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Cablegate: Ankara Media Reaction Report

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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 ANKARA 000770

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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
THURSDAY, APRIL 24, 2008


In Today's Papers

Ankara Celebrates National Sovereignty Day in Tense Atmosphere
All papers report that on Wednesday, the atmosphere was tense at the
Turkish Parliament's special session to mark National Sovereignty
and Children's Day. Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Erdogan and
opposition CHP leader Baykal avoided each other during the
ceremonies in Ataturk's Mausoleum. In his speech to the parliament,
Baykal argued the Constitution and law lie at the heart of any
government's legitimacy, and elections alone are not enough for a
functioning democracy. "Uncontrolled force is no force," Baykal
said, defending supervision of elected governments by state bodies.
Erdogan countered, saying "There is no replacement in today's world
for democracy. We have to defeat all threats via democracy."
Erdogan added that the Turkish nation is moving toward its EU
membership goal and never before had Turkey been so close to making
these ideals a reality. The Chief of the General Staff (TGS)
General Yasar Buyukanit and the military top brass left the
parliament after attending only the ceremony ahead of the special
session in an effort to avoid contacts with the pro-Kurdish DTP
lawmakers.

Also yesterday, President Abdullah Gul hosted a luncheon at the
Presidential Palace. Baykal boycotted the luncheon, but Parliament
Speaker Koksal Toptan, PM Erdogan, and chairmen of the political
parties represented at the parliament attended. Gul said during the
luncheon, "terrorism, separatism, the economy, and democratic
standards" were some of the current risks and opportunities for
Turkey. "If Turkey cannot transform risks into opportunities within
the framework of today's conjuncture, the next generations would pay
the price," Gul said.

Erdogan Mediates between Olmert-Assad for Peace
Milliyet, Aksam, and Cumhuriyet carry reports by Syrian daily
al-Watan that, according to sources in Damascus, Turkish Prime
Minister Erdogan told Syrian President Bashar al-Asad in a telephone
call that Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was ready for a full
withdrawal from the Golan Heights in return for a peace agreement
with Syria. Syria's state television carried the same report, says
the leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet. The paper says Erdogan is to
visit Damascus on April 26-27 to attend the opening of the first
Syrian-Turkish economic forum.

General Petraeus Next Head of CENTCOM
Hurriyet, Milliyet, Sabah, Radikal, Taraf, Cumhuriyet, Zaman, Yeni
Safak and others report General David Petraeus, the top US commander
of troops in Iraq, has been nominated by Defense Secretary Robert
Gates for Central Command CENTCOM chief. Lt. Gen. Ray Odierno will
be nominated by President Bush to replace Petraeus in Baghdad.
Papers also note Odierno was known as the American commander who had
ordered the 'hooding' of Turkish Special Forces in Suleymaniye in
northern Iraq in 2003.

Calik Takes Over Sabah Media Group
Hurriyet, Milliyet, Sabah, Vatan, Radikal, Cumhuriyet, Zaman and
others report the 'Turkuvaz' media company of the Calik Group has
completed the USD 1.1 billion purchase of Turkey's second largest
media company, Sabah- ATV.. Sabah-ATV was seized from the Ciner
Group by the Savings Deposits and Insurance Fund (TMSF) last April
because of financial irregularities and auctioned off last November.
Calik said in a written statement on Tuesday it paid cash to TMSF
for the group by obtaining USD 750 million-loans from state-owned
'Vakifbank' and 'Halkbank', USD 125 million from Qatar-based
al-Wasaeel International Media Co., and the remainder from Calik
shareholders. Al-Wasaeel will reportedly receive 25 percent of
shares in Turkuvaz in return for their contribution.
Leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet and mainstream Vatan say they have
found no record of al-Wasaeel company in Qatar Chamber of Commerce
records..


ANKARA 00000770 002 OF 003


Human Rights Organization Publishes 'Torture Atlas'
Mainstream Sabah reports on page one the Turkish Human Rights
Foundation (TIHV) has prepared a book on torture and mistreatment in
Turkey since the September 12, 1980 military takeover. The book,
"The Atlas of Torture," was written by nine professors and
physicians who have examined 6,000 photos and x-ray films of more
than 10,000 torture victims in five years. It says over the course
of past 28 years, one million people were tortured in Turkey. The
book says beating was the most popular torture method, to be
followed by electric shock, strangling, rape, cold water and
exposure to chemical substances.

Editorial Commentary on Iraq, US Elections

"Iraq, Kirkuk and the PKK"
Soli Ozel wrote in mainstream Sabah (4/24): "What happens in Iraq is
of immediate concern to Turkey. The future of Iraq will be the
primary factor in shaping the power equilibrium in the Middle East
and Gulf region. There will be no clarity on Iraq's future until
the internal power struggle comes to an end. At this point, the only
clear thing is that Iran has become a powerful player. It is very
likely that Iraq will continue living with violence and uncertainty.
Yet despite all these factors , Iraq's territorial integrity serves
everybody's interest. Foreign Minister Babacan, after attending the
Iraqi Neighbors Conference, made this observation and added that
everybody seems to have finally come to Turkey's opinion on the
importance of Iraq's territorial integrity. Babacan also sees the
Hydrocarbon Law as a good indication of a functioning Iraq. On
Kirkuk, which the FM describes as very important, the UN's position
is close to Turkey'sviews."

"Uncertainty in US Elections"
Sami Kohen wrote in mainstream Milliyet (4/24): "There is a saying
that 'the route to the White House goes through Pennsylvania.'
Pennsylvania is a determining factor for presidential candidates.
This time, two Democrat candidates struggled through and the race
ended with Hillary Clinton's winning over Obama by 10 percent. That
victory gives her hope in the upcoming primaries , but it does not
give her an automatic ticket to the White House. The question of
whether Clinton can be the Democrat Party candidate remains
controversial. Impartial observers still feel Obama's candidacy has
a better chance while others concede that nothing is certain until
the last minute. The race between Hillary and Obama has been very
harsh and it goes without saying that Republicans are enjoying all
of this because whoever becomes the Democrat candidate, he or she
will come wounded in the public eye into the main election.. The
opinion polls are already indicating that Republican candidate
McCain is gaining more ground to win the elections. If the
Democratic candidate is Obama, that will be a help for McCain to
win. A recent survey in Pennsylvania found 21 percent of democrats
are planning to vote for McCain if Obama is the candidate. "

TV Highlights
CNN Turk

Domestic News

- Prime Minister Erdogan said it would be "meaningless" to hold
early elections.

- A new bill that will allow foreigners to acquire property in
Turkey has been submitted to the parliament for approval.

- Turkish Cyprus leader Mehmet Ali Talat will travel to Turkey to
meet with President Abdullah Gul and Prime Minister Erdogan on
Friday.

International News

- Jim Murphy, the British minister for Europe, says Turkey should be

ANKARA 00000770 003 OF 003


treated on equal footing with other candidates in the EU entry bid.


- Iran has agreed to cooperate with the International Atomic Energy
Agency (IAEA) investigation of charges that Tehran tried to make
nuclear weapons.

- Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal said his country will
open an embassy in Baghdad once the Iraqi capital is secure enough.


WILSON

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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