Cablegate: Ankara Media Reaction Report
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TAGS: OPRC KMDR TU
SUBJECT: ANKARA MEDIA REACTION REPORT
THURSDAY, APRIL 10, 2008
In Today's Papers
EU Commissioner Visits Turkey amid Political Confusion
All papers report on Thursday, EU Commission President Jose Manuel
Barroso and EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn will visit Turkey
amid ongoing internal debates regarding the closure case against the
AKP and delays in Turkey's EU harmonization reforms.
Leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet and some mainstream papers speculate
the AKP proposal to change articles 301 and 305 of the penal code
prove the AKP is seeking closer ties to the EU. CHP deputy group
chairmen Kemal Kilicdaroglu, Kemal Anadol and Hakki Suha Okay held a
press conference at the parliament yesterday; they publicly warned
Barroso that the Turkish constitution restricts public comments
related to ongoing constitutional lawsuits. Liberal Radikal says
Barroso is coming to Turkey in order to push for reforms, but the
suit banning the AKP will also be raised during his meetings.
Mainstream Milliyet, under the headline "EU Tensions in Ankara,"
says, "All eyes are turned to the EU officials' visit as the
Ergenekon investigation and the suit for banning the AKP continue."
In addition, Milliyet notes, "Barroso's comments will be closely
followed by the opposition." Milliyet expects CHP Leader Deniz
Baykal to criticize the EU for its double standard regarding
Turkey's EU reforms, namely regarding EU support for Turkey's
struggle against the PKK. Islamist-oriented Zaman writes, "The CHP
Bets All of Its Cards on Article 301," and "the CHP has drawn
attention to itself by preventing two important developments in
Turkish-EU relations - revising articles 301 and 305 of the penal
code. The CHP voted against the revision of 301 and 305, which were
due to be on the parliamentary agenda during Barroso's visit."
Zaman columnist Sahin Alpay argues the current crisis in Turkey is,
"about the West's withdrawal of its support for the AKP, the AKP's
efforts to seek compromise with the establishment, and its failure
to maintain determination to complete the democratization process."
Leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet says Barroso will meet Greek Orthodox
Patriarch Bartholomew I in Istanbul. In order to avoid controversy
over the 'Ecumenical' title of the Patriarch, the Turkish Foreign
Ministry (MFA) asked Barroso to also meet the Mufti of Istanbul,
says the paper.
Editorial Commentary on Turkey-EU Relations
Semih Idiz wrote in mainstream Milliyet (4/10): "There is a need for
the EU to be strong about both democracy and secularism. Both the
President of the EU Commission Manuel Barroso and the EU Enlargement
Commissioner Olli Rehn have made public statements against the
closure of AKP, and I completely agree with them. Yet, I wish in
their statement they emphasized secularism as much as they
emphasized democracy. We should criticize anti-EU groups but at the
same time we, including Barroso and Rehn, should also question the
sincerity of AKP's pro-EU stance. Obviously, the ruling AKP has
reignited its EU enthusiasm due to internal political developments.
Both democracy and secularism have to be equally protected because
they are indispensable in a modern and developed country. Things
are not going well for either democracy or secularism in Turkey.
While battling those who are against democracy, the EU should not
appear as if they tolerate those who seek to dilute secularism."
Murat Yetkin wrote in liberal-intellectual Radikal (4/10): "EU
Commission President Manuel Barroso's remarks prior to his trip to
Ankara created some anxiety, especially among the opposition parties
in parliament. Both MHP and CHP affirm the EU is not supposed to
interfere with ongoing judicial matters. In addition, the EU is not
supposed to take sides with a particular political party, i.e. the
ruling AKP. Even within the AKP, there are some who are pleased
with Barroso's remarks, and there are some who are worried by his
remarks. The EU acts like an overseeing authority among its members
and is likely to interfere with other domestic issues as well. The
AKP may not be happy with the EU's meddling in the future, depending
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on which issues the EU targets. The gist of this issue is about
understanding the way EU membership changes the course of the
nation-state model. In that regard, all members of the EU accept
and recognize the overseeing structure of the Union. This means the
EU structure meddles in members' domestic affairs, particularly
regarding freedoms, human rights, common democratic values and the
separation of state and religion. Barroso has a difficult task. He
now has to persuade both the ruling government and the opposition
parties on these fundamental aspects of the European Union."
