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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
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 15, 2008

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In Today's Papers

Debate over Headscarf Ban Continues in Turkey
All papers report the new constitution draft excludes the ban on
headscarves at universities and in public institutions. Prime
Minister Erdogan stated "nobody can be deprived of a university
education on the grounds of their dress, if it is not against
general morality and criminal law." University rectors agree that
the ban on wearing the headscarf at universities should remain in
place. In fact, one rector said that putting such an article in the
constitution would "poison Turkey's secular system."

Opposition CHP leader Deniz Baykal said Erdogan reached a new stage
in Turkish politics by branding the headscarf as a 'political
symbol.' Baykal warned that Erdogan is dragging Turkey onto a
dangerous path. Far-right MHP leader Devlet Bahceli said the PM's
comments are "dynamiting social harmony" and that "Erdogan
undermines public peace with his comments about the headscarf."
Mainstream Milliyet says in a news commentary that by describing the
headscarf as a 'political symbol,' Erdogan has paved the way for the
manipulation of religious beliefs in politics. According to
Milliyet, Erdogan does not seek a sweeping compromise and wants to
handle the matter through constitutional reforms.

Editorial Commentary on Erdogan's Comments on Headscarf Ban
Bilal Cetin wrote in the mainstream Vatan (1/16): "At the press
conference in Madrid the other day, Prime Minister Erdogan said he
is seeking a tension-less solution to the turban issue. Although
the Prime Minister desires this kind of solution, it doesn't seem
that this will be an easy task. PM Erdogan said "suppose this
(turban) is a political symbol; can you ban all kinds of symbols?"
This is the part of this issue which will cause tension; the turban
was banned because it is a symbol of political Islam. This carries
the debate from freedom of education to secularism, political Islam
and fundamentalism. After admitting the turban is a political
symbol, the prime minister will find it hard to reach a consensus on
the turban issue. Whether the PM likes it or not, his use of the
word 'symbol' poses a risk for social and public consensus and it
indicates new tensions in Turkey."

Turkish Jetfighters Bomb Northern Iraq, General Saygun Visits
Baghdad
All papers report 14 Turkish F-16 fighter jets took off from
Diyarbakir and bombed the PKK camps in Zap, Avashin and Hakurk in
northern Iraq. A statement from the Turkish General Staff (TGS)
said, as in previous operations, care was shown not to harm
civilians. Mainstream Milliyet reports TGS sources said the strikes
were a response to the January 4 bomb attack in Diyarbakir. Papers
report Secretary Rice, who paid a surprise visit to Baghdad on
Tuesday, held talks with President Talabani and the Kurdish regional
administration leader Massoud Barzani in the Iraqi capital when
Turkish warplanes attacked the PKK camps. Hurriyet reports
unidentified TGS who said the Turkish attacks shows "the tripartite
mechanism's determination to crush the PKK."

Meanwhile, papers report Deputy Chief of the Turkish General Staff
(TGS) General Ergin Saygun went to Baghdad for a one-day working
visit. Mainstream Hurriyet says the visit helped put into effect
the tripartite Turkey-US-Iraq mechanism which was discussed between
Prime Minister Erdogan and President Bush in their November 5
meeting at the White House. Saygun met with Nasier Abadi, the
deputy chief of staff of the Iraqi military, and General David
Petraeus. Saygun and Petraeus discussed the fight against the PKK
and possibilities for long-term cooperation against the terrorist
group. Hurriyet writes that, according to military sources, Saygun
briefed the Iraqi government about Tuesday's Turkish air operations
into northern Iraq. Islamist-oriented Yeni Safak claims Secretary
Rice joined the meeting between Saygun and Petraeus.

President Gul Visits Egypt

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All papers report Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak met with visiting
Turkish President Abdullah Gul in Cairo to discuss bilateral ties
and international issues of joint concern.
Mubarak told a Turkish television station that Turkish investments
in Egypt have increased with plans for the establishment of a new
Turkish industrial zone. Mubarak voiced hope that Turkey would
continue to support peace efforts in the Middle East.

In a joint press conference with Gul, Mubarak said that he helped
prevent a war between Turkey and Syria in 1998 over Damascus'
sheltering of PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan. Mubarak said he has
agreed with Gul to intensify efforts to establish a Palestinian
state. Mubarak declined to answer questions about the energy deal
signed by his country with southern Cyprus, say Turkish papers. Gul
said he discussed with Mubarak the situation in Iraq, the new phase
of things in the region following the Annapolis meeting, and the
Lebanon question. Gul also noted Turkey's relations with the Arab
world should not be seen as an alternative to its relationship with
the European Union.

Later in the day, Gul said in a meeting with the Turkish-Egyptian
Business Council that a pipeline to carry Egyptian natural gas to
Europe through Turkey was under construction. He also lobbied for
the interest of Turkish businessmen in the Egyptian banking sector,
and invited Egyptian entrepreneurs to invest in Turkey. Gul later
called on the Arab League headquarters and had talks with its
Secretary General Amr Moussa to discuss the Middle East peace

SIPDIS
process after the Annapolis conference and the developments in
Palestine.

Editorial Commentary on Iran
Hikmet Bila commented in leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet (1/16):
"Why did Bush come to the Middle East? Most likely, he came to
witness the bloodshed in Iraq and Palestine. He plans to turn Iran
into a sea of blood before he leaves power and is sowing new seeds
of war. Bush's remarks in Israel resemble the lies told by the
Pentagon prior to the Iraq war, namely that Iraq harbored weapons of
mass destruction (WMDs). Since the Iraq war began, no WMDs have
been found and 1.5 million Iraqis, most of them children, have died.
Now Bush is planning to attack Iran because he thinks Iran is
planning to attack the US with nuclear weapons. How can the US
attack Iran if it can't control Iraq and Afghanistan? If the US
thinks it can deal with Iran through only an air bombardment, she is
very much mistaken. Iran is not same as Iraq. Iran has historic
roots as the Asian gate to Europe and the Middle East. Moreover,
Iran is the energy source for giant Asian countries. Even though
Israel supports a war against Iran, Arab countries are very
disturbed by this whole situation. Arab people don't deserve this
at all."

TV Highlights
NTV

Domestic News

- Interior Minister Besir Atalay said the judiciary was
investigating all allegations related to the slaying of Turkish
Armenian journalist Hrant Dink.

- DTP group chief Ahmet Turk said article 301 of the penal code
should be turned into a symbolic provision which protects diversity,
stressing the president should be the sole authority for launching
court cases related to article 301.

- Police captured two suspects wanted for ties with the terrorist
Hizbullah organization in Kocaeli province near Istanbul.

- Economy Minister Mehmet Simsek told an investors' conference in
Dubai Turkey will pass a long-delayed social security law through
parliament by the end of January.

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International News

- Chancellor Merkel announced Prime Minister Erdogan will visit
Germany in February.

- The son of Hamas leader Mahmud Zahar, along with 6 other
Palestinians, was killed in an Israeli raid in Gaza.

- A car bomb damaged a US diplomatic vehicle in Beirut, killing four
people and wounding 16. The State Department said no Americans were
hurt in the blast.

- A Turkish waiter working at Caf Milano was sacked after he leaked
information concerning Turkish First Lady Hayrunnisa Gul's visit to
the press.

WILSON

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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