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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, MARCH 13, 2008

In Today's Papers

Erdogan Unveils 'Southeast Package' to New York Times
Hurriyet, Milliyet, Sabah, Radikal, Taraf, Cumhuriyet, Zaman, Yeni
Safak and others report Prime Minister Erdogan told the New York
Times in an interview that his ruling AKP government plans to invest
up to $12 billion in southeast Turkey over the next five years.
Mainstream papers and the leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet criticize
the fact that Erdogan's "Kurdish package" was revealed to Americans
before it was made public in Turkey. Cumhuriyet comments the AKP is
releasing the economic package in order to gain votes in the mainly
Kurdish southeast during the upcoming municipal elections.
Liberal Radikal thinks the package is nothing new, recalling the
similarities to earlier plans regarding the Southeastern Anatolian
Project (GAP) and Kurdish-language broadcasting. Islamist-oriented
Zaman believes the package will play an important role in preventing
youth from joining the PKK in the region.

The pro-Kurdish DTP deputy chairman Selahattin Demirtas branded the
package as "a local election investment," saying "the Kurdish issue
cannot be solved with factories, or with broadcasts in Kurdish on a
state-controlled broadcast." In addition, he said, "A change is
needed in the mentality that Turkey is a nation with a single
language, a single religion, and a single ethnicity," stressed
Demirtas. "The problem will be resolved when this mentality
changes."

MHP Slams Erdogan for Seeking Political Solution to Kurdish Question

Hurriyet, Sabah, Vatan, Radikal, Taraf, Cumhuriyet, Zaman and others
report the opposition far right MHP deputy Oktay Vural charged Prime
Minister Erdogan for being "the architect" of the meetings between
the pro-Kurdish DTP officials, Parliament Speaker Koksal Toptan, and
President Abdullah Gul earlier this week. "Erdogan has launched a
political solution process with the DTP, a party he used to call a
tool of the PKK. The US, Barzani, and Talabani made demands from
Turkey after the successful ground offensive carried out by the
Turkish troops in northern Iraq. These are all parts of a set up
against Turkey, and the PM is the leading actor in this game," Vural
said. President Abdullah Gul said in response to criticism over his
meeting with DTP lawmakers that he was the president of all groups
in the country, and that the Kurdish question was a problem for all
of Turkey, not just of a specific party or group.

Tan Outlines 'Kurdish Package'
A column today in mainstream Sabah refers to a 10-item solution
package put forth by Altan Tan, a Kurdish intellectual who has been
an advisor to PM Erdogan during the ruling AKP's first term in
power. The package suggests "no ethnic reference to the definition
of citizenship in Turkey's constitution; constitutional guarantees
for freedom of speech, religion, and ethnicity; free Kurdish
education, and Kurdish studies institutes in universities; time
limits removed from Kurdish broadcasts on private radio and
televisions; political amnesty declared; a social rehabilitation
program to address the problems such as evacuated villages, high
suicide rates among girls; and the Diyarbakir military prison should
be closed and turned into a 'brotherhood museum.'"


Islamist-oriented Zaman carries a full-page human interest story of
interviews with former PKK members living in Europe, who told their
stories to the famous Kurdish poet and writer Bejan Matur. Azad
spent years in the mountains after he joined the PKK. Azad's father
was taken into custody when Azad was a child in the 1990s. Azad's
father spent five years in prison in Adana after being tortured for
36 days. Azad went to Germany after a couple of tough years as a
PKK fighter. "After spending years with the organization, I went to
Germany because I wanted to make music," he says. "I'm sure the
Kurdish problem will be resolved. No one, including myself, favors
division in Turkey; it was a fantasy, a dream of the 1980s. We

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couldn't manage to explain ourselves, and Turks did not want to
understand us. If I were in Turkey now, the one thing that'd
distress me the most would be the culture of prejudice that is
prevailing there."

Editorial Commentary on PM Erdogan's Kurdish Package/NYT Times
Interview

"The Package"
Gungor Mengi wrote in mainstream Vatan (3/13): "The government's
social and economic efforts to counter the PKK are long-awaited.
Finally, news of this package came from across the Atlantic. The
prime minister disclosed the 'Kurdish Package' to The New York Times
in an interview yesterday. This is not the time to argue why the PM
chose a foreign media outlet over of a Turkish media outlet to
announce this package. At the moment, the content is more important
than how it was exposed. The encouraging points in the package
include a total of 12 billion dollars in infrastructural investment
to the southeast region. There will be concrete employment
opportunities for the youth in hopes that job opportunities will
deter youth from falling under the PKK's influence. In addition, a
state-sponsored television station will broadcast in Kurdish
language. However, these steps are pronounced in the future tense.
Currently, there seems to be no working plan. Moreover, the prime
ministry made a public statement three days ago that denied the
existence of a comprehensive package for Turkey's southeast. Our
hope is that the New York Times story is the truth, and not the
prime ministry statement denying a package. This issue is not only
about development of a particular region, it is about Turkey's
national unity and territorial integrity."

