Cablegate: Ankara Media Reaction Report
DE RUEHAK #1010/01 1511253
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 301253Z MAY 08
FM AMEMBASSY ANKARA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 6420
RUEKJCS/CJCS WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEUITH/ODC ANKARA TU
INFO RUEHTH/AMEMBASSY ATHENS 8920
RUEHIT/AMCONSUL ISTANBUL 4270
RUEHDA/AMCONSUL ADANA 2964
RUEHBS/AMEMBASSY BRUSSELS 6635
RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO 6465
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 3043
RUEUITH/DET 1 39LG ANKARA TU
RHMFISS/USDOCO 6ATAF IZMIR TU
RHMFISS/39OS INCIRLIK AB TU
RHMFISS/AFOSI DET 523 IZMIR TU
RHMFISS/39ABG INCIRLIK AB TU
RHMFISS/AFOSI DET 522 INCIRLIK AB TU
RUEUITH/AFLO ANKARA TU
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 ANKARA 001010
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
FRIDAY, MAY 30, 2008
In Today's Papers
Controversy Over 'CHP's Tapping' Grows
All news outlets report the ruling AKP has proposed creating a
parliamentary commission to investigate the "wiretapping charges"
put forth by the CHP. Opposition party CHP claimed someone, perhaps
government security personnel, wiretapped their party headquarters
and recorded a private conversation between CHP Secretary General
Onder Sav and a former governor that was published recently almost
verbatim in the Islamist Vakit daily. Interior Minister Besir
Atalay, in response to comments by CHP Deputy Chairman Hakki Suha
Okay, said "prosecutors have launched an investigation into the
allegations. I also propose to set up a multi-party parliamentary
committee to inquire into the event." CHP demanded the resignation
of Atalay over the bugging scandal. Atalay, however, rejected the
CHP leader Deniz Baykal said Turkey has been gradually transformed
into a "police state," claiming the AKP has formed a secret "deep
state network within the state apparatus." "The problem is not only
the CHP's problem. The issue at stake is freedom of communication,"
Baykal said. Opposition MHP leader Devlet Bahceli said the AKP was
creating a "dictatorship of fear." "The government has lost its
political legitimacy, and it resorts to illegitimate and immoral
methods to preserve its power," Bahceli noted.
Vakit now agrees with a story circulated yesterday by Islamist
daily, Yeni Safak, which said Sav by mistake left his mobile phone
on after talking to a Vakit reporter, who was then able to hear the
other conversation. Mainstream Milliyet reports several university
rectors and opposition MHP and the pro-Kurdish DTP lawmakers
expressed concern over the matter, and they suspect their phones are
tapped as well.
Editorial Commentary on Turkey's Watergate: Who Bugged the
"Are We Being Tapped?"
Fehmi Koru wrote in Islamist-leaning Yeni Safak (5/30): "Following
the CHP phone-tapping incident, everybody in Turkey recalled similar
stories from the past. In other words, nobody was surprised by this
incident because the sophistication of today's high-tech devices
makes the bugging business very easy. In the old days, phone
tapping required a significant budget allocation for any government.
However, tapping devices are now attainable on the internet with
the click of a mouse. Bugging the opposition party isn't
necessarily only possible by a government because anybody can do it
with today's technology. The transcript of the CHP member's
conversation was printed in a political Islamist newspaper which
raises some questions. Maybe all of this was planned to confuse
minds and create suspicions against the AKP government. The AKP
government should do everything necessary to uncover the truth about
this incident. This is the best way to address the accusations.
Otherwise the party may face political conspiracies."
"Turkey should not Live with Such Shame"
Mustafa Unal wrote in Islamist-leaning Zaman (5/30): "On this
bugging issue, not only the opposition CHP, but everybody is
reacting against it. Nobody wants this issue to be forgotten.
Ankara has been living with paranoia for a long time because at
least 10 bugged or tapped files have been circulated on the internet
in the last year. The CHP's accusations are very serious and we
have to remember that tapping conversations is a violation of
constitution. The Interior Minister has made a very good proposal
by suggesting a joint parliamentary commission to investigate the
incident. The CHP's desire to put forward a censure motion in
parliament against the ruling AKP for the incident only politicizes
the issue more. The paper that printed the conversation is now
giving a laughable explanation. It now claims the conversation was
recorded through a cell phone that the CHP's Onder Sav had
ANKARA 00001010 002 OF 003
forgotten to turn off while having the subject conversation on
another phone. Well, this is easy to confirm from phone company
records. Whatever it is, the issue calls for immediate action, and
whoever is responsible should be punished."
Congressman Tanner in Ankara
Milliyet, Star: Mainstream Milliyet reports that PM Erdogan met
with a US Congressional delegation yesterday at the AKP
headquarters. The delegation was led by US House of Representatives
NATO Parliamentary Assembly (NATOPA) Group Chairman, Representative
John Tanner. Milliyet quotes Tanner regarding the AKP closure case
as saying "the institutions of democracy should be respected. We
want the institutions of democracy to continue to function in
Turkey. We respect Turkey as a democracy in this region of the
world." When he was asked whether the US considers the AKP as a
threat to secularism, Tanner said "Democracy is very important in
this part of the world. And democracy in Turkey is important for
the US." Conservative Star reports that Tanner's counterpart in the
Turkish Parliament, Vahit Erdem, hosted a lunch in the parliament in
honor of the delegation. During the lunch, Tanner said "We want our
Turkish friends to know that we are determined to continue our
support to Turkey in its fight against PKK terrorism. Democracy has
no bigger enemy than terrorism."
