Cablegate: Ankara Media Reaction Report
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SUBJECT: ANKARA MEDIA REACTION REPORT
TUESDAY, MARCH 11, 2008
In Today's Papers
Discord Continues Between Turkish Military and Opposition Parties
All papers report the Chief of the Turkish General Staff (TGS) Yasar
Buyukanit spoke with reporters yesterday concerning charges that
pressure from the US caused Turkey to withdraw from northern Iraq.
Buyukanit accused political opposition parties of launching
criticisms that overshadow the military success against the PKK
terrorists. Buyukanit called such criticism from the opposition
"insulting," and emphasized he would never "remain silent in the
face of insults that target the military."
In response to these remarks, CHP deputy chairman Mustafa Ozyurek
said the opposition remains convinced that the operation ended due
to US pressure. Ozyurek warned the military against intervention in
political debates between the ruling party and opposition parties.
Ozyurek said the CHP holds the AKP government responsible for bowing
to US pressure. "To this end, the prime minister himself made a
series of serious accusations aimed at the opposition. We hoped the
head of the Turkish military would abstain from debates between our
party and the ruling party," Ozyurek emphasized.
Later in the day, Buyukanit tried to ease strains by telling
reporters he was not a "neighborhood bully." He added that his
remarks were not directed against the CHP or its leader Deniz
Baykal, and that he was reluctantly dragged into "a polemic."
Editorial Commentary on the Military's Polemic with Political
"When Will Democracy Be the Common Platform?"
Hasan Cemal wrote in mainstream Milliyet (3/11): "The military's
'e-warning to the opposition' has become a never-ending story. The
Chief of Staff General Buyukanit seems to have no intention of
backing off. General Buyukanit looks like he has engaged himself in
psychological warfare with opposition leaders. It appears he wants
to weaken the opposition by accusing them of being enemies of army.
The Turkish military used to manipulate political authorities toward
the 'right direction.' Now the military has begun manipulating
opposition parties. It is time to emphasize a very basic fact about
democracies. In democracies, the military has absolutely no role in
politics. The military is entitled to report to the political
authority and cannot act like a political party. This is the time
to embrace democracy; both the ruling party and the opposition need
to move toward a path where democracy is the common platform."
"Enough of This Polemic"
Gungor Mengi commented in mainstream Vatan (3/11): "The military's
reaction to the opposition parties is very hard to understand.
Moreover, Chief of Staff General Buyukanit is continually egging on
the opposition. Yesterday he even admitted that he drafted the
statement posted in TGS website which referred to the opposition
leaders as 'worse than traitors.' General Buyukanit should stop
making such harsh statements against the opposition. This polemic
must come to end because it simply serves against the interests of
national unity. The CHP, the main opposition party, has calmly
asked the military to stay out of this debate because the CHP wants
answers from the AKP government, not from the military. The ruling
party is obviously pleased with the ongoing military vs. opposition
polemic, but the military should absolutely stay away from domestic
Buyukanit Warns against the Taliban Threat in Pakistan
Hurriyet, Milliyet, Sabah, Radikal, Taraf, Cumhuriyet, Zaman and
others report the Chief of the Turkish General Staff (TGS) Yasar
Buyukanit delivered the opening remarks during an international
terrorism symposium. The event was organized by TGS and held at the
Centre of Excellence -- Defense against Terrorism (COE-DAT) in
Ankara on March 10-11. During his address, Buyukanit stressed that
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terror organizations were illegally trying to acquire nuclear power
and weapons of mass destruction. Buyukanit underlined the
importance of international cooperation in the fight against terror.
In the case of Pakistan, Buyukanit warned, political turmoil and
fundamentalist violence could help the Taliban seize control of the
country and its nuclear weapons. "I hope Pakistan becomes stable
soon," Buyukanit told the conference. He added, "if President
Musharraf loses his grip, Pakistan could fall into the hands of a
In addition, papers report Buyukanit called for a UN mechanism to be
activated against countries "showing tolerance" for the PKK
Parliament Speaker Toptan Opens Door to DTP
Sabah, Zaman, Hurriyet, Vatan, Cumhuriyet and others: Yesterday,
Speaker of Parliament Koksal Toptan received a delegation led by
pro-Kurdish DTP Chairman Ahmet Turk. Mainstream Sabah says Ahmet
Turk expressed his party's views concerning the Kurdish issue to
Toptan. However, the meeting was closed to the press.
Islamist-oriented Zaman reports that Ahmet Turk told press after the
meeting, "I expressed my opinion regarding the process of lifting
the parliamentary immunity for DTP deputies. Mainstream Hurriyet
reports President Gul will receive the same DTP delegation today at
4:00 p.m. Meanwhile, Sabah reports the Igdir prosecutor initiated
an investigation against Igdir deputy Pervin Buldan for supporting
the PKK terrorist organization and its leader, Abdullah Ocalan.
Workers to Go on a Two-Hour Strike on Friday
Radikal, Hurriyet, Milliyet, Zaman, Cumhuriyet and others: Turkey's
major labor unions, including Turk-Is, Disk and Kesk (which form the
Emek Platform) will go on strike between 10.00-12.00 on Friday. The
strike was organized in order to protest the draft Social Security
law and general health insurance.
- A Turkish delegation will meet in Baghdad with Nechirvan Barzani,
the prime minister of the KRG in northern Iraq.
- The government has reduced the number of students accepted into
imam-hatip Islamic cleric-training high schools. In an effort to
improve the quality of education, the number of students was reduced
from 120,000 to 100,000.
- The pro-Kurdish DTP lawmaker Bengi Yildiz asked Justice Minister
Mehmet Ali Sahin whether the phones of DTP deputies are being
- Vice President Dick Cheney will come to Turkey during his Middle
East tour which begins March 16. Cheney will meet with President
Abdullah Gul, Prime Minister Erdogan, and the Military General Staff
Chief Yasar Buyukanit. Items on his agenda include the fight
against the PKK, Iraq and bilateral relations between Turkey and the
- President Abdullah Gul will travel to Dakar, Senegal on Wednesday
to participate in the 11th session of the Organization of the
Islamic Conference (OIC).