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Cablegate: Ankara Media Reaction Report

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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
MONDAY, MARCH 31, 2008


In Today's Papers

AKP Closure Case
Hurriyet, Milliyet, Sabah, Radikal, Taraf, Cumhuriyet, Zaman, Yeni
Safak and others report Turkey's Constitutional Court will determine
whether to proceed with the closure case against the AKP on Monday.
Court of Appeals (Yargitay) Chief Prosecutor Abdurrahman Yalcinkaya
submitted his request for the closure of Turkey's ruling party. If
the court accepts the indictment, the AKP will submit its
preliminary defense to the court in one month. After the Chief
Prosecutor states his views on the merits of the case, the AKP will
make a verbal defense, which will be followed by a verbal response
from the Chief Prosecutor. Later, the reporter of the
Constitutional Court will prepare his report on the merits of the
case. Turkey's Constitution stipulates that at least seven of the
11 court members have to vote for closure in order for the court to
ban a political party.

Sunday papers quote Yalcinkaya as saying "up to 40 AKP lawmakers
could be banned from politics," as a result of the suit. Mainstream
Hurriyet quotes on Monday an unidentified AKP official who said,
"The Constitutional Court could reject the indictment on the grounds
that it was not legally possible to start investigations against the
president." Islamist-oriented Yeni Safak writes over the weekend
that "according to jurists, the Constitutional Court should return
the indictment to the Chief Prosecutor because it does not include
the AKP officials' statements in support of secularism." Over the
weekend, Sabah said the AKP might hold early parliamentary elections
and municipality elections before the Constitutional Court makes its
final decision about the suit.

Islamist-oriented Yeni Safak says Yalcinkaya claimed, "The closure
case would not have been launched if the AKP had heeded the warnings
on the headscarf issue." Yeni Safak asserts "Yalcinkaya's remarks
link the headscarf to the closure case. This shows that the suit
was filed was to influence the Constitutional Court's decision on
the headscarf issue." Liberal Radikal writes, "Changing the
constitution and holding a referendum is not the right way to
resolve the existing problem. Everything should be done to protect
our democracy against a court decision that might be described as a
legal coup. However, remaining loyal to the principle of secularism
is as important as maintaining democracy." A Saturday column in the
Islamist-oriented Zaman says, "It's the AKP's duty to defend
democracy under such circumstances" and "the Erdogan government must
work towards a fast alignment of the Turkish political system with
EU standards. This can be done by calling a referendum regardless
of whether the Constitutional Court accepts or rejects the
indictment."

AKP Leaders and EU's Olli Rehn on AKP Closure Case
All papers report that on Sunday, Prime Minister Erdogan told
supporters in Yalova and Bursa, "Everyone has to respect the
national will" because, "16.5 million voters backed the AKP in the
latest elections. We will continue on our path; the only way to
defeat us in this democratic process is the ballot box." Erdogan
complained, "It is disgraceful that the AKP is linked exclusively to
the headscarf issue." He noted that the headscarf reforms passed by
the parliament were backed by another party, the MHP, and it was a
"double standard" that no one placed any sanctions against this
party. Mainstream Vatan comments, "Erdogan implies that the
prosecutor should have filed suits to disband the MHP as well."
Deputy Prime Minister Cemil Cicek denounced efforts to "seize the
administration of the country through undemocratic means." Culture
Minister Ertugrul Gunay told reporters, "Democracy will prevail in
Turkey. Parties cannot be closed in today's world. Attempting to
close down the rule of the people would mean Turkey has dropped to
the second division of the democracy league."

EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn, speaking to press in Slovenia
after a meeting with EU foreign ministers, said he viewed the AKP

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closure case with "growing concern and disbelief. I hope the judges
will consider Turkey's long-term interests to be an important
European democracy respecting all democratic principles of the EU."


