Cablegate: Ankara Media Reaction Report
DE RUEHAK #0564/01 0851517
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 251517Z MAR 08
FM AMEMBASSY ANKARA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5687
RUEKJCS/CJCS WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEUITH/ODC ANKARA TU
INFO RUEHTH/AMEMBASSY ATHENS 8773
RUEHIT/AMCONSUL ISTANBUL 4038
RUEHDA/AMCONSUL ADANA 2804
RUEHBS/AMEMBASSY BRUSSELS 6496
RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO 6335
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 2911
RUEUITH/DET 1 39LG ANKARA TU
RHMFISS/USDOCO 6ATAF IZMIR TU
RHMFISS/39OS INCIRLIK AB TU
RHMFISS/AFOSI DET 523 IZMIR TU
RHMFISS/39ABG INCIRLIK AB TU
RHMFISS/AFOSI DET 522 INCIRLIK AB TU
RUEUITH/AFLO ANKARA TU
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 ANKARA 000564
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 25, 2008
In Today's Papers
Cheney Meets Turkish Leaders in Ankara
All media outlets report Vice President Dick Cheney met with
President Abdullah Gul, Prime Minister Erdogan, and the Chief of
General Staff (TGS) General Yasar Buyukanit during Cheney's second
visit to Turkey in six years. According to papers, the topics
addressed included terrorism, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Pakistan, and
Afghanistan. Mainstream Sabah says Cheney asked for support against
Saddam Hussein during his 2002 visit to Turkey; this time he asked
Turkey to support efforts to rebuild Iraq. Cheney said U.S.
presence in Iraq would continue and he stressed that Turkey's
support was important to Iraq's stability. Leftist-nationalist
Cumhuriyet reports, "Cheney urged Turkey to establish ties with the
Kurdish regional administration in northern Iraq and he praised
Turkish business investments in northern Iraq." Gul said once the
PKK problem is resolved, Turkey would have no problems meeting with
Iraqi Kurds. Papers report Cheney promised that U.S. cooperation in
the fight against the PKK would continue. Mainstream Hurriyet
reports Cheney responded to two controversial comments from U.S.
generals, who recently suggested negotiations with the PKK. Cheney
called such suggestions, "against U.S. policy."
Most papers, including mainstream Milliyet, mainstream Sabah,
leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet, and mainstream Vatan, report Cheney
did not ask Turkey to send combat troops to Afghanistan. However,
liberal Radikal and mainstream Hurriyet claim Cheney asked Turkey to
send troops to Afghanistan. Radikal says the Turkish government did
not reject Cheney's demand, but rather gave the message that Turkey
was ready to give all necessary support. Erdogan reportedly said
Cheney did not table Afghanistan demands in their meeting. Papers
report General Buyukanit said sending troops to Afghanistan would be
a "state decision" and not only a military decision.
Cheney also expressed discomfort about Iran's uranium enrichment and
Turkey's energy cooperation with Iran. Mainstream Milliyet reports
Erdogan told Cheney Iran should work with the International Atomic
Energy Agency (IAEA) and that the problem should be resolved in a
way easing the concerns of the international community.
Islamist-oriented Zaman reports Turkey did not support Cheney's
demands concerning Iran.
Editorial Commentary on Cheney's Turkey Visit
"The Key Point in Turkish-American Relations"
Fikret Bila wrote in mainstream Milliyet (3/25): "First of all,
Cheney's request for a tte-`-tte with General Buyukanit reflects
the importance Cheney places on military issues at this time. The
main topics of Cheney's visit included Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq and
the PKK. The U.S. has requested combat troops for Afghanistan and
this issue was brought up during Secretary Gates' visit to Ankara.
Turkey has made its position clear based on two arguments. First,
the Turkish army is preoccupied with the southeast and PKK-related
operations. Second, sending Turkish troops to the combat zones in
Afghanistan is not in line with NATO legalities. It is unlikely
that General Buyukanit will change his opinion on this matter, even
after his meeting with Cheney. The PKK issue, on the other hand, is
the key issue in Turkish-American relations. Recent
anti-Americanism in Turkey stemmed from the view that the U.S. was
not taking enough action against the PKK. After the U.S. gave
Turkey support for the recent cross border operation into northern
Iraq, Turkish public opinion concerning the U.S. has improved.
While it is important for the U.S. to stand with Turkey in the fight
against terrorism, it is also important for the U.S. to clarify what
it means by finding a 'political solution' to the Kurdish issue.
Bilateral mistrust can be reshaped by the American government's
approach to the fight against PKK terrorism. If the U.S. ties its
support in the fight against the PKK to some vague political
conditions, it is possible that public mistrust of the U.S. will
ANKARA 00000564 002 OF 003
"Cheney in Ankara"
Yilmaz Oztuna wrote in conservative Turkiye (3/25): "Cheney's short
visit is very important. His messages to us and our messages to him
have the potential to shape American policy in this region. It is
no secret that the U.S. wants Turkey to fully comply with U.S.
policy on Iran. The U.S. will bring this to Ankara's attention as a
necessary condition for a successful strategic partnership. Iran is
the dominant issue on Cheney's agenda. In addition, the U.S. plans
to deploy missiles in Turkey after discussions at the NATO summit.