US Report: Serious Human Rights Problems Remain in Turkey
Milliyet, Sabah, Radikal, Cumhuriyet, Taraf, Zaman, Yeni Safak and
others carry Wednesday and today excerpts from the 2007 State
Department country reports on human rights practices. The report
notes the Turkish government generally respected human rights in
2007, but serious problems remained in several areas. "Some
government and military officers at times undermined the judiciary's
independence. Non-Muslim religious groups continued to face
restrictions on practicing their religion openly, owning property,
and training leaders. Violence against women, including honor
killings and rape, continued to be a widespread problem," says the
report. Liberal Radikal writes today the report also says the
Turkish government limited freedom of expression through the use of
constitutional restrictions and laws, including article 301 of the
penal code prohibiting insults to 'Turkishness.' "Limitations on
freedom of expression expanded to the Internet, as Turkish courts on
several occasions ordered telecommunications providers to block
access to web sites," the paper cites the report.

Turban Chaos
Hurriyet, Sabah, Milliyet, Radikal, Bugun and others: Some
universities are allowing students with turban to enter their
campuses, while some are not. Erciyes, Rize, Black Sea Technical,
Harran, Gaziantep, Van Centennial universities did not allow
students with turban to enter the classes as of yesterday. Konya
Selcuk and Sakarya universities announced that they will make a
decision later.

11 PKK Terrorists Killed in Sirnak
Hurriyet, Milliyet, Vatan, Radikal, Zaman, Cumhuriyet: Papers
report that on Monday night, a Heron unmanned surveilance plane
confirmed the presence of 15 PKK terrorists in Sirnak's
Bestler-Dereler region. Around 300 hundred commandos and 100
village guards were dispatched to the area on the same night.
During the operations 11 terrorists were killed.

Talat-Christofias Meeting on March 21
Milliyet, Zaman, Cumhuriyet and others: Turkish Cypriot President
Mehmet Ali Talat will meet Greek Cypriot leader Demetris Christofias

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for talks on March 21. Leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet reports that
UN Cyprus Peacekeeping Force Spokesman Jose Diaz said that UN
special envoy Michael Moller will participate at the meeting.
Papers add that the Turkish side has great expectations about the
meeting.

Editorial Commentary on Missile Defense

"The US Wants Turkey to Be A Part of Missile Defense"
Semih Idiz commented in mainstream Milliyet (3/13): "Even though
US-Turkey discussions regarding missile defense were confirmed by
the Pentagon spokesman and Secretary Gates, official sources in
Ankara are keeping a low profile on the issue. The characterization
from Turkish officials is 'missile defense was one of the general
topics discussed with Secretary Gates.' This seems part of an
ongoing effort by Ankara to downplay the talks. The missile defense
project is very important for the Bush administration. The US is
very close to making agreements with Poland and the Czech Republic
on the project, which is an indication of another impending cold war
with Russia. The Head of the Missile Defense Agency at the Pentagon
recently talked about the benefits of deploying certain radar
systems to Turkey. The missile defense issue will be brought up
during US Vice President Dick Cheney's visit to Turkey. Cheney,
like former President Reagan, has committed himself to this project.
In sum, Washington does not conceal its intention to see Turkey as
part of this project. The question is whether Turkey, as a neighbor
of Iran, can be a part of it. The answer requires investigation in
Ankara, Washington and Tehran. But we also have to bear in mind
that the Turkish military has listed 'Iran's nuclear capability' as
a threat against Turkey."

TV Highlights
NTV

Domestic News

- Diyarbakir prosecutor demands nine life without parole sentences,
plus 47years for Erdal Polat, who is charged with killing seven
people in a bomb attack on January 3rd this year.

- Security forces have killed 11 PKK terrorists in clashes in Sirnak
province on the border with Iraq.

- Ahmet Ozal, son of former President Turgut Ozal, said he would run
for the chairmanship of ANAP.

International News

- Acting Undersecretary for Arms Control and International Security
John Rood said the US was not planning to set up a missile defense
system in Turkey.

- The Palestinian militant group Hamas has set conditions for a
ceasefire with Israel.

- Iranians will go to the ballot box for parliamentary elections on
Friday.

WILSON

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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