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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
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 28, 2008

In Today's Papers

Secretary Gates Visits Turkey

SIPDIS
Hurriyet, Milliyet, Sabah, Radikal, Taraf, Cumhuriyet, Yeni Safak
and others report US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, speaking
ahead of his visit to Ankara, said Turkey's assault against the PKK
in northern Iraq "must not last longer than a week or two." Gates
noted Turkey has to be "mindful of Iraqi sovereignty." He also
warned Turkish leaders that "military activity needs to be
accompanied by economic and political initiatives."

Islamist-oriented Zaman and leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet claim
Gates will ask for Turkish combat troops in Afghanistan. Cumhuriyet
reports Gates said he's not sure whether the US will consider
cutting intelligence sharing with Turkey if the operations exceed
two weeks. Mainstream Hurriyet predicts Gates will discuss with
Turks the duration of the land operation, the demands for more
Turkish troops in Afghanistan, a stronger Turkish approach toward
Iran, and a political-economic solution to the Kurdish question.

Editorial Commentary on Gates Visit to Turkey

"Gates Sent His Message First"
Murat Yetkin is pro-American and a respected foreign affairs
analyst.
He wrote in liberal Radikal (2/28): "By sending his messages prior
to his arrival, Secretary Gates very wisely set the media tone for
his visit to Ankara. He also provided enough time to Turkish
authorities to devise answers to his remarks. Gates talked about
the need for limiting the duration of the operation to two weeks.
While he was making that comment, Turkey presented Gul's official
invitation to Talabani in Baghdad. Talabani's visit to Ankara in
the midst of military operation is unlikely. Yet by extending this
invitation at this juncture, Turkey has implied that the operation
will be over by the time Talabani visits Ankara, which is expected
in mid-March. Credible information behind the scenes indicates that
Ankara is preparing to finish the job in two weeks' time. In other
words, there is no problem as far as this part of Gates' message.
Yet the other part concerning 'social and political steps to end the
problem' makes Ankara uncomfortable. The government does not want
to be seen as initiating certain efforts due to ethnic reasons. In
that regard, the government's approach is parallel to the military's
approach."

Turkey Continues Operations in Northern Iraq, Death Toll Rises on
Both Sides
All papers report the military General Staff (TGS) said yesterday 77
PKK terrorists and five Turkish soldiers were killed Wednesday in
operations in northern Iraq. The latest figures bring the total
death toll among the rebels to 230 and among soldiers to 24.
Mainstream Sabah reports Turkish troops intensified attacks once the
heavy snowfall ended. The paper also notes 2,000 commandoes backed
by tanks were advancing towards the PKK camp in Zap. Papers report
information was received alleging Kadri Celik, the mastermind of the
PKK raid in Daglica last year, was killed in clashes yesterday.

Mainstream Sabah says Ankara gives the world the messages that
'Turkish operations will not continue for a long time, Turkey will
avoid clashes with the Peshmerge forces, and civilians will not be
hurt.' Bar Associations in 12 cities, including the mainly Kurdish
ones Agri, Batman, Bingol, Bitlis, Mus and Diyarbakir, have released
a joint statement calling for an end to Turkish operations in
northern Iraq.

Turkish Delegation Holds 'Crisis Talks' in Baghdad
Hurriyet, Sabah, Radikal, Taraf, Cumhuriyet, Zaman and others report
on Wednesday, a
Turkish delegation arrived in Baghdad to meet with Iraqi officials
concerning Turkey's incursions into northern Iraq to fight against
the PKK. "Our objective and mission are clear, and there is no

ANKARA 00000392 002 OF 003


withdrawal timetable until all terrorist bases are eliminated,"
Ahmet Davutoglu, top foreign policy advisor to PM Erdogan, told the
press after talks with Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari. "We
are not violating Iraq's sovereign rights but securing them by
removing the PKK from the region," said Davutoglu. Meanwhile, the
delegation delivered a letter of invitation from President Abdullah
Gul to President Talabani to visit Turkey. Talabani reportedly
accepted the invitation, and said he would pay a visit "in an
appropriate time."

Editorial Commentary on Turkish Incursions in Iraq

"It is Time to Win the Kurds"
Mehmet Ali Birand is a senior Turkish media figure and an expert on
foreign affairs, including the EU and the US. Along with his
articles, he is the senior news anchorman for the highly-rated
popular television station Kanal D.
He wrote in tabloid Posta (2/28):
"Given the fact Turkish army forces are now more effective in
pursuing the PKK and they seem to have complete control, the Turkish
state will gain regional power by implementing a number of social,
economic and political reforms. This democratic process will
marginalize the PKK and weaken the ties which draw people to the PKK
in the first place. The PKK will lose local support in proportion
to the number of Kurdish hearts that we manage to win. In addition,
the more we win Barzani over, the more the PKK will slide toward
isolation. I have a message for Ankara: now is the time to act."