While the demand for Turkish combat troops for Afghanistan's south
is unacceptable, Turkey can contribute to efforts in Afghanistan's
north. However, Turkey should bear in mind the consequences of
being on bad terms with the U.S. The trump cards that can be played
against us include the Kurdish problem, Armenian genocide claims and
the PKK. Turkey is heading toward an era where internal political
developments are leading toward a regime crisis. If Turkey does not
cooperate with Washington, the U.S. will play its game in the region
with these factors in mind."
Erdogan: Mr Cheney, are these missiles meant for defense?
Cheney: Yes Mr. Tayyip, Bingo! I hope we are not too late for your
party closure case.
Hurriyet front page, March 25, 2008
The 'Ergenekon' Investigation Continues
Hurriyet, Milliyet, Sabah, Radikal, Taraf, Cumhuriyet, Zaman, Yeni
Safak and others continue coverage of the "Ergenekon" investigation.
The investigation is focused on the possible ties between the
shadowy "deep state" terrorist organization and figures from the
bureaucracy, military, and academia. The investigation began when
security forces seized explosives and weapons in an Istanbul house
in June 2007. The "Ergenekon" network allegedly sought to create
chaos through various terror attacks, including plans to murder
Nobel Laurate Orhan Pamuk and plans to overthrow the ruling AKP
government in 2009.
On Friday, Ilhan Selcuk, columnist of leftist-nationalist
Cumhuriyet, Dogu Perincek, the leftist-nationalist Workers' Party
leader, and Kemal Alemdaroglu, former rector of Istanbul University,
were taken into custody. Selcuk and Alemdaroglu were released on
Sunday, but Perincek remains in custody because police allegedly
found plans for an attack against the Court of Appeals in his
computer. Perincek was charged with being a high-level leader of
the Ergenekon terrorist organization as well as holding confidential
documents about the state. Ilhan Selcuk was accused of being the
intellectual leader of the Ergenekon network. Selcuk criticized the
detentions in today's Cumhuriyet, saying the real targets of the
probe are the judiciary and the army.
AKP and Labor Unions Agree on Social Security Bill
All papers report Social Security Minister Faruk Celik said on
Monday an IMF-sought social security bill will be presented to
parliament this week for approval after a partial agreement with
labor unions. Celik said the AKP government and labor unions agreed
on setting a threshold for blue-collar employees to retire at 7,200
working days instead of the current threshold of 7,000 days. The
government had previously set a target of 9,000 working days but had
to ease the requirement due to recent strikes and criticisms from
unions and opposition parties. No agreement was reached on a key
part of the package, which seeks to raise the retirement age to 65.
In Turkey, the current retirement age for men is 48 and for women is
44; retirement at 65 would be introduced after 2036.
AKP Works on Constitutional Reforms; TUSIAD Issues Warning against
Hurriyet, Sabah, Milliyet, Cumhuriyet, Vatan , Zaman and others:
Mainstreams Sabah and Milliyet quote AKP deputy chairman Nihat Ergun
ANKARA 00000564 003 OF 003
as saying "by the end of this week the AKP might present
constitutional amendments to the parliament to protect political
parties from closure." Ergun noted that they want compromise under
the roof of parliament. If that doesn't happen, then a nationwide
referendum is an option. Mainstream Milliyet reports that MHP,
which has been working on a constitutional amendment to protect
political parties from closure, suggested amending article 69 and
83. If MHP's amendment is accepted, 71 AKP members, including PM
Erdogan, will face a life-time ban from politics versus the
five-year ban demanded by the Court of Appeals Chief Prosecutor.
Meanwhile, all papers report that Turkish Industrialists and
Businessmen's Association (TUSIAD) issued a statement saying,
"constitutional amendments prepared in a hasty manner in order to
overcome daily problems will only deepen Turkey's problems." TUSIAD
urged the government to focus on welfare and peace, and to avoid
interpreting democracy through majority rule and a narrow political
Nevruz Protests Continue
Hurriyet, Milliyet, Radikal, Zaman, Cumhuriyet and others: Papers
report that post-Nevruz tensions have resulted in new clashes
between protesters and security forces. This time, clashes in
Yuksekova broke out during the funeral of Ikbal Yasar, who was
killed during clashes with security forces during Nevruz. There
were protests in Van as well. Hurriyet reports that shopkeepers in
Hakkari, Yuksekova and Semdinli remained closed due to fears of
unrest. Meanwhile, the police made an official announcement,
"during Nevruz celebrations in Turkey, 176 demonstrations were held,
two people died, 187 people were injured, and 653 people were
- On Monday, Turkmenistan's Head of State Gurbanguli Berdimuhamedov
met with President Gul in Ankara during an official visit.
- Pro-Kurdish DTP MP Pervin Buldan faces investigation for praising
crime and inciting propaganda in a speech she delivered in Igdir
during Nevruz celebrations.
- Turkey invites local and foreign companies to bid on the
construction of the country's first nuclear-power plant.
- Greek Cypriot leader Demetris Christofias told CNN-Turk television
they were ready to accept a bi-zonal federation based on political
- In a new audiotape released Monday, al-Qaeda No. 2 Ayman
al-Zawahiri encouraged Muslims to attack Jewish and American targets
in response to Israeli strikes in the Gaza Strip.
- Yousaf Raza Gilani, a former parliament speaker and aide to
murdered opposition leader Benazir Bhutto, has become Pakistan's
next prime minister.