Cablegate: Ankara Media Reaction Report
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SUBJECT: ANKARA MEDIA REACTION REPORT
THURSDAY, MARCH 20, 2008
In Today's Papers
AKP Working on Constitutional Changes to Avert Closure Suit
All papers cover the ruling AKP's efforts for to avert the closure
case against their party. The Council of Europe's 'Venice Model'
regarding the banning of political parties engaging in violence and
racism may be used as a way to end the turmoil. The first
implementation of the 'Venice Criteria' was to block the extreme
right politician Jorg Haider in Austria. Under the headline, "The
DTP Will Be Sacrificed," leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet says the AKP
would try to convince the right wing nationalist opposition MHP that
the pro-Kurdish DTP, facing a closure case, would be included in
this model. Mainstream Sabah expects the AKP and MHP delegations
will meet and discuss the amendments this week. Liberal Radikal
says the AKP is also considering the Brussels model, which requires
permission from the parliament in order to file suits to disband
political parties, and the Japanese model, in which the
Constitutional Court decides to close down a political party, but
the ruling is subject to approval from parliament.
Islamist-oriented Yeni Safak expects a meeting today where the AKP
will try to work out a compromise with the MHP based on the Japanese
model. If the two parties fail to agree, the AKP will submit their
suggestions to a referendum. Mainstream Milliyet quotes legal
experts as warning that constitutional amendments might trigger new
legal actions against the AKP. The paper notes that the
Constitutional Court's ruling over the headscarf reforms will signal
the direction the court may take regarding the outcome of the case
Opposition CHP leader Deniz Baykal said the campaign to damage the
judiciary has failed, and now the AKP is working on constitutional
reforms to block the closure suit. Baykal said the CHP would apply
to the Constitutional Court for annulment of the reforms based on
constitutional article 138, which states "No questions shall be
asked, debates held, or statements made in the Legislative Assembly
relating to the exercise of judicial power concerning a case under
Editorial Commentary on AKP Closure Case
"Building A Future"
Soli Ozel wrote in mainstream Sabah (3/20): "Turkey has to find
solutions to its problems within a democratic and legal structure.
The most important topics to address are the role of religion in
politics and the Kurdish issue. Otherwise, domestic conflict may
become inevitable. The ruling party promised to build a positive
future for Turkey in five years, but it can barely stick to its own
democracy project. The language of politics cannot be built upon
the rhetoric of 'being a victim' or 'being subjected to unfairness.'
The language of democracy is secular in nature. Rulers should
understand the importance of this, and should not ignore the
verdicts of the European Court of Human Rights. If the Constitution
Court denies the AKP closure case, it will save Turkey from chaos.
Yet the ruling AKP should engage in efforts toward a contemporary
legal system and toward democracy according to EU standards."
"Who is Objective and Impartial?"
Fehmi Koru wrote in Islamist-leaning Yeni Safak (3/20): "Certain
media figures are using the same tactic as they did earlier on
February 28, 1997 [when the National Security Council issued a
warning against the religious fundamentalist threat]. Meanwhile,
these figures accuse pro-AKP media for not being objective and
impartial. The February 28 process was like a stage play, written
by the military and played by media figures. They disseminated
baseless fears regarding anti-secular activities and Islamic
fundamentalism. The case against the AKP is not an attempt to
prevent extremism, but to destroy the democratic steps taken by the
AKP. Anyone who believes in democracy is aware of this. But there
are certain newspapers who are under the same boss and do everything
they can to distort the facts through their papers and TV channels.
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There is another group who is fighting for democracy. The former
group should not even talk about objectivity and impartiality."
Sabah, Milliyet, Post, Radikal, Zaman and others: Islamist oriented
Zaman reports that "Nevruz" is "the world's oldest festival" and
that Diyarbakir governor Huseyin Avni Mutlu said he is exerting
efforts to celebrate Nevruz in peace because, "positive images from
our province willd boost morale throughout the entire country."
Zaman reports that prior to Nevruz celebrations, security forces
were put on alert in the East and South-east provinces, including
Diyarbakir, Batman and Van. Mainstream Sabah quotes DTP deputy
chairman Emine Ayna at Nevruz celebrations in Kars saying, "Turkey
should start a dialogue with the PKK so that the issue would be
Turkey Gives Green Light to Troops to Afghanistan
Sabah, Milliyet, Hurriyet, Zaman, Vatan, Cumhuriyet and others:
Mainstream Hurriyet and Milliyet report that Foreign Minister Ali
Babacan and his Afghan counterpart Rangin Spanta held a joint press
conference in Ankara yesterday following to their meeting. Babacan
said, "Turkey has responsibilities regarding NATO membership and in
the fight against international terrorism. We will make a decision
on our military assistance to Afghanistan within next few days,
after establishing a balance between the terrorism issue in
Afghanistan and our own terror problem." Hurriyet says that FM
Babacan signaled that Turkey might send combat troops to
Afghanistan, while the General Staff is not positive about the idea.
