Cablegate: Ankara Media Reaction Report
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TAGS: OPRC KMDR TU
SUBJECT: ANKARA MEDIA REACTION REPORT
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 26, 2008
In Today's Papers
Turkish Forces Destroy PKK Camps in Zap and Move Toward Mount
All papers report Turkey's Military General Staff (TGS) said on
Monday the PKK death toll has reached 153 during the ground
offensive into northern Iraq. TGS also said two more Turkish
soldiers were killed in fighting, which brings the total Turkish
military fatalities since the start of the incursion to 17.
Mainstream papers Milliyet and Vatan, leftist-nationalist
Cumhuriyet, and Islamist-oriented Zaman say the Zap camp was
destroyed. This is a significant victory for Turkish forces because
the Zap camp served as the logistical support headquarters of the
PKK. Zaman, Yeni Safak, and Cumhuriyet report that Turkish troops
headed toward Mount Qandil after they destroyed the PKK camps in
Cemco, Avasin, Hakurk, and Zap on Monday. Yeni Safak and Cumhuriyet
claim Turkish troops control an area 25-50 km from the border.
Government spokesman Cemil Cicek told the press yesterday the
operations target the PKK, not the Kurdish administration of
northern Iraq. "Turkish troops will return home when their mission
is accomplished," said Cicek. On Monday, President Abdullah Gul and
Prime Minister Erdogan were briefed by TGS on the latest
developments regarding the ground offensive in northern Iraq. Gul
postponed his four-day trip to Africa due to the ongoing Turkish
operations in northern Iraq. On Wednesday, a Turkish delegation
comprised of Turkish Foreign Ministry officials and TGS officials
will travel to Baghdad to explain to the Sunni, Shia, and Kurdish
groups the "aim and scope" of the Turkish land offensive in northern
On Thursday, funerals for soldiers killed in operations in northern
Iraq were held in Ankara, Kayseri, Hatay, and Ardahan. President
Gul, Parliament Speaker Toptan, PM Erdogan, TGS Chief Buyukanit, and
several other cabinet ministers attended the funerals.
Papers also report around 10,000 people gathered in the southeastern
city of Diyarbakir in a rally initiated by the pro-Kurdish DTP to
protest the Turkish ground attacks in northern Iraq. DTP lawmakers
Selahattin Demirtas and Aysel Tugluk attended the rally, along with
Mayor Osman Baydemir. Former Kurdish MP Leyla Zana spoke at the
rally and called for the establishment of a "democratic and
autonomous Kurdistan," and called on the Turkish state officials to
"talk to the PKK's imprisoned leader Abdullah Ocalan" to resolve the
Kurdish question. "Give us freedom or death," Zana said, calling
for an end to the operations in northern Iraq. Riot police
dispersed the crowd by using batons and pepper spray.
On the other hand, papers report White House Spokesperson Dana
Perino said the US hopes Turkey's operations in northern Iraq will
be "short" and "will not harm civilians"
Editorial Commentary on Kurdish Problem, Turkish Operations in
"There Is No Comprehensive Package"
Murat Yetkin is pro-American and a respected international affairs
He wrote in liberal-intellectual Radikal (2/26):
"Justice Minister Sahin categorically denied reports that the AKP
government is preparing a comprehensive package to address the
Kurdish issue. In fact, it's easy to draw conclusions based on the
assessments of sources close to Prime Minister and the public
remarks from the Justice Minister. Currently, Ankara is completely
focused on the military operation and hopes to see the PKK's
capacity destroyed. In addition, the ruling AKP is exerting efforts
in hopes that Turkey's southeastern provinces, traditionally
controlled by pro-Kurdish parties, will become strongholds for the
AKP during the upcoming local elections. Because of these two
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issues, it is not realistic to expect the government to propose a
series of cultural, political and economic measures in order to
solve the Kurdish issue. It seems this situation will change only
if the military operations result in a significant blow against the
PKK's ability to operate as a formidable threat."
