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Cablegate: Ankara Media Reaction Report

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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 ANKARA 000423

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, MARCH 4, 2008


In Today's Papers

TGS Chief General Buyukanit Addresses Criticism from the Press
All papers report that Chief of Turkish General Staff (TGS) General
Yasar Buyukanit addressed the press yesterday and reacted strongly
against allegations that the Turkish military withdrew because of US
pressure. All papers quoted General Buyukanit, "if anyone can prove
the US influenced the decision to withdraw, I will take my uniform
off." He added, "We chose Zap as a target because it is the place
where the PKK masterminds its attacks. Zap is the nerve center for
the terrorists, while camps in Qandil are used for training and
logistics. The PKK cannot be eliminated with one operation; this
time, we taught them one lesson; but we will teach the terrorists
more lessons in the future. The fight against terrorism cannot be
carried out only by military operations. But advocates for
political solution do not provide details for a solution. When
someone does speak in detail, he/she speaks on behalf of the PKK and
demands constitutional reforms, recognition of the Kurdish identity,
education in mother tongue and general amnesty. I have not seen any
other political proposal."

Meanwhile, mainstream Sabah reports that Land Forces Commander
General Ilker Basbug said, "The Turkish state should take necessary
measures in order to prevent poor, uneducated, and unemployed
youngsters from joining the PKK. Economic measures should somehow
be presented to these youngsters."

EDITORIAL COMMENTARY

"Stop Counting Dead Bodies"
Cengiz Candar is a prominent foreign affairs analyst and columnist
for business daily Referans. He wrote in Referans (3/4):
"Turkey has to look ahead and put aside debates about future land
operations. Any rhetoric related to cross border operations will
only fuel the fires of violence and help the PKK attract new
recruits. Now is the time to take preventive action to eliminate
the need for any further land operations. First of all, a
cooperation mechanism with Iraqi Kurds should be initiated. Turkey
will find it very easy to proceed with this mechanism when Baghdad
and the US are fully engaged in the control of the border. Next,
there is an urgent need for a four-party mechanism between Ankara,
Baghdad, Erbil and Washington. The security cooperation should be
attached to political and economic contacts with Iraqi Kurds.
Turkey should also initiate legal steps for its own Kurds.
Revitalizing Turkey's EU process can be a good route to initiate
this process. The upcoming visit of Iraqi President Talabani to
Turkey is a good opportunity to open a brand new page in relations.
Let's look ahead and discard the rhetoric of violence."

"Killing is not the Way to Finish the PKK"
Sahin Alpay is a senior columnist and researcher. He wrote in
Islamist-oriented Zaman (3/4):
"Because the land operations were so short, they ended on a happy
note. Had the operation lasted longer, our troops could have faced
confrontation with the Kurdish Regional Administration, Iraq and the
US. The operation ended right after calls for withdrawal from US
officials, but that does not justify the argument that Turkey
withdrew due to US pressures. Given the fact that Iraq is still
under American occupation, this operation proved Turkish military
activity can be carried out with American cooperation and
coordination. The core question should be about the success of this
operation. We should talk about the methods of fighting, namely the
PKK's guerilla tactics vs. the Turkish military's conventional
approach. Also, we should discuss the need for a professional army.
In any case, this operation proved Turkey's power and determination
in the fight against the PKK. Nevertheless, in order to render the
PKK ineffective, Ankara needs to engage in close cooperation with
Kurdish Regional Administration, Washington and Baghdad. Now the

ANKARA 00000423 002 OF 003


question is whether the AKP government will be able to make this
happen. You cannot finish the PKK by killing them off, one-by-one.
However, the recognition of legitimate freedoms and rights for
Turkey's Kurds can render the PKK ineffective. Once that point is
reached, the main questions for the ruling AKP are: Are we going to
see the implementation of democratic reforms? Are we going to see
special development measures for the southeast region? Are we going
to see an amnesty plan to win back the youth who are currently under
the influence of the PKK?"


CHP Leader Deniz Baykal Comments on the Withdrawal
Milliyet, Cumhuriyet, Sabah, Radikal, Cumhuriyet and others:
During yesterday's live interview on NTV, main opposition party CHP
leader Deniz Baykal said he does not accept claims that Turkey
withdrew from northern Iraq on its own. Baykal claimed that the
decision for withdrawal was made during the meetings between US
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, PM Erdogan and President Gul. "I

SIPDIS
think some are trying to hold a sword over Turkey so we cannot
eliminate terror permanently. My party will carry the issue to the
parliament."

Turkish Academics' View on A Solution for Kurdish Issue
Liberal Radikal is writing a series of reports on academics'
approaches to solutions for the Kurdish Issue. Professor Baskin
Oran said "a solution must include economic measures and freedom.
Freedom is needed not only for Kurdish people but for all people of
Turkey". Tugrul Turkes of MHP said, "We all have equal
constitutional citizenship. Economic reforms are needed in the
southeast." MHP Istanbul Deputy Gunduz Aktan said "The PKK should
lay down their arms. Cultural rights cannot be discussed while the
terrorist threat continues."

PKK Alarm at the Border
Mainstream Milliyet reports that Turkish military units along the
border with Iraq were put on alert against possible attacks by the
PKK. Turkish troops launched a "dawn operation" to neutralize 20
PKK terrorists who infiltrated the border into Sirnak's Bestler
Dereler region. Operations continue in Cudi, Kato, Kupeli and Cirav
regions.

Supreme Court: "Compulsory Religious Education is Unconstitutional."

Sabah, Cumhuriyet, Milliyet and others: The Supreme Court of
Appeals ruled that the religion classes within the current
curriculum cannot be compulsory. The Supreme Court's 8th Chamber
recognized the claims of two Alevi parents who filed an appeal which
asked that their children to be exempt from religion classes. The
Supreme Court ruled that when a curriculum is based on the
perspective of a single religion, in this case Islam, it is not a
'religion and ethics culture' class but a religion class. Students
cannot be forced to take such classes. Leftist-nationalist
Cumhuriyet says that the ruling was "historical."

Controversial Independence Celebrations in Askale
Sabah, Milliyet, Vatan, Radikal, Hurriyet, Cumhuriyet, Posta, and
others: Yesterday marked the 90th anniversary of the liberation of
Askale, a town in the Erzurum region. Part of the program included
the reenactment of an imam being hung by an Armenian gang. Children
of the town were shocked by the grotesque nature of the scene. All
papers carried the story from the angle that such reenactments
should no longer take place. Mainstream Sabah columnist Ergun
Babahan criticizes the scene harshly and says "as long as we raise
our kids with such scenes, we won't have a hard time finding
triggermen in murders based on ethnic, religious and intellectual
differences." Sabah's front page headline reads, "Hate Ceremony,"
and carries a photo of children who are frightened by the mock
execution. Mainstream Hurriyet quotes a psychiatrist who notes,
"These kinds of hate ceremonies led to the murder of Hrant Dink."


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TV News:
CNN Turk

Domestic News

- Government spokesman Cemil Cicek said the government does not have
a special for combating terror, and urged PKK militants to apply for
existing repentance law.

- Five students from Gazi University in Ankara have filed a legal
complaint against Rector Kadri Yamac, who refused to admit them to
the University because they were wearing turbans.

- YOK President Prof.Ozcan visited Kirikkale University. He did not
answer questions for journalists, but said he will try to relax the
atmosphere

International News

- Iranian President Ahmedinejad proposed a trilateral cooperation
between Turkey, Iran, and Iraq in order to combat the PKK and PJAK

- The Turkish youth who was beaten by police in Germany has died.

WILSON

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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