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Cablegate: Ankara Media Reaction Report

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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 ANKARA 000700

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
MONDAY, APRIL 14, 2008


In Today's Papers

Murder of Italian Peace Activist in Turkey
All news outlets report over the weekend and today the murder of
Giuseppina Pasqualino di Marineo, an Italian artist and peace
activist also known as, "Pippa Bacci." Marieno was hitchhiking from
Italy to Palestine in order to promote world peace, but went missing
on March 31 south of Istanbul. Over the weekend, her body was
discovered and a Turkish truck driver has been arrested for her rape
and murder. Islamist-oriented Yeni Safak carries the banner
headline, "We Are Ashamed." Sunday's mainstream Sabah carries the
headline, "Forgive Us Pippa," and Islamist-oriented Zaman wrote,
"Her murder shocked all of Turkey." Mainstream Vatan carries a
photo of the murder suspect with the headline, "Here's the Pervert."
Mainstream Aksam's banner headline reads, "Disgrace." Prime
Minister Erdogan expressed regret for the murder of Pasqualino, and
offered his condolences to her family. Erdogan said, "I believe the
Turkish justice system will reach the fairest verdict." Meanwhile,
Marineo's family insists they hold nothing against Turkey or Turks;
her sister told the press, "Things like this can happen anywhere."

Oral Calislar wrote in leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet (4/14): "Male
aggression in a society coordinates to the society's level of
development. In developed countries, male aggression is less
common. In under-developed countries, male aggression is more
common. On that note, the murder of this Italian artist is quite
shameful for Turkey. While ultimately the murderer is responsible
for this heinous crime, Turkey's culture of male aggression carries
some of the blame."

Ferai Tinc wrote in mainstream Hurriyet (4/14): "The Bacca murder is
the result of a culture of violence against women. In this country,
women's issues are overlooked as the problems of women. On paper
there is gender equality, but there is no law enforcement or
cultural guarantee. It's not enough to feel ashamed of this crime.
This event should be a starting point for all artists in Turkey to
advocate a culture of peace and gender equality."

Can Dundar wrote in mainstream Milliyet (4/14): "The rape and
murder of an Italian peace activist created deep shame among the
Turkish public. Why do such things happen in Turkey more than
elsewhere in Europe? We have to realize that the system in Turkey
indirectly protects such criminal acts. Rapists, even in cases of
incest, can enjoy certain deductions in their punishments due to an
archaic macho mentality that exists in Turkish culture and in the
Turkish judicial system. Even honor killings fall within a legal
category of 'being provoked by the victim.' Our cultural and legal
history favors the harassment of women, rape and domestic violence
against women. We are doomed to see more stories like this one
unless we change our laws and then change our mentality."

Semih Idiz wrote in mainstream Milliyet (4/14): "Given the quantity
as well as the nature of crimes, including rape and murder, it is
hard to claim that the brutal murder of Italian artist Pippa Bacci
is an isolated incident. The series of events that led to this
murder, unfortunately, indicate a serious social pathology in
Turkey. Turkey has a long way to go to reach contemporary
civilization. Poor Pippa should have done a little research on
Turkey before coming here. At least she could have decided to skip
Turkey after understanding the hate-and-fight culture among people
here."

Barroso Visits Istanbul before Departing Turkey
All papers reported this weekend the president of the European
Commission Jose Manuel Barroso, visited the Greek Orthodox
Patriarchate and the Mufti's Office in Istanbul. Barroso spoke to
reporters at Istanbul's Ataturk Airport before he departed. He
said, "Turkey is debating political, economic and social reforms."
In addition, he said, "The EU is committed to full membership
negotiations with Turkey. Islamist-oriented Yeni Safak writes,

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"Barroso said it was the responsibility of the EU to follow
developments in Turkey." Mainstream Sabah reports Barroso pointed
out to Foreign Minister Ali Babacan, "The European Commission
closely follows economic, social and political developments in
Turkey. Observations should not be seen as interventions into
Turkey's domestic affairs."

