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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
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 5, 2008

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In Today's Papers

High Justice Warns AKP and MHP against Headscarf Reforms
All papers report the Court of Appeals' Acting Chairman Osman Sirin
said the AKP and MHP should heed the warnings from the judiciary
regarding headscarf reforms. "It's impossible for the judiciary to
not declare its views when the parliament attempts to change the
constitution. We don't aim to intervene in the legislative process,
but the authority of the parliament does not include touching on the
principle of secularism, whether it be directly or indirectly,"
Sirin emphasized. Mainstream papers see Sirin's warning as the
strongest warning from the judiciary so far. Papers report the AKP
government responded swiftly, with Justice Minister Mehmet Ali Sahin
saying "the government is sensitive to protecting secularism."

Erdogan and Bahceli Are Determined on Headscarf Freedom
All papers report Prime Minister Erdogan rejected suggestions from
the opposition Democratic Left Party (DSP) that headscarf reform be
postponed. DSP leader
Sezer said, "I got the impression that Erdogan is seeking a
solution. He seems to be committed to the matter, but he also said
article 17 of the Higher Education Law can be discussed again."
Article 17 describes how the headscarf should be tied. In a meeting
with Sezer later in the day, opposition MHP leader Devlet Bahceli
said the headscarf regulation should not be suspended. "Bahceli
stressed he does not want to see a military coup in Turkey. He
thinks once the headscarf issue is resolved, many concerns would
drop significantly."

Liberal Radikal says after the headscarf debate is over, the issue
of 'Imam Hatip' high schools will return to the spotlight. Imam
Hatip schools train Muslim clergy in Turkey. During a meeting on
Thursday, the High Education Board (YOK) is expected to adopt
changes to university entrance exams which, Radikal argues, will
benefit Imam Hatip students.

Meanwhile, papers report President Abdullah Gul stated he would not
seek a referendum on the government plan to lift the headscarf ban
in universities. "I've never found it right to hold referendums on
basic rights and freedoms," Gul said in a meeting with prominent
Turkish literary figures on Monday.

Turkish Warplanes Strike PKK in Northern Iraq, DTP Protest Attacks
All papers report Turkish warplanes bombed PKK targets in the
northern Iraqi villages of Avasin, Baysan, and Hakurk on Monday.
The Turkish General Staff (TGS) released a statement saying nearly
70 terror targets in northern Iraq were destroyed during the air
strikes. According to the TGS statement, "utmost care was shown to
ensure that the civilian population in the region is not affected by
the operation."

Meanwhile, papers report that on Thursday, 900 pro-Kurdish DTP
members arrived in Sirnak province, on the border with Iraq, to call
for an end to Turkish cross border operations against the PKK. The
DTP members plan to set up tents on Kupeli Mountain in order to form
a chain of human shields to protest Turkish strikes. Approximately
6,000 more DTP supporters are expected to arrive in the area today.


Shays: 'US Shares Satellite Photos and Coordinates of PKK Camps'
Milliyet, Zaman and Yeni Safak report Congressman Chris Shays,
member of the Intelligence Sharing and Risk Evaluation
Sub-Committee, told the Voice of America Radio the US has provided
Turkey with satellite photographs of PKK camps and activities in
northern Iraq. "We also made it clear to the Iraqi government that
the US would not allow the PKK to use northern Iraq as a base, and
warned the Kurdish regional administration that they should face the
PKK problem," emphasized Shays. He also called on Europe to "fully
understand the fact that the PKK is a terror organization," papers
report.

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Nine Turks Killed in Fire in Germany
All papers report a fire in Ludwigshafen, Germany killed nine Turks,
including five children. Eight of the victims were killed by the
flames, and one woman died when she jumped from the window.
Mainstream Vatan claims the firefighters arrived late to the burning
building. Islamist-oriented Yeni Safak recalls an earlier arson
attack by German racists targeting Turks in Solingen in 1993, and
questions whether the fire in Ludwigshafen was another
racially-motivated attack.

Papers report on Monday, Prime Minister Erdogan asked visiting
German Interior Minister Wolfgang Schauble to "seriously
investigate" the fire. The Turkish Foreign Ministry (MFA) released
a statement saying, "German authorities should conduct a
comprehensive investigation into the fire by taking into
consideration every possibility. If it was intentional, those
responsible must be captured as soon as possible."

