Cablegate: Ankara Media Reaction Report
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TAGS: OPRC KMDR TU
SUBJECT: ANKARA MEDIA REACTION REPORT
TUESDAY, APRIL 1, 2008
In Today's Papers
High Court Decides to Hear Closure Case against AKP
All papers report the Constitutional Court unanimously accepted the
chief prosecutor's indictment and agreed to examine the case that
seeks to close the ruling AKP. On March 14, the Supreme Court of
Appeals Chief Prosecutor Abdurrahman Yalcinkaya filed a lawsuit to
close the AKP for allegedly being, "a focal point of anti-secular
activities." The chief prosecutor also asked that 71 AKP members,
including Prime Minister Erdogan and President Abdullah Gul, be
banned from politics.
According to the legal procedure, the AKP will prepare a preliminary
defense and submit it to the Chief Prosecutor's Office. After the
prosecutor reports on the merits of the case, the AKP will make a
verbal defense which will be followed by a verbal response from the
prosecutor. A Constitutional Court reporter will prepare a report
on the case to be examined by the court members. Later,
Constitutional Court Chief Hasim Kilic will set a hearing date.
Mainstream Hurriyet's front-page headline reads, "The Constitutional
Court Unanimously Accepts the Indictment to Ban the AKP."
Mainstream Milliyet writes, "The Suit for Banning the AKP Has
Begun." Mainstream Vatan reports on its front page, "Last Year Was
Wasted on Presidential Election-related Tensions, Today the Suit
against the AKP Overshadows the Economy." Leftist-nationalist
Cumhuriyet writes, "Opposition Spokesmen Say the AKP Is Responsible
for These Developments." Islamist-oriented Yeni Safak's front-page
headline reads, "Are You Aware of the Threat? The Prosecutor
Prepares the Indictment Based on Rumors and The Court Accepts the
Suit despite the EU's Warnings." Liberal Radikal's front-page
headline reads, "The AKP Has to Make a Different Decision. The
First Alternative is to Pass Constitutional Reforms and Initiate a
Referendum. The Second Alternative is to Fight the Allegations in
the Court." Leftist Taraf notes in its front-page headline,
"Yesterday's Court Ruling Was a Coup, Now Erdogan's Only Path is to
Uphold Democracy and Fight the Darkness." Economic daily Referans
carries the headline, "We Wish These Reports Were April 1st Jokes:
The Suit against the AKP Will Exhaust Turkey." Star, the mainstream
daily close to the AKP, says in a banner headline, "Today is April
Fools' Day, but This Is Not a Joke: The Court Accepts Closure Case
Against the AKP on the Day Turkey's GNP Amounted to USD 10,000."
Papers also note that the lawsuit could go on one year, raising
concerns over a prolonged political and economic uncertainty.
Islamist-oriented and liberal-leaning columnists boil the debate
down to one question: is this a judicial coup? Ali Bayramoglu,
columnist for Islamist-oriented Yeni Safak, writes, "this struggle
is between those who are for and who are against democracy. This is
a judicial coup." Ergun Babahan of mainstream Sabah writes, "The
judiciary has suspended democracy." Ahmet Kekec of mainstream Star
calls the court's decision, "bad judgment," and asks for "someone to
stop this nonsense which is dragging Turkey into an economic crisis,
coup, and civil war." Mumtazer Turkone of Islamist-oriented Zaman
calls the case, "the settling of political scores," and notes, "The
case is putting the brakes on a country that was moving forward."
Cengiz Candar of economic daily Referans writes, "Those who have
dragged Turkey to this point care not for the EU or the impending
economic crisis," as a result of the closure case.
Meanwhile, nationalist-leaning columnists blame the AKP for bringing
this upon themselves and praise the court decision. Mainstream
Milliyet's columnist Derya Sazak insists, "The AKP's stubbornness on
the headscarf issued has brought Turkey to the cusp of a political
and economic crisis." Oktay Eksi of mainstream Hurriyet criticized
EU officials who oppose the closure case, "Were we not supposed to
raise our voices in order not to hurt our EU friends' feelings when
the basic principles of the Turkish Republic were being undermined?
Are we supposed to pretend this danger does not exist?" Cuneyt
Arcayurek of leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet, calls the Court's
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decision, "judicial common sense." Arslan Bulut of far-right Yeni
Cag calls the AKP, "a threat to secularism, democracy, and the
unitary structure of the nation state."
Reactions to the Constitutional Court's Decision
All papers report that in his address to the nation, PM Erdogan
said, "The AKP has always acted to unify the country rather than
divide the people." Deputy PM Cemil Cicek said after the cabinet
meeting, "Everyone should retain commonsense," and added "the court
process will continue and the AKP will work within the limits of the
constitution and laws." Conservative Bugun reports that main
opposition party CHP deputy chairman Mustafa Ozyurek said that "the
Constitutional Court decision is not a surprise. We were expecting
this. The Judicial process has begun." Opposition Party MHP Deputy
Chairman Mehmet Sandir said "The AKP has caused the developments.
