighboring
countries. The 'Iraqi neighboring countries' are now waiting to see
what the United States will do. They want to establish whether or
not it will support separatism and whether or not Northern Iraq will
become a place which does not shelter the PKK."

In the mainstream daily Hurriyet, Oktay Eksi stresses the unkept
promises of Iraqi Kurdish leaders: "Iraqi PM Maliki made some
remarks at the Istanbul summit, asking Turkey not to allow the PKK
issue to harm the ties between Turkey and Iraq. We've had enough of
good will statements, and we have heard too many promises to fight
against PKK in Iraq. It is certain that the Iraqi administration is
not capable of doing anything against the PKK, nor does it have any
intention to take action. Therefore Maliki's statement 'we will not
allow anybody to use our soil for attacking other neighbors' is
nothing but nice words."

In the liberal daily Radikal, Murat Yetkin writes: "Because of
Turkey's initiative, the Iraqi Neighbors Conference put terrorism,

ANKARA 00002719 003 OF 003


particularly the fight against terrorism stemming from Iraqi soil,
on the agenda, which is a major accomplishment for Ankara. The
recent terrorist attacks put Turkey in the spotlight and helped
secure high level participation to the conference. It was a very
good move to persuade the UN Secretary General to attend the Iraqi
Neighbors Conference, which in turn paved the way for emphasis on
the UN's role to the Iraq process. Turkey could not get any
concrete step against the PKK out of the Istanbul meetings, however
Turkey achieved a great deal in diplomacy. The PKK attacks are on
international agenda. On the international level, Turkey has gained
significant international sympathy and support for its struggle
against PKK terror."

WILSON

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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