Cablegate: Ankara Media Reaction Report
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SUBJECT: ANKARA MEDIA REACTION REPORT
MONDAY, MARCH 24, 2008
In Today's Papers
Cheney Comes to Turkey
All papers report that U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney will arrive
in Ankara today. Mainstream Sabah reports that Cheney will meet
with President Gul, Prime Minister Erdogan and Chief of General
Staff General Buyukanit in Ankara; then he will continue on to
Istanbul for a private visit. Mainstream Hurriyet writes in "Today
Cheney is in Ankara," that he will have three demands, "Turkish
combat troops in Afghanistan's Helmand region," and "a similar
approach Turkey took with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani be applied
to relations with northern Iraqi Administration President Massoud
Barzani," and "support for U.N. sanctions against Iran due to their
nuclear activities." In addition, Hurriyet notes, Cheney will
"emphasize his discomfort with Turkey's natural gas agreement with
Iran." Mainstream Milliyet reminds that during his previous visit
to Turkey six years ago, Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit did not allow
Cheney to meet with the Chief of General Staff, who at that time was
Islamist-oriented Zaman writes, "Cheney comes to Ankara again six
years after his last visit," and that "Cheney is the fourth and most
important high level U.S. visitor to Ankara since the middle of
February." Zaman writes, "Cheney is expected to discuss the fight
against the PKK, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, NATO and missile defense,"
in addition, Cheney will "express the Bush Administration's
discomfort with Turkey's plans for an energy agreement with Iran."
Zaman columnist Mehmet Yilmaz writes in "Will Our Soldiers Fight the
Taliban in a War That Resembles Korea," that "one year after Cheney
visited Turkey in 2002, the U.S. invaded Iraq, which the Turkish
public was against. During this visit, Cheney will ask for more
combat troops against the Taliban, but also there is the Iran topic.
To what extent will Turkey's opposition to this new global manifest
be effective?" In "Cheney is On the Road to Ankara,"
Islamist-oriented Yeni Safak calls Cheney "full of surprises," and
recalled that "the last time he was here he told the president, the
prime minister, and the TGS Chief, 'there will be no invasion into
Iraq' and then the U.S. invaded Iraq the next year." Leftist Taraf
writes in "Cheney Says 'Bitter Concessions Are Necessary for
Peace,'" that Cheney told Palestinian leader Abbas that "both sides
must give concessions," and the paper notes, "tomorrow he will
discuss bargaining in Ankara about the PKK, troops for Afghanistan,
and missile defense." Leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet writes,
"Cheney Is Coming for Soldiers," and notes "the government can
deliver their decision to him," after TGS Chief General Buyukanit
has already stated, "Soldiers will not be sent to Afghanistan to
fight," but Foreign Minister Babacan, "last week made statements
that left the door open to the issue." Liberal Radikal writes in
"Cheney Insisted on Meeting with Buyukanit," that "he is likely to
ask for more troops in Afghanistan before the upcoming NATO summit
in Bucharest," and that "Ankara turned down Iranian President
Ahmedinejad's request for a visit due to 'heavy traffic' and told
Ahmedinejad he could come to Turkey in April."
Editorial Opinion on VPOTUS Visit
Ferai Tinc wrote in mainstream Hurriyet (3/24): "While Turkey is
embroiled in its own domestic issues, Vice President Cheney is
visiting Ankara as part of an extended Middle East tour. The
missile shield project will be one of the main issues on Cheney's
agenda. Secretary Gates clearly stated there are three pillars in
the missile shield project: the Czech Republic, Poland and Turkey.
There have been some secret meetings regarding the missile shield,
and the results are likely to be disclosed during the upcoming NATO
summit. Cheney will also discuss the fight against the PKK and
relations with the northern Iraqi regional Kurdish administration.
In addition, energy issues, the Middle East peace process,
Afghanistan, and the U.S.'s efforts to isolate Iran and Syria will
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also be discussed. In other words, Cheney has a very busy agenda.
However, given the intensity of internal debates, speculations and
conspiracies, Turkey is not in the right mood to cope with such a
busy international agenda."
"Cheney's Visit Will Reveal Our Differences"
Semih Idiz wrote in mainstream Milliyet (3/21): "We can't tell how
Turkey's internal developments will evolve, but we know Vice
President Cheney's visit is one of the most important developments
this week. However, it is unlikely that this visit will yield a
surprising outcome. Cheney's agenda is very clear. He is here to
discuss Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and missile defense. Turkey differs
with Washington's opinion on each of these topics. Washington's
priority is to increase the number of NATO combat troops in
Afghanistan against the Taliban and Al Qaeda. Turkey, like many
NATO members, does not want to become involved in clashes with the
Taliban. Instead, Turkey and other NATO members support regional
development projects and peacekeeping missions. Moreover, only
Israel has expressed support for U.S. policy toward Iran; Ankara
does not share the same opinion with Washington regarding Iran. In
conclusion, an examination of each side's opinions on fundamental
issues demonstrates the Cheney visit has the potential to reveal
bilateral differences versus bilateral consensus."