Meanwhile, criticisms of Barroso's visit came from many sides of the
political and social spectrum. Right-wing Tercuman pointed out
that, "21 other countries have joined the EU during Turkey's
fifty-year EU bid." In addition, the paper notes, "Barroso forgot
the European Human Rights Court ruling regarding headscarves," and
"Barroso wants to clear the way for insulting Turkishness."
Mainstream Milliyet's Saturday edition reports, "Women's groups were
infuriated by Barroso's insistence that women should make their own
decisions about wearing a headscarf." Milliyet says the
organizations insist, "Barroso does not understand the reality of
Turkey," where, "many women are forced to wear the headscarf and
thus the headscarf is not an expression of individual freedom."
Mainstream Milliyet columnist Meral Tamer pointed out, "There is a
rapid increase in the number of women who are forced to cover their
heads," and "this pressure comes from their families and/or their
neighbors." Tamer also emphasized, "The headscarf does not
represent women's freedoms. The headscarf is a symbol that offends
secularism." Milliyet columnist Semih Idiz expressed his
disappointment that, "Barroso did not extend any messages to women
who are not willing to wear the headscarf," and "this could be
interpreted as Barroso's support for the headscarf."

PM Erdogan Accuses Opposition
All papers carry excerpts from AKP's "Youth Branch" meeting in
Ankara this weekend where Prime Minister Erdogan accused the main
opposition party CHP for hiding behind Ataturk and doing nothing for
politics. Erdogan invited CHP Leader Baykal to recognize that, "The
Turkish Republic was founded by the people under Ataturk's
leadership." He added, "Secularism entered into our constitutions
not with the CHP's imposition but by our people's will."

Meanwhile, the largest pro-secularist and anti-AKP rally since last
year's July elections was held in Ankara on Saturday. According to
papers, between 25,000 and 50,000 secularist protestors attended the
rally. All papers note the protestors accused the ruling AKP of
undermining secularism. Protestors carried banners saying, "Turkey
is secular and will remain secular" and, "No Fundamentalist
Movements."

Justice Minister: Article 301 in Parliament's Hands
Radikal, Yeni Safak, Hurriyet, Milliyet and other major new outlets
carried excerpts from an interview by Kanal 24 television station
with Justice Minister Mehmet Ali Sahin. The minister said the
revision in Penal Code Article 301 will be sent to parliament's
Justice Committee this week. Reports note that Justice Minister
Sahin wanted the Justice Minister to be the authority who decided on
whether or not a 301 case could proceed. However, in the current
proposal this authority lies with the president. Minister Sahin
said he understands that some in Turkey criticize such authority for
the presidency, but added, "Apparently when the draft was shown to
the president, the president did not object."

Turkey-Iran Discuss Measures against PKK, PJAK
Yeni Safak reports a five-day meeting between Turkey and Iran in
Ankara begins today. The bilateral discussions include security
measures against the PKK and PJAK. The last meeting of this nature
was held in Tehran on February 2006 and concluded with a signed
memorandum of understanding on active cooperation against
terrorism.

TV News:
CNN Turk


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Domestic News

- Turkish security forces carried out operations against PKK
terrorists in the province of Sirnak. Six terrorists fleeing from
the PKK surrendered to the security forces at the Habur border
crossing.

- Turkish Cyprus leader Mehmet Ali Talat will visit Turkey April 24
to discuss the developments in the divided island with President
Abdullah Gul.

- The Turkish government is trying to prevent the execution of a
Turk charged with blasphemy in Saudi Arabia.

International News

- The Iraqi government has sacked 1,300 soldiers and policemen for
refusing to fight against Shiite militias in the south of the
country.

- Twelve people are killed and 202 injured in an explosion at a
mosque in Iran's southern city of Shiraz.

- The Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI) says Israel
uses psychological torture against some Palestinian detainees.

DEBLAUW

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