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Cablegate: Ankara Media Reaction Report

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SIPDIS

SIPDIS

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
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 26, 2008

In Today's Papers

Party Leaders Continue Tense Debates over Constitutional Changes
Hurriyet, Milliyet, Sabah, Radikal, Taraf, Cumhuriyet, Zaman, Yeni
Safak and others report Prime Minister Erdogan, in
Bosnia-Herzegovina, said his party will not back down from proposing
constitutional reforms that will prevent its party closure case.
Erdogan said the AKP has worked on preventing party closures for a
long time. He emphasized that the AKP's constitutional proposals
were not raised in reaction to the closure suit filed by the chief
prosecutor against the AKP. Papers say Erdogan rejected calls for
public consensus by saying the media was responsible for the
escalation of tensions. Leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet Editor Ilhan
Selcuk urged Erdogan to defuse tensions by issuing a call for
compromise, but Erdogan said "the media's provocations cannot remain
unanswered." Erdogan stressed he has constantly called for
compromise. Liberal Radikal writes, "All Politicians Talk, but They
Fail to Start A Dialogue," and "Erdogan is angry with everybody,
including MHP leader Devlet Bahceli."

Opposition CHP leader Deniz Baykal denounced the constitutional
reforms drafted by the AKP as an attempt to invalidate the
constitution. "They will deprive secular principles of their
meaning," warned Baykal. Baykal noted the recent Ergenekon-related
detentions of "elites" were a "coup implementation" targeting the
military and the judiciary.

Under the headline "MHP Warns against an AKP-backed Referendum,"
leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet reports MHP leader Devlet Bahceli
accused the AKP of "gambling with the future of Turkey and Turkish
democracy." Bahceli warned the AKP against holding a referendum on
constitutional reforms, saying the referendum should not be turned
into a tool for political gambling. Papers report Erdogan replied
to Bahceli by commenting, "Bahceli was saying different things two
weeks ago."

The pro-Kurdish DTP Chief Ahmet Turk said instead of working to save
its own skin, the AKP should carry out legal reforms to promote the
democratization of Turkey. Turk said, "The AKP government did
nothing when a closure case was launched against the DTP. The AKP
wants to save only itself; let's all work to save democracy."

Editorial Commentary on Turkey's Domestic Political Tensions

"Tension"
Gungor Mengi wrote in mainstream Vatan (3/26): "Political
polarization within Turkey has reached a critical level. However,
we cannot afford to ignore the rule of law just because two
political parties, including the ruling party, are facing closure
cases. Unfortunately, there are some figures, including Prime
Minister Erdogan, who fail to understand the vital importance of
preserving a secular regime within the boundaries of the rule of
law. Sadly, PM Erdogan has blamed the media for causing domestic
tension. In fact, by making such accusations, he does not realize
that he is insulting the public's intelligence. When we examine
this situation, we see the closure case was pursued because the AKP
committed serious violations against the unchangeable secular
principles of Turkish Republic. Instead of showing respect for the
judicial process, the AKP is now trying to bypass the judicial
process by amending the constitution. PM Erdogan defines
'consensus' as using the AKP's parliamentary majority in order to
justify doing anything and everything. Erdogan's definition is not
about consensus and reconciliation. The AKP's rush to bypass the
closure case is indeed a confession of its guilt regarding
anti-secular activities."


"About The Three Court Cases..."
Fikret Bila wrote in mainstream Milliyet (3/26): "The ongoing three
court cases are the main reason for ongoing tense debates. The AKP

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closure case, the Ergenekon investigation processes, and the DTP
closure case are three cases concerning fundamental values of the
Turkish Republic: secularism, democratic structure and the
nation-state structure. The case against the AKP is about accusing
the party of becoming the axis of anti-secular activities. The
Constitutional Court's prevailing interpretations of secularism do
not match the AKP's interpretation of secularism. Even though the
verdict will inevitably bring political consequences, it is
important to treat the ongoing closure case as a judicial process.
Regarding the 'Ergenekon Investigation,' we haven't seen any
indictments yet. The initial information about this investigation
indicates the existence of an illegal network whose intent is to
demolish democracy. Certainly, the judicial process should go until
the bitter end, but this case should not be manipulated for
politicians' political gains. As for the DTP case, the indictment
details how the pro-Kurdish political party violates Turkey's
national integrity and supports separatist activities. None of
these allegations or accusations is less important than another.
Thus, reconciliation should be based on the fundamental
characteristics of Turkish Republic. Reconciliation, in other
words, must be based on the values of a democratic, secular and
united Turkish Republic."


