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Cablegate: Ankara Media Reaction Report

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SIPDIS

SIPDIS

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
FRIDAY, JANUARY 25, 2008

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In Today's Papers

Four Al-Qaeda Terrorists Killed in Fighting with Police in Gaziantep

All papers report that on Thursday, security forces raided 18
al-Qaeda 'cell houses' in the southeastern provinces of Gaziantep
and Kahramanmaras. Four terrorists were killed in the operations,
which lasted 13 hours. Papers say Mehmet Polat, who was killed
during yesterday's clash, trained in Afghanistan and was the newly
designated leader of al-Qaeda in Turkey. Police seized explosives
that were similar to those used in al-Qaeda attacks against the
British Consulate and HSBC bank in Istanbul in November 2003.
Suleyman Kamci, the governor of Gaziantep, said police seized seven
guns, 2 AK-47 rifles, ammunition, 75 kg of ammonium nitrate, 40 kg
of sulfur, and 10 kg of fertilizers. Governor Kamci noted the
al-Qaeda cell was planning attacks within Turkey. Mainstream
Milliyet claims they were preparing to attack US and Israeli
diplomatic targets in Turkey.

AKP and MHP Agree to Remove the Headscarf Ban in Universities
All papers report the ruling AKP and opposition MHP have agreed to
remove headscarf restrictions at universities. The AKP wants to add
a clause to article 42 of the constitution that says "no one can be
deprived of his right to higher education because of his clothing."
Article 10 guarantees equality before the law regardless of
language, race, sex, or religion. The MHP wants to add to article
10, "There shall be no headscarf discrimination with regard to the
use of public services." Article 42 guarantees that no one be
deprived of their right to education, conducted under state
supervision in line with the principles of Ataturk. Under the
formula agreed on by the two parties, students would be allowed to
wear the headscarf, but it would still be banned for teachers. MHP
deputy chairman Cihan Pacaci said the package would be finalized in
one or two days. Papers expect the changes to be submitted to the
parliament for approval next week. Papers report the rectors of
four major Turkish universities released a statement warning the new
regulation would lead to divisions in universities.
Leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet reports a senior EU official said the
new regulations would put pressure on students who choose not to
wear the headscarf. "The EU defends religious freedom, but this
does not mean the EU will approve radical moves," said the source,
stressing that harming secularism would reduce Turkey's EU accession
chances. Mainstream papers and columnists express concern the
AKP-MHP move could increase political tensions in Turkey, and that
financial markets are closely watching the headscarf debate.

Investigations into the 'Ergenekon' Gang Continue
All papers report investigations were launched into the activities
of the leaders of the nationalist group 'Ergenekon.' Four of the 35
Ergenekon suspects detained earlier this week have been released.
Papers carry extensive claims suggesting the nationalists may have
been behind a number of past bomb attacks and assassinations.
Ergenekon, headed by retired brigadier-general Veli Kucuk, was also
planning a series of spectacular bomb attacks and assassinations
aimed at destabilizing the country in order to topple the ruling AKP
government in 2009. In addition, the gang was plotting to kill
Nobel Prize winning novelist Orhan Pamuk, and was seeking some USD 2
million and a Glock gun for the assassination. Police have
monitored Ergenekon for several years and have compiled several
thousand pages of reports on the group and its activities, according
to papers.

Karamanlis Pushes for a Solution on Cyprus Issue
Sabah, Milliyet, Zaman, Vatan, Hurriyet, Aksam, Cumhuriyet and
others: Greek PM Karamanlis visited Ataturk's Mausoleum before he
delivered a speech at Bilkent University yesterday. In his speech,
Karamanlis extended support to Turkey's EU membership and said "A
European Turkey will benefit the people of Turkey, the region and
the continent as a whole. Turkey and Greece should leave behind all
enmities. The time has come for a solution in Cyprus." Karamanlis

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was received by President Gul and met with CHP leader Baykal before
he left Ankara for Istanbul, where he visited Patriarch
Bartholomeos.

Editorial Commentary on Reopening of Halki Seminary
Yasemin Congar wrote in leftist Taraf (1/25): "Greek PM Karamanlis
expressed hope for the reopening of the Greek Patriarchate's
seminary, along with respect for the rights of Turkey's Greek
minority. Everyone in Turkey who believes in religious freedom
supports these issues. PM Erdogan did not use precise language in
response to these requests; instead, he said the government 'was
working on it.' If the ruling AKP manages to turn its goodwill into
good deeds, the seminary will be reopened. Such an action will be
revolutionary; the seminary has been closed since 1971. Karamanlis
was correct when he called the Patriarchate Turkey's 'passport to
Europe.'"