"The Solution to the Kurdish Problem Requires Rationale"
Semih Idiz is an expert on international relations and a senior
columnist for mainstream Milliyet. He is a liberal, and addresses
issues through a global perspective.
He wrote in mainstream Milliyet (2/28):
"Ankara will make a huge mistake if it only pursues military action
as a solution to the Kurdish problem. The ongoing international
support for Turkey cannot be a reason for comfort, because the
support concerns terrorism, not Kurds. Secretary Gates mentioned
the need to limit the land operations and called for economic and
political steps to resolve the Kurdish issue. The essence of his
remarks is shared across the board, from Iran to Washington, from
the EU to the UN. There should be ways to explore a peaceful
solution to the PKK problem. There are examples, like the UK and
the Basque issue in Spain, for us to examine. Most important of
all, such an effort requires a rational approach versus an emotional
approach. What we need is flexible wisdom and political will to
address the problem. Otherwise, Ankara will be dragged into a
vicious cycle of military operations. If sentimentalism prevails
over rationality, Turkey will be dragged deeper and deeper into a
vicious cycle."

Tensions High in Turkish Universities over Headscarf Freedom
All papers report opposition parties CHP and DSP have applied to the
Constitutional Court in order to challenge the constitutional
amendments related to the turban in universities.

Mainstream Vatan blames Higher Education Board (YOK) President Yusuf
Ziya Ozcan for sparking tensions at universities by sending out a
memo on Sunday instructing rectors to admit students wearing
headscarves into university campuses. On Wednesday, students
protested against headscarf freedom in Istanbul's Bogazici
University, Ankara's Middle East Technical University, and
universities in Eskisehir and Aydin.

The inter-university board of rectors will meet Thursday to discuss
the headscarf order circulated by Ozcan. Board chairman Mustafa
Akaydin warned that there was "intense religious pressure" on
university rectors in eastern Turkey. Akaydin said at least half of
the rectors of these universities had to allow students with
headscarfs into classes due to such pressures.


ANKARA 00000392 003 OF 003


Bush Appoints US Envoy to OIC
Mainstream Milliyet reports President Bush has appointed Sada
Cumber, 'a businessman from Texas,' as the US Special Envoy to the
Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC). White House
Spokesperson Dana Perino said the OIC was an important organization
that plays a constructive role. She added that President Bush wants
to establish a wider dialogue with Muslims around the world.

Gallup Poll: Majority of World Muslims Moderate
Liberal Radikal carries a survey commissioned by the US-based
research firm Gallup, which 'proves false the West's equation of
Islam and violence.' According to the survey, 93 percent of 1.3
billion Muslims around the world are 'moderate,' and only 7 percent
are 'radical.' A large majority of Muslims denounce all terrorist
attacks including the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade
Center. The survey was conducted over six years in 40 countries in
one-on-one interviews with 50,000 Muslims.

TV Highlights
NTV

Domestic News

- The Izmir Bar Association has initiated an investigation against
Fuat Turgut, lawyer of the suspected murderers of Hrant Dink, for
making racist statements against Armenians in the courtroom during
court proceedings in Istanbul last week.

- The third 'Iraqi International Fair,' which is the only fair Iraqi
Trade Ministry supports abroad, will take place in the southeastern
city of Gaziantep from May 22-25. More than 900 companies from 30
countries participated in last year's fair in Gaziantep.

- Russian Foreign Ministry gave Professor Ilber Ortayli, writer/poet
Ataol Behramoglu, and NTV's Moscow correspondent Hasan Aksay the
'Pushkin Award' for their contribution to Russia-Turkey ties.

International News

- On Wednesday, PKK supporters criticized the US and EU for backing
the Turkish offensive in northern Iraq. The criticisms came during
a press conference at the EU Parliament, where the PKK supporters
called on Turkey to suspend the incursions.

- Francis Fukuyama of Johns Hopkins University says the headscarf
issue has become a test for the AKP.

- Turkish Environment Minister Veysel Eroglu told the closing
session of the World Water Forum in Jordan the world will face a
water shortage in the future, and problems related to water
necessitate cooperation among countries.

WILSON

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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