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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 19, 2008

In Today's Papers

Turkey Recognizes Kosovo
All papers report Minister Ali Babacan announced on Monday Turkey's
recognition of Kosovo. Turkey's decision followed the recognition
by the US, Britain and France. Prime Minister Erdogan phoned
Kosovo's Prime Minister Hashim Thaci to emphasize his hopes that
independence will yield positive results. Erdogan added that Turkey
valued peace and stability in the Balkans. Turkish Cyprus leader
Mehmet Ali Talat voiced hopes that Kosovo's independence will have a
positive impact on security and cooperation in the Balkans. "Those
who object to the independence of Kosovo should remember that no
nation can be forced to live under the sovereignty of another
nation," Talat said.

Mainstream Hurriyet expects Turkey to open an embassy in Pristina.
A group of protesters yesterday threw stones at the Turkish Embassy
in Belgrade in reaction to Ankara's recognition of Kosovo's
independence, papers report. "A free Kosovo has divided the world,"
says a headline in mainstream Hurriyet's page one, adding "Turkey
waited for the US to move first before recognizing Kosovo." Liberal
Radikal says while the US and Turkey recognize Kosovo, Russia and
China are strongly opposed to recognition. Radikal notes that
Greeks living abroad warn this could be "a precedent for northern
Cyprus."

A commentary in economic-oriented Referans says with the 'birth' of
Kosovo as an independent state, we see a new brother for Turkey in
the Balkans and Europe. "Kosovo's survival chances are largely
dependent on the EU; it has an attribute that will automatically
facilitate Turkey's membership claims in the EU." Another
commentary in mainstream Milliyet voices hope that "Serbian
nationalists learned their lesson in the 1990s that Serbian
nationalism does not spread peace, it spreads conflict."

Editorial Commentray on Kosovo
Sami Kohen commented in mainstream Milliyet (2/19): "Kosovo, as
expected, declared its independence this weekend. At the same time,
Papadopoulos was defeated in the first round of Cyprus' elections.
According to the vote, Greek Cypriots are seeking a positive
approach to finding a settlement on the island; 2/3 of the
electorate voted for a settlement by voting for the moderate
candidates. A victory for Papadopoulos would have made Turkish
Cypriots consider Kosovo's road to independence as a model for
northern Cyprus. However, now that a moderate figure will likely be
the new leader of the Greek Cypriot administration, it will be hard
to draw parallels between Kosovo and Cyprus. In fact, a moderate
Cypriot leader can work toward the unification of the island and the
peaceful coexistence of Turks and Greek Cypriots. Equality will
likely become the new model for discussions regarding the future of
Cyprus. But if attempts at a settlement fail again, our discussions
will revisit the precedent set by Kosovo."

Ali Sirmen wrote in leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet (2/19): "Russia
and Serbia strongly stand against an independent Kosovo. However,
their stance will not be strong enough to change the course of
Kosovo's actions. With Kosovo's declaration of independence, the
Age of Tito in Yugoslavia has completely come to an end; the
division of the former Yugoslavia is complete. The ethnic majority
of Kosovo will be very happy with this outcome. On the other hand,
it is impossible to claim that Albanians are more democratic and
less chauvinistic than Serbs. Therefore, the small Turkish minority
living in this region should not expect anything more democratic
than before."

Nuray Mert wrote in the liberal-intellectual Radikal (2/19):
"Kosovo's declaration of independence has paved the way for military
interventions by the US or the United Nations. It is not a
coincidence that the architects of the occupation of Iraq always
refer to the Bosnia example when they are held accountable for the

ANKARA 00000309 002 OF 003


Iraq invasion. This is not a naove game of liberation and
independence. In today's world, this is only about having a share
of the big pie. Kosovo's independence is a good example of
exchanging one influence for another. In the midst of the cheerful
notes, Kosovars liberated themselves from Serbia and Russia in
exchange for their new master, the United States."