Turkey - US Nuclear Cooperation
Hurriyet, Milliyet, Yeni Safak, Zaman: Most media outlets report
US President Bush submitted the US/Turkey Nuclear Cooperation
agreement (the "123" agreement) to Congress for approval.
Islamist-oriented Yeni Safak reports in "Turkey-US Nuclear
Cooperation" that the two countries "are preparing a new cooperation
after their intelligence-sharing cooperation against the PKK." This
cooperation provides for the "peaceful creation of nuclear
technology," with the "goal of producing electricity." In "Bush
Presents a US-Turkey Nuclear Cooperation Agreement to Congress,"
Islamist-oriented Zaman writes that "Ankara's peaceful production of
nuclear energy will strengthen the political struggle against the
proliferation nuclear weapons." In "The First Step in a Nuclear
Cooperation between the US and Turkey," Mainstream Hurriyet writes
that "the US will transfer nuclear technology to Turkey for the
peaceful production of nuclear energy." Liberal Radikal writes "the
agreement was drafted in 2000, but was suspended due to concerns
Turkish agents could pass nuclear secrets to countries like
Pakistan, but those concerns have now been resolved."

Israel Angered by Erdogan's Comments.
Sabah, Milliyet, Hurriyet, Cumhuriyet, Zaman and others: All news
outlets are reporting on the aftermath of Prime Minister Erdogan's
criticism of the Israeli Blockade. Nationalist-oriented Cumhuriyet
writes in "Erdogan Disappoints Israel," Israeli Foreign Ministry
officials expressed their disappointment to Israeli newspapers, "in
light of the friendly relations between Turkey and Israel, Israel
expects a different reaction from a state that is itself fighting
terror." On Tuesday, Erdogan stated to an AKP meeting "It is not
understandable to punish two million people because some of them are
doing wrong things." Mainstream Sabah reports "Turkish Ambassador
Namik Tan was summoned to the Israeli Foreign Ministry to discuss
Erdogan's remarks." Islamist-oriented Zaman writes that unnamed
Turkish Foreign ministry officials said "Israel did not protest
Erdogan's comments; they only conveyed the sensitivity of the
issue." In "Erdogan's Remarks Strain Relations," Mainstream
Milliyet opines Erdogan's remarks "opened the road for tensions
between Turkey and Israel." Mainstream Hurriyet argues that
"Erdogan angered Israel" by his "sharp criticism" which was answered
by a "sharp response" from Israel that Erdogan's criticism caused
"dreams to be broken" in Israel.

Editorial Commentary on Erdogan's Remarks on the West
Ergun Babahan warned in mainstream Sabah (1/25): "If Turkey wants
to be a member of the European Union, Turkey has to adopt Western
regulations and values. When we mention "the West" we are not
talking about a super market where you can choose items based on
your taste. There is a series of values at the foundation of a
market economy and a social state; these moral values include the
supremacy of law. Therefore, Prime Minister Erdogan's criticisms of
the West is hugely unfortunate. Erdogan recently said "Instead of
studying Western science and arts, we have adopted moral indecency
from the West, which conflicts with our values." Turkey will have

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to accept Western values if it is going to be a member of the EU.
Otherwise, Erdogan's statement can be interpreted to mean the EU is
an indecent institution and Turkey is just pretending to
integrate."

Editorial Commentary on US Backing Israel in the Middle East
Samir Salha commented in Islamist-leaning Zaman (1/25): "The
aftermath of President Bush's recent trip to Middle East deserves
close analysis. The visit indicated that, once again, the US favors
Israel regardless of its actions. Even Secretary Rice warned
President Bush about his over-flattering remarks to Israeli Prime
Minister Olmert. In the midst of Bush's Middle East visit, Israel
launched another attack on Gaza. This illustrates Israel's
perception that it has unconditional support from the US. Once
again, it is clear there will be no solution to the region's
problems as long as Washington continues to view the issues through
Israeli lenses. Moreover, there was one more dark result of this
visit. The Bush administration has laid the groundwork for an attack
on Iran. We are about to see accusations against Iran similar to
those against Saddam Hussein before the US invaded Iraq."

TV Highlights
NTV, 7.00 A.M.

Domestic News

- Turkey's influential business grouping TUSIAD chairperson Arzuhan
Yalcindag said Turkish women struggle with much more serious
problems than the headscarf issue.

- The court proceedings against the pro-Kurdish DTP deputy Aysel
Tugluk, who is accused of spreading PKK propaganda, have been
suspended due to her parliamentary immunity.

- Deputy Prime Minister Nazim Ekren said "Turkey is a safe haven for
investors amid the international economic turmoil."

- Economy Minister Mehmet Simsek said in a press interview at the
World Economic Forum in Davos that "Turkey is better equipped to
weather the current global market turmoil than it has been in the
past."

International News

- Greek media says Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis failed to make
any visible progress in bilateral ties during his visit to Turkey.


- The British Foreign Ministry has ensured the London-based
Anti-Terror Turkish Platform will monitor PKK activities in Britain.


- Iranian President Ahmadinejad has accepted an invitation from
Iraqi President Talabani to visit Baghdad.

- "Kosovo's declaration of independence is a matter of days away,"
the Serbian province's Prime Minister Hashim Thaci said Thursday.

WILSON

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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