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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
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 2, 2008

In Today's Papers

PM Erdogan Urges AKP Members for Restraint Regarding Closure Case
Sabah, Milliyet, Radikal, Hurriyet, Cumhuriyet, Zaman and others:
Speaking at an AKP Parliamentary group meeting, PM Erdogan said,
"This closure case could strengthen the Turkish judicial system's
power. However, we will continue to work toward a constitutional
amendment that will make party closures more difficult. The closure
case opened against the AKP aims to weaken the role political
representation. Such actions will not only harm the people but will
hurt the state." PM Erdogan urged his party members to remain calm.
Meanwhile, the AKP Central Executive Board convened yesterday and
tasked Deputy PM Cemil Cicek to prepare the AKP's defense.

EU Response to AKP Closure Case
As expected, nationalist media outlets are unconcerned with EU
warnings surrounding the closure case, while mainstream, liberal,
and Islamist pro-government papers are increasingly concerned by the
EU criticisms. Islamist-oriented Zaman writes in, "If the AKP is
Closed, Accession Talks Must Be Propped Up," that "EU members told
Zaman they view the closure case as an attack on democracy."
Mainstream Hurriyet writes, "European Commission President Jose
Manuel Durao Barros and EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn will
visit Turkey from April 10-12 in order to meet the president, prime
minister, opposition leaders, and non-governmental organizations."
Hurriyet expects Barroso and Rehn will "support the reform process
and call for advancing Turkey's bid to the EU." Zaman calls the
visit "a critical summit," and notes the visit is very timely.
Mainstream Milliyet reports the Turkey-EU Joint parliamentary
commission Chairman Joost Lagendijk express concern that, "Turkey
may waste another year in its bid for the EU," and that "Europe may
abandon Turkey unless the AKP passes new reforms," but that "the
suit against the AKP is no surprise." However, Milliyet notes he
pointed out, "The AKP closure case will please those who oppose
Turkey's EU bid." Mainstream Sabah carries Foreign Minister Ali
Babacan comments, "Turkey has passed tests of its democracy in the
past, and will continue efforts towards EU negotiations."
Meanwhile, Sabah also carries the comments of EU Parliament's
reporter Oomen Ruijten that, "Turkey must reform its judiciary to be
in line with EU standards." Meanwhile, leftist-nationalist
Cumhuriyet writes, "the EU is in love with the AKP," and "EU
accession has become hopeless." However, the unsigned column points
out, "the Republic of Turkey was founded despite plans by Europe to
divide up Anatolia," and "we must get over this EU mentality."

Editorial Commentary on AKP Closure Case

In mainstream Vatan, Zulfu Livaneli wrote (4/2): "The key to
unlocking the current impasse must include a process of becoming
fully secularist and fully democratic. The secularists have a major
test in front of them. The pioneers of secularist groups could
deepen the crisis by advocating for isolationist, and possibly even
racist, nationalist rhetoric. Or, they can save Turkey from its
impending crisis by fully embracing democracy, freedoms and reforms.
Any secularist with common sense should think of carrying Turkey to
a level that reflects fully democratic and global values, especially
at a time when Turkey has 744 open cases related to freedom of
expression (i.e. Article 301 investigations) and the middle class is
fading away due to the ailing economy. The remedy to this crisis
also includes a cessation to calling religious groups 'reformist'
and secularist groups 'nationalist.'"

Mainstream Milliyet carried an op-ed piece by its editorial board
(4/2): "The common sense that will end this crisis is a broader
consensus between the ruling AKP and the main opposition parties,
CHP and MHP. The decision-makers should be able to reach a
compromise on finding a rational framework in order to avoid the
highly risky consequences of uncertainties. In that regard, there
is general consensus in every level of society that political party
closures are wrong. This consensus can be used as a key to reach a

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solution. At the same time, the ruling party should take steps
toward eliminating worries about secularism. That will be one of
the major steps toward a broader consensus. The Turkish political
system must demonstrate maturity and overcome this crisis within a
democratic framework."

Nationalist-leftist Cumhuriyet carried an op-ed piece by its
editorial board (4/2): "The statements from EU officials on the AKP
closure case present a pathetic picture. The EU seems to be
ignorant of history and geography; they make irresponsible
statements based on their own personal political interests. It is
odd to see such an approach from Europe as the West, including both
the US and Europe, consider taking measures against the rise of
Islamic movements. The Republic of Turkey was founded despite plans
by Europe to divide up Anatolia. It must be kept in mind that the
Republic of Turkey was founded based on contemporary values after
defeating such mentality. We must get over this EU mentality."