FM Babacan Draws Reaction
Hurriyet, Milliyet, Vatan, Aksam: Foreign Minister Babacan's
remarks during his speech at the European Parliament, suggesting
that not only non-Muslim minorities but also Muslims in Turkey have
problems with religious freedoms, drew wide reaction from the
opposition parties and from his own AK Party. Accusing Babacan of
not knowing a statesman's code of conduct, deputies from the AKP and
the opposition parties said that Turkey is the only country in the
Muslim world where religious beliefs could be practiced in a most
extensive and perfect sense. Milliyet reports that CHP and DSP
deputies have already submitted several question motions to
parliament about Babacan's remarks.
McClellan Hits Bush over Iraq
All news outlets continue to report on former White House Secretary
Scott McClellan's charges in his explosive new book, focusing on the
public and Administration responses. Mainstream Sabah titles
"Anti-Bush Book is Number One," noting "McClellan's book, which
criticizes the Bush administration, is ranked number one at Amazon."
The paper also adds Secretary Rice's response to questions about the
book, "we tried to do our best in Iraq." Islamist-oriented Yeni
Safak writes in "White House Puzzled: This is Not the Scott We
Knew," that the White House accused McClellan of "dissatisfaction
and revenge for positions he couldn't acquire." Leftist Taraf
carries the headline "Knocking Down Saddam Was the Best Thing to
State-Run TRT to Kick Off Kurdish Broadcasts
All papers report the Turkish Parliament approved Thursday a
proposal for starting broadcasts "in languages other than Turkish"
including Kurdish, Arabic and Persian, on state-run TRT television.
The proposal was supported by the AKP and the DTP. Opposition far
right MHP lawmaker Oktay Vural said Kurdish language broadcasting
was violation of the constitution's provision that Turkish is the
official language of the country. "They want to found a new
television similar to the Roj TV," said Oktay.
Court Bans Istanbul's Sole Gay Rights Association
Liberal Radikal and nationalist-oriented Cumhuriyet report a court
closed Istanbul's sole gay rights association, LambdaIstanbul, on
Thursday after the prosecutor said it broke "public morality laws."
The prosecutor argued LambdaIstanbul aims broke the law concerning
the protection of family and public morality, and a court ruled in
favor of closing the association. LambdaIstanbul, set up in 1993,
is the first gay rights association closed by a European Union
candidate nation, says Radikal. A gay rights activist in
ANKARA 00001010 003 OF 003
LambdaIstanbul said, "We are in a country where a closure case has
been opened against the ruling party. The political atmosphere is
anti-democratic and it lacks tolerance." The association will
appeal against the court decision, and, if necessary, will go to the
European Court of Human Rights, according to papers.
Headscarved Women Protest Male Passengers Seated Next to Them in THY
Leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet reports 18 women passengers on their
way back to Turkey from the Hajj in Saudi Arabia, walked out of a
Turkish Airlines (THY) plane in Istanbul Airport in protest because
male passengers were seated next to them. THY officials in Istanbul
sent the women to Ankara on another plane, making sure no males were
seated next to them. Aviation experts told Cumhuriyet allowing
passengers to leave the plane with excuses other than health reasons
is a "breach of security" since the passengers could have left a
bomb inside the plane.
Turkish Jets Bomb 16 Targets in Northern Iraq
Sabah, Milliyet, Hurriyet, Turkiye, Vatan and others: The Turkish
General Staff (TGS) announced on their website yesterday that
Turkish Air Force jets hit and demolished 16 targets in the Hakurk
region of Northern Iraq. Meanwhile, Sabah reports that military
operations continue in Cudi, Gabar and Bestler-Dereler regions in
the east of Turkey. Sabah also reports that six people were
detained in Izmir while they were preparing plans to attack police
stations and military units. Reportedly, they confessed they had
had bomb training in the PKK camps in Northern Iraq.
- PM Erdogan and his ruling AKP lawmakers are to go into their
"Kizilcahamam" camp near Ankara for three days to discuss a
"roadmap" regarding the closure case against their party.
- The Turkish General Staff (TGS) is to hold a symposium on the
future of the Middle East on June 5-6 in Ankara.
- Iran resumes supply of natural gas for Turkey. An explosion,
suspected by some Turks as sabotage, had disrupted the pipeline May
- At a UN gathering in Sweden on Iraq, PM Nuri al-Maliki called on
neighboring countries to write off Iraq's debts and waive
compensation payments for wars fought under Saddam Hussein.
- Austria has taken over from Turkey the command of KFOR (Kosovo
- France is projected to have a population of more than 70 million
by 2050, with nearly one person out of three being over 60 years.