Cablegate: Ankara Media Reaction Report
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SUBJECT: ANKARA MEDIA REACTION REPORT
WEDNESDAY, MAY 28, 2008
In Today's Papers
Erdogan Unveils Ambitious 'Southeast Action Plan' in Diyarbakir
All news outlets report on Prime Minister Erdogan was in Diyarbakir
Tuesday to unveil an "action plan" to boost social and economic
development in southeast Turkey. "What we are announcing today is a
well-defined, scheduled and a funded action plan to remove regional
differences in economic and social development, unemployment and
migration," Erdogan told a closed hall meeting in the mainly Kurdish
southeastern city. Erdogan called the initiative "a turning point
for Turkey." In "Erdogan Takes Important Step In The Southeast,"
mainstream Milliyet says the plan envisages important steps in
diverse fields such as economics, social life, education and health.
The paper says the cost of the package totaled 26.5 billion New
Turkish Lira. Mainstream Hurriyet reports in "Erdogan Pledges USD
12.5 Billion Investment," regional provinces Diyarbakir, Sanliurfa
and Gaziantep would be transformed into "attractive centers for
investors." The plan is expected to create new jobs for 3.8 billion
people, report Hurriyet and nationalist-oriented Cumhuriyet.
Islamist-oriented Yeni Safak says Erdogan described the package as a
"historic liberation project."
Addressing supporters in a closed hall in the city, Erdogan said the
plan would boost development not only in the East and Southeast, but
in all parts of Turkey. "More democracy, more freedom, more
investments and increased production are the solution to all
problems," said Erdogan. The PM added the government has
"identified the sources for the funding, and has prepared a
timetable for the implementation of the project." He noted in the
last five years, the AKP government made $8 billion worth of
investments in southeast Turkey, adding the investments have helped
change the outlook of cities in the region. "All people living in
Turkey are the free and equal citizens of the same nation," the PM
emphasized. Erdogan also said Turkey's state-run television is set
to broadcast around-the-clock in "local languages." "Our action
plan and the new broadcast policy will constitute a social
restoration to strengthen our social fabric and unity," said
Erdogan. In "Turkey Responds to Roj TV With TRT-Kurd," tabloid
Aksam says the new TV channel would become an alternative to the
pro-PKK Roj TV broadcasts in the region. The new channel will air
programs in Kurdish, Arabic and Persian 24 hours a day. The
broadcasts will also reach northern Iraq and Iran, says Aksam.
Mainstream Vatan notes this was the 18th package unveiled for
southeast Turkey over the last 25 years.
Editorial Commentary on AKP's 'Southeast Action Plan'
"The Southeast Project"
Ergun Babahan wrote in mainstream Sabah (5/28): "Turkey has taken a
step toward bringing cultural rights and economic development to the
southeast region. This is the area where, prior to this development
project, Turkey has tried only military initiatives. The investment
project for the southeast will put a serious burden on the overall
national economy, but we have to acknowledge that this is the only
way. Every step we take to make our youth return home from the
mountains deserves encouragement. Cultural initiatives for this
region should be diverse and a Kurdish television broadcast should
be established. This is the right time for taking action in this
region because Turkey has dealt a serious blow to the PKK terrorist
organization. These steps are not concessions; these are rights to
which our citizens are entitled. Economic development and cultural
rights can prevent terrorism, and let's hope that the projects are
all pursued and implemented."
"All Cards on the Table"
Gungor Mengi wrote in mainstream Vatan (5/28): "It comes as no
surprise that major political decisions are implemented prior to
important elections. The southeast project, as announced by Prime
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Minister Erdogan, did not sound realistic. He was basically
promising a miracle in four years time; this comes right before the
local elections. The plan proposes irrigation projects on a total
of 1.8 million hectares, the doubling of per capita income and the
employment of 3.8 million people. Interestingly enough, it took the
AKP government six years to realize this region has potential.
Better late than never! The southeast project, unfortunately, has
turned into a political dream card used by governments when they
find it hard to stay in power. I am afraid, this one, like the
previous ones of former administrations, will be another one for
CHP's Sav Claims He Was Wiretapped
Mainstream Vatan reports the main opposition CHP Secretary General
Onder Sav's May 23 meeting with the former Governor of Bolu
province, Ali Serindag, was reported in detail in the Islamist Vakit
on May 26. Sav expressed surprise that his meeting with Serindag on
the Islamic sects, communities, and the AKP were nearly "transcribed
verbadim" in the Vakit report. "There was no one else in the room.
Since the governor did not tell the press about our meeting, we were
definitely wiretapped," Sav said. Baykal has referred to the
"Watergate" scandal while addressing his party group yesterday,
saying "President Nixon was tried for wire-tapping his opponents."
Gerceker: President Gul Will Help Resolve Judiciary-Government
All papers report Court of Appeals (Yargitay) President Hasan
Gerceker told the press yesterday his meeting with President
Abdullah Gul on Monday aimed at "easing tensions." "It was a
fruitful meeting. I explained the problems of the judiciary. The
President said he would help resolve the problems," Gerceker told
reporters while commenting on his meeting with Gul.
Leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet says President Gul will also meet the
Council of State (Danistay) president within the framework of his
efforts to defuse tensions between the judiciary and the government.
DTP Group Chairman Ahmet Turk Resigns, Expected to Lead Party
Hurriyet, Zaman, Vatan, Aksam, Cumhuriyet, Sabah: Papers report
that Ahmet Turk resigned as the group chairman of the Democratic
Society Party (DTP). DTP Mardin deputy Emine Ayna replaced Turk.
Hurriyet says that Turk is expected to run for DTP's leadership at
the party convention in July.
Investigation Launched Against Diyarbakir Mayor Osman Baydemir
Hurriyet, Sabah, Milliyet, Radikal, Bugun: State investigations
were launched against mainly Kurdish party DTP's Diyarbakir mayor
Osman Baydemir and party's Diyarbakir provincial party chairman
Nejdet Atalay. The prosecutor is asking for five years' in prison
for referring to PKK terrorists as "guerillas" in their address to a
crowd at a February 23 protest against the cross border operations
into northern Iraq.
Meanwhile, liberal Radikal, leftist Taraf, and conservative Bugun
report that singer Bulent Ersoy faces a three-year prison sentence
for publicly saying "If I had a son I would not send my son to the
military to fulfill his military service."
- Fifty people were detained in Diyarbakir while preparing to throw
eggs and tomatoes at Prime Minister Erdogan.
- Huseyin Kalkan, the DTP mayor of the southeastern city of Batman,
has been sentenced to ten months in prison for spreading PKK
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- Turkey's prestigious business group TUSIAD said reforms in Turkey
were backtracking, and warned against "populist" implementations in
- The Iraqi Government said in a statement on Tuesday Water
Resources Minister Abdullatif Jamal Rashid visited Turkey and Syria
to ask for more water to ease the drought Iraq faces this year.
Rashid said he has asked from PM Erdogan for more water from the
Tigris and Euphrates for Iraq.
- Iraq's National Security Council has asked PM Nuri al-Maliki to
ensure that a pact under discussion to extend the U.S. troop
presence beyond 2008 will not harm Iraqi national interest.
- UK charity Save the Children says children in post-conflict areas
are being abused by the UN peacekeeping forces drafted into such
zones to help look after them.