Cablegate: Ankara Media Reaction Report
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SUBJECT: ANKARA MEDIA REACTION REPORT
WEDNESDAY, MAY 14, 2008
In Today's Papers
Queen Elizabeth II Visits Turkey
All news outlets report on Tuesday, President Abdullah Gul formally
welcomed Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom at Cankaya
Presidential Palace. During the banquet held in her honor, Queen
Elizabeth II underscored the UK-Turkey strategic partnership and
delivered supportive messages for Turkey's EU drive. In her speech,
Elizabeth II praised Turkey as "a bridge between the East and the
West," for taking important forward steps for peace. President Gul
said ties between Turkey and Britain have shaped developments in
Europe for many centuries. Following Prince Charles' visit to
Turkey in November, the visit of the Queen indicates Turkey's
increasingly important role in British politics, comment several
On Wednesday, the Queen will visit historic sites in Bursa, the
second capital of the Ottoman Empire. On Thursday, they will fly to
Istanbul where they will visit a school and the Museum of Modern
Arts before hosting a reception aboard the British aircraft carrier
HMS Illustrious. The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh leave Turkey
Party Leaders Argue Over the EU
Bugun, Star, Posta, Hurriyet, Milliyet, Sabah, Vatan: Papers report
Prime Minister Erdogan defended EU membership to his party group.
Erdogan said, "Turkey cannot remain indifferent to the criticism of
the EU." He criticized the main opposition party CHP when he said,
"the recent remarks from CHP officials show again that they are not
capable of correctly reading conditions in the world and Turkey."
Erdogan noted that "saying the EU is against secularism does not
comply with reason." CHP leader Deniz Baykal criticized EU
officials' remarks regarding his party and said that "The EU should
not regard Turkey as a tribe which can be guided." Speaking at his
party group meeting, MHP leader Devlet Bahceli referred to EU
officials as "The Inspectors of Brussels" and stated that the
remarks from EU officials make the tense atmosphere even tenser.
Bahceli added that "The EU is serving the AKP like a political
lightning rod since the AKP meets all of its demands."
DTP Group Chairman Ahmet Turk Speaks About Repentance Law
Sabah, Milliyet, Vatan, Star, Radikal, Yeni Safak: Speaking at DTP
parliamentary group meeting, DTP group chairman Ahmet Turk said,
"Whenever clashes intensify, the prime minister urges PKK members to
benefit from the repentance law. The state has been waiting for the
PKK to surrender for 20 years. Who would return to Turkey while the
inside of the house is in this current state? Besides, the problem
is not the return of a few people or the declaration of an amnesty.
If you do not shape up the inside of your house and solve the
Kurdish problem, one PKK goes and another PKK comes. 28 rebellions
have emerged from within this house." Turk added, "I extend
condolences to the families of our children who had lost their lives
in the clashes. The prime minister, who does not respond to calls
of peace, carries political responsibility."
11 PKK Militants Killed in Hakkari
Hurriyet, Sabah, Radikal, Taraf, Cumhuriyet, Zaman and others report
security forces killed 11 PKK militants while pursuing those who
attacked a gendarme outpost in Aktutun village in Hakkari and killed
six soldiers last week. Radio communication among the PKK members
indicated the bodies of some of their slain members were thrown into
the River Herki along the border with northern Iraq.
Editorial Commentary on the PKK
"PKK Is Both Attacking and Dissolving"
Ali Bayramoglu commented in Islamist-oriented Yeni Safak (5/14):
"When PKK terrorist incidents began to erupt again three years ago,
Prime Minister Erdogan emphasized expanded democracy and welfare
programs in order to solve the Kurdish issue. Even though he talked
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about facing the realities and the mistakes of the past, he stressed
the importance of the rule of law and democracy. However, his words
did not exactly translate into deeds. Instead, the AKP government
gradually hardened its stance, and in the end the party even
resorted to military-like language when referring to the PKK issue.
There are two clear steps to proceed against the PKK issue:
Rapprochement with northern Iraqi Kurds and forcing the PKK to give
up violence. In addition, the PKK must be convinced to disarm, take
advantage of amnesty, and return to the realities of home. In
other words, a new political and social climate must be established
in order to normalize the Kurdish problem. Treating the Kurdish
problem as a security problem will neither end terror nor end the
martyring of our soldiers. This was the reality before and it
remains the reality today."
"The Post-Operation Debrief"
Ertugrul Ozkok wrote in mainstream Hurriyet (5/14): "There are some
important details about Turkey's operations in northern Iraq against
the PKK. In the recent operations, Turkey worked in coordination
with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and Iran. The U.S. has
cooperated well with Turkish armed forces through continuous
intelligence. Since this cooperation began, the PKK has started to
dissolve. Now, PKK members are moving deeper into northern Iraq.
The most important question is what happened to their weapons when
the abandoned their posts? According to my credible sources, the
PKK passed through check points established by KRG President
Barzani's Peshmerge forces, which means they either were asked to
surrender weapons at check points or the weapons were taken to
depots. The bottom line is this is the first ever international
cooperation against the PKK. This cooperation worked; the PKK been
dealt a serious blow. Yet, the Kurdish problem is still unresolved.
The solution process must also seek to win hearts and minds."
Turkish Translator Missing in Iraq
Hurriyet, Milliyet, Sabah, Radikal, Cumhuriyet, Zaman and others
report Mustafa Mert, a Turkish translator working at a
Turkish-American construction company in Mosul, is missing. Mert's
wife said she has not heard from her husband since April 14 when he
went to Mosul. The company Mert worked for called Mert's family to
say he had been arrested because he was sought by the FBI for a
crime committed in the U.S. Leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet reports
Mert's friends said he was "in the hands of the Peshmerge."
Women's NGOs Protest Penalty Reductions for Male Assailants
Liberal Radikal reports Mor Cati and KADER, two NGOs who work for
women's rights in Turkey, protested outside a courthouse in Istanbul
against reductions in penalties in the Turkish Penal Code for men
who kill women. The 'unjustifiable provocation' article in the
penal code reduces the prison terms for male assailants in cases of
homicide against women. Radikal cites an example that in 2005,
32-year old Nermin Ardic said on television she was raped by her
father. After this, Ardic was killed by her father; a court,
however, reduced the father's sentence from life in prison to 15
years in prison.
- Turkey's top administrative court The Council of State (Danistay)
will begin the process of electing its new chair on May 20.
Danistay chairperson Sumru Cortoglu retired on Tuesday under the age
- Muhittin Eryilmaz, a retired imam who called for an end to the
Turkish ground offensive into northern Iraq at a DTP-held
demonstration in Diyarbakir in February, was sentenced to two and a
half years in prison on charges of "making propaganda" for an
outlawed armed organization.
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- Turkish Union of Chambers (TOBB) president Rifat Hisarciklioglu
said growth below 7 percent should be considered a failure for
- Iranian President Ahmadinejad announced Tuesday Tehran will exert
efforts this week to resolve the dispute with Western countries over
its nuclear program.
- The charity group Save the Children said Tuesday at least 40
percent of those killed in Myanmar's cyclone were children and
hundreds more have lost their parents.
- The official death toll in the Chinese earthquake climbed past
12,000, and more than 18,000 are still buried in the debris of