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Cablegate: Ankara Media Reaction Report

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TAGS: OPRC KMDR TU
SUBJECT: ANKARA MEDIA REACTION REPORT
TUESDAY, MAY 20, 2008

In Today's Papers

Turkey Bans Smoking in Public Places
All papers report a law prohibiting smoking in public places across
Turkey entered into effect Monday. The law prohibits smoking in
government offices, workplaces, shopping malls, schools, sports
arenas, and hospitals. The ban also covers public transport
including taxis and railway, seaway and airway transportation. The
law also bans tobacco advertisements and tobacco sales to people
under the age of 18. The smoking ban in restaurants, cafeterias,
and coffeehouses will go into effect July 19 next year.

Mainstream Milliyet reports today the ban had little effect, saying
some of the police officers responsible for enforcement were smoking
in public buildings. Islamist-oriented Yeni Safak believes the new
smoking ban will succeed, and those who violated the ban were not
aware of the new restrictions. Several papers cite a Guardian story
which says the smoking ban would be a "deep cultural shock" for
Turks.

Turkey Celebrates Youth Day
All news outlets report Youth Day was celebrated throughout Turkey
yesterday. The national holiday commemorates the day Ataturk, the
founder of modern Turkey, landed in Samsun to launch the struggle
for independence. A group of politicians and top level bureaucrats
led by President Abdullah Gul paid respects at the mausoleum of
Ataturk in Ankara. Official ceremonies were held at Turkish
embassies around the world and in Turkish Cyprus as well. Prime
Minister Erdogan did not join the celebrations because of an
eye-related health problem. A column in mainstream Vatan claims
Erdogan, who attended a ceremony in the nearby city of Eskisehir on
Saturday, did not participate in the ceremonies held Monday due to
fears that he might be protested by a crowd gathered to mark a
secular holiday.

Foreign Minister Ali Babacan Will Visit Washington InEarly June
Islamist-oriented Zaman reports Foreign Minister Ali Babacan will
pay an official visit to Washington from June 3-9, and has asked for
appointments with Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice, and the president's national security advisor
Stephen Hadley. Babacan is expected to address a think tank in
Washington before moving on to New York on June 9 to lobby for
Turkey's seat at the UN Security Council during 2009-2010.

Rice and Nechirvan Barzani Meet in Washington
Mainstream Sabah and NTV report Tuesday Secretary Rice met with
visiting Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) Prime Minister Nechirvan
Barzani in Washington. State Department Spokesman Sean McCormack
said Iraq's internal politics and the PKK were discussed in the
meeting, according to Sabah.

Editorial Commentary on AKP Closure Case

"A Formula to Ease Tensions"
Erdal Safak commented in mainstream Sabah (5/20): "Parliamentary
Speaker Koksal Toptan has encouraged the Constitutional Court to
come up with another formula instead of closing the AKP. Actually,
since the beginning of the case, the AKP has received suggestions
from inside Turkey and from abroad. Let me highlight one fact: The
AKP closure case was not opened because the party amended the
constitution to allow the headscarf in universities; the US and the
EU played a major role in bringing the AKP to this point. Armed
with a desire to topple Saddam Huseyin before September 11,
President Bush wrapped up his ambitions in a project called, "The
Greater Middle East Project (GMP)." He wanted to bring democracy to
Islamic geography, from Morocco to Pakistan. When the AKP came to
power in Turkey, it inspired the White House in its efforts toward
its Islamic democracy project. Despite objections by prominent
Turkish officials, US officials continually referred to Turkey as
exhibiting "moderate Islam" and describing Turks as "Muslim

ANKARA 00000958 002 OF 003


Democrats" and Turkey as "the country accommodating both Islam and
democracy." At the end, the GMP initiative failed, but, by then,
Turkey was already labeled as "moderately Islamic." EU officials
also referred to "moderate Islam" and "Turkey as an example for the
Islamic world." Turkey-EU Joint Commission co-Chairman Lagendijk
recently advised Prime Minister Erdogan to drop everything else from
the AKP agenda and pursue reforms to strengthen secularism. I wish
Lagendijk had come up with this advice earlier. Nevertheless, I
agree and support Lagendijk's advice because that is the only
formula to ease tensions in this country."

"Turkey Will Have A Hard Time Explaining The AKP's Closure"
Semih Idiz wrote in mainstream Milliyet (5/19): "The AKP closure
case is followed closely by Western and Arab diplomats. The Western
world expresses their concerns by saying "in a democracy, the people
determine the government by elections." All the ambassadors I
talked to recently believe that this closure case is a "political
decision" and the AKP will be closed in the end. This means if the
AKP is closed, Turkey's democracy will suffer. Moreover, relations
with the EU will be affected and those who oppose Turkey's EU
membership will be emboldened. This situation will result in
increased hostility toward the West. In short, the ban on the AKP
will have a long-term negative impact on Turkey. Meanwhile, Ankara
will dedicate all its energy explaining the closure case to the
world. Unfortunately, these signals indicate that Turkey will have
a hard time explaining this case."

Work Accidents Claim Two More Lives at Tuzla Shipyards
All papers reported over the weekend and today two more fatal work
accidents at Istanbul's Tuzla shipyards. Twenty-one workers have
died at the shipyards since July 2007. The latest victim, Murat
Caliskan, fell 25 meters to his death from a welding platform while
working at night. Mainstream Sabah carries Caliskan's lawyer's
statement regarding the tragedy, "This is Murder, Not An Accident,"
Liberal Radikal blames the authorities for not enforcing safety
measures despite the fact that such simple measures would help
prevent deadly accidents. Labor Minister Faruk Celik said the fatal
incidents were likely to continue: "There are 50 shipyards in an
area that should only have 20 shipyards. If you certify so many
shipyards in such a small area, then these kinds of grave incidents
will continue to occur," he told the press. Main opposition CHP
Leader Deniz Baykal criticized Celik for his remarks and demanded
his resignation. Tuesday papers report shipyard workers will stage
a demonstration to demand tighter safety measures at the shipyards.


TV News:
CNN Turk

Domestic News

- Approximately 6,000 people were admitted to hospitals in the
central Anatolian province of Aksaray since May 13 with symptoms
including diarrhea that developed after drinking contaminated water.


- On Tuesday, the Turkish Parliament will discuss opposition CHP's
censure motion against Prime Minister Erdogan regarding the sale of
Sabah daily and ATV television to Calik Group, a holding group of
companies close to the ruling AKP.

- Austrian President Heinz Fischer came Monday to Ankara as the
official guest of President Abdullah Gul.

International News

- 200 Chinese workers were buried in a mudslide while repairing
roadways damaged by last week's earthquake in Sichuan province.

- On Wednesday, the European Parliament will discuss its "Turkey

ANKARA 00000958 003 OF 003


Report" drafted by reporter Ria Oomen-Ruijten.

- Brown University Professor Arnold Ludwig told a gathering in
Washington Ataturk was the 20th century's most important political
leader.


WILSON

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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