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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
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 9, 2008


In Today's Papers

EU Officials on AKP Closure Case, Turkey's EU Reforms
All papers report in Brussels on Tuesday, EU officials urged Ankara
to amend article 301 of the penal code and to continue with EU
harmonization reforms. EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana warned
that attempts to ban the ruling AK party could have "grave
consequences" for Turkey's EU bid. Solana told the European
Parliament yesterday banning a party was "not something normal" in a
democracy. EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said the
latest incidents show it won't be possible for the EU to give Turkey
a date for full membership. EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn
stressed that the EU entry process was a "guarantee" for preserving
democracy and secularism in Turkey. Joost Lagendijk, co-chairman of
Turkey-EU joint parliamentary commission, welcomed the attempt to
change article 301, and noted that the reforms planned by the
Turkish government would end the ambiguity in article 301. Under
the headline, "Closing Down the AKP Would be Disaster," Yeni Safak
quotes EP Socialist Group Vice-President Hannes Swoboda as saying
banning the AKP would "paralyze democracy in Turkey."

Mainstream Milliyet warns in a front-page editorial the delay in EU
reforms has raised questions regarding the willingness of Turkey to
join the EU. The paper says the criticism of the European
Commission over the AKP closure suit deserves respect. Turkey's
move back towards the EU should be seen in a positive light and the
EU delegation's visit should be.

Editorial Commentary on AKP Closure Case; Turkey-EU

"Chaos Engineering"
Mustafa Unal wrote in Islamist-leaning Zaman (4/9): "More democracy
is the remedy for countering non-democratic efforts. The effort to
change Turkish Penal Code 301 is a good step for eliminating
obstacles to freedom of thought. Even though the proposed changes
are not good enough to fully meet expectations, it can still be an
interim solution to the problem. The ruling AKP decided to go ahead
with a comprehensive democratization package instead of minimal
constitutional changes. Once the content of the package is
finalized, the AKP will seek reconciliation with the parties
represented in the parliament. Given the atmosphere in both the MHP
and the CHP, we can conclude that reconciliation will be a very hard
task for the AKP to achieve. Neither Baykal nor Bahceli seem to be
in favor of reconciliation, even though this was originally CHP
rhetoric as Baykal used to call on PM Erdogan to exert efforts to
reconcile. The upcoming debate over a democratization package will
be like a litmus test for the CHP on reconciliation. The AKP will
proceed on its own and seek a referendum if the opposition does not
give support for this ongoing effort. The ideal formula would be to
find a way to these solve problems with a collaboration of
government and opposition parties. Democratization should be
winning over chaos, and chaos engineers should be left jobless."

"Ankara Waits for Barroso"
Murat Yetkin wrote in liberal-intellectual Radikal (4/9): "Barroso
will be the second president of the EU Commission to visit Turkey.
He comes to Ankara at a very critical time, and his visit provides
two important messages to both Europe and to Turkey. EU Commission
President Manuel Barroso has always defended Turkey's rights as a
candidate before the anti-Turkey lobbyists in Europe. He has
supported the idea that Turkey's negotiations with the EU should be
dealt within a full membership context instead of privileged
partnership. With this visit, he gives an open message to Turkey
opponents: that Turkey deserves to be and should be a full member
once conditions are all met. And his message to Turkey will be
going to every official or institution he meets: 'we, the EU
Commission, are supporting Turkey's full membership negotiations.
However, do not expect it to happen without meeting all of the
conditions.' In other words, Barroso will underline that the EU
will not bend the rules of the game just because Turkey has some

ANKARA 00000673 002 OF 003


political, geographical, economical and cultural peculiarities.
The fact that the ruling AKP has suddenly initiated some EU reforms
after doing almost nothing in the last two years means that the
messages from EU circles must have played a role. It is obvious
that nobody will open the doors of EU to save the AKP for the sake
of democracy unless and until Turkey fully complies with full
membership requirements."

Erdogan, Baykal, Bahceli Address Party Groups
All papers report Prime Minister Erdogan told his ruling AKP
lawmakers Tuesday his government was determined to protect the
interests of all voters, including the ones who did not vote for the
AKP in the last elections. Erdogan said the AKP was the "guarantee"
of Turkey's unity. Mainstream Vatan notes the similarities between
these comments and the Prime Minister's message following the
victory of his party in July 22 elections. Opposition CHP leader
Deniz Baykal lashed out at Erdogan for "complaining" about the AKP
closure case to Vice President Dick Cheney during a meeting between
the two leaders last month. Baykal said if Erdogan "did complain
to the vice president of a foreign country, he deserves the worst
punishment." Opposition far right MHP leader Devlet Bahceli said
that the place to overcome the crisis is "not the corridors of the
EU but the Turkish Parliament." Bahceli warned the AKP-backed
constitutional reforms package would "pull Turkey into an
environment of conflict."

Police Seize Hand Grenades at Bus Terminal in Istanbul
All papers report five grenades, three bomb fuses and 76 Kalashnikov
bullets were found by the police at Istanbul's inter-city bus
terminal in Bayrampasa in a bus coming from the eastern city of
Malatya. The serial numbers of the grenades had been erased.
Leftist Taraf says the grenades belong to a shadowy
"counter-guerrilla" organization. Mainstream Sabah recalls that
similar grenades were used in attacks against Cumhuriyet daily in
Istanbul last year.

Fried Makes 'Complimentary' Remarks on Turkey
Hurriyet, Radikal, Zaman and others report on Tuesday, Assistant
Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Dan Fried made

SIPDIS
"complimentary remarks" about Turkey to Turkish and Greek reporters
at the Foreign Press Center in Washington. Islamist-oriented Zaman
quotes Fried as saying, "Turkey had an active role in missile
defense issues at the formal NATO meetings, as well as behind the
scenes." Fried noted he has "learned a lot from Turkish colleagues
who had strong advice." Fried also mentioned the UN's Lynn Pascoe
recent visit to Cyprus, and now there is perhaps a true opportunity
for progress on the divided island.

TV News:
NTV

Domestic News

- The head of the Diyarbakir Bar Association, Sezgin Tanrikulu,
walked out of a meeting with Prime Minister Erdogan when the PM
accused him of "lying" over the lack of Kurdish education and
language rights in southeast Turkey, and for acting like a
"spokesman of the PKK."

- Prosecutor sets free 33 suspects taken into custody in connection
with the turmoil in Akdeniz (Mediterranean) University in Antalya.


- Former lawmaker Turan Comez has been expelled from the AKP.

International News

- The top US commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus, recommended
a 45-day pause in withdrawals of US troops from Iraq.


ANKARA 00000673 003 OF 003


- The White House warned Iran risked further isolation and new
international sanctions after refusing to comply with UN Security
Council resolutions over its nuclear program.

- The Kosovo parliament is set to hold an extraordinary session
Wednesday to adopt a new constitution.

WILSON

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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