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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
TUESDAY, APRIL 15, 2008


In Today's Papers

ATC Conference in Washington
Hurriyet, Milliyet, and Yeni Safak cover the 27th meeting of the
American-Turkish Council (ATC) held Monday in Washington. General
Hilmi Akin Zorlu, the head of the military General Staff's (TGS)
Planning Department, said during his address, "Some of Turkey's
allies provide support for the PKK." However, Zorlu warned, "Those
backing the PKK may also be hit by terror one day." Defense
Minister Vecdi Gonul and the Prime Ministry Undersecretary Efkan Ala
also joined the meeting. Mainstream Hurriyet's webpage reports Lt.
General John Sattler, U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Director for
Strategic Plans and Policy, urged Turkey "to seek a comprehensive
settlement" to the PKK question, including the need for new steps
for the Kurdish population. He said there was no need to declare a
general amnesty, but added that Turkey could offer an option to PKK
militants who want to leave the terrorist organization and who have
not been involved in terror attacks. "The U.S. encourages the
Turkish and Iraqi governments to work together in combating the
PKK," Sattler emphasized.

Toptan and Erdogan Disagree on Article 301 Changes
All papers report a bill for amending article 301 of the penal code
was sent to the parliament's justice committee for discussions
yesterday. Leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet writes under the
headline, "Article 301 Divides the AKP," that "the notorious
provision has already caused a rift among the leaders of the ruling
party." This proposed bill requires permission from the president
before charges can be filed against an individual who violates the
law. In a news conference Monday, Parliamentary Spokesman Toptan
noted that this arrangement could create serious troubles for the
president, and that the Justice Ministry should authorize such
lawsuits. Prime Minister Erdogan, who spoke to journalists during
an official visit to Qatar, disagreed with Toptan. "If he's given
the authority, the Justice Minister will be accused of making
political decisions. The president is above political parties, and
his decisions will be more trustworthy," Erdogan said.

Opposition CHP group Chief Hakki Suha Okay said, "The CHP will not
allow for the legitimization of insulting Turkishness." Opposition
far right MHP is preparing to launch a campaign against article 301,
and has printed five million leaflets and made two short films
titled, "Wake Up Turkey, Now's the Time for Unity."


Today's cartoon in mainstream Sabah: "Article 301 Gains Importance:
A man asks PM Erdogan, "Where are you going?" Erdogan replies, "The
say freedom for our party passes through this way [301]."

Babacan Holds Press Conference with Miliband in London
All papers report visiting Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan
participated in a joint press conference with the British Foreign
Secretary David Miliband in London on Monday. Babacan warned, "A

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possible ban on the AKP would have a serious impact on Turkey's ties
with the EU." Babacan said, "Turkey's international influence has
increased." He also noted, "A new period has commenced in northern
Iraq," adding, "Iraq's territorial integrity and political unity
have vital importance for Turkey."

Babacan told the Islamist-oriented Zaman, "The U.S. was concerned
that the Turkish ground offensive in northern Iraq would endanger
Iraq's internal balances. Also at that time, U.S. priorities there
included the passage of the hydrocarbon and federation laws; in
addition, two agreements were on the table to enable American troops
to stay in Iraq without needing UN approval." On Kirkuk, Babacan
said, "We believe there should be no referendum." Concerning
Afghanistan, Babacan said, "Turkey has not yet responded to the NATO
demand for sending additional troops. We think sending troops alone
won't resolve the problem."


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Slain Artist's Remains Are Repatriated to Italy
All papers report the remains of an Italian artist who was raped and
murdered in Turkey were sent to her hometown of Milan on Monday.
Giuseppina Pasqualino di Marineo, also known as "Pippa Bacca," was
found dead this past weekend in Gebze near Istanbul. In a call for
peace, Pippa was hitchhiking to the Palestinian territories in a
wedding dress. Pippa's sister Antoinetta told the press in
Istanbul, "I would like to thank the Turkish nation their affection.
I also want to thank Prime Minister Erdogan for his condolence
messages regarding my sister's murder." Representatives from the
Freedom and Solidarity Party (ODP), CHP, and the pro-Kurdish DTP,
and some women's associations bade farewell to Pippa as her remains
departed from Ataturk International Airport in Istanbul. Ufuk Uras,
leader of the ODP, said, "Dear Pippa, you were killed by a man who
spoke our language. Our sorrow will be eased a bit if we promise to
work to eradicate violence inflicted against women in this country."


Editorial Commentary on the Global Food Crisis

Gungor Mengi wrote in mainstream Vatan (4/15): "The recent
developments around the world make one wonder if we are on the verge
of a global famine. Famine is the most dishonorable disaster that
human beings can face. Yesterday, the president of the World Bank
urged for an immediate action plan; he emphasized that a plan
devised during the upcoming G-8 summit would be too late. None of
this should come as a surprise. This is not a terrible surprise
from Mother Nature; this crisis is the result of human mismanagement
of natural resources. In the end, the weak and illiterate poor will
die of hunger. Those who are strong and rich will become even
stronger by turning this crisis into an economic opportunity. This
is the oldest imperialistic method in the book. Developed nations
widen their hegemonic aims by using their production as a political
weapon. Turkey has to wake up and reorganize itself based on the
new realities. Turkey's rulers unfortunately have a fixation on
breeding more instead of producing more. Let's hope that this
famine alarm will result in a call for common sense."

Erdal Safak wrote in mainstream Sabah (4/15): "The deepening
international gap between agricultural supply and demand is not a
temporary issue. The world's population increases by 70 million
every year. Because of this, agriculturally cultivated areas are
increasingly replaced with expanding human settlements. Moreover
during the last 20 years, liberal agricultural policies imposed by
the U.S., the IMF and the World Bank caused the disappearance of
farmers in low-income countries. The recent bio fuel hype has taken
this crisis to a tragic level because corn is being used to create
fuel instead. Instead, this corn could be used to feed millions of
people. Those from Western Developed countries enjoy driving their
4x4 cars with bio-diesel but do not realize the impact this has on
causing famine. The right to live is the fundamental human right.
It is a crime against humanity to leave millions of people to die of
hunger. This is an alarming signal. History tells us that
tragedies like this lead to war."


TV News:
CNN Turk

Domestic News

- Daily Cumhuriyet chief editor Ilhan Selcuk is in critical
condition after heart bypass surgery on Monday.

- The AKP has prepared its defense in the case for the closure of
the party. The defense is based on the objection that the suit was
politically motivated.

- Cuma Ozdemir, one of the suspects involved in the murder of three
Christian Bible publishers in Malatya, said the killings were

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instigated by suspect Emre Gunaydin. According to Ozdemir, Gunaydin
said, "The Christians wanted to eliminate Islam in Turkey and were
linked to the PKK."

International News

- Greek Cypriot leader Demetris Christofias said the road for a
solution on the divided island will not open unless Turkey changes
its policy concerning military presence on Cyprus.

- The Independent reported Monday the U.S. and Iran have been
conducting secret back-channel discussions on Tehran's nuclear
program.

- The Beijing city government announced a plan to stop construction
and heavy industry in an effort to improve air quality ahead of the
Olympics.

DEBLAUW

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