Nevruz Festivities Turn Violent
Sabah, Milliyet, Hurriyet, Yeni Safak, Bugun, Star, Radikal and
others: Mainstream Sabah reports Sunday's Nevruz celebrations in
Van, Yuksekova, and Siirt became violent when police tried to
disperse crowds with tear gas. Police tried to disperse the crowds
because they were demonstrating without permission from the
municipalities. Crowds responded to the tear gas by throwing
stones, which led to violent clashes between police and
demonstrators. Two people died during these clashes with the
security forces (one in Van and one in Yuksekova), 25 people were
injured and 18 were taken under custody. Sabah says rallies in
Ankara, Istanbul and Adana passed peacefully. Liberal Radikal
reports that around 80,000 people attended the DTP's Nevruz
celebrations in Istanbul. In Istanbul, DTP parliamentary members
declared harsh messages against the government and the security
forces. Slogans were chanted in honor of jailed PKK leader Abdullah
Ocalan. Islamist-oriented Yeni Safak reports forty-nine people were
taken into custody in connection with Nevruz violence, including
five Italian citizens.
All papers report Cumhuriyet Chief Editor Ilhan Selcuk, former
Istanbul University Rector Kemal Alemdaroglu, and Labor Party
Chairman Dogu Perincek were detained on Friday in connection with
the Ergenekon investigation. Selcuk and Alemdaroglu were released
on Sunday. However, Islamist-oriented Yeni Safak reports police
found plans for an attack against Court of Appeals in Labor Party
Chairman Dogu Perincek's computer, so he remains in custody.
Anadolu Agency reports Monday Perincek was transferred to the court
on charges of being a high-level leader of the Ergenekon terrorist
organization who was holding confidential documents about the state.
Weekend papers carried reactions to the detentions. Cumhuriyet
announced that the midnight detention could be compared only to
practices during political coups. Mainstream Vatan reports the
prosecutor accused Ilhan Selcuk of acting as the intellectual leader
of Ergenekon network. Mainstream Milliyet gives front-page coverage
to the message issued by Ilhan Selcuk after 15 hours of police
interrogation, "there is a dangerous process of polarization in
Turkey and the PM has to undertake steps to defuse tensions."
PM Erdogan Criticizes Baykal and the Media
During a party address in Aegean province Manisa, Prime Minister
Erdogan blamed opposition CHP leader Deniz Baykal for creating a
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tension-filled atmosphere in the country. In a call for national
unity, the prime minister said his party has nothing to do with the
deep state, but some others do.
PM Erdogan called on the media to act responsibly for defusing the
tension and read a verse from Koran to criticize media for not
acting objectively. Leftist nationalist Cumhuriyet and mainstream
Milliyet characterized this approach as warning for the media.
Operation against PJAK by Iran
Sabah, Milliyet, Cumhuriyet, and Zaman: Papers cite a PUK website
report and an AP report which carry Kurdish authorities' claims that
Iranian military shelled PJAK terrorist camps on Sunday in Marado,
Razda, and Dolakoka, which are in the Qandil region of northern
Belgium and Germany Arrests PKK Members
Zaman, Cumhuriyet and others: Belgian Security officials announced
yesterday that they arrested Mehmet Sahin, a member of the PKK who
is sought by Turkish security forces and under an Interpol red
Islamist-oriented Zaman reports that a German Court stated PKK
terrorists harmed German institutions. Thus, the German Court
sentenced PKK members Vehbi Azak, Halat Kesbir, Ali Seven, Bozan
Ates, Ali Kiran, Hasan Adir and Sait Hasso to prison for two years
and two months.
The CHP will carry the Ergenekon issue to parliament's agenda.
DSP leader Zeki Sezer calls the AKP's attempts to amend the
constitution in order to avert their party's closure as "a coup
PM Spokesman Akif Beki issued a written statement rejecting reports
that PM Erdogan met with the prosecutor who is in charge of the
PM Erdogan will visit Bosnia-Herzegovina, Albania and Bulgaria on
Turkey uses unmanned aircraft in operations against PKK in Sirnak.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan warns supporters to stick to
national unity despite the suit seeking the closure of the AKP.
16 DTP activists were arrested in Malatya in an operation against
Two workers died in landslide at a construction site in Ordu.
Cheney told Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas that the
U.S. will continue to work toward the long overdue goal of creating
a Palestinian state.
India successfully tested a short range version of its most powerful
nuclear capable missile.
Yousaf Raza Gilani, a former parliament speaker and aide to murdered
opposition leader Benazir Bhutto, is nominated as the parliamentary
majority's choice to be Pakistan's next prime minister.
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An increasing number of Iraqi detainees are refusing to leave
detention centers despite being eligible for release. They want to
complete studies they began behind bars, a US general says.