Gul Appoints Names to Fill YOK Board Posts
Milliyet, Sabah, Radikal, Cumhuriyet, Zaman, Yeni Safak and others
report President Abdullah Gul made four new appointments on Monday
to fill the vacant posts in the High Education Board (YOK). A press
release by the Presidency said Gul appointed Turkish Board of
Statistics (TUIK) President Omer Demir, Istanbul University Economy
Department member Professor Berrak Kurtulus, Zonguldak University
fellow Professor Durmus Gunay, and Professor Necmi Yuzbasilioglu to
YOK seats.

Mainstream papers say Professor Gunay was an advocate of turban
freedom in universities, and that he was also an AKP candidate who
ran for parliament in Isparta in the July 22 general elections.
Demir was appointed by the AKP to head TUIK and he initiated
assessments of 'faith statistics' in Turkey, according to papers.

Editorial Commentary: Kosovo, Ecumenical Status of Greek Orthodox
Patriarchate
Sami Kohen commented in mainstream Milliyet (2/5): "By electing the
pro-Western candidate Tadic as president at the elections, Serbia
showed that its tendency is toward the EU rather than Russia. While
delivering his first speech, the newly-elected President talked
about his European vision and emphasized the new direction he
planned for his country. Naturally, the West is very pleased with
these results. Despite all these pro-Western plans, the
developments in Kosovo will determine the route Belgrade is going to
follow from now on. There are two well known facts in Serbia: 1. No
matter who is elected as President in Serbia, Kosovo is determined
to declare independence; 2. Tadic, also, just like pro-Russian
Nikolic, is against Kosovo's independence. There is only a little
difference on their style regarding Kosovo; Tadic supports a
solution through negotiations and concession. It is obvious that in
the upcoming days, there will be intensive diplomatic activities in
the international platform. Kosovo is determined to declare
independence in the near future and the support they receive from
the EU and the US has encouraged them more. If President Tadic
ignores US and EU support and boycotts an independent Kosovo, then,
he will come up against the EU, and Tadic will put a distance
between the West and Serbia. Only Russia will benefit from such a
situation. In short, if events progress in this direction,
political balances of Balkans will be faced with unknown results."

Oktay Eksi observed in mainstream Hurriyet (2/5): "Deeply involved
in turban tensions, no one paid attention to the results of the
Greek PM's visit to Turkey. PM Erdogan gave signals that his
government had made and will continue to make changes in Turkish
policies. According to PM Erdogan, the ecumenical status of the
Fener Patriarchate was an issue of concern only tothe Greek Orthodox
Church. Foreign Minister Ali Babacan also commented on the issue
and said "we should not regard the re-opening of Halki Seminary and
the ecumenical issue as taboos. Let me clarify one thing: the

ANKARA 00000206 003.2 OF 003


ecumenical status of the Patriarchate is an issue concerning Turkey
because it is an institution of the Turkish Republic and subject to
Turkish law. This was a condition for the Patriarchate to stay in
Turkey. By accepting the ecumenical status of the Patriarchate,
Turkey will not be able to apply Turkish laws to its clerics.
Moreover, by recognizing the ecumenical status, Turkey will not be
able to object to a possible Patriarchate decision to re-open Halki
Seminary. Because of all of this, the ecumenical status of the
Patriarch is not something that should be left solely to the
Orthodox Church."

TV News:
NTV

Domestic News

- On Monday, the Prime Ministry said Prime Minister Erdogan will pay
a state visit to Germany February 7-10. Erdogan will meet
Chancellor Angela Merkel and attend the 44th Munich Conference on
Security Policy.

- The Council of Europe is launching a new two-year technical
cooperation project, "Ethics for the Prevention of Corruption in
Turkey" (TYEC).

- On Monday, President Abdullah Gul hosted a luncheon for leading
Turkish literary figures. The invitees included Dogan Hizlan, Selim
Ileri, Adalet Agaoglu, Elif Safak, Rasim Ozdenoren, and Hilmi Yavuz.


International News

- Leading US presidential contenders make their final preparations
for today's 'Super Tuesday' primaries and caucuses.

- A suicide bomber on Monday blew himself up in Dimona, the southern
town that houses Israel's secretive nuclear reactor, killing at
least one Israeli and wounding six.

- Israel's Environment Ministry stopped a Turkish ship at the Ashdod
port after an oil spill was discovered around the vessel. WILSON

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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