Cablegate: Ankara Media Reaction Report
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TAGS: OPRC KMDR TU
SUBJECT: ANKARA MEDIA REACTION REPORT
THURSDAY, MARCH 6, 2008
In Today's Papers
General Odierno's Comments Stir Controversy
All papers report US Lieutenant General Ray Odierno's comments
during a press conference at the Pentagon earlier this week. "The
long-term solution in northern Iraq is not a military one. There's
pressure that has to be put on them, the PKK, so we can start to
talk and have negotiations with these terrorist elements," said
Odierno. Mainstream Hurriyet and the Islamist-oriented Yeni Safak
characterize Odierno's remarks as contradictory to official US
policy, which rules out any contact with PKK terrorists.
Papers report State Department European Affairs Spokesperson Chase
Beamer said, "The US policy has not changed; we do not negotiate
with terrorists nor do we support such negotiations."
Conservative-nationalist Bugun and leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet
say Odierno was the commander of US troops when they placed hoods on
the heads of Turkish Special Forces in northern Iraq.
Papers also report US Congressman Rush Holt, US House Intelligence
Committee member, told a gathering in New York that "the US was
'happy' with PKK activities in Iraq during the time of Saddam
Hussein," but that "both the US and Turkey were paying for their
past mistakes regarding the PKK."
Meanwhile, mainstream Hurriyet quotes Ambassador Wilson as saying at
a reception in Ankara that "the US had nothing to do with the
Turkish withdrawal from northern Iraq. It was Turkey's own decision
to end the ground offensive in northern Iraq."
Editorial Commentary on Odierno's PKK Comments
Mustafa Balbay wrote in leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet: "US
Lieutenant General Odierno, the Number Two general for US forces in
Iraq until two weeks ago, is talking about negotiating with the PKK.
He will soon be promoted to a higher rank and he will be the Number
Two general for US Land Forces. The essence of his remarks is that
the US' ultimate goal is for Turkey and the PKK to sit at a
negotiation table. This message is a clear double standard. If
sitting at a table with a terrorist organization is the best way to
solve the problem, then why doesn't the US sit down at a table with
Al-Qaeda? Turkey is right in the middle of an American game that is
playing against us."
The Duel between the Opposition and the Military
All papers report that on Thursday, opposition parties CHP and MHP
responded to the Turkish General Staff (TGS) statement on Tuesday
which referred to opposition criticism against the operations as
"more harmful than the assaults of traitors." TGS rejected
allegations that the Turkish offensive ended under US influence.
The CHP said its criticism regarding the operation was targeting the
Prime Minister. The MHP also criticized the TGS' response. Leftist
Taraf writes that opposition leaders who used to support the
military are now involved in a verbal duel with them.
Editorial Commentary on Military vs. Opposition CHP, MHP
Fehmi Koru wrote in Islamist-leaning Yeni Safak: "Opposition
parties criticized the methods of the recent cross border operation
and the military became the main recipient of this criticism. This
is because the military has claimed ownership over this operation
from the beginning. Instead, the political authority should be
criticized. The military should not feel obliged to answer
opposition parties' criticism. In the midst of the ongoing chaos,
the political system is wearing out as we see the opposition in a
duel with the military while the government is almost completely
left out of the debate. The government should take the same
approach it took when it stood against the military warning issued
on April 27, 2007. The government should put out a public statement
warning the military not to answer the opposition's criticism.
That's how we will be democratized."
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Ergun Babahan wrote in mainstream Sabah: "I wonder if the military
thinks of itself as a political party? The military explained the
details of its operation and defended the withdrawal. The
opposition parties apparently were not satisfied with the
explanation and voiced their criticism. This is a normal thing
because the Turkish General Staff is not a state institution that
defines a political party's stance. And it is definitely not an
institution which has the authority to accuse political parties of
being traitors. Political parties talk or argue with other parties,
it's what political parties do. It is both the wrong attitude and
undemocratic for the military to get involved in a debate between
the government and the opposition."
