Cablegate: Ankara Media Reaction Report
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SUBJECT: ANKARA MEDIA REACTION REPORT
WEDNESDAY, MAY 21, 2008
In Today's Papers
Austrian President Fischer: "The AKP Closure Case Puzzles Europe"
All papers report President Heinz Fischer of Austria, during a state
visit to Turkey, told a joint news conference with his Turkish
counterpart Abdullah Gul, "Europe has been astounded by the closure
case against the ruling AKP." Fischer added a similar court case
would not have been filed in Austria. "I don't want to meddle in
Turkey's internal affairs. We will respect the ruling of the court
because there is no other choice," Fischer said. On a question
regarding the parallels between the lawsuit for banning the AKP and
the fate of the Austrian far right leader Jorg Haider, Fischer said
that the two cases were not similar because there was no lawsuit for
ousting Haider from politics. He noted it would be difficult to
predict whether or not Turkey's accession talks would be suspended
if the AKP was closed.
President Abdullah Gul said Turkey would become a country that
"fulfilled reforms and upgraded its standards to the EU level." Gul
emphasized Turkey was the sixth biggest economy in Europe with
"great investment opportunities." In addition Gul noted, "Turkey,
linking east and south energy corridors to Europe, would ensure the
energy safety of Europe."
Kilic: "AKP Closure Case Result will Strengthen Turkish Democracy,
All papers report Constitutional Court President Hasim Kilic told
economic daily Referans Tuesday whatever decision the court makes
regarding the lawsuit on closing down the ruling AKP might be,
"Turkey's secularism and democracy" would be "strengthened." Kilic
also said he would set a date to take up the opposition CHP and DSP
application to annul the headscarf reforms.
Editorial Commentary on AKP Closure Case
"The Decision Has Already Been Given"
Okay Gonensin wrote in mainstream Vatan (5/21): "During an
interview with Referans newspaper, Constitutional Court President
Hasim Kilic repeated himself three times saying, 'No matter what the
court decision might be regarding the AKP's closure, you will see
that not only our democracy, but our secularist foundations and our
judiciary will emerge stronger from this. Believe me this is not a
wish...' The last sentence shows that Kilic has his own leaning. I
wonder if this leaning could be toward the third solution that is
circulating in speculations in Ankara lately. We hope that Kilic's
desire for a solution will lead the court to speed up its work and
reach a decision. Today's ambiguity creates a worse atmosphere than
any court decision. In short, no matter what the court decision
might be, a new era will start in Turkey. It will be very good if
the new era starts as soon as possible."
"Closure of the AKP"
Ergun Babahan commented in mainstream Sabah (5/21): "Constitutional
Court President Hasim Kilic's remarks to Referans newspaper are very
interesting. Those words seem to be parallel to the words of
Parliamentary Speaker Koksal Toptan, who is lobbying for a third
solution for the AKP closure case. Europe's pressure on this issue
continues while Turkey is trying to find a solution internally. In
Ankara, more and more people realize the sensitivity of the
situation. Hasim Kilic's remarks can ease the tension among the
secularists and also ease the concerns of the people who believe
that the judiciary will be used as a tool of politics. Turkey has
to find a way to keep its secular democracy alive without pressuring
the judiciary. The Constitutional Court is going through a very
stressful time and it is under pressure. If the court manages to
reach a decision that pleases everyone, it will successfully pass a
very important test."
Baykal, Bahceli Criticize AKP at Party Group Meetings
Hurriyet, Milliyet, Sabah, Radikal, Cumhuriyet, Yeni Safak and
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others report CHP leader Deniz Baykal addressed his party group
meeting yesterday and accused the ruling AKP government of pursuing
an "election economy" strategy. Baykal stated the CHP would call an
agriculture convention in the southeastern city of Sanliurfa on June
4th to introduce solutions for this summer's impending drought.
Following the convention, the CHP will visit the mainly Kurdish city
of Diyarbakir to listen to the problems of local people, Baykal
During an address to his party group meeting in the parliament, MHP
leader Devlet Bahceli said the closure case filed against the AKP
"weakened the management of a government that is already
mishandled." In addition, he noted, "Prime Minister Erdogan is
rapidly losing his cool because of the closure case and the
possibility he will be tried in court." He stressed the AKP was
dragging Turkey into "a dictatorship of fear," and "a totalitarian
structure in which the private lives of its citizens were
monitored." He added, "Our democracy is no longer able to protect
its people. Turkish democracy is about to become a system that
closely scrutinizes its citizens and fuels suspicions about them."
Kurds Place Ad in International Herald Tribune
Hurriyet, Sabah, Radikal, Taraf, Cumhuriyet, Zaman and others report
1,000 people, including the pro-Kurdish DTP lawmakers, mayors,
writers and intellectuals, placed a full page advertisement in The
International Herald Tribune calling for a peaceful resolution to
the Kurdish question in Turkey. The ad notes the use of Kurdish in
Turkish government offices is still a crime. The intellectuals
demand the Kurdish identity be recognized in the Turkish
Constitution, and request Kurdish education rights at all levels.
They also call on Turkey to declare a general amnesty for PKK to
return home. They also stress the PKK should lay down arms.
Figures such as Bernard Kouchner, Tony Blair, Martti Ahtisaari and
Felipe Gonzales were requested to serve as "international
arbitrators" who could work toward a resolution to the problem.
Workers to Strike to Protest Shipyard Deaths in Tuzla
Milliyet, Sabah, Vatan, Radikal, Taraf, Cumhuriyet, Zaman and others
report labor unions and civic organizations call on the government
to take swift action in regulating the shipbuilding industry
following the tragic deaths of two workers at Istanbul's Tuzla
shipyards last week. Shipyard workers will go on strike on June 16.
Mainstream Hurriyet reports a ship owner in Tuzla said the deaths of
workers at the shipyard should be investigated as "criminal cases,
not accidents." Islamist-oriented Zaman writes, "Accidents are
inevitable if shipyards continue employing unqualified workers." A
front page headline in liberal Radikal says "Dead Workers Blamed for
Fatal Accidents in Tuzla," and quotes the business owners as saying
that accidents as well as negligence that lead to accidents were
"inevitable." Leftist Taraf writes, "The opposition denounces the
deadly accidents in Tuzla, while the government keeps silent."
Mainstream Milliyet reports the Maritime Under secretariat has
prepared a package of "emergency measures" for enhancing work safety
at the shipyards.
Turkey's shipbuilding industry is the world's fourth largest after
Japan, South Korea and China. Since 1983, 74 workers have died from
work-related accidents when shipyards began operating in Tuzla
neighborhood in Istanbul. The number of accidents has increased
over the years. In 2002, 73 deaths were reported; in the past year,
227 people died on the job in Tuzla shipyards.
- Turkish and Greek Cyprus leaders Talat and Christofias decided to
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meet May 23 to review preparations for the peace negotiations that
will commence in June.
- Top representatives of the Turkish judiciary will meet in the
Mediterranean city of Antalya on Wednesday to discuss the judicial
reform strategy draft submitted earlier this month to the EU.
- On Tuesday, 17 people were fined in Istanbul's Sisli neighborhood
for violating smoking bans.
- The European Parliament will vote on the "Turkey Progress Report"
on Wednesday. The non-binding report calls on Turkey to speed up
- Iranian authorities have blocked access to several websites and
blogs belonging to women's rights activists and journalists who are
critical of the government.
- President Bush apologized to the Iraqi people after the Koran
shooting incident by an American soldier near Baghdad, Prime
Minister al-Maliki's office said on Tuesday.