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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
MONDAY, MARCH 17, 2008


In Today's Papers

Closure Case Filed against Turkey's Ruling AKP
All media outlets reported over the weekend and today that on
Friday, the Supreme Court of Appeals chief prosecutor filed a
lawsuit asking the Constitutional Court to close the ruling AKP, on
the grounds that the party "has become the focal point of
anti-secular activities." In his indictment, chief prosecutor
Abdurrahman Yalcinkaya also demanded the ban of 71 politicians,
including Prime Minister Erdogan, President Abdullah Gul, and former
Parliament Speaker Bulent Arinc and 11 AKP mayors, from politics.
The indictment makes references to the AKP's "political Islam" party
model, politically-oriented Islamist appointments to state offices
and Islamist-oriented statements made by Erdogan and other AKP
politicians. Monday papers report the AKP plans to move quickly to
prepare a "mini-constitutional amendment package" which aims to
decrease the intervention of the judiciary in democracy.

Under the banner headline, "Close the Nation, too,"
Islamist-oriented Yeni Safak criticizes the closure case as a move
that "humiliates" Turkey. Under the headline, "Surprise Court Case
against AKP," Islamist-oriented Zaman criticizes prosecutor
Yalcinkaya for "creating evidence out of repudiated press reports"
in filing the closure case against the AKP. Yeni Safak columnist
Ali Bayramoglu writes on Sunday, "The AKP enjoys the support of one
out of every two people in Turkey, which means the prosecutor has
actually filed an appeal against democracy itself." On the other
hand, mainstream Milliyet columnist Fikret Bila writes the AKP
should consider the fact that a considerable part of the Turkish
public was uneasy with some AKP implementations.

AKP and Other Parties' Reaction to Closure Case
All papers report Prime Minister Erdogan said, "Those who cast a
shadow on Turkey's democratic reputation and endanger political and
economic stability will suffer the consequences." "This unfortunate
attempt has no legal grounds," Erdogan said, stressing, "We will not
let our accomplishments and stability be harmed. Turkey will carry
on its path towards democracy, justice and development." President
Abdullah Gul, in Dakar on a state visit, urged all to think about
the consequences of such a lawsuit against a ruling party that
enjoys a large majority in the parliament.

Mustafa Ozyurek, the deputy chairman of the main opposition CHP,
said Friday it was "a misfortune for a ruling party to put itself in
this situation." Ozyurek said, "But if a party has committed a
crime, the chief prosecutor has to fulfill his duties." Opposition
far right MHP chairman Devlet Bahceli said the closure case against
the ruling party was "an unpleasant development for Turkish
democracy," calling on everyone to "comply with the law and
republic." Turkey's main Kurdish party DTP slammed the move as "an
intervention in democracy." DTP lawmaker Hasip Kaplan said,
"Political parties must come and go through elections. Turkey has
been turned into a cemetery of political parties. Trying to close a
party that has received 47 percent of the people's vote is illegal
and an intervention in democratic society."

US and EU Reaction to AKP Closure Case
Weekend papers and today's Vatan, Turkiye, Sabah and others:
Weekend papers report State Department spokesman Chase Beamer said,
"We call on all concerned parties to respect democratic institutions
and the rule of law. In democracies, electors decide on the
country's future. The will of the voters should be respected."
Weekend Sabah and Milliyet also mentioned that similar reaction came
from DAS Bryza. Liberal Radikal reported remarks from former
Secretary of State Madeleine Albright at the Brussels Forum.

SIPDIS
Albright said "I don't agree with the claims about weakening the
secular structure of Turkey. People made a very clear choice during
the last elections. I don't want to interfere in domestic affairs,
but can we completely ignore the people's will?" Marc Grossman
reportedly said "Turkey had an election last year. In democratic

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societies the result of the elections does matter. This case is
definitely a surprise to me."

Today's mainstream Vatan quotes British Foreign Minister David
Miliband saying "the closure case is against European democracy, it
does not suit Europe's democratic standards and the principle of
separation of judicial and political powers."
Conservative-nationalist Turkiye quotes co-chairperson of the German
Green Party Claudia Roth as saying "people from all classes voted
for AK party. The Chief Public Prosecutor cannot neglect half of
the society."

Editorial Commentary on AKP Closure Case

"The Indictment"
From leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet (3/17): "In the 21st century,
Islamic geography still does not have democracy even though some
countries in this geography operate with multi-party regimes, like
Pakistan. Turkey remains the only exception and is the only
democracy in Muslim geography. With the indictment against the AKP,
we can conclude that the country as well as its regime is under
serious threat. As far as outside threats are concerned, Turkey
faces traps like Middle East Project (BMENA) and the Moderate Islam
Project which are supported by outside forces. Only Turkey can save
itself from traps and threats coming both from inside and outside by
being conscious of how great the danger is against the only secular
country in Islamic geography."

"Which AKP Faces Charges?"
Enis Berberoglu of mainstream Hurriyet: "PM Erdogan has two
different identities. On one side, he works for EU integration,
globalization and democratization. On the other side, he makes
strong anti-secular remarks and he prepares a new constitution for
Turkey without seeking any popular consensus as if it is going to be
an AKP manual. The latter identity, not the former, is definitely
the reason for the court case. The AKP should not assume 46 % of
the electorate preferred AKP for it's Islamic fundamentalis, but
rather for its projects on the EU, democratization and
globalization."

"Closing AKP"
Melih Asik wrote in mainstream Milliyet (3/16): Germany closed down
the Communist Party and Spain closed Batasuna and its affiliated
parties 8 times. It is unlikely that the case against the AKP will
end up with a ruling to close down the party. But the AKP should
take a lesson from this process and be vigilant about secularism and
democracy from now on. Even if a party garners 46 % electoral
support, it does not give it the right to undermine democracy and to
declare a fight against the judiciary."

Cheney Starts ME Tour with a Full List of Requests
Islamist-oriented Yeni Safak reports Vice-President Dick Cheney
started his Middle East tour, which will include a stop in Turkey,
yesterday. A high-level US official said "VP Cheney is going tell
Turks that the US fully agrees with Turkey on PKK being a terrorist
organization." The same official said "the visit to Oman, Saudi
Arabia, Israel, West Bank and Turkey will be very interesting.
Prior to the NATO summit, there will be a lot to talk about with
Turkey regarding Afghanistan."

TV News:
CNN Turk

Domestic News

- The National Bar Association of Turkey released a statement in
connection with the AKP closure lawsuit which called for restraint
while the legal process continues.

- The Turkish Industrialists' and Businessmen's Association (TUSIAD)

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says banning political parties cannot help solve problems in
democracies.

- Foreign Minister Ali Babacan said changes in article 301 of the
penal code would be submitted to the parliament soon.

International News

- Kurdish regional administration leader Massoud Barzani said in
Selahaddin that President Talabani's Turkey visit turned "a new page
in relations," adding "misunderstandings between Turkey and our
Kurdish region were lessened through this visit."

- Iraqi President Talabani joined ceremonies to mark the 20th
anniversary of the Halabja massacre.

WILSON

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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