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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
THURSDAY, MARCH 27, 2008


In Today's Papers

Turkish NGOs Call on Political Parties to Compromise
All papers report that on Wednesday, Turkey's leading
non-governmental organizations issued a joint statement warning
against polarization in the country, emphasizing that everyone had
"to take a step back from their current positions" to contribute to
the atmosphere of compromise. The Presidents of the Turkish Union
of Chambers (TOBB), the Confederation of Public Workers' Unions
(Kamu-Sen), the Confederation of Labor Unions (Turk-Is), the
Confederation of Tradesmen's Unions (TESK), the Confederation of
Employers' Unions (TISK), the Agricultural Chambers' Union (TZOB,)
and the Workers Rights Union (Hak-Is) released a statement in
Istanbul calling for "common sense." TOBB Chairman Rifat
Hisarciklioglu announced, "These days, Turkey is going through a
difficult test of democracy and law. Turkey should quickly shift
its focus on economic and social problems, particularly
unemployment. Turkey is a democratic, secular and social state
based on the constitutional rule of law. We must protect these
principles; they cannot be a matter of politics which can be
discussed freely." The statement also said, "Closing political
parties restricts the freedoms of institutions and individuals; this
harms the democratic process instead of strengthening the democratic
process."

Prime Minister Erdogan, speaking to reporters in Albania yesterday,
said he agrees with the NGOs' message, "We are ready to take the
lead toward common sense. I have never been opposed to talking to
opposition leaders." Opposition CHP leader Deniz Baykal said he has
been calling for meetings with the AKP since 2002, but that Erdogan
has ignored him. "We cannot back the AKP's changes to the
constitution because the changes are being proposed during
proceedings in a court case; our support would mean the CHP is
giving a green light to the AKP's violation of secularism," said
Baykal. Opposition far right MHP Deputy Group Chairman Oktay Vural
said the NGOs' call should be directed to the PM and AKP, who Vural
calls, "the architects of the polarization and tension in the
country."

Liberal Radikal comments "the AKP is ready to go to a referendum to
stop the lawsuit for closure," but "there are fears that a
referendum could trigger a military coup." The CHP wants the AKP to
ease concerns over the attempts to undermine secularism. Radikal
writes, "The annulment of headscarf reforms is one step that could
ease the concerns of the CHP."


President Gul Will Meet Opposition Leaders Thursday
Hurriyet, Milliyet, Sabah, Radikal, Taraf, Cumhuriyet, Zaman, Yeni
Safak and others report President Abdullah Gul invited CHP leader
Deniz Baykal and MHP leader Devlet Bahceli to talks at the
presidential palace on Thursday. Papers report political circles in
Ankara, however, speculate the president wants to reduce the
tensions surrounding the constitutional changes and the Ergenekon
investigation. Gul will meet with the DSP tomorrow; he will meet
with far right BBP and leftist ODP in the coming days. Hurriyet,
Sabah, and Radikal report sources close to the president said Gul
did not invite the pro-Kurdish DTP because they met recently.
Leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet claims Gul will meet with the DTP
after today's talks with the CHP and the MHP.

TGS Chief General Buyukanit in Northern Cyprus
Hurriyet, Sabah, Milliyet, Cumhuriyet, Radikal, Zaman, Yeni Safak
and others: All papers report that General Buyukanit paid his first
visit as Chief of General Staff to the Turkish Republic of Cyprus
(TRNC). Leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet reports General Buyukanit
told TRNC President Mehmet Ali Talat, "Turkish troops will remain on
the island until a lasting and fair solution to the Cyprus problem
is found." Yesterday's Sabah reported that Greek-Cypriot leader
Dimitris Christophias told the Greek Cypriot press, "I have no

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expectations regarding Buyukanit's visit. As a matter of fact, I am
sorry to hear that he is coming to the island."

Meanwhile, mainstream Sabah reports that mine sweeping at the
Lokmaci Gate began yesterday morning. After the mines are cleared,
all the buildings in the area will be renovated.


Education Ministry Recommended Pirated School Books
Liberal Radikal reports that the Book Translators' Association
(CEVBIR) and the Union of Publishers (YAYBIR) checked classical
books from their "100 Basic Books" list, which were recommended by
the National Education Ministry, and realized most of the
translations were pirated from previous translations. Moreover,
they were disturbed to find that many of the classics' chapters were
shortened for no reason. Radikal notes that CEVBIR and YAYBIR will
send their reports to the Education Ministry in order to ban the
sale of pirated books.

Editorial Commentary on Iraq

"Iraq's Other War"
Sami Kohen wrote in mainstream Milliyet (3/27): "It first started in
Basra and now has spread to other Iraqi cities. This is a different
type of war; this war is not between Iraqis and Americans or Shiites
and Sunnis. Basra is now under the control of Shiite militias loyal
to Muqtada al-Sadr. However, there are other Shiite rival groups
involved, including gangs accused of corruption and other illegal
activities. Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has initiated an
operation to clean out all kinds of illegal gangs from Basra.
Maliki issued a 72-hour deadline for these groups to lay down their
arms, but al-Sadr has defied this deadline and has called for riots.
Unless a ceasefire is established, Iraq is on the verge of a
serious civil war. This event is a test for the Iraqi central
government's authority. If the Maliki government fails this test,
the consequences will damage the central authority's legitimacy and
endanger Iraq's unity and integrity."

"What Is Happening in Iraq?"
Sedat Sertoglu wrote in mainstream Aksam (3/27): "In a move that
surprises no one, the Iraqi army has launched an operation against
Moktada al-Sadr's Basra Mehdi Army. There are constant reports
about heavy clashes and a serious number of casualties. Prime
Minister Maliki's motive in his decision to go ahead with the
military operation against the Shiite groups is oil. Because these
Shiite groups were fighting each other for control of oil resources,
the Iraqi PM wanted the central authority to take control. There is
a common saying in Iraq, "Whoever controls Basra controls oil."
Even though al-Sadr's militias were asked to lay down their arms
within 72 hours, it does not seem likely to happen. By arming both
Shiite groups, Iran is the key actor in this game. If al-Sadr does
not respect the ceasefire, then all of Iraq will likely turn to a
bloodbath. In that case, the U.S. will lose its 'all is well in
Iraq' argument and thus Iran will be able to kill many birds with
one stone."

TV Highlights
CNN Turk

Domestic News

- On Monday, the Constitutional Court will complete its preliminary
examination of the prosecutor's indictment related to the lawsuit
for closing down the AKP.

- Turkish security forces have launched an operation backed by Cobra
helicopters against approximately 300 PKK terrorists in the eastern
province of Tunceli.

- The Turkish Parliament has passed the bill known as the "Cargill

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Law," which allows the use of agricultural areas for
non-agricultural purposes.

International News

- Iraqi forces are fighting militants loyal to Shiite leader Muqtada
al-Sadr in Basra and Baghdad. More than 60 people have died and
hundreds have been wounded in the clashes.

- Lebanese officials will boycott an Arab League summit in Syria
this month to protest a political deadlock that has left Lebanon
without a president since November.

- Amnesty International will investigate the death of Adem Ozdamar
from Hagen, Germany. Ozdamar died from injuries he received while
in police custody.

WILSON

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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