Cablegate: Ankara Media Reaction Report
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TAGS: OPRC KMDR TU
SUBJECT: ANKARA MEDIA REACTION REPORT
THURSDAY, JANUARY 3, 2008
In Today's Papers
Forensic Tests Conclude Ogun Samast Was 19 When He Killed Hrant Dink
All papers report the Istanbul Forensic Medicine Institution said a
bone density test proved that Ogun Samast was 19 years old when he
killed the Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink. Now, the court
will decide whether to consider the population registry records or
the bone density test as the best proof of age. If the court
determines Samast was not a minor when he committed the murder, he
could be sentenced to life in prison. If the court determines
Samast was a minor when he committed the murder, he could be
sentenced to a maximum of 17 years in prison.
Bush-Gul to Meet at White House January 8th
Hurriyet, Milliyet, Sabah, Radikal, Cumhuriyet, Zaman, Yeni Safak
and others report
President Bush will receive President Abdullah Gul at the White
House on January 8th. After the meeting, Bush will embark on a tour
of the Middle East. In his first visit to Washington as President,
Gul is expected to discuss the situations in Afghanistan, Iraq, and
Lebanon, as well as Turkish operations in northern Iraq. Mainstream
Vatan says that on January 8th, Gul will have breakfast with
Secretary Rice and mainstream Hurriyet says Gul will meet Vice
President Dick Cheney before meeting Bush. Bush and Gul will have
lunch together after the meeting.
Syria Wants More Water from Turkey
All papers report a Syrian delegation headed by Deputy Prime
Minister Abdallah al-Dardari is engaging in talks in Ankara. In a
meeting Wednesday, Dardari reportedly asked Turkey to release more
water from the Euphrates River for Syrian use. Environment Minister
Veysel Eroglu responded by saying Turkey is acting in compliance
with the bilateral agreement, where 500 cubic meters of water is
released per second. "Turkey is currently suffering from drought.
If we have abundant rainfall, more water could be released for
Syria," Eroglu said. The Syrian delegation also met with Turkish
businessmen in Ankara yesterday; during the meeting, Dardari asked
the Turkish Union of Chambers (TOBB) to organize an industrial zone
on a 2500 hectare field in Syria.
Cicek: "Overhauling Turkey's Constitution Is As Hard As Moving Mt.
Deputy Prime Minister Cemil Cicek told mainstream Sabah overhauling
Turkey's constitution is like "moving Mount Ararat," but he pledged
that the task will be done.
Cicek said the AKP government has not examined the draft
constitution yet, but called the process a "victory for democracy."
Cicek rejected allegations that the AKP has "hidden intensions"
regarding constitutional reform. "The draft has been prepared by
the AKP, but the constitution is not designed to serve the interests
of AKP. Charges that the new constitution will undermine the regime
are ungrounded," said Cicek. He noted the "irrevocable" provisions
of the constitution will be preserved.
Islamist-oriented Zaman writes Turkey's new draft "civilian"
constitution will limit presidential powers to appoint officials,
allow affirmative action for women and allow the use of Kurdish and
other languages in courts. The draft introduces a new definition of
"Turkishness." The existing constitution says all citizens of the
Turkish state are Turks, whereas the new draft says "all citizens of
the Turkish state are Turks regardless of their race and religion."
According to the new draft constitution, a political party can be
banned only if it fails to arrange its regulations and programs
within the constitutional provisions. If a party is banned, the
members of the disbanded party will not lose their parliamentary
membership. The Higher Education Board (YOK) will be abolished and
replaced by the "Higher Education Coordination Board" (YOKK), which
is to have financial and administrative autonomy. The draft
contains no changes regarding the status of the National Security
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Council (MGK). Prime Minister Erdogan will make the final decisions
regarding controversial issues such as the headscarf ban, the trial
of the chief of the military General Staff, and presidential
appointments. The draft will be opened for public debate and will
be submitted to parliament in the spring. The ruling AKP plans to
hold a referendum on the constitution in the fall.
Editorial Commentary on New Constitution
Ergun Babahan commented in mainstream Sabah (1/3): "During his
interview with Cumhuriyet, CHP leader Baykal announced 2008 as a
year of constitutional crisis for Turkey. Deputy PM Cemil Cicek
talked to Sabah and explained the difficulties of amending a
constitution. Cicek is right to say that "changing the
constitution is as hard as moving a mountain." The current
constitution is a product of a revolution which only considered the
state as a sole power. There are political circles that do not want
to lose their constitutional powers; these same circles are also
against reforms which will carry Turkey toward EU accession.
Despite this resistance, Turkey is changing. This constitution has
unchangeable provisions, including secularism, a unitary state
system, and designation of Turkish as the official language. But
obviously, the rest of the provisions can be amended. For this
reason, it would be more appropriate to consider 2008 as a year of
constitutional opportunities rather than a year of constitutional
Legal Actions against DTP MPs
Hurriyet, Milliyet, Sabah, Radikal, Cumhuriyet, Zaman and others
report the Ankara prosecutor has asked parliament to lift the
immunity of DTP deputy Ahmet Turk for "insulting the military." The
prosecutor sent the warrant to the Justice Ministry, from where it
will be submitted to parliament. Ahmet Turk criticized the
exclusion of DTP lawmakers from an August 30th Turkish General Staff
Meanwhile, Interior Minister Besir Atalay said there is evidence
suggesting DTP MP Pervin Buldan's car was used for drug smuggling.
Buldan rejected the charge, saying she is the target of a defamation
Meanwhile, police searched the pro-Kurdish DTP office in the
southeastern city of Gaziantep and arrested provincial deputy leader
Mehmet Aslanoglu for making PKK propaganda.
Turkey to Issue Annual Human Rights Report
Mainstream Milliyet reports the Prime Ministry Human Rights Board
will release annual reports regarding human rights in Turkey. The
Board's Chairman, Professor Hasan Fendoglu, said they were drawing a
"map of human rights violations across Turkey." Statistical data and
commentary on human rights violations would be compiled for all
provinces in the country. Fendoglu said, "Our reports will contain
data, comments and suggestions for solutions," concerning human
- On January 24, Deputy Chief of the Turkish General Staff (TGS)
Ergin Saygun will go to the US for meetings with key Pentagon
officials and the high-level defense group.
- Prosecutors unexpectedly demanded a 25-year prison sentence for a
police officer who fired at a young motorist in Izmir in November.
- The Turkish General Staff (TGS) website said Wednesday two PKK
militants were captured in Silopi while they tried to cross the
border into Turkey.
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- Turkey's annual exports for 2007 amount to USD 105.9 million,
which is 23.49 % above the figure for the previous year. However,
exporters are concerned about rising electricity and natural gas
- Despite opposition from the Iraqi Central Government in Baghdad,
Iraq's Kurdish regional administration signed a USD 800 million deal
with Canadian firms to build three oil refineries.
- Results from the Iowa caucuses will be announced Thursday night.
- Following the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, Pakistan has
decided to postpone the January 8th elections until February 18th.
- The US Embassy, Israeli Embassy, and the British High Commission
were evacuated in Canberra, Australia after mysterious packages were