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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
MONDAY, MARCH 3, 2008


In Today's Papers

President Gul and PM Erdogan Respond to the Allegations Regarding
Troop Withdrawal from Iraq
Sabah, Milliyet, Vatan, Radikal, Zaman, Cumhuriyet and others:
Speaking at the AKP Ankara Youth Branch meeting on Sunday, Prime
Minister Erdogan strongly reacted against allegations that Turkish
troops withdrew from northern Iraq upon the order of the United
States. He said that the AKP government never takes instructions
from anyone. Prior to his departure to Romania, President Gul said
he knew the ending date of the operation, and any US influence on
that decision was out of the question. The operation was conducted
in the way it was planned. Mainstream Vatan says the General Staff
responded to criticisms on why troops returned from the operation
earlier than expected. All papers carry photographs from the
operation which portray challenging geographical conditions. In an
interview with mainstream Hurriyet, TGS Chief General Buyukanit said
"I can tell you with all my sincerity that the US has no influence
whatsoever on our withdrawal. One third of our troops were already
pulled back by the time we were meeting with Secretary Gates." Most
weekend papers reported General Buyukanit's remarks regarding
withdrawal, "Withdrawal from an operation is a more sensitive issue
than the start of an operation; we never openly announce the
withdrawal time for security reasons." Meanwhile,
leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet, mainstream Hurriyet, Milliyet, Sabah
and others report that main opposition party CHP leader Deniz Baykal
said about the ending of the cross border operation "the surgery is
over but a body part has remained inside the body. The results are
pleasing but targets that would provide a lasting solution could not
be reached in eight days. There is no problem with the military
dimension of the operation however, the political dimension remained
insufficient."

Editorial Opinion on CBO and Afterwards
"From A War to A Solution"
Hasan Bulent Kahraman, a prominent art critic and free-lance
columnist wrote in mainstream Sabah (3/3):
"The army made the right decision to pull out and they did so
successfully. Staying in northern Iraq for a long time could have
created tension, especially with the US. Now is the time to talk
about the post-military operation process. What will be the outcome
of this military success? During the recent elections, the
government emphasized the importance of resolving the Kurdish
problem, which garnered significant electoral support in the
southeast. But since the elections, the government appears to be
back-pedaling. It is yet unclear whether the Kurdish problem
remains a priority for the AKP government. Democratization is the
solution to all of our problems. Turkey can sort this out without
even introducing a comprehensive package. As we work through the EU
reform process, we will reach a solution. The EU harmonization
requires a series of legislative changes. Once Turkey sticks with
that process, every fundamental issue will be addressed, including
the Kurdish problem. Otherwise, Turkey will be drawn into its own
vicious cycle. The choice is now up to the government. If the
government defines itself by conservatism, we shall not see a
solution to our problems. But if it defines itself as democrat,
then we can hope for solution."

"The Battlefront is Okay, But Now is the Time for Politics"
Mainstream Milliyet carried this op-ed (3/3):
"There was a communication problem regarding the announcement of
last week's withdrawal from northern Iraq. There are still some
question marks in public opinion as to whether the Turkish army
pulled out due to US pressure. It would be best to conduct a
better way of communicating with public opinion regarding the phases
of cross border operations. Nevertheless, it is natural to see such
debates in open societies. However, those debates should not dilute
the success of military operation. Yet, there is another question:
will there be another operation in the future? We should break this
vicious cycle of violence. The Turkish army achieved the impossible

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with this operation, and now is the time to create a new opportunity
out of this military success. The government must start making
political, social and cultural efforts to break the vicious cycle of
terrorism and military intervention. Now is the time to build
peace."

"Let's Call It By Its Correct Name"
Oktay Eksi is senior columnist for Hurriyet and Chairman of Turkey's
Press Council. He wrote in mainstream Hurriyet (3/2):
"I am sure that our Foreign Ministry, prime minister, and our
president -who each entertained Gates lavishly-- asked the US
secretary about the meaning of his remarks prior to his arrival in

SIPDIS
Ankara. In particular, he referred to Turkey as the 'regional
Turkish government' in Canberra. Once Gates was in India, he
referred to the PKK as 'Kurdish PKK fighters.' He also said, 'the
PKK is a Kurdish nationalist armed group that is active in northern
Iraq.' This information was not reported in our press. But when we
combine this information, we may conclude that Chief of the General
Staff Buyukanit was a little too hasty when he said two days ago
that he is becoming 'more confident about the sincerity of the
United States' in view of its 'cooperation against the PKK.'
Indeed, Secretary Gates stepped up the pitch of his warnings from
the relatively soft tone in Canberra to his demand that the
'operation end in one or two weeks.' When Secretary Gates were
asked whether the Turks got his message, he rudely said, 'I told
them four times. I am sure they got it.' After comments such as
these, Turkey withdrew our soldiers. It is up to you if you still do
not want to call this a disgrace."

Demonstrations Against the Military Operations
Milliyet, Sabah, Radikal and others: Papers report that hundreds of
DTP members staged a protest rally in Istanbul against the operation
into northern Iraq. DTP deputy Sirri Sakik spoke at the rally and
said that the withdrawal is a pleasing development. He also noted
that problems cannot be resolved through killing. The protesters
clashed with police after protestors shouted pro-PKK slogans; 26 of
the protestors were detained. There was also a DTP rally in the
southeast province Batman, where 7000 people marched and chanted
pro-PKK slogans. During the Batman rally, DTP Batman deputy Ayla
Akat Ata said "the PKK is a fact in Turkey, even if 40,000 more
people die."

Meanwhile, liberal Radikal on Sunday began a series detailing
suggestions for the composition of a 'political solution' package to
the Kurdish issue. Kurdish politicians and intellectuals commented
on what they defined as a 'political solution.' Their priorities
include free Kurdish broadcasting, Kurdish language education and an
amnesty program for the militants.

Troop Deployment at the Border Causes Expectations of New Military
Operations
Mainstream Milliyet reports that Turkish troops have been dispatched
to the border areas near PKK camps in Haftanin and Hakurk. Noticing
the troop activity at the border, the residents of northern Iraq
were concerned that the Turkish military would renew its operation.
Sunday's Vatan quoted Justice Minister Mehmet Ali Sahin as saying
that "Turkish troops can go to northern Iraq once again if
necessary."


TV News:
CNN Turk

Domestic News

President of the Turkish Bar Association Ozdemir Ozok said the
turban problem has pulled Turkey into chaos. He said that the
turban has become a symbol of division in Turkey.

More than 100 intellectuals called on the government to undertake

ANKARA 00000416 003 OF 003


decisive steps for EU harmonization.

The Turkish General Staff has released 23 new photos of the
cross-border operations in northern Iraq.


International News

Israel intensifies its offensive in Gaza as the death toll rises to
over 100.

Iran and Iraq issue messages of friendship during Iranian President
Ahmedinejad's visit to Baghdad.

Clashes between opposition and security forces in Yerevan kills 9
and leaves many injured.

Greek-Cypriot President Christofias said he is more than ready for a
solution in Cyprus, if Turkey is ready for this.

Turkish Cypriot President Mehmet Ali Talat says the elements of
Annan plan should be used to work out a solution in Cyprus.

WILSON

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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