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Cablegate: Ankara Media Reaction Report

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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 ANKARA 000212

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
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 6, 2008

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In Today's Papers

Turkish Parliament to Debate Turban Reforms
All papers report that on Wednesday, the parliament will discuss the
AKP-MHP proposal for lifting headscarf restrictions in universities.
Prime Minister Erdogan pledged in his ruling AKP group meeting
yesterday to uphold secularism. "The new regulation will strengthen
secularism. What we are trying to do is totally about the right to
a university education," said Erdogan. Responding to criticism
against the opposition MHP for helping the ruling AKP in the turban
controversy, MHP leader Devlet Bahceli said his party was the
'strongest link' between 'Anittepe and Kocatepe,' referring to two
important landmarks in Ankara: Ataturk's mausoleum and the capital's
largest mosque, symbols of secularism and Islam. Opposition CHP
leader Deniz Baykal in remarks at an event marking the 71st
anniversary of the introduction of secularism into a Turkish
constitution, claimed preparations for a severe blow to secularism
were underway. The issue under discussion in the country is not a
headscarf ban, but secularism, according to Baykal. "Erdogan says
'entrust secularism to us.' I'd rather entrust liver to a cat than
secularism to you," Baykal said to his party's members. The CHP
leader noted the turban was not a requirement of Islam. President
Abdullah Gul, in Qatar on a state visit, told Turkish reporters the
secular character of Turkey is an irrevocable quality which is one
of the founding principles of modern Turkey. "We should not make
some issues so tough. Opinions are expressed, everything is
discussed and democratic systems operate as they should," Gul
emphasized.

Liberal Radikal writes on page one that 71 years after the inclusion
of the principle of secularism in the Turkish Constitution, the
country is still debating the same issue.

Editorial Commentary on Turban
Ismet Berkan wrote in liberal Radikal (2/6): "The Constitutional
Court might reject the amendments that liberate the headscarf in the
universities. In that case, all eyes will turn to PM Erdogan and
MHP leader Bahceli. If both leaders accept this decision and say
'although we think this ruling is against democracy, we still have
to abide by it,' then the crisis will not deepen. But if the both
leaders object to this decision and try to amend the relevant
article of the constitution, then a regime crisis will start in
Turkey. In that case, no one can guess when and how this crisis
will end and, despite being ruled by a single party, Turkey will
become a country searching for political stability. I personally
consider the possible annulment of the amendments by the
Constitutional Court a serious issue, and that is why I believe
that a constitutional crisis is inevitable. Only the MHP and AKP
leaders can avoid deepening this crisis."

Germany Investigates Fire Killing 9 Turks
All papers report Turkish officials will fly to Germany to help
police investigate the cause of a fire which killed nine Turks,
including five children, in a housing block largely inhabited by
Turks. The blaze took place during carnival celebrations in the
western city of Ludwigshafen. The cause of Sunday's blaze in an
apartment block is unclear but the tragedy raised of a targeted
attack by racist groups. Prime Minister Erdogan, who is to visit
Germany later this week, said a delegation headed by State Minister
Mustafa Said Yazicioglu and four security officials would travel to
Germany to hold talks about the fire. He noted Turkey did not want
a repeat of the firebomb attack by German 'skinheads' on a house in
Solingen where five Turks were killed in 1993. Erdogan said he
hoped to visit the site of the tragedy on Thursday. Erdogan will
meet Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday. Meanwhile, papers report
16 people were hurt in a fire in another building inhabited by Turks
in Ludwigshafen.

Kurdish DTP Protests in Sirnak Turkish Raids on Northern Iraq
Hurriyet, Milliyet, Sabah, Taraf, Radikal, Cumhuriyet, and Zaman

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report thousands of pro-Kurdish DTP supporters from several
provinces gathered in Diyarbakir and later went to the border
province of Sirnak to protest Turkish cross-border attacks into
northern Iraq. More than 3,000 demonstrators, including DTP
lawmakers and mayors, spent the night in tents in an area between
Cudi and Gabar mountains. They are expected to release a statement
today.