Derya Sazak is a senior columnist and ombudsman for mainstream
Milliyet. He is a liberal, but is skeptical about US plans for the
region, particularly in Iraq.
He wrote in mainstream Milliyet (2/26):
"Despite the ongoing 'Operation Sun' land operation, there is a
significant need to bring political and peaceful solutions to the
agenda. The Kurdish problem has resulted in the loss of 40,000
lives during the last 25 years. Despite Turkey's demonstrated
military supremacy, the Kurdish problem remains. Thus, the solution
must include alternatives outside of military action. For example,
the formation of a new parliament with representation from
pro-Kurdish parties may provide hope for improved understanding and
thus may render the PKK ineffective. While the cross border
operation continues with support from the US, Turkey, once again, is
looking for a Kurdish solution outside of Turkey and inside northern
Iraq. Even though the PKK has suffered from heavy losses, we have
also lost 15 of our soldiers in only four days. Attending martyred
soldiers' funerals is not enough to solve the problem. Ankara must
bring a political plan to the parliament's attention."
'Headscarf Ambiguity' Creates Divisions in Universities
Hurriyet, Milliyet, Sabah, Taraf, Radikal, Cumhuriyet, Zaman and
others report the ruling AKP government's decision to remove a ban
on the headscarf in universities has split the Higher Education
Board (YOK) into two sides. On Sunday, YOK Chairman Yusuf Ziya
Ozcan issued a written directive instructing all university rectors
to allow students wearing headscarves to attend classes. Nine
rectors, who are also members of the YOK board, criticized Professor
Ozcan for backing the AKP government's view that the constitutional
changes have lifted the ban on headscarves in universities. Papers
report only 18 out of 115 universities allowed students wearing
headscarves to enter the classroom.
On Wednesday, opposition party CHP confirmed it will challenge the
headscarf amendments in the Constitutional Court. A fifty-page
petition was signed by lawmakers from the CHP, the Democratic Left
Party (DSP) and independent lawmaker Kamer Genc.
"Good Morning, 301"
Liberal Radikal reported that Justice Minister Mehmet Ali Sahin said
an amendment to Article 301 of Turkish Penal Code will be submitted
to parliament as an AKP proposal. Sahin said upper limit of
punishment will be reduced and no punishments will be deemed
necessary if the violation occurs outside of Turkey. Sahin said "if
this proposal is adopted by Turkish parliament, I will stop getting
questions related to 301. At the moment, the EU officials' first
sentence after we greet them is always 'Good morning, 301?' and I am
tired of hearing the same thing."
Hopes Increase for A Settlement in Cyprus
Sabah, Vatan, Zaman, Aksam, Cumhuriyet, Milliyet and others: Papers
report that the Christofias' victory in the Greek Cypriot
presidential elections has opened a new era for Cyprus. Mainstream
Sabah says Christofias already requested an appointment from the UN
to arrange talks with Turkish Cypriot President Talat. Mainstream
Vatan says that world leaders are encouraging Christofias to seek a
settlement in Cyprus. Leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet draws
attention to the words of KKTC President Talat that a settlement
could be worked out by the end of the year. Islamist-oriented Zaman
is more skeptical about Christofias' remarks and says that "the
Greek Cypriot leader gives emphasis to talks, not to settlement."
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- Public sector workers' labor union KESK has urged the AKP
government to withdraw a controversial social security reform bill
set to be debated at parliament Tuesday.
- A Turkish parliamentary delegation headed by the ruling AKP
lawmaker Murat Mercan is to visit Egypt on Tuesday.
- The Labor Ministry has decided to shut down three shipyards in
Tuzla in Istanbul for their failure to ensure work safety.
- A Kurdish official told a northern Iraqi Kurdish newspaper the
Kurdistan National Parliament will hold an extraordinary convention
February 26 regarding the Turkish land offensive in the region.
- The US State Department said on Monday Kosovo will never be part
of Serbia again.
- On Monday, Iran and Iraq signed an agreement to cooperate in the
infrastructure and services sectors in Baghdad.