Mainstream Milliyet carries the front-page headline, "A Green Light
to Troops in Afghanistan," and says, "Turkey is leaving the door
open to demands for more NATO troops in Afghanistan," but asks, "Are
Turkish troops in Afghanistan the price we pay for U.S. support in
northern Iraq?" CNN Turk reports, "A decision on Turkish troops to
Afghanistan will emerge in the next few days." Islamist-oriented
Zaman writes, "Spanta is visiting NATO allies during the lead up to
the NATO summit in April," and "Babacan stated Turkey will have to
evaluate how to deal with its own terror struggle as well as how to
fulfill NATO obligations in the international struggle against
terror." Mainstream Vatan points out Turkish Chief of General Staff
Buyukanit said, "We will not fight in Afghanistan," but that
"yesterday FM Babacan said 'we are thinking about it.'" Liberal
Radikal writes "Babacan speaks differently," than prior Turkish
policy on troop increases to Afghanistan as he "seeks a balance
between terrorism in Afghanistan and terrorism in Turkey."
Cheney's Upcoming Turkey Visit
Mainstream Hurriyet reports Ankara will ask VP Cheney for continued
coordination regarding intelligence sharing. Ankara will also
convey their "unease" with some U.S. generals' calls on Turkey to
establish contact with the PKK. Cheney is expected to raise the
issue of additional support troops for ISAF in south Afghanistan.
Ankara is expected to ask for the U.S. to be more active in the
Middle East. In addition, it is expected that Cheney will raise
issues related to Iran, Kosovo, and Cyprus.
Turkish Papers Look at the Iraq War on the Fifth Anniversary
Hurriyet, Milliyet, Sabah, Radikal, Taraf, Cumhuriyet, Zaman, Yeni
Safak and others carry reports and features covering the fifth
anniversary of Iraq War. Leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet writes
under the headline "Even Saddam is Missed," as "1.7 million Iraqis
died, and 2 million Iraqis left the country while another 2.5
million are displaced inside Iraq." The paper opines, "Iraq, once a
Ba'athist regime, has now been turned into a Sharia state."
Islamist-oriented Yeni Safak says "the war's grueling balance sheet
shows hundreds of thousands of people have paid for it with their
lives." Mainstream Sabah quotes President Bush as saying, "the loss
of life and property is worth it when it comes to a strategic
victory." Papers report Bush insisted that the invasion of Iraq has
made the United States safer. Liberal Radikal writes, "While Bush
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calls the war the 'right decision,' the whole world protests the
invasion that threw Iraqis into a nightmare."
Editorial Commentary on Fifth Anniversary of Iraq War
"Bush, Bremer, and Their Pride"
Fikret Ertan wrote in Islamist-leaning Zaman (3/20): "In the fifth
anniversary of the Iraq war, the focus is on the numerous mistakes
made by the U.S. One of the main figures, as far as mistakes are
concerned, is Paul Bremer. From the moment he arrived in Baghdad
five years ago, he presented himself as an 'I am the law' figure.
Bremer signed two decrees regarding the future of Iraq, the
De-Baathification and Dissolving Institutions Decrees. Five years
later, the U.S. is suffering intensely from these mistakes. Bremer,
most likely due to his embarrassment, is not seen in public. Just
like Bremer, President Bush is also suffering from his mistakes
because he approved Bremer's orders without even consulting his
advisers. The essence of the Iraq fiasco is about the pride and
prejudice of Paul Bremer and President Bush."
- Memicir Eminzade, an Iranian terrorist said to be the regional
chief of PJAK, was captured in Baskale in the eastern province of
Van. He was in the midst of preparations for terror attacks.
- A retired imam, who joined pro-Kurdish DTP protests in Diyarbakir,
faces a five-year prison sentence for making PKK propaganda.
- The Diyarbakir prosecutor will request that Germany extradite
Ayfer Kaya, the girlfriend of the PKK's imprisoned leader Abdullah
- Claudia Roth, co-chairman of the German Green Party, said during a
visit to Turkish Cyprus that the Lokmaci Gate on the Green Zone in
Nicosia should be opened as soon as possible.
- The US agreed to give USD 150 million to Palestinian president
- Kurdish politicians set up an American-Kurdish Association in
Erbil following the visit of Vice President Dick Cheney.
Today's Edition of Sabah carries a cartoon.
Caption: Celebrating the fifth year of the Iraq War.
Today's edition of Cumhuriyet carries a photo on the front page.
Photo caption: The US attacked Iraq with the claim to bring
"freedom," but here is the fifth year of the U.S. occupation of
Iraq. The "freedom" the US brought to Iraq has been recorded in
history with this photograph.
Today's edition of Zaman also carries a photo with the caption,
"This photo has come to symbolize the invasion as it shows an Iraqi
father, who was taken captive by U.S. military forces, with his