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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
TUESDAY, APRIL 8, 2008


In Today's Papers

The Aftermath of Student Clashes at Akdeniz University
Hurriyet, Milliyet, Vatan, Sabah, Radikal, Taraf, Cumhuriyet, Yeni
Safak and others continue reporting on the aftermath of the clashes
between students at Akdeniz (Mediterranean) University over the
weekend, which intensified when two people opened fire. The gunmen
were identified as Omer Ulusoy (34) and Tahir Kara (19). Both were
supporters of the opposition right-wing MHP party. Kara was
captured but Ulusoy escaped and is still at large. Ulusoy has a
police record that includes drug smuggling, blackmail, molestation,
and assault.

Mainstream Vatan says nationalists raided the university campus when
two students from Yalova (near Istanbul) were beaten up by students
from southeastern Turkey on March 7. Vatan says, "Nationalist
students raided the campus in revenge." Mainstream Sabah reports
right-wing MHP leader Devlet Bahceli fired all the employees at
Antalya's MHP branch when it was learned that Ulusoy frequently
visited the party headquarters. Akdeniz University Rector Professor
Mustafa Akaydin expressed concern that the escalation of violence in
universities might trigger a new military takeover similar to that
in 1980. All papers point to the "dangerous signals" coming from
universities, recalling the terrible events that led to the 1980
military coup began with clashes like these at universities.

Editorial Commentary on Unrest in Universities

"Those Notorious Figures Are Back"
Okay Gonensin wrote in mainstream Vatan (4/8): "This same kind of
game has been played twice before. First, in 1971 Turkey was seized
by student clashes, which ended in a military coup on March 12. The
second plot was staged once again and ended in a horrible massacre.
Unfortunately, Turkey could not understand the trap that was the
September 12, 1980 military coup. These games were staged by the
same notorious players; and we had the same political parties in
both cases. It is hard to tell whether Turkey will fall into a
similar trap for the third time. If common sense is replaced by
emotions, and if hate overshadows other feelings, Turkey may be
dragged into a vicious cycle. Beware, for this game has just
started. Erdogan, Baykal and Bahceli, have a very important
responsibility to not allow the Turkish people to fall into the same
trap again."

"Alarming Signals From Universities"
Fikret Bila wrote in mainstream Milliyet (4/8): "Turkey has gone
through enough experience to take a lesson from of ideological
polarizations. People once killed each other based on being on the
left or right, or being revolutionary or nationalist. Recent
clashes in universities are somehow different than previous
polarizations. What we see this time is a polarized society based
on 'Turkish and Kurdish" and "secular and anti-secular." The impact
of this polarization emerged in universities because young people
are open to provocations due to hyper emotions and excitements.
Turkish political institutions must take these alarming signals
coming from universities very seriously. They must not repeat the
mistakes that were made on the eve of September 12, 1980 coup."

"The Seeds of Provocations"
Tamer Korkmaz wrote in Islamist-leaning Yeni Safak (4/8): "While the
AKP faces a court case for closure, Turkey is witnessing efforts to
create chaos. The dark players of the 'destabilizing Turkey' game
are back on the stage as we see a replica of events like those prior
to the September 12, 1980 coup. University clashes and bomb
attempts by children bombers speak of nothing but provocation. Even
before the July 2007 general elections, several attempts to create a
chaotic situation in the country failed. None of them worked. And
the current efforts are also doomed to fail."

The AKP Board's New Roadmap

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All papers report on Monday, the AKP party board met with Prime
Minister Erdogan to draw a "roadmap" to follow during its party
closure hearings. Papers comment the AKP will first present a
"democratization package" to parliament, which reportedly includes
changes to Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code. Mainstream Aksam
says, "The government has turned its face toward the EU."
Mainstream Sabah writes, "The AKP will prioritize EU-related reforms
and will seek compromise with the opposition regarding their
endeavors to change the constitution." Namely, Sabah notes, the AKP
"will try to reach an agreement with opposition parties regarding
constitutional changes to make the closure of political parties more
difficult."

Meanwhile, in "The Need for Compromise Is Remembered When the AKP
Faces a Closure Suit," leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet calls the
AKP's closure suit, "a reminder that the AKP needs to seek
compromise." Murat Yetkin of liberal Radikal writes, "Erdogan
understands that fierce debates harm his government, his party, and
his country," and "he must take steps in line with his messages of
compromise and cooperation." Bilal Cetin of mainstream Vatan
writes, "The AKP has dropped the idea of a public referendum on
constitutional changes because of fears a referendum would lead to
more tensions and intensified polarization."

Suggested Changes to Article 301 Politicize the Presidency
All papers report the AKP proposed a bill on Monday to amend Article
301 of the Turkish Penal Code, which makes it a crime to "insult
Turkishness." The bill requires prosecutors to receive approval from
the president before they can charge someone for violating that
section of the law. It also reduces the sentence from three to two
years, and suspends the prison terms of those convicted of violating
Article 301. Leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet writes, "The AKP
government has shifted the responsibility for dealing with Article
301 to President Abdullah Gul." Mainstream Milliyet writes,
"Finally, the government has taken the expected step for boosting
Turkey's EU bid." Liberal Radikal is disappointed with the proposal
because it "politicizes the presidency" and "the essence of Article
301 remains the same."

TGS Compiles List of Pro-U.S. and Pro-EU Journalists, Academics, and
Professionals
Liberal Radikal reports the military General Staff (TGS) compiled a
list of "NGOs with ties to the U.S. and the EU," that included,
"journalists, authors, businesspeople, and academics in order to
compile their attitudes towards the EU and the U.S."

Photograph Used by AKP Women's Branch Mistakes Armenian Woman for a
Turk
Nationalist Ortadogu and liberal Radikal report that over the
weekend, the ruling AKP women's branch gave a power-point
presentation during a party meeting on the hardships Turkish women
faced before the modern Turkish Republic was founded. The subject
of photograph used in the presentation was mistakenly described as a
Turkish woman. The picture was taken by Lieutenant Armin Wegner of
the Ottoman Army, whose photographs have been widely used to support
claims of an Armenian genocide at the hands of Ottomans during World
War I, says Radikal. The woman in the photo is actually an Armenian
woman carrying her baby while crossing a Syrian desert on foot
during the forced exile of Armenians in 1915-16.

TV News:
CNN Turk

Domestic News

- Pro-Kurdish DTP leader Nurettin Demirtas is interrogated in

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connection to three separate lawsuits for making terror propaganda.


- Istanbul Governor Muammer Guler said they were probing news
reports about students wearing headscarves at a private high school
in Istanbul.

- EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and EU Enlargement
Commissioner Olli Rehn will visit Turkey on April 10.

International News

- European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said Turkey has
to convince the EU that it is still interested in EU accession.

- Aides to radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr said the Mahdi Army
would be disbanded if senior religious leaders ordered it.

WILSON

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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