Editorial Commentary on AKP Closure Case

In mainstream Milliyet, Semih Idiz wrote (3/31): "On Saturday, EU
Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn warned Turkey against proceeding
forward with the AKP closure case. Some in Turkey regarded this
warning as a threat. Actually, party closure is against EU
criteria. Europeans do not close political parties. According to
the Venice Commission of the European Council, a political party can
be closed down only if it calls for violence and is involved in
violence. This applied to the closure of communist and fascist
parties in Germany and Italy during the 1940s and the 1950s. While
Turkey is a member of the Venice Commission, the closure of
communist and fascist parties in Germany and Italy during the 1940s
and 1950s cannot justify the closure of the AKP. Despite all of
this, if Turkey's Constitution Court decides to close down the AKP,
we better think about our prestige. The European Court of Human
Rights may reject the ruling. Therefore Olli Rehn's words should be
regarded as a warning instead of a threat."

Nuri Elibol wrote in conservative Turkiye (3/31): "We have to bear
in mind the economic impact behind this political crisis. Turkey is
going through a transformation in terms of the emergence of new
capital owners. The major flow of capital has gone to the hands of
new bosses. This is the main reason why anti-AKP efforts have
commenced. The AKP government did not share the wealth with both
the status quo and capital owners, and now the AKP is facing the
consequences. This is about a power struggle. Had PM Erdogan
served the interests of certain groups, there would not be tensions
regarding religious fundamentalism or anti-secularism issues. This
is a big game. The ultimate goal is to disqualify Erdogan in
politics."

Justice Minister Sahin: "744 Cases Pending for Violating Article 301
of Turkish Penal Code"
Liberal Radikal and mainstream Milliyet report that, despite the
promises of former Justice Minister Cicek, PM Erdogan and Foreign
Minister Babacan, nothing has been done about amending article 301
over the last three years. During a meeting with the MHP deputy
group chairman Mehmet Sandir, Justice Minister Mehmet Ali Sahin said
that "as of the first three months of 2007, there were 744 ongoing
cases in the courts, opened based on article 301. 536 of these
cases were handed over from 2006."

A New Era with Iraq
Cumhuriyet, Sabah: Leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet reports, "Since
Iraqi President Talabani and U.S. Vice-President Cheney visited
Ankara, Turkey has intensified its initiatives regarding Iraq."
Turkey's Special Envoy for Iraq, Murat Ozcelik, has held meetings in
Baghdad for one week. Cumhuriyet writes, "During this new period in
bilateral relations, Turkey and Iraq will focus on the transferring
Iraqi oil and natural gas to international markets through Turkey,
boosting economic corporation, eliminating the PKK terror
organization, and initiating dialog between Turkey and the Kurdish
administration. Reportedly, Ozcelik met with Iraqi Vice- Presidents
Tarik el Hasimi and Adil Abdulmehdi, Parliament Foreign Relations
Committee Chairman Humam Hammudi, Deputy PM Berham Salih and
Saadettin Ergec, the chairman of Iraqi-Turkmen, in Baghdad. During
the meeting with Vice-President Abdulmehdi, the two officials
discussed the cross border operations. Abdulmehdi stressed the
importance of the bilateral relations based on respect for
sovereignty, national independence and territorial integrity. Murat
Ozcelik reiterated Turkey's support for the Iraqi government and
noted the improved relations between the two countries.

Meanwhile, mainstream Sabah quotes Massoud Barzani's Foreign

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Relations Official Safin Dizayi as saying, "Official meetings
started between Turkey and the Kurdish Administration in northern
Iraq." Dizayi mentioned Murat Ozcelik's meeting with the officials
in Dohuk and said that "Ozcelik wanted me to attend the meeting
between the Kurdish Administration and the governor of Dohuk."

TV News:
CNN Turk

Domestic News

- Four suspects, including two children, have been taken into
custody on Sunday in connection with an attack against Cumhuriyet
daily. A 13-year old assailant was captured after he threw a
Molotov cocktail at the newspaper's office in Istanbul on Saturday.


- The Kuwaiti Emir Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jabir al-Sabah will meet Prime
Minister Erdogan in Ankara on Monday.

- Parliament's commission for human rights has initiated an
investigation into reports that a 15-year old youth was beaten by
three police officers in front of cameras in Hakkari, Yuksekova.

International News

- Radical Shiite leader Moqtada al-Sadr has ordered his followers to
stop attacks on security forces in Baghdad and Basra.

- Hillary Clinton has rejected calls by the supporters of Barack
Obama to quit the race.

- Nine nations that joined the EU in 2004 have dropped passport
controls for Schengen citizen air passengers.

WILSON

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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