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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
TUESDAY, MARCH 18, 2008


In Today's Papers

Chief Prosecutor: Turkish Republic under Islamic Threat
Hurriyet, Milliyet, Radikal, Taraf, Cumhuriyet, Zaman, Yeni Safak
and others report
Court of Appeals Chairman Hasan Gerceker has called for restraint
amid criticism against his chief prosecutor's AKP closure case.
Gerceker defended his chief prosecutor by saying Yalcinkaya was
acting within the framework of his constitutional authorities and
responsibilities. Mainstream Hurriyet writes on page one the Court
of Appeals was uneasy with former Parliament Speaker Bulent Arinc's
reaction to the closure case, "Death is the ultimate truth, and the
chief prosecutor, too, should understand this." Prosecutor
Yalcinkaya said he was merely fulfilling his duties to protect the
regime. "The republic is under Islamic threat. You can find
evidence for this in the indictment. I will never step back," he
stressed. Police reportedly have tightened security measures to
protect the chief prosecutor.

The Constitutional Court's acting Chairman, Osman Alifeyyaz Paksut,
said the court rapporteur was examining the indictment prepared by
the chief prosecutor, and would complete his recommendation within
ten days. If the case is accepted, the AKP will be given time to
prepare its defense.

Erdogan: Closure Case Will Only Increase AKP Votes
All papers cite unnamed sources revealing remarks by Prime Minister
Erdogan in a closed-door party meeting yesterday. According to the
sources, he expressed confidence that the case would only increase
support for the AKP, but there were no plans for early elections
Erdogan also said they were discussing possibilities for changing
the constitutional provisions related to the closure of political
parties. Erdogan instructed the lawmakers to refrain from making
public statements about the case. Sources also claimed Erdogan
emphasized that his government had dealt a heavy blow to the
'Ergenekon' ring and other criminal gangs, implying that the case
against the AKP might be revenge for these operations. However, in
a written statement released later, the PM's office denied he had
discussed Ergenekon in the meeting.

Baykal: Indictment against AKP Unbiased
Opposition CHP leader, Deniz Baykal, told Star TV last night that in
democracies, no one likes party closures. Baykal said the CHP was
closed after the military takeover in 1980, and that the he had been
banned for five years. "We must think about the reasons the AKP is
facing this closure case even though it received 46 percent of the
vote. I think the indictment is impartial and responsible, and has
been prepared within the authority of the prosecutor," Baykal said.
Opposition far-right MHP Secretary General Cihan Pacaci said the
constitution could not be protected by closing parties. "Turkey has
closed 28 political parties; it only damages democracy," Pacaci
said. He added they were ready to discuss proposals for replacing
the sanctions against political parties with sanctions against
individual party members.


Editorial Commentary on AKP Closure Case

"Self-Serving Democracy"
Okay Gonensin wrote in mainstream Vatan (3/18): "Democracy faces
either open threats or hidden threats, including from self-serving
democrats - those who want democracy to serve only their interests.
The AKP is such an example, and the ongoing closure case has
strongly proven it. The AKP government was in charge when we saw
three party closure cases against [pro-Kurdish] HADEP, DEHAP and
HAK-PAR respectively; and we didn't see any statements from
so-called democrat figures of the AKP. Finally, the DTP, which has
representation in parliament,faced a closure case and strong
democratic statements are yet to be seen from the AKP. Now, AKP
spokespersons cite their 47 percent of votes in the last election

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and cry disrespect for the people's will. In real democracies,
there should be absolutely no difference between 47 percent and 1
percent, both of them are the will of people. However, self-serving
democrats consider low percentages of votes as less important. The
AKP presented itself as a party of freedoms; and the headscarf issue
was linked to that characterization. While allowing the wearing of
a headscarf is a fight for women's freedom in AKP's terms, the very
same AKP has done nothing about honor killings, kept a blind eye to
family violence and did not even think to take measures to increase
the numberof women in the labor force. It is also an indication of
their self-serving democratic mentality that they have done nothing
to pave the way for freedom of expression by changing penal code
301. Self-serving democracy is a hypocrisy which undermines
democracy itself. That is the very reason Turkey's democracy is
still stumbling."

"Closure Case"
Ali Bayramoglu wrote in Islamist-leaning Yeni Safak (3/18): "For the
first time in Turkey's history, a political party is facing a
closure case after garnering 47 percent of the votes and the ruling
party of government; and even worse, the case contains absolutely
trivial charges. After reading the indictment, there is no way to
defend the arguments. This is an attempted coup by using the
judiciary and the rule of law. The general picture is one of state
vs. government. Let's hope that following this unfortunate event,
the AKP becomes even stronger than before and increases its votes
and popular support. But if this case is a big game played by some
military in order to create a militant democracy against the AKP,
then the situation is serious and we will see more plots in the days
to come."

"Embracing Democracy"
Ismet Berkan wrote in liberal-intellectual Radikal (3/18): "Going
through the indictment against the AKP, it is obvious that the
prosecutor collected statements and speeches from AKP figures. Can
we conclude that there is no freedom of speech in this country?
Can't we just let people express their feelings and thoughts, and do
nothing as long as these expressions do not call for violence or
discrimination? The case against the AKP is an example of penal
code 301 vs. the AKP. Turkey has witnessed the prosecution and even
killing of its citizens, like Hrant Dink, just because of what they
said. They were all subject to court cases on the basis of 301.
This is the time for the AKP, particularly for PM Erdogan to realize
the importance of removing all barriers against freedom of
expression. I hope the AKP learns a lesson from this case."

TGS Chief Buyukanit on Sending Troops to Afghanistan
Sabah, Milliyet, Zaman: In an interview with Star TV, Chief of
General Staff General Buyukanit said that "when I assumed this
position I said we would not send a single soldier to Afghanistan to
fight against terrorism. I still have this view. Our soldiers are
deployed in Kabul area with ISAF and ISAF is not responsible for
combating terror. The Turkish military is currently fighting
terrorism here with tens of thousands of its members, therefore, new
cannot afford to join the fight against terror on a different
front."

Vice President Cheney in Iraq
Milliyet, Zaman, Cumhuriyet, Taraf: Mainstream Milliyet cites
President Talabani's press office announcement about Cheney's
surprise visit to Iraq. According to the release, Talabani and
Cheney discussed the political process and security issues in Iraq
as well as relations with Turkey. Islamist-oriented Zaman reports
that VP Cheney at a press conference after the meeting with Prime
Minister Al-Maliki, referred to Iraq's occupation in 2003 as "a
successful effort."

NATO Secretary - General's Remarks.
Mainstream Sabah reports that NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop
Scheffer hosted a group of Turkish journalists at NATO headquarters.

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de Hoop Scheffer commented on Afghanistan, Kosovo and NATO's
missile defense system. Regarding the missile defense system,
Scheffer said "deployment of the missile defense system in Turkey is
not on NATO's agenda."

TV News:
CNN Turk

Domestic News

- The Constitutional Court has banned 24 political parties in Turkey
since 1963.

- The trial of the suspects in the killing of three Christian Bible
publishers in Malatya will continue on April 14.

- Turkish unemployment rate increased to 10.6 percent in 2007 in
comparison to 10.5 percent in 2006.

International News

- German government spokesman Thomas Steg said Berlin was "worried"
by the lawsuit against the AKP, calling the move "undemocratic."


- Two more houses of Turks living in Germany were torched last week.


- Secretary Rice and Defense Secretary Robert Gates met Putin and
his successor, Dmitry Medvedev, in Moscow to discuss Washington's
plans to build a missile defense shield in Eastern Europe.

WILSON

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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