The Constitutional Court process should not be criticized and
everyone should respect the process." Islamist-oriented Zaman
carries reactions from Turkish business circles. Chairman of Ankara
Chamber of Industry (ASO) Nurettin Ozdebir said "who would come and
make investments in this country when the courts try to close a
political party who won 47 percent of the votes?"
All papers report that U.S. State Department Deputy Spokesman Tom
Casey said, "all parties involved in the suit are expected to show a
pragmatic approach and to stay above politics." He added, "The U.S.
attaches great importance to democratic values and secularism."
Leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet quote EU Enlargement Commissioner
Olli Rehn's reaction, "This case shows that there is a systematic
error in an EU candidate's constitution."
Izmir Loses EXPO 2015 Bid to Milan
All television broadcasts last night carried live coverage of the
final decision on who will host the 2015 EXPO - Milan or Izmir.
According to mainstream Milliyet, TRT television announced Izmir as
the winner before the official announcement came from Paris. CNN
Turk, Star TV, NTV, and all other major Turkish television networks
followed TRT's lead and announced that Izmir won. Live broadcasts
carried celebrations in Izmir and a victory speech from Izmir's
mayor. Half an hour later, the official decision from the EXPO
committee was announced via live broadcast in Paris. In fact, Milan
won. Thus, all Turkish television networks had to retract and
correct their prior reporting that Izmir won.
Editorial Commentary on AKP Closure Case
In mainstream Sabah, Erdal Safak wrote (4/1): "While the AKP flaunts
it won 46 % of votes in the last election, they ignore the fact that
people supported the AKP in the last elections because of their
programs. By bringing out a religiously-motivated agenda, the AKP
forgot they once defined secularism as a liberating model for
different lifestyles and the model for social reconciliation.
However, even with the court proceedings, it is not too late. If
the ruling AKP goes back to the fundamentals of its elections
platform, which praised secularism, Turkey can overcome this
difficult process without any significant damage. The government
has a chance to turn this situation into an opportunity."
Hasan Cemal wrote in mainstream Milliyet (4/1): "The case against
the AKP is a judicial coup and will poison relations with the EU and
demolish political stability. The best way to deal with this thorny
matter is to fight back through democracy and the rule of law.
Pursuing economic reforms and enhancing the EU process are the ways
to cope with this."
Hikmet Cetinkaya wrote in nationalist-leftist Cumhuriyet (4/1): "As
he reads verses from Koran, the prime minister is clearly
challenging the secular system with the support of pro-AKP media.
Turkey is heading towards serious tension-filled time. We should
not yield against this archaic mentality. We do want a
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fully-independent, secular democratic Turkey. We do not want Sharia
law or a military coup."
Oral Calislar wrote in nationalist-leftist Cumhuriyet (4/1): "I
disagree with most of AKP's political applications; however this
issue goes beyond the AKP's political lines. Turkey has not gained
any success by closing down political parties. If the AKP is closed
down, we will achieve only a deeper political crisis. Thus a common
sense is needed for overcoming this crisis. The duty goes to all of
the parties represented in the parliament. Maybe the president can
arrange a leaders' meeting and work toward a common rationale."
Fehmi Koru wrote in Islamist-leaning Yeni Safak (4/1): "The AKP case
before the Constitutional Court is different from other cases. This
is the ruling party with almost half of national support. The court
has damaged its reputation by proceeding with this case."
Ali Bayramoglu wrote in Islamist-leaning Yeni Safak (4/1): "This
case illustrates a struggle between pro-democracy forces and
anti-democracy forces. When the court decided to proceed with this
case, it turned the country's ruling party into an illegitimate
- During clashes between the Turkish military and the PKK in
Sirnak's Bestler-Dereler region, one captain and two officers were
killed and 8 soldiers were injured. There are no reports on PKK
- On Tuesday, the Turkish Parliament will discuss a controversial
social security bill. Labor unions and vocational organizations
will stage protests against the bill outside the parliament today.
- Leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet's chief editor Ilhan Selcuk was
taken to the hospital yesterday. He is being treated for angina
pectoris and pneumonia. Selcuk will remain in the hospital for at
least a week.
- Turkey will set up undersea observatories to monitor seismic
activity in the Marmara Sea.
- The northern Iraqi KDP official Safin Dizayi said a Kurdish
Regional Administration delegation would visit Turkey soon.
- Yesterday, Turkish Cyprus leader Mehmet Ali Talat met with U.N.
Undersecretary for Political Affairs Lynn Pascoe.
- Secretary Rice began a second round of talks with Palestinian
leader Mahmoud Abbas in her latest push for the Middle East peace.
- The PKK launched a new TV channel, called Nevruz TV, in Sweden in
order to fill the void after its former mouthpiece, Roj TV, was
closed down by Belgian officials.