Search

 

Cablegate: Ankara Media Reaction Report

VZCZCXRO3186
OO RUEHDA
DE RUEHAK #0189/01 0321431
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 011431Z FEB 08 ZDK
FM AMEMBASSY ANKARA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5100
RUEKJCS/CJCS WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/OSD WASHDC//PA
RUEUITH/ODC ANKARA TU
INFO RUEHTH/AMEMBASSY ATHENS 8652
RUEHIT/AMCONSUL ISTANBUL 3822
RUEHDA/AMCONSUL ADANA 2659
RUEHBS/AMEMBASSY BRUSSELS 6391
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS
RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO 6217
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 2798
RUEUITH/DET 1 39LG ANKARA TU
RHMFISS/USDOCO 6ATAF IZMIR TU
RHMFISS/39OS INCIRLIK AB TU
RHMFISS/AFOSI DET 523 IZMIR TU
RHMFISS/39ABG INCIRLIK AB TU
RHMFISS/AFOSI DET 522 INCIRLIK AB TU
RUEUITH/AFLO ANKARA TU

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 ANKARA 000189

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, FEBRUARY 1, 2008

ANKARA 00000189 001.2 OF 003


In Today's Papers

Building Blast Kills 22 in Istanbul
All papers report more than 20 people were killed when an explosion
ripped through a building housing an unlicensed fireworks factory in
Istanbul. Fourteen of the deaths occurred when the victims gathered
to watch the fire triggered by a boiler explosion. The five-storey
plant was located in the Davutpasa neighborhood of Istanbul.
Although municipality officials discovered the unlicensed factory
last week, they did not shut the plant down. Instead, they asked
the owner to obtain a license. Papers ask how the factory managed
to transport such a sizable amount of explosives without obtaining
the required permission from the police. Many plants in the area
skip the weekly boiler inspections in order to reduce maintenance
costs. Papers criticize authorities for making 'scandalous'
remarks, such as Istanbul Governor Muammer Guler's complaints that
unlicensed plants continue to operate, and Mayor Kadir Topbas'
charge that citizens decline to file complaints.

Editorial Commentary on Fireworks Plant Blast-Caused Deaths
Umur Talu wrote in mainstream Sabah (2/1): "Turkey is witnessing
the heartbreaking results of a regime that turns a blind eye to
slavery. One day we hear reports from the east of children who are
forced into temporary agricultural work and, as a result, who die in
traffic accidents while they commute to these jobs. The next day, we
hear news of female workers being burned to death while they work in
illegal businesses in Istanbul. While everyone rightly screams with
each martyr's death, why are officials not taking precautions to
prevent forced labor? These slaves are uninsured, overworked,
poorly paid, intimidated, injured, and sometimes even blown into
pieces. Which NGO, reporter or politician is drawing attention to
this issue? I don't know who will care, but those people who were
burned alive, blown into pieces or crushed under debris yesterday in
Istanbul were the children of this country. They lost their lives
because of sheer negligence."

University Rectors Oppose Freeing Turban Ban in Universities
All papers report university rectors have mobilized to oppose the
ruling AKP and opposition MHP plans to ease the ban on the Muslim
headscarf for female students. The rectors argue the reform runs
contrary to the principles of the secular republic. Istanbul
University Rector Professor Mesut Parlak told academics yesterday
that the headscarf adjustments posed a significant threat to the
public. In addition, Parlak complained that the universities were
not asked for their views regarding the matter. Mainstream Hurriyet
reports some of the academics expressed concern that the headscarf
regulation is a first step in Turkey's transformation into an
Islamic state. Papers report that the student senates of several
other universities across Turkey issued statements to condemn the
headscarf adjustments. The Aegean University Senate released a
statement saying that the headscarf "was not a symbol of freedom,
but rather an obstacle to freedom." On Friday, the inter-university
board of rectors will hold a meeting to discuss the AKP-MHP turban
plans. Papers report academics from universities in Ankara told CHP
lawmakers Kemal Anadol and Hakki Suha Okay that the headscarf
reforms submitted to the parliament's approval were designed to
undermine Turkey's secular system.

Meanwhile, CHP leader Deniz Baykal told a private television channel
the headscarf has emerged as "a new definition of Islam."
Responding to a question about whether the military was a mechanism
for protecting the republic, Baykal said he saw the Turkish people
as the only guardians of Turkey.

Erdogan on the Turban Controversy, Terror and Turkey-Greece Ties
All papers report Prime Minister Erdogan said Thursday evening in
his televised monthly address that lifting the headscarf ban was a
matter of individual freedom. "It is possible to resolve these
problems with common sense, by ensuring the widest possible social
compromise. No state can advance if it sees its citizens as a

ANKARA 00000189 002.2 OF 003


threat," said Erdogan. Erdogan also referred to a major police
operation against the illegal 'Ergenekon' gang, and emphasized that
Turkey's institutions are determined to combat illegal gangs. The
PM said the PKK organization was isolated and miserable today,
"thanks to the political, military, diplomatic and economic measures
taken." He also noted, "The investments we have made in southeast
Turkey over the last five and a half years have raised hopes for the
future. This change means a loss of ground for the terrorist
organization; this is why the PKK wants to create a chaotic
atmosphere. They want to change this positive course." Recalling
the recent visit of Greek PM Karamanlis to Turkey, Erdogan said the
Aegean dispute, Cyprus, and minority problems were the top issues
Turkey and Greece are addressing. "We have reiterated our political
will to cooperate in resolving our problems and I believe this
process will yield positive results for both countries," said
Erdogan.

