Cablegate: Ankara Media Reaction Report
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SUBJECT: ANKARA MEDIA REACTION REPORT
FRIDAY, JANUARY 4, 2008
In Today's Papers
Blast Kills 5 in Diyarbakir
All papers report an explosion struck a military vehicle in the
heart of the mainly Kurdish southeastern city of Diyarbakir on
Thursday. Of the five who were killed in the explosion, two were
students; of the 110 who were injured, 30 were military personnel.
Eight of the injuries are serious, which could cause the death toll
to rise. The bomb was set off by remote control and targeted a
military vehicle carrying 46 personnel. Due to the explosion's
proximity to a school, many more children would have been injured or
killed if the explosion had occurred five minutes later, according
to a teacher. No one claimed responsibility for the explosion, but
the A4 explosives used in the blast are known to be used by the PKK.
Police have detained 12 suspects.
General Yasar Buyukanit, the chief of the military General Staff,
will go to Diyarbakir on Friday to visit the soldiers wounded in the
attack. Mainstream Sabah cites Anatolian News Agency sources in
reports that Turkish warplanes, soon after the Diyarbakir attack,
bombed terrorists camps located in the Gabar and Kupeli mountains.
After the blast, President Abdullah Gul and Prime Minister Erdogan
reaffirmed their determination to eliminate the PKK. "Once again
terrorism shows its ugly face," said Gul. Prime Minister Erdogan
stressed that "Turkey will continue to fight terrorism with
Turkey's mainly Kurdish political party DTP issued a statement
condemning the attack, which said the attack took place at a time
when there is need for peace around the country. The DTP also
tasked a delegation of parliamentarians and deputy chairmen to
conduct an investigation in Diyarbakir. The Mayor of Diyarbakir,
Osman Baydemir, also condemned the attack.
Mainstream Sabah and the Islamist-oriented Zaman say the attack
shows the desperation of the PKK terrorists, who are now heavily
bombarded by Turkey's military in northern Iraq. Papers note A-4
explosives were used in the attack, which "turns the eyes to the PKK
as the main suspect." Papers reiterate that the PKK had threatened
to retaliate against the Turkish operations into northern Iraq.
Under the headline, "The 'You Can't Return Home' Bomb," the
leftist-intellectual Taraf says the blast has been a response to the
AKP government's "return home" project for the PKK militants.
In a related story, all papers report that police have seized a bomb
made of 14 kg of C-4 explosives from a car in Bursa, which is just
south of Istanbul. One suspect was detained in Bursa. In the
eastern city of Van, police found a minibus, parked near the Van
castle, with hand grenades, hand-made landmines, and 50 kg of C-4
Editorial Commentary on Turkish Domestic Politics, the Country in
Hasan Cemal observes in mainstream Milliyet (1/4): "The opposition
CHP does not inspire trust within Turkey. Swiss Professor Erik-Jan
Zurcher, an expert on Turkey, says "the CHP is not a left party, but
an authoritarian state party. In Turkey, there are no serious
alternatives to the ruling party. The AKP appeals to all on the
political spectrum, which is not normal. AKP has been considered as
a force for democratization in Turkey. I do not see a threat of
Islamization in Turkey." Deniz Baykal's CHP has never succeeded in
establishing a viable opposition platform. There is not one
opposition party who can come forward to say they can manage the
economy or unemployment better than the ruling AKP. No opposition
party is keen to launch educational and judicial reforms.
Instability awaits Turkey's political system if the non-existence of
a viable opposition party continues."
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Koray Duzgoren comments in Islamist-oriented Yeni Safak (1/4):
"Turkey enters 2008 in a state of war. This cannot continue; there
is a lot the government must do to secure peace this year. Reforms
must be made to expand freedoms, lift bans, protect minorities, and
jump start efforts for EU accession. The AKP has demonstrated
attempts to resolve the Kurdish question without talking to Kurds
and without attempting democratic and political solutions. 2008
will test the ruling AKP's ability to deal with the Kurdish problem.
Turkey does not have any more time to lose."
Turkish Cyprus Leader Talat Visits Ankara
All papers report that on Thursday, President Abdullah Gul received
northern Cyprus leader Mehmet Ali Talat. In a joint press
conference after the meeting, Gul said he would urge UNSYG Ban
Ki-moon to revive the stalled Cyprus peace process. "I will ask the
UN to be more active, to start new efforts for a comprehensive
solution to the Cyprus problem." Gul said 2008 offered a new
opportunity for Cyprus because of Greek Cypriot elections are set
for February 17. "We are determined to support a settlement that is
acceptable by both parties," said Talat. Leftist-nationalist
Cumhuriyet emphasizes that Talat did not use the term "Turkish
Republic of Northern Cyprus" (TRNC) but said the "Turkish side"
while referring to the enclave in the north of the divided island.
A commentary in liberal Radikal says that Talat's top-level
reception at the presidential palace indicate Ankara's full support
Gul's US Trip is not a 'Fast-Food Visit'
Liberal Radikal says President Abdullah Gul will embark on his
January visit to the US with Foreign Minister Ali Babacan, Energy
Minister Hilmi Guler, Economy Minister Mehmet Simsek, and a
high-level military official. US media calls the Gul visit a
"fast-food visit," but Ankara insists the timing is perfect since
Gul will meet President Bush before his tour of the Middle East,
according to Radikal. Islamist-oriented Zaman says Gul will hold
separate talks with Secretary Rice and Vice President Dick Cheney
before meeting President Bush. Then, Gul will travel to New York to
meet UNSYG Ban Ki-Moon and the representatives of the Jewish lobby.
Gul will also deliver a speech at the Council on Foreign Relations
Editorial Commentary on President Gul's Visit to US
Hasan Mesut Hazar wrote in conservative-nationalist Turkiye (1/4):
"President Gul's upcoming US visit will be remembered as an
historical effort to strengthen bilateral relations. At a White
House briefing, spokesman Scott Stanzel announced that Presidents
Gul and Bush will discuss Afghanistan, Iraq and Turkey's EU
membership. This visit carries great importance because of the
timing and the issues to be discussed. The visit will take place at
the beginning of 2008, when the international agenda is very
intense. The meeting's immediate proximity to Bush's tour of the
Middle East indicates Turkey's increased international importance.
Prime Minister Erdogan's visit to the White House in November
resolved the two countries' prior bilateral problems. Following
this meeting, President Bush declared the PKK a common enemy of the
US and Turkey. However, Turkey-US relations are not limited to the
fight against the PKK. The US is aware of Turkey's strategic
importance in the region. Let us all remember that strong
US-Turkish relations benefit Turkey, the US, and the Middle East.
These relations will promote peace and calm in the region."
NTV, 7.00 A.M.
- Turkey's electricity price hikes will reach 15 percent for
households and 10 percent for industry. When adjusted for
inflation, the increases will amount to 19.5 percent for households
and 12 percent for industry. The AKP government announced last week
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that it was hiking power prices in response to rising costs.
- Around 100 people in Cukurca in the Hakkari province, on the
border with Iraq, have complained to the local governor that they
were disturbed by artillery fire in the area.
- On Thursday, parliament approved a sweeping ban on cigarette
- Israel will deploy more than 10,000 policemen during President
Bush's visit next week.
- According to a report from the International Crisis Group,
President Musharraf is a "serious liability" to Western efforts to
fight against the Islamic extremists in Pakistan.
- At least seven Palestinians have been killed in Israeli ground and
air attacks in the Gaza Strip.