Turkish NGOs to Call for Common Sense
Hurriyet, Milliyet, Sabah, Radikal, Taraf, Cumhuriyet, Zaman and
others report on Wednesday, influential NGOs throughout Turkey will
issue a call for common sense amid escalating tensions surrounding
the closure suit against the ruling AKP, the "Ergenekon" probe, and
AKP attempts to change the constitution to avert closure. Under the
headline "The Platform for Common Sense Grows," Islamist-oriented
Zaman reports the presidents of seven leading NGOs (including the
Turkish union of chambers TOBB, labor unions Turk-Is, Kamu-Sen and
Hak-Is, employers' union TISK, entrepreneurs' confederation TESK,
and union of agricultural chambers TZOB) will issue the joint call.
The call will be reiterated by the branches of the seven
organizations in 81 Turkish provinces. TOBB chairman Rifat
Hisarciklioglu said the seven organizations represent 50-55 million
people in Turkey.

Three More People Detained in Ergenekon Case
Sabah, Milliyet, Star, Vatan, Zaman, Radikal, Cumhuriyet and others:
Papers report that police detained Labor Party Secretary General
Nusret Senem, Aydinlik magazine writer Hikmet Cicek and Ulusal Kanal
TV Izmir Representative Hayati Ozcan yesterday in connection with
the Ergenekon investigation. Meanwhile, Former Istanbul University
Rector Prof. Kemal Alemdaroglu, who was detained in connection with
Ergenekon investigation and released this weekend, was hospitalized
yesterday due to high blood pleasure.

Mainstream Milliyet reports that the Istanbul Chief Prosecutor in
charge of the Ergenekon investigation warned the Court of Appeals
Presidency about a possible attack. Police recently discovered maps
and sketches at the Labor Party Headquarters which showed weak
security at the Court of Appeals.

Turkey Responds to Cheney's Warnings Regarding Iran
Sabah, Milliyet, Hurriyet, Radikal, Cumhuriyet, Vatan, Zaman and
others: Mainstream Sabah reported that VP Cheney told PM Erdogan
that Iran was a threat to regional stability and Iran's uranium
enrichment program is a threat to Turkey. PM Erdogan, reportedly,
responded to Cheney by saying "If we don't talk to Iran, who is
going to give the right message to Iran?" Meanwhile, mainstream
Vatan reports a U.S. official responded to Erdogan's statement that
Cheney did not ask for troops to Afghanistan by saying, "The U.S.
did ask Turkey to send more troops to Afghanistan, but the Turkish
government declined support for operations in Afghanistan."
Mainstream Hurriyet writes, "President Gul told Cheney that northern
Iraqi leader Massoud Barzani should expel the PKK from his region of
influence," and after that, "Turkey will increase its support for

ANKARA 00000568 003 OF 003


Iraq." In conclusion, Hurriyet writes, "Turkish and U.S. officials
see Cheney's visit as a continuation of the strategic dialogue
between Turkish and American leaders."

Mainstreams Milliyet, Vatan, Sabah and Hurriyet report that during a
round table in Israel Cheney called Barzani 'President,' referred to
northern Iraq as 'Kurdistan,' and called his visit to northern Iraq,
"the first summit for Kurdistan." Leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet
writes in "I Came to Turkey Because Bush Wanted Me To," that Cheney
told the Israeli reporters, "This was my first summit meeting in
Kurdistan." Mainstream Milliyet also notes Cheney used the word
"Kurdistan" in Israel, but not in Turkey.

TV Highlights
CNN Turk

Domestic News

- Vice-President Dick Cheney and his family visited Topkapi Palace
in Istanbul.

- On Tuesday, four policemen and one student were injured when
fighting flared up between rival student groups at Ankara
University.

- 14 suspects were arrested in connection with Nevruz celebrations
in the eastern city of Van.

International News

- Israel will let Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas deploy
hundreds of his security forces in the West Bank city of Jenin after
they complete a U.S.-funded training in Jordan.

- General David Petraeus said he has evidence that Iran was behind
the bombardment of the Green Zone in Baghdad on Easter Sunday.

- A report by the British-based Jane's Information Group says Iraq
has emerged as a more stable country than Afghanistan, thanks to
lower violence, the presence of a large U.S.-led international force
and high oil prices.

WILSON

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