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Cablegate: Ankara Media Reaction Report

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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
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 21, 2008

In Today's Papers

High Court Chief: The Regime Is Not in Danger
All papers report High Court of Appeals Chairman Hasan Gerceker said
at a meeting with the press Wednesday he does not think Turkey's
secular system is at risk. Gerceker added any discussion to the
contrary was "not timely." Gerceker also said the judiciary would
implement any changes "the political will" would want in article 301
of the Turkish penal code, which makes "insulting Turkishness" a
crime. "However, I don't think article 301 restricts free speech,"
noted Gerceker. Mainstream papers comment that Gerceker, unlike
other high court members who have issued warnings on these matters
in the past, refrained from commenting on "secularism" or "threats
to the regime."

Gates, Cheney to Visit Turkey
Hurriyet, Milliyet, Sabah, Radikal, Cumhuriyet, Zaman and others
report Defense Secretary Robert Gates will pay an official visit to
Turkey on February 27-28. Papers report Gates will meet with his
Turkish counterpart Vecdi Gonul as well as the President, PM, and
the chief of military general staff in order to discuss the fight
against terror, Iraq, Iran, and Cyprus. Liberal Radikal and
mainstream Sabah claim Gates will ask Turkey to give "active
military support" to the fight against terror in Afghanistan.

Papers also report US Vice-President Dick Cheney is expected to
visit Turkey in March. Leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet expects
Cheney to ask Turkey to contribute an additional 2,000 troops to the
peacekeeping force in Afghanistan. Radikal reminds Turkey had
earlier turned down troop demands for the high-risk zone in
Afghanistan. The paper comments whether the US-Turkey cooperation
in combating the PKK would lead to a change in Turkey's position in
Afghanistan.

Turkey- US Summit on Terrorist Extradition
Hurriyet, Milliyet, Radikal, Cumhuriyet, Taraf, Zaman and others
report Justice Minister Mehmet Ali Sahin said Turkey was planning to
hold a symposium in March in Istanbul to discuss extradition of
terror suspects. Mainstream Milliyet reports that during his visit
to Turkey last week, US Attorney General Michael Mukasey offered to
arrange a round-table meeting of Turkish and US specialists to
discuss extradition issues. Sahin reportedly told Mukasey there
were no problems in extradition of criminals between Turkey and the
US, but added that EU countries used to decline Turkish extradition
requests. Sahin, therefore, offered to invite EU countries such as
Belgium and France which Turkey experiences problems regarding the
extradition of terrorists.

AKP Carries the Constitutional Draft to the US
Mainstream Milliyet reports that AKP Vice Chairman Dengir Mir Firat,
Constitutional Amendment Committee chairman Prof. Ergun Ozbudun and
AKP Mardin deputy Cuneyt Yuksel will go to the US to attend a
conference at Colombia University on March 3 to discuss the new
constitution draft. Reportedly, one of the sponsors of the
conference is Turkish Cultural Center which is known to be close to
Fethullah Gulen.

Parliament Adopts New Foundations Law
Sabah, Turkiye, Milliyet, Hurriyet, Radikal, Yeni Safak and others:
The Turkish Parliament adopted the new foundations law yesterday.
The opposition parties MHP and CHP voted against it, but
nevertheless, the law was passed by 242 votes in favor and 72
against. The new law allows foreigners to establish new foundations
in Turkey on the principle of legal and actual reciprocity.
Conservative-nationalist Turkiye notes that foundations will also be
able to establish economic enterprises and companies on the
condition they notify Turkey's foundation authority. Foundations
will be able to acquire assets and use them at their will.

PM Erdogan Urges Turkish Ambassadors to Stay Committed in EU Bid

ANKARA 00000328 002 OF 003


Radikal, Yeni Safak, Sabah, Hurriyet, Milliyet and others: Prime
Minister Erdogan hosted a luncheon for a group of Turkish
Ambassadors who were recently appointed to their new missions
abroad. PM Erdogan voiced strong commitment for Turkey's EU
accession and urged the ambassadors to fight against efforts aiming
to divert Turkey's efforts to join the EU. Islamist-oriented Yeni
Safak describes the PM's words as a call for mobilization in the EU
accession process.

Editorial Commentary on Pakistan, Armenia

"Pakistan's Democracy Test"
Sami Kohen wrote in mainstream Milliyet: "The most important aspect
of the Pakistani elections is that they took place in a free and
orderly fashion. Thus, Pakistan has gained significant ground
regarding democracy. The election results are a clear indication of
the people's demand for democracy and change. This opens a new page
in Pakistan's political history. This is going to be a challenging
period of transition in Pakistan. Under normal conditions, a
president and an opposition-led government can work in harmony. But
Pakistan does not have that type of political and democratic
maturity yet. Given the challenges that Pakistan is going through,
all of the political powers are required to work toward consensus
versus polarization. In the coming days, Pakistan will show the
extent to which it is ready to digest the essence of democracy."

"Conditions Will Force Sarkisian Toward Pragmatism"
Semih Idiz wrote in mainstream Milliyet: "What are the possible
outcomes of the Sarkisian era? Given the grave economic challenges
that Armenia is facing, the country's priority must be the economy
and not the genocide issue. Sarkisian also is aware of the fact that
the continuation of Karabakh issue harms more Armenians than
Azerbaijanis. Indeed this issue, rather than genocide issue, is the
main reason for Turkey's political and economic embargo against
Armenia. Sarkisian will have to take some pragmatic steps regarding
Karabakh, if only for the sake of the Armenian economy. Speaking
with Armenian officials here in Yerevan, it is obvious that they are
waiting for Turkey take the first step toward dialogue. Once this
happens, it is expected that the Diaspora will also soften its
attitude toward Ankara. Turkey, on the other hand, does not want to
harm its relations with Azerbaijan and does not want to appear to
take initiative while Armenia remains on Azeri territories. In
other words, Ankara expects Armenia to take the first step towards
dialogue. One thing is for certain: given the current
circumstances, Sarkisian will have to be more pragmatic now than
ever before."

TV Highlights
NTV

Domestic News

- A group of students rallied yesterday in Ankara's Middle East
Technical University to protest against constitutional reforms
freeing the headscarf in universities.

- Turkey's National Security Council (MGK) is to hold a meeting
Thursday chaired by President Abdullah Gul to discuss the PKK,
Kirkuk, and headscarf reforms.

- Finance Minister Kemal Unakitan said in 2008, foreign capital
amounting to USD 10 billion will be injected into Turkey even if
there is no further privatization.

- The Health Ministry has banned the use of cameras in hospitals due
to concerns over patients' privacy.

International News

- The Turkish parliamentary commission for human rights visiting

ANKARA 00000328 003 OF 003


Germany warned that arson attacks targeting Turks may escalate
tensions.

- Foreign Minister Babacan, in Moscow, said his statement about a
possible Turkish ground operation into northern Iraq was "nothing
new." Babacan added Turkey has no hidden agenda in Iraq.

- The Turkish Cyprus government has prepared a bill which would
allow Greek Cypriots to sell their properties located in the north
of the island.

- Iranian President Ahmadinejad called Israel a "filthy bacteria"
whose sole purpose was to oppress the other nations of the region.


- Mainstream Milliyet reports students at Middle East Technical
University protested the headscarf reforms yesterday. The photo
taken at the site shows a student demonstrator carrying a sign
depicting Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan covered in a headscarf that
appears to be an American flag.

WILSON

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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