Cablegate: Ankara Media Reaction Report
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TAGS: OPRC KMDR TU
SUBJECT: ANKARA MEDIA REACTION REPORT
FRIDAY, JANUARY 18, 2008
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In Today's Papers
The Turban Debate Continues
All papers report the chairman of the far right MHP, Devlet Bahceli,
released a statement saying the turban controversy could be resolved
by rewriting article 10 of the Constitution. However, Ergun
Ozbudun, the architect of the new AKP-backed draft constitution,
said one-sentence changes in the constitution cannot solve problems
because similar reforms passed by the parliament were annulled by
the Constitutional Court in 1989.
The Chief prosecutor of the Court of Appeals Abdurrahman Yalcinkaya
objected to the government plan to lift the headscarf ban.
Yalcinkaya stated that political parties cannot use religion or
religious symbols for political gains. "The rights and freedoms
mentioned in the constitution cannot be used to destroy the unity
between the state and the nation, and to purge values of the secular
democratic republic," noted Yalcinkaya. He underlined that freedom
to wear certain clothing items in educational institutions might
cause damage to Turkey's secular and unitary structure. The ruling
AKP officials have criticized the chief prosecutor, saying his
statement contradicts the principle of separation of powers.
Opposition CHP leader Deniz Baykal warned that lifting the turban
ban in the constitution would spread other political symbols all
over public institutions and possibly even in the military. "It
will kick off a process, and no one can guess where it will stop,"
Islamist-oriented Zaman reports the Head of the Religious Affairs
Directorate (Diyanet,) Professor Ali Bardakoglu, said the headscarf
is a 'religious requirement' for women as is openly stated in Islam.
"All must realize that over the past 14 centuries, women in the
Muslim world have been covering their heads. The headscarf is a
religious requirement, but whether or not people meet it is a matter
of their own free will," said Bardakoglu. He stressed that the
matter can be resolved through dialogue among the political parties.
Editorial Commentary on Turban Debate
Ertugrul Ozkok commented in mainstream Hurriyet (1/18): "MHP leader
Bahceli seeks a solution for the turban issue within the framework
of the constitution. He believes that the turban can be allowed in
universities by passing a minor amendment to the Constitution's
Article 10. I strongly oppose this proposal. I believe that taking
the turban issue under a Constitutional guarantee will lead to
serious problems. In the past, I was never against women wearing
turbans entering universities. But the latest developments forced
me to change my mind. I am skeptical about the real goals of those
who want to lift this ban. I believe that lifting the ban will lead
to neighborhood pressure to wear the turban in Anatolian provinces.
I can see this issue has become a mission for the Prime Minister and
his circle. Obviously, winning 46.5 percent of the votes during the
elections encouraged them. If they want, they can lift the turban
ban within the democratic framework; and we have no right or power
to object. From today until the day I die, I will say 'wearing the
turban is a personal choice and it should not be a political or
religious symbol.' Putting such a provision in the Constitution
will undermine secularism."
Hrant Dink to be Commemorated on First Anniversary of His Death
Hurriyet, Milliyet, Radikal, Cumhuriyet, Zaman and others report
Turkish Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, shot dead last year, will be
commemorated on the first anniversary of his death on Saturday.
Papers echo suspicions persisting over a police cover up in his
slaying. A report by Trabzon Gendarme Command officials say Dink's
murder was plotted by Yasin Hayal, a key suspect who directed four
people to trail Dink and carry out research before killing the
journalist. The report was not put into the Dink murder file.
Links were seen among the members of security forces in Trabzon,
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Istanbul, and Ankara, and the plotters. A lawyer for the Dink
family told the Interior and Justice Ministries in a report, "As
long as the public officials investigated for involvement in the
murder retain their posts, the ambiguities surrounding the murder
cannot be cleared."
A commentary in the leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet says, "Solving
the Dink murder with all the forces in its background seems
impossible. Solving this murder means cleaning up the gangs within
the state. It means purging the 'inner state'. It means overcoming
the obstacles to democracy."
Editorial Commentary on the Dink Murder and Article 301
Hasan Cemal wrote in mainstream Milliyet (1/18): "Both Article 301
and the turban issue are about democracy and freedom, but PM Erdogan
doesn't seem to be willing to exert an equal amount of effort on
both issues. For the last two years the AKP government has not done
anything to address Article 301. As Cengiz Candar told an AKP
Minister, 'no one is in prison because of Article 301, but people
have died because of 301.' One year after the assassination of
Hrant Dink, we are still in darkness. The murder case remains
unsolved. Rakel Dink's screams during her husband's funeral still
ring in our ears: 'We cannot do anything until we question the
darkness that creates murderers out of babies.' Well, did we
question the darkness? No. Did the court case give us any trust in
the judiciary? No. Is the process of this trial trustworthy? No.
The Dink family and their lawyers sent a thick file to the Prime
Ministry containing a huge list of neglected issues. Looking at
that list, unfortunately, one easily looses trust in the
Survey: Anti-PKK Cooperation Lifts US Image in Turkey
Mass appeal Star daily and Today's Zaman English daily report
independent research organization Pollmark conducted a survey in
Turkey in December 2007, which shows that 57.8 percent of
participants welcomed the US cooperation against the PKK, while 30.8
percent remained skeptical. In a survey held by the same company in
October, 86.4 percent opposed the US and only 5.9 percent had a
positive view of the US. The same research says the ruling AKP's
support has increased to 50.6 percent from the 46.5 percent of votes
the party received in July 22 general elections; opposition CHP and
MHP suffered slight falls with 19.2 and 14.3 respectively. The poll
canvassed the views of 3,102 adults in one-on-one interviews in 12
provinces across Turkey in the last four days of December.
Baghdad Cuts Ties with Foreign Oil Firms Working with KRG
Zaman, Yeni Safak, Taraf, Cumhuriyet and Aksam report the Iraqi Oil
Ministry has decided to cancel oil deals signed between foreign oil
companies and the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) in northern
Iraq. An Iraqi official said if foreign oil companies insist on
retaining the deals they have with the KRG, the central government
in Baghdad would consider such dealings illegal and the companies
would be blacklisted. In a related story, Tabloid Aksam reports the
Iraqi Electricity Ministry blamed Turkey for suspending Iraq's
electrical supply, which the Ministry said caused a halt in oil flow
NTV, 7.00 A.M.
- Police detained two suspects in connection with the January 3 car
bomb attack in the mainly Kurdish southeastern city in Diyarbakir.
- Three students were injured in fighting between the left-wing and
right-wing groups at Istanbul's Marmara University.
- Opposition CHP and DSP deputies applied to the Constitutional
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Court for the annulment of a new law concerning judges and
- Turkey's Oyak Bank was sold to the Netherlands-based ING Group and
will be renamed ING Bank of Turkey.
- The Bulgarian Parliament has rejected a nationalist proposal for
the recognition of Armenian genocide claims.
- US Defense Secretary Robert Gates said NATO forces in southern
Afghanistan were ill-prepared to fight an insurgency.
- Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright has described the war
in Iraq as 'the biggest mistake in US foreign policy.'
- President Gul will travel to Syria to attend the opening ceremony
of 'Damascus, Capital of Arab Culture 2008' celebrations as the
guest of President Bashar al-Assad.