Saygun Thanks Americans for Sharing Intelligence against PKK
Hurriyet, Milliyet, Cumhuriyet, and Zaman report General Ergin
Saygun, deputy chief of the Turkish General Staff (TGS), met Tuesday
with General James Cartwright, the vice chairman of the US Joint
Chiefs of Staff, in Washington. Saygun has been in the US since
January 31 and has visited military bases and facilities. Saygun
also chaired the Turkish delegation in the Turkey-US High-Level
Defense Group (HLDG) talks in Washington.

Mainstream Hurriyet reports from Washington that an unidentified
American source said General Saygun thanked American officials for
sharing intelligence with Turkey against the PKK. "The Turkish
side, for the first time in recent years, has not complained at
all," the source said. Other sources said in order to back Turkey,
some intelligence gathering equipment for intelligence gathering
needed to be shifted to the region from places like Afghanistan.
"We will continue supporting the Turkish military. Turkish air
operations have dealt heavy blows to the PKK; we know the
organization is puzzled and damaged," sources said. They also said
for the first time since 2003, the bilateral HLDG meetings had 'a
future perspective.' "All is happy with the operations which have
restricted the PKK's maneuverability. More importantly, Turkish
soldiers now have the means to move freely in northern Iraq. The
Turkish military's view of the US is changing," sources told
Hurriyet.

Turkey to Host 'African Summit' in August
Mainstream Milliyet reports Turkey is to host an 'African Summit' in
August to which 53 African leaders will be invited. Turkey, eyeing
a seat in the UN Security Council, aims to secure the support of
African countries at the October 2008 UN vote. Libyan leader
Muammar Gaddafi, Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe, and Sudan's
President Omar al-Bashir would be among the invitees. Turkish
Foreign Ministry (MFA) sources said Mugabe, a controversial figure,
was invited to join a recent EU-Africa summit in Portugal, and that
the Turkish invitation should pose no problem.

Editorial Commentary on Kosovo
Kamuran Ozbir commented in nationalist Ortadogu (2/6): "By electing
pro-western candidate Boris Tadic as president, the Serbian people
gave a message to the world that their goal is the EU membership.
Tadic, just like his rival Nikolic, is not supporting Kosovo's
independence but he still believes that Serbia's priority should be
EU membership. Prior to the Serbian elections, Reuters News Agency
claimed that, if Nikolic was elected, Kosovo would declare
independence immediately this weekend, but in case of Tadic's
presidency, Kosovo would abide by EU demands and wait for a few
weeks. The US has already stressed support for Kosovo's
independence while Russia, together with Serbia, claims that an
independent Kosovo will change balances in the world.

TV Highlights
NTV

Domestic News

- The pro-Kurdish DTP leader, Nurettin Demirtas, is to appear before
the court Wednesday for forging medical reports to avoid military
service, which is compulsory in Turkey.

- Osman Baydemir, the mayor of Diyarbakir, has been acquitted in a
lawsuit for distributing in 2006 invitations for a culture festival

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in several languages, including Kurdish.

- Two PKK terrorists have surrendered to Turkish security forces in
Silopi in the southeastern border province of Sirnak on Tuesday.

- An OECD report says two-thirds of Turkish girls between the ages
of 25-29 stay at home instead of working or going to school.

International News

- Britain's International Institute for Strategic Studies warned in
its annual report on the world's military forces that strains among
the Kurds,Turkmen and Arabs in northern Iraq could increase.

- The Iraqi Oil Ministry has accused Iran of stealing oil from a
shared field under their common border.

- A new Iraqi flag that does not include Saddam Hussein's
handwriting and the three green stars of his ousted Baath Party has
been hoisted over the Iraqi Cabinet building in Baghdad.

WILSON

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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