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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
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 15, 2008


In Today's Papers

Paper: Secretary Gates to Visit Turkey in Early March
Mainstream Vatan reports that following the visit to Ankara of
General James Cartwright, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates will
come to Turkey the first week of March. Gates' visit to Turkey
could be put off for one or two weeks since the Secretary fractured
his shoulder when he slipped on ice on Tuesday. Gates and the Turks
will discuss a ground operation against the PKK in northern Iraq,
according to Vatan. The paper stresses that diplomatic contacts
between Turkey and the US have intensified since the November 5
meeting of Prime Minister Erdogan with President Bush in Washington.


Four Turkish Hizbullah Members Sentenced to Life
All papers report a court in the southeastern province of Diyarbakir
on Thursday sentenced four members of the terrorist organization
Hizbullah in Turkey to life in prison for the killing of 16 people
and kidnapping of others between 1991-1998. The court sentenced
Metin Coskun, Ismet Okmen, Mehmet Selim Ozdemir, and Mehmet Ali
Oguzhan to life in prison on the charges of "attempting to abolish
the constitutional order by force and to introduce Islamic rule
based on Sharia." The court imposed 16 years of imprisonment each
for three other suspects.

Higher Education Board (YOK) Meeting
All papers report that, at a meeting Thursday, the Higher Education
Board (YOK) did not change regulations related to graduates of
Imam-Hatip Islamic cleric-training schools. According to current
regulations, graduates of vocational high schools are granted easy
access to universities in branches related to their field of
education. On the other hand, it is practically impossible for the
graduates of vocational high schools to study in universities in
branches other than their high school background, since in the exam
their grades are multiplied with a lower coefficient than those of
regular high schools. Imam-Hatip Islamic cleric-training schools
have the status of vocational high schools. Mainstream Vatan
comments that yesterday's YOK Board decision was a positive step
aimed at defusing tensions in the face of ongoing speculation that
the government would do favors for Imam-Hatip graduates.

Gul Phones Assad
Islamist-oriented Zaman reports President Abdullah Gul telephoned
Syrian Head of State Bashar Assad. The phone call came after the
visit of Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak to Turkey. Israeli
dailies report Turkey wants to mediate between Israel and Syria.
Zaman, however, reports an unidentified Turkish official as saying
Ankara was not willing to mediate, but rather carry messages between
the two parties if requested. Gul and Bashar discussed regional
problems as well as the latest developments in Lebanon, according to
Zaman.

Turkey to Recognize Kosovo Soon, Putin Slams EU on Kosovo
Vatan, Radikal, and Zaman report Turkey was expected to recognize
Kosovo after its unilateral declaration of independence on February
17-18, adding Turkish recognition might come within 24-48 hours. In
a recent visit to Turkey, Kosovo President Fatmir Sejdiu was given
guarantees of recognition, even though Turkey gave no timetable to
that end. An unidentified Turkish official rejected allegations
that the recognition of Kosovo could set an example for Karabakh or
northern Iraq.

Meanwhile, Russian President Putin, in an annual press conference in
the Kremlin, warned the EU that the recognition of Kosovo would pave
the way for the recognition of Turkish Cyprus. Putin said that
recognizing an independence declaration by Kosovo would be "immoral
and illegal" and that European countries supporting the region's bid

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to break away from Serbia should be "ashamed of double standards"
since the EU has not recognized Turkish Cyprus, which has been
independent for 40 years.

Editorial Commentary on Kosovo
Mustafa Balbay commented in leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet (2/15):
"It is expected that Kosovo will declare independence on February 17
or 18. The US and the EU are supporting Kosovo's independence.
Russian leader Putin accuses the western countries for hypocrisy by
not recognizing northern Cyprus. What possible developments can be
seen after Kosovo declares independence? Problems in the Balkans
have never ceased since the 1990s. Kosovo's decision will affect
Albania, Serbia and Macedonia directly. Albania might want to
include Kosovo into its territory. In addition to the 3 million
Albanians in Kosovo, there are more than 500,000 Albanians at
Kosovo-Albania border. Inspired by Kosovo's independence, the other
ethnic groups in the Balkans may knock on the door of the US and the
EU. How Turkey will react? Well, what Putin said recently is what
Turkey has been thinking about for some time. Unfortunately, Turkey
failed to lobby effectively on this issue. The AKP government's
foreign policy doesn't fit into this situation. Let's consider the
situation from a different angle: Kosovo will declare its
independence with NATO and UN support. Such a situation never
occurred before. Therefore, we can expect two possible results from
Kosovo's independence: this second wave of separation in the
Balkans will set an example for the other regions."

Hakan Celik wrote in tabloid Posta (2/15): While we are deep into
headscarf debates in Turkey, we are missing out on larger, global
issues. Kosovo has reached a critical phase. While the EU
countries are supporting its independence, Russia is objecting
harshly. Vladimir Putin recently slammed EU for its bias against
Northern Cyprus. I find his remarks about northern Cyprus very
important. So far, Russia has always supported the Greek side of
the Cyprus issue. Therefore, Turkey should use Putin's impartial
observation in its international negotiations."


TV News:
NTV

Domestic News

- A Belgian judicial delegation, in Istanbul for inspections, went
to Sabanci Center on Thursday to see the place where Turkish
businessman Ozdemir Sabanci was assassinated by DHKP-C militant
Fehriye Erdal.

- The Council of State announced that former security chief Mehmet
Agar should be tried for his ties with the Susurluk scandal of
state-mafia links. Agar is charged with establishing an illegal
network.

- In a meeting yesterday, the Higher Education Board declined to
make any changes in university entrance exam regulations for
graduates of Imam-Hatip Islamic cleric-training schools.

- Turkey's Koc Holding has agreed to sell its 50.8 percent stake in
the leading retailer Migros to Moonlight Capital for 1.98 billion
YTL. Moonlight Capital S.A. is controlled by BC Partners, an
international private equity firm, operating through integrated
teams based in Geneva, Hamburg, London, Milan, New York, and Paris.


International News

- The prosecutor in charge of the investigation into a fire that
claimed the lives of nine Turks in the south-western German city of

ANKARA 00000289 003 OF 003


Ludwigshafen has rejected allegations that the police had the
picture of a suspect in the fire.

- The US plans to put a third major antimissile component in
southeastern Europe, possibly in Turkey.

- An Earthquake measuring 6.5 on the Richter scale shook Greece on
Thursday, but there were no reports of casualties or severe damage.


- Bosnia has lost its original copy of the Dayton peace agreement
that ended the country's 1992-1995 war.
WILSON

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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