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Cablegate: Ankara Media Reaction Report

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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 ANKARA 000248

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
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 11, 2008


In Today's Papers

Turkish Parliament Passes Turban Reforms, All Eyes on the
Constitutional Court
All papers report over the weekend and today that the Turkish
Parliament voted to amend the constitution and lift the ban on
headscarves at universities. On Saturday, the ruling AKP and
opposition MHP lawmakers, backed by the pro-Kurdish DTP, passed the
amendments by 411 to 103 after lengthy and heated debates. On
Monday, the bill will be submitted to President Abdullah Gul, who is
expected to approve the reforms soon. Opposition CHP will apply to
the Constitutional Court to demand the annulment of the reforms
after the amendment is published in the Official Gazette. The CHP's
main argument is that the turban changes contradict article 2 of the
constitution, which defines secularism. Before he departed for
Germany on Sunday, CHP leader Deniz Baykal told reporters, "Turkey's
energy will be wasted. Incidents that will break out in
universities will cause divisions." Prime Minister Erdogan
addressed approximately 18,000 Turks in Cologne, Germany and
defended the headscarf reforms. He added, "With the new regulation,
young Turks will not have to leave Turkey for their university
education, which will reverse the brain drain." When asked how
Islam can be reconciled with Turkey's EU process, Erdogan said "99
percent of people in Turkey are Muslim. We do not have the right to
ask people who come from different religions why they practice their
religion so well; that would not be compatible with basic freedoms."


Papers report thousands of people gathered in Ankara on Saturday to
protest against the headscarf bill. The demonstration took place
during the parliamentary voting and was organized by 76 NGOs.
Turkey is divided into two hostile camps: headscarf adversaries and
supporters, mainstream says Milliyet while Islamist-oriented Zaman
claims the decision of the parliament reflects "the will of the
nation." Liberal Radikal and mainstream Hurriyet report the AKP
government left the implementation of the new measure up to the
university rectors. Yet, some rectors insist that the headscarf
cannot be accepted into the universities before the parliament
amends article 17 of the higher education law. Islamist-oriented
Yeni Safak claims the Constitutional Court can only annul the bill
if it finds the parliament did not meet the procedural requirements
while passing the reforms. Leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet and
leftist Taraf say the Turkish Bar Association released a statement
Sunday saying "the headscarf regulation passed by the government
could stir chaos." The Association said the solution lies in
democracy, and warned against efforts to seek solutions via military
intervention.

DTP to Submit to High Court Preliminary Defense against Closure Case

Hurriyet, Milliyet, Sabah, Radikal, Taraf, Cumhuriyet, Yeni Safak
and others report Turkey's main pro-Kurdish party, DTP, will submit
its preliminary defense to the Constitutional Court in response to
the case to close the party. After hearing the DTP's preliminary
defense, the chief prosecutor will present his argument to the
court. A court reporter will prepare a file on the charges and
defense before submitting it to the court. Then, the court will
review the prosecutor's demand for closure. The court requires
seven of the eleven total justices must support the ruling in order
for it to pass. DTP lawmaker Hasip Kaplan said they support a
democratic solution to the Kurdish problem. "Democracy cannot
flourish in a country which has turned into a graveyard of closed
political parties," Kaplan said.

Third Hearing in Dink Murder Case on Monday
Hurriyet, Milliyet, Radikal, Taraf, Cumhuriyet, Zaman and others
report the third hearing in the trial over the slaying of Turkish
Armenian journalist Hrant Dink will take place Monday in Istanbul.
Papers report a delegation of the International Human Rights

ANKARA 00000248 002 OF 003


Federation (FIDH) arrived in Istanbul to follow the trial. The
delegation members said the Dink case is a "human rights test for
Turkey."

Gates: NATO Will Collapse if Allies Don't Support Afghanistan
Mission
Milliyet, Cumhuriyet and Yeni Safak report Secretary of Defense
Robert Gates warned Sunday at the International Security Conference
in Munich that NATO would collapse if allies do not support the
mission in Afghanistan. "We cannot become an alliance split into
two with those who want to fight and others who don't," Gates is
quoted as saying. "Afghanistan will finish NATO," reads a headline
in the Islamist-oriented Yeni Safak, adding 42,000 troops were not
enough against the Taliban, and that member countries are
largely rejecting the demand for additional troops for Afghanistan.


EDITORIAL OPINION: Kosovo; Headscarf Issue

"Kosovo and Northern Cyprus"
Kamuran Ozbir commented in nationalist-oriented Ortadogu (2/11):
"Kosovo's declaration of independence can easily open "Pandora's
Box" and change the global map. Russian First Deputy Prime Minister
Sergei Ivanov recently warned that if Kosovo's independence is
accepted, similar independence recognition should be implemented in
every region in the world with similar problems, including northern
Cyprus. Russia, the West and Serbia are playing quite a diplomatic
game. On one side are those who want to re-evaluate international
law, and on the other side are those who want to divide Serbia.
Moreover, many separatist movements around the world will benefit
from Kosovo's example. Separatist movements in Belgium, Italy,
Spain, France and the UK may follow Kosovo's example. Of course,
this issue is being followed closely in Northern Cyprus as well.
Those against the independence of Kosovo know very well that the
Turkish Cypriots will follow the same example. After all, once a
precedent is established, why not use it?"

"From Now On, the Global Crisis Will Affect Turkey More"
Erdal Saglam wrote in mainstream Hurriyet (2/11): "Turkey will feel
the impact of the global economic crisis soon. Next Thursday,
Turkey's Central Bank will meet to determine new interest rates.
The turban debates disturbed Turkey's financial markets and
investment climate more dramatically than the AKP government
predicted. Concern within Turkish economic circles is growing
rapidly, especially after witnessing the AKP government's obstinate
obsession with the turban issue during a massive global economic
crisis. If President Gul approves the Constitutional draft, the
Constitutional process will start. Starting from today, new turban
tensions will grow at universities. There is a major possibility
that university students will clash against each other again. It is
possible that Turkey will begin to feel the economic effects of the
global financial crisis at the same time as the inevitable turban
crises hit the universities. The AKP government is not taking any
precautions to deal with the looming economic crisis. On the
contrary, the AKP government has insisted on political clashes that
will negatively affect the economy and increase the public mistrust
of the AKP government's economic policies."

TV News:
NTV

Domestic News

- The remains of nine Turks killed in a fire in Ludwigshafen have
been brought to their hometown, Gaziantep, for burial on Monday.
The number of witnesses who say the fire was an arson attack has
increased to five.

- Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak will arrive in Turkey Monday
to meet with President Abdullah Gul, PM Erdogan, and Chief of

ANKARA 00000248 003 OF 003


Turkish General Staff General Yasar Buyukanit to discuss defense
cooperation and anti-terror intelligence sharing between Turkey and
Israel.

- The Tunceli prosecutor has initiated an investigation into the
pro-Kurdish DTP convention held in the city over the weekend.

International News

- Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov said if the EU
countries recognize Kosovo, they will have to recognize the
independence of Turkish Cyprus.

- President Ahmadinejad is expected to visit Iraq by March 19 in a
trip that would the first by an Iranian leader to visit Iraq in 28
years.

- President Bush said the US would maintain a troop presence in Iraq
long enough to guarantee that democracy takes hold in the country.

WILSON

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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