Al-Qaeda Operations in Istanbul
Sabah, Milliyet, Hurriyet, Cumhuriyet: In simultaneous operations
in five different districts of Istanbul yesterday, around 300
policemen raided several houses and arrested 45 suspected Al-Qaeda
members, including Al-Qaeda's Turkey leader Halis Bayanci. Security
officials said that the terrorist organization was preparing
assassinations and revenge attacks for the Gaziantep raid against
Al-Qaeda earlier this year.

Spring Operations Continue Against the PKK
Mainstream Sabah reports that security operations continue in
Bestler-Dereler, Cudi and Gabar regions with the participation of
around 5,000 Turkish troops. During the clashes yesterday, nine PKK
members were killed. Meanwhile, Turkish General Staff announced on
its web site that 393 terrorists were rendered ineffective, i.e.
killed, during the last three months.

Turkey Changes Lobbyists in the U.S.
Sabah, Hurriyet, Yeni Safak: Papers report that Turkey cancelled
its lobbying contract with Republican Bob Livingstone. Instead,
Turkey signed a new contract with the "DLA Piper" group. Republican
Dick Armey and Democrat Richard Gephart are the advisors of this
group. Sabah reports that Turkey spends $2,000,000 annually on
lobbying issues in the US.

Satterfield Interview by Star TV
On April 2, liberal Radikal carried excerpts from Star TV primetime
news interview under the headline, "The U.S. Awaits Social Steps
against the PKK." Radikal notes Satterfield said the U.S., "wants
to see social and economic steps taken against the PKK."
Satterfield also said, "The timing of Turkey's cross border
operation, including the decisions to begin and to end it, were
decisions taken by the Turkish military and the Turkish government.
I would like to clarify that we were not informed about operation at
any point. We support Turkey's right for self defense. The Turkish
and American governments agree on the need for comprehensive
approach in order to end PKK terror. The Turkish government, the
military, and TGS have announced the need for a comprehensive
solution. And we would like to see more social and economic steps
in addition to military steps. These steps are necessary to take if
there is a desire to resolve the problem."

On April 1, under the headline "A Call for Talks with the Kurds,"
leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet reported the U.S. special Iraq envoy
Ambassador David Satterfield briefed Turkish journalists on Monday
after his meetings in Baghdad and Ankara. According to Cumhuriyet,
Satterfield said, "Turkey and the U.S. have a common goal of a
secure and stable Iraq. Iran's expansionist goals, Sunni Islamist
terror and Al-Qaeda threaten the Middle East." The U.S. envoy noted
the PKK threat was also directed toward the Kurds and non-Kurds in
Iraq. Satterfield said he and his Turkish counterpart Murat Ozcelik
have exchanged views on the elimination of the threat on Iraq. "We

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want to work together with the Iraqi and Turkish governments as well
as with the Kurdish regional administration," stated Satterfield.
He reiterated the U.S. sees the PKK as a terror organization, and
stressed that the necessary steps should be taken for militants to
defect from the organization. "We appreciate the steps taken by the
Kurdish administration, but they need to do more. Turkey has to
establish contact with the Kurdish administration; we believe direct
contacts are important. The Kurdish administration, of course, must
state that the PKK is a terror organization," he emphasized.

TV News:
NTV

Domestic News

- Ramazan Dal, a demonstrator injured during March 22 Nevruz
celebrations in the eastern city of Van, has died from his injuries.


- Labor unions, NGOs and vocational organizations protested the AKP
government's new social security bill in several cities across
Turkey including Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir, and Adana yesterday.

- The Italian Embassy in Turkey hailed the victory of Milan in the
bid for hosting Expo 2015, but at the same has expressed its respect
for Milan's "prestigious rival" Izmir.

International News

- Outgoing Russian President Vladimir Putin may move to the prime
minister's office on May 8, the day his successor Dmitry Medvedev
assumes his post as president.

- At the request of Secretary Rice, Israel will transfer control of
the border crossings between the Gaza Strip and Israel to
Palestinian representatives.

- U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said, "President Bush should
consider boycotting the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics
Games in order to protest China's human rights record."

WILSON

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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