CHP Delays Discussion of Article 301 in Parliament
Islamist-oriented Zaman reports under the headline, "The CHP Blocks
Parliament's Goodwill Gesture in Reforming Article 301" that,"
acting Parliament Speaker Guldal Mumcu of the CHP did not submit
article 301 changes to the parliament because she said the issue was
"not very important," and that Speaker Koksal Toptan "could initiate
the procedures when returns to Turkey from China."
Islamist-oriented Yeni Safak says, "Mumcu could have submitted the
changes to parliament in honor of her husband Ugur Mumcu, a
journalist who was assassinated in 1993." Mainstream Sabah writes,
"Opposition parties CHP and MHP cooperate to block reforms in
article 301, with CHP working to delay the reforms while the MHP
threatens to apply to the Constitutional Court for scrapping them."
Islamist-oriented Zaman says, "The AKP is also preparing an
extensive package of democratization reforms which include
affirmative action for women, children's rights, and environmental
Poll: Closure Case Increases AKP Voters' EU Support
Milliyet and Radikal carry a survey conducted by A&G polling company
for Turkey's prime-time television Kanal D, which shows 41.9 percent
of AKP supporters say Turkey should join the EU. 27.7 percent
oppose Turkey's EU accession while 24.0 percent say EU accession
will not make a difference. Milliyet says support among the AKP
voters for Turkey's EU membership increased following the launch of
the closure case against the ruling party. AKP voters' support for
Turkey's EU membership was 54.7 percent in 2005, this year it stands
at 47.1 percent in April, which is up from 29.5 percent in January.
Leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet carries a survey conducted by
Political Research Company, according to which 85 percent believe
AKP's headscarf policy caused tension in the country. 84.2 percent
say people live their faith freely in Turkey. 67.9 percent think
there's no headscarf problem in Turkey while 18.4 percent believe
the opposite. 37.3 percent find the closure case against the AKP
"right," whereas 49.2 percent find it "wrong." The survey canvassed
the views of 2,470 adults in 20 provinces through one-on-one
interviews from April 1-6.
Crocker: Turkish Operations Draw Iraqi Kurds Closer to Baghdad
Hurriyet, Milliyet, Radikal, Cumhuriyet, Zaman and others report
U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker testified yesterday at the U.S.
Congress. He noted, "The Turkish ground offensive into northern
Iraq made the Iraqi Kurds realize the importance of being a part of
the Iraqi identity," and "this drew them closer to the Baghdad
Administration." Liberal Radikal quotes Crocker as saying, "Both
the Iraqi and Turkish governments are trying to strengthen ties;
President Talabani paid a successful visit to Turkey in March."
Diyarbakir Delegation Gives President Gul Report on Southeast
Hurriyet, Milliyet, Radikal, Taraf, Cumhuriyet, Yeni Safak and
others report a delegation including representatives of NGOs from
the mainly Kurdish city of Diyarbakir met with President Abdullah
Gul on Wednesday. They submitted a report to the President, asking
for affirmative action for the region including improvement of the
regional infrastructure and support for border trade. The report
notes it is important for Turkey to maintain good ties with
neighboring countries. President Gul called for resolving the
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problems within the framework of democracy, saying everything could
be discussed as long as violence and terror are shunned.
- Foreign Minister Ali Babacan said "common sense will prevail"
regarding the allegations that the EU could suspend accession talks
- Turkey's religious affairs directorate "Diyanet" says Alevi
meeting places, called "Cemevi," should not be seen as a place of
religious worship. Ali Bardakoglu, Diyanet Director of Religious
Affairs, said, "All Muslims worship in mosques and Islam does not
accept alternative places of worship."
- Turkey hosts a meeting of Foreign Ministers from Pacific
- Turkey will buy 80 anti-tank missiles and 800 other missiles from
Russian company Rosoboronexport.
- Washington Institute's Turkey specialist Soner Cagaptay says U.S.
support against the PKK will continue.
- Iraqi President Jalal Talabani said he backs efforts to disband
the Mehdi Army of radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.