Protestants in Turkey Complain of Rising Attacks
Mainstream Sabah reports the Union of Protestant Churches has
released a report saying in 2007, protestants in Turkey were the
target of 19 attacks. The murder of three protestants in Malatya
plays a prominent role in the report. The report also complains
that protestants in Turkey are under surveillance for their
missionary activities.

Editorial Commentary on Revitalization of Turkey-US Ties
Hasan Mesut Hazar observed from Washington in
conservative-nationalist Turkiye (2/1): "Turkey's new lively
foreign policy has thawed relations with Washington. Revitalized
relations began with PM Erdogan's visit to the US on November 5,
2007. Erdogan's meeting with Bush, and the bilateral cooperation
that resulted against the PKK, marked a turning point in bilateral
relations. This impacted Turkish public opinion immediately and
positively. The Deputy Chief of General Staff, General Ergin
Saygun, is having meetings in the US regarding defense issues and
counterterrorism. General Saygun's impressions about the bilateral
relationship are also very positive. The US media has also noted
this recently revitalized relationship; news and commentaries about
Turkey have increased noticeably in the US media. In addition,
there is a delegation from Turkish Parliament visiting the US at the
moment. Some members of this delegation delivered remarks at a
panel sponsored by the Brookings Institute entitled
'Turkish-American Relations, From the Past to the Future.' All of
these visits clearly show the lively improvement in this strategic
bilateral relationship. Moreover, US Ambassador to Turkey Ross
Wilson talked to Turkish journalists in Washington yesterday and
stressed that the US believes this spring-like weather will
continue."

Editorial Commentary on a Possible Talabani Visit to Turkey
Cengiz Candar wrote in the economic daily Referans (2/1): "Iraqi
Kurdish sources close to Jalal Talabani say the Iraqi President may
visit Turkey around February 20. The issue of inviting Talabani to
Turkey was raised in the last National Security Council (MGK)
meeting, with the military and civilian wings of the Council
agreeing to the invitation. Back in 2004, Turkish Foreign Ministry
(MFA) Spokesman Namik Tan traveled to Suleymaniye to meet Talabani
in a visit interpreted as a 'gesture,' indicating Turkey had no
objections to Talabani being the President of Iraq. However, the
'anti-Kurd reflexes' within the Turkish state system began after
Talabani settled in Baghdad as President, and they blocked him from
visiting Turkey. Iraq's two Shiite prime ministers, Ibrahim Jafari
and Nuri al-Maliki, have both visited Turkey several times, but
Talabani has not been able to do the same. If Talabani visits
Ankara, the sides are expected to discuss a new era in relations
concerning northern Iraq. In addition, a new 'institutional aspect'
is expected in the relationship between Ankara and Erbil. In that
sense, a visit by Talabani is also expected to pave the way for the
reestablishment of ties with Barzani. President Talabani would be
welcomed at Cankaya with full military honors and his visit would

ANKARA 00000189 003.2 OF 003


melt the ice between Iraq and Turkey."

TV News:
NTV

Domestic News

- A military court in the eastern city of Van has launched a case
against the eight Turkish soldiers who were held by the PKK in
October for allegedly surrendering to the PKK during the attack in
Daglica. On October 21, terrorists killed 12 soldiers and wounded
16 others in the Daglica attack, and eight soldiers went missing
after clashes on October 22. The soldiers were later brought to
Turkey on November 4.

- On Thursday, security forces captured a PKK militant at Habur Gate
who was attempting to cross into Turkey at the Iraqi border.
Sources said he was sent to Turkey to stage attacks.

- The Council of State (Danistay) has rejected a lawsuit filed by a
parent whose daughter was not allowed to participate in university
entrance exams because she wore a headscarf.

International News

- The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) announced it
would support Democratic candidate Barack Obama in US presidential
elections.

- A senior al-Qaeda leader in Afghanistan, Abu Laith al-Libi,
reportedly died during a missile attack in northern Pakistan.

- The Swedish Aviation Institution has decided to allow regular
civilian flights from Sweden to northern Iraq.

MCELDOWNEY

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Werewolf: Gordon Campbell On North Korea, Neo-Nazism, And Milo

With a bit of luck the planet won’t be devastated by nuclear war in the next few days. US President Donald Trump will have begun to fixate on some other way to gratify his self-esteem – maybe by invading Venezuela or starting a war with Iran. More>>

Victory Declared: New Stabilisation Funding From NZ As Mosul Is Retaken

New Zealand has congratulated the Iraqi government on the successful liberation of Mosul from ISIS after a long and hard-fought campaign. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On The Current US Moves Against North Korea

If Martians visited early last week, they’d probably be scratching their heads as to why North Korea was being treated as a potential trigger for global conflict... More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Lessons From Corbyn’s Campaign

Leaving partisan politics aside – and ignoring Jeremy Corbyn’s sensational election campaign for a moment – it has to be said that Britain is now really up shit creek... More>>

ALSO:

Another US Court: Fourth Circuit Rules Muslim Ban Discriminatory

ACLU: Step by step, point by point, the court laid out what has been clear from the start: The president promised to ban Muslims from the United States, and his executive orders are an attempt to do just that. More>>

ALSO:

 
 
 
 
 
 
  • Pacific.Scoop
  • Cafe Pacific
  • PMC