Sabah, Milliyet, Hurriyet, Zaman, Radikal, Vatan, and others:
Papers report that Iraqi President Jalal Talabani is coming to
Ankara on Friday for a "working visit." Mainstream Sabah's headline
reads "A 24-Hour Visit," and reports Talabani will not be greeted
with a military ceremony. However, there will be an official dinner
at the Presidential Palace but the names of the both Presidents'
wives have been omitted from the guest list. Sabah adds that it is
not clear yet whether the TGS Chief will be invited or not.
Mainstream Milliyet's headline reads "He was a Peshmerge once upon a
time, but will be staying at the Presidential Palace tomorrow."
Talabani will be staying at the Presidential. Milliyet says TGS
Chief Buyukanit and other military personnel will not attend
tomorrow night's dinner. Milliyet columnist Semih Idiz reminds
Turkish officials that "whether we like him or not, he is the
President of Iraq" and "the Turkish government should leave behind
sentiments of hatred and revenge in order to develop a coherent new
Iraq policy in harmony with the regional facts."
Islamist-oriented Zaman reports that Talabani will be accompanied by
the Iraqi Ministers of Water Resources, Oil, Industry, National
Security and Finance. However, Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari will
not accompany Talabani. Zaman adds that Ankara wants to open a new
page in bilateral relations with Iraq.
Editorial Commentary Talabani's Turkey Visit
In liberal Radikal, Murat Yetkin wrote: "Since 2005, Turkey's
foreign policy has been shaped by the fight against PKK terrorism,
which has prevented Ankara from moving forward in compliance with
changing situation in Iraq and Iraqi leadership. It took three
years for Ankara to overcome the ideological and psychological
obstacles in that regard. In the meantime, other countries across
the world have established diplomatic relationships with the
northern Iraqi leadership, while Ankara is still wondering whether
it should even initiate political dialogue with them. We haven't
even managed to establish high level contacts with Baghdad, yet
alone Erbil. Therefore, Iraqi President Talabani's visit to Ankara
is very important and it will pave the way for a Turkish
Presidential visit to Baghdad."
TUSIAD Expresses Concern about Economic Developments
Sabah, Milliyet, Hurriyet, Radikal, Zaman and others: Arzuhan Dogan
Yalcindag, the chairperson of the Turkish Industrialists' and
Businessmen's Association (TUSIAD), expressed the business world's
concerns about recent economic developments. Yalcindag emphasized
that "inflation and unemployment rates in February are the source of
our concern." Yalcindag urged the government to establish a new
economic program and a new industrial strategy. She also noted that
the private sector is ready to support such a program.
Gul Invites Ahmedinejad to Turkey
Islamist-oriented Yeni Safak cites Iran's official news agency IRNA
as reporting President Abdullah Gul invited Iranian President
Ahmedinejad to Turkey yesterday. The paper writes that Gul's
invitation was extended yesterday when he received the Iranian
Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Ali Riza Attar. Gul called
Ahmedinejad's visit to Baghdad 'historic.' He also noted how the
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improvement in bilateral ties will benefit the whole region,
according to IRNA.
- The Constitutional Court is to hold its first meeting Thursday on
the opposition CHP's request to annul the recent headscarf changes
in the constitution.
- Police arrested five demonstrators in Yuksekova in Hakkari in
southeast Turkey during demonstrations against Turkish military
operations into northern Iraq. In Ercis town in the eastern
province of Van, seven policemen and 50 protesters were injured
during a protest march following a women's meeting.
- On Friday, Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis will come to
Turkey to participate in International Women's Day festivities,
which will be organized by the ruling AKP's women's branch.
- A survey conducted out by Egitim-Sen labor union shows
unemployment, education and the Kurdish problem as the top problems
facing Turkish university students. The students did not place the
turban among their top priority concerns.
- The northern Iraqi PUK Media website quotes Peshmerge sources who
claim Turkish helicopters struck Barazgr Valley in Sidekan region.
Security operations continue in Cudi and Gabar mountains on the
Turkish side of the border.
- Iranian President Ahmedinejad said "even if all Americans vote for
him, the US system would not allow Obama to be president."
- Israel's Haaretz daily claims Iran is arming Hizbullah with
missiles sent via Turkey, according to an intelligence report
prepared by the Israeli military.
- Queen Elizabeth II and her husband Prince Philip will visit Turkey
in May at the invitation of President Abdullah Gul.