Erdogan Issues Soothing Messages on Turban
Hurriyet, Milliyet, Sabah, Taraf, Radikal, Cumhuriyet, Zaman and
others report Prime Minister Erdogan told a private television
channel over the weekend there could be "provocative attempts" in
the future regarding the headscarf issue. Erdogan blamed "some
media outlets" for being involved in such preparations. "Those who
wear headscarves and those who don't are all my sisters; I wouldn't
discriminate among them, because upholding secularism requires
respect and protection for all faiths and practices," said Erdogan.
Culture Minister Ertugrul Gunay joined the debate by saying it would
create chaos if public sector workers were allowed to wear the
headscarf. The ruling AKP deputy group Chief Nihat Ergun responded
to reporters' questions regarding the main opposition CHP's concern
that rights and freedoms are gradually restricted. "Turkey's
constitution has guaranteed mechanisms against such threats. It's
possible to work with the CHP and other political parties to end
such concerns," Ergun emphasized.


Meanwhile, liberal Radikal points to the fact that Constitutional
Court President Hasim Kilic has so far remained silent in the
ongoing turban debates. Kilic told Radikal that he could not
elaborate on how the high court will proceed before he sees a
possible application against the AKP-MHP sponsored headscarf
amendments.

Greek Cypriots Vote for a New President
Zaman, Milliyet, Sabah, Hurriyet, Taraf and others: Papers report
that the two presidential candidates, Communist party leader
Christofias and former Foreign Minister Kasoulides managed to knock
Papadopulous out of the race during the first round of elections.
Since there was no clear winner at Sunday's elections, a runoff will
be held on February 24. Mainstream Milliyet reports that the defeat
of Papadopoulos was seen by Greek and Greek Cypriot media as
expression of the will of Greek Cypriot people to revive talks for
settlement in the island. Mainstream Sabah writes that the
supporters of settlement in Cyprus have prevailed at the elections.
Islamist-oriented Zaman reports that many circles in Europe have
welcomed the defeat of Papadopoulos and said that the elections
offer an opportunity for a breakthrough in Cyprus. Zaman reminds
that four years ago 76 percent of the Greek Cypriots rejected
Annan's settlement plan, however, at Sunday's elections 67 percent
of the voters gave support to the candidates who supported
settlement in Cyprus.

Education Ministry Official Resigns due to Disagreement with the
Minister
Milliyet, Sabah, Aksam, Posta, Cumhuriyet and others: Prof. Irfan
Erdogan resigned from his post as chairman of Education Ministry's
Teaching and Discipline board due to his disagreement with the
minister. Mainstream Posta says that Prof. Erdogan is known for his
support for Ataturk's principles and for his efforts to close the
Imam-hatip schools. Mainstream Milliyet reports that in his
resignation Prof. Erdogan said he had acted with his conscience
while he administered an institution of the Republic.

A Letter from Intellectuals to President Gul
All papers report that 100 intellectuals, including Prof. Baskin
Oran, Prof. Serif Mardin, Prof. Mete Tuncay, Ibrahim Betil and Orhan
Pamuk sent a letter titled "We Miss Brotherly Living" to President
Gul and asked him to assume an active role in finding a peaceful
solution to the Kurdish problem. The letter said "if DTP (mainly
Kurdish political party) is closed down, tensions in the country

ANKARA 00000309 003 OF 003


will escalate. A solution should be found through political
determination not by judicial decision."


TV News:
NTV

Domestic News

- Tough winter conditions affect daily life across Turkey. Schools
were closed in many cities. 350 road accidents were reported in
Ankara.

- Responding to journalists' questions on ATV, Prime Minister
Erdogan said state broadcaster TRT would soon begin broadcasts in
Kurdish, Farsi and Arabic.

- On Monday, Parliament Speaker Koksal Toptan marked the 56th
anniversary of Turkey's NATO membership. Toptan emphasized that
Turkey has played an important role in enhancing regional and global
security. Turkey has been an allied member of NATO since February
18, 1952.

International News

- Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos said the
government of Spain "will not recognize the unilateral act
proclaimed yesterday by the assembly of Kosovo."

- Chancellor Angela Merkel said Prime Minister Erdogan's statement
that "assimilation is a crime against humanity" was misunderstood in
Germany.

- Former President George H.W. Bush endorsed Senator John McCain for
the Republican presidential nomination.

WILSON

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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