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Cablegate: Ankara Media Reaction Report

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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 ANKARA 000975

SIPDIS

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
THURSDAY, MAY 22, 2008

In Today's Papers

Court of Appeals Releases Declaration Regarding Closure
Case
All news outlets report the Court of Appeals (Yargitay)
officially denounced negative reactions to the closure case
against the ruling AKP. The Court saw this behavior "as an
indication of the reluctance to accept the independence of
the judiciary." The statement emphasized what it views as
"systematic assaults" that target the judiciary. In
addition, the Court underscored its view that attempts to
harm the basic principles of the republic had intensified
recently, and "attempts to change the constitution are in
line with the demands of a certain political ideology,"
which "caused serious tension." The declaration also
called Chief Prosecutor Abdurrahman Yalcinkaya's
indictment, which charges the AKP with anti-secular
activities, an "institutional document."

Mainstream Hurriyet says the declaration was released "To
respond to the domestic and international accusations
targeting the judiciary." Mainstream Vatan says on its
front page, "The Declaration Told The Government It Cannot
Do Whatever It Wants."
Leftist Taraf calls the declaration a "coup attempt"
against a civic administration. The pro-government Sabah
writes, "The declaration resembles the April 27 e-
memorandum released by the military General Staff (TGS)
during the process of selecting a new president."
Islamist-oriented Yeni Safak reports, "The Court of Appeals
was pressuring the Constitutional Court to close down the
AKP." A commentary in mainstream Vatan reports, "The
declaration was triggered when the government submitted its
judicial reform draft to EU Commissioner Olli Rehn without
first consulting the Turkish judiciary."

Editorial Commentary on the 'Yargitay' Statement

"The Judiciary and Politics"
Taha Akyol observed in mainstream Milliyet (5/22): "The
Court of Appeals (Yargitay) Presidents' Committee issued a
very harsh statement that actually defends the indictment
against the AKP. I agree with only one section of
yesterday's Yargitay statement. The draft law on judicial
reforms should be discussed with our own judicial
institutions before it is presented to EU Enlargement
Commissioner Olli Rehn. Nevertheless, the committee should
remember the principles which establish the Judiciary's
nonpartisanship. In democracies, there should be no
judicial oligarchy. Both the government and the judiciary
should avoid politicizing such issues."

European Parliament Ratifies Its Report on Turkey's EU
Reform Process
All papers report on Wednesday, the European Parliament
approved its report on Turkey, which was drafted by Dutch
Rapporteur Ria Oomen-Ruijten. The non-binding report
addresses 28 issues, including the May Day events, article
301, the closure case against the AKP, and the Ergenekon
investigation. The report criticizes the police's
disproportional use of force during May Day celebrations in
Istanbul. In addition, the report calls the changes to
Article 301 of Turkish Penal Code "insufficient," and urges
the Turkish Parliament to revise the article and also
"remove all other restrictive provisions in the penal
code." The report also expresses concern about the
potential consequences if the AKP is closed, and calls for
the Constitutional Court to act in accordance with the
Venice Commission guidelines and European standards on the
prohibition of political parties. It also urges the pro-

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Kurdish DTP to "distance themselves from violence and
terrorist organizations." While encouraging Turkish
authorities to "resolutely pursue investigations into the
Ergenekon affair," the report also advises Turkey to "fully
uncover the Ergenekon networks that reach into state
structures, and to bring those involved to justice." The
report welcomes the recent adoption by the Turkish
Parliament of the law on non-Muslim minority foundations
and says, "The European Commission should analyze whether
the law addresses all shortcomings faced by non-Muslim
religious communities with regard to property management
and acquisition, including expropriated property sold to
third parties." Finally, the report recommends action
regarding Cyprus, noting, "A withdrawal of Turkish forces
would facilitate the negotiation of a settlement."

Mainstream Milliyet finds the report "balanced," saying
that unlike earlier reports, this time the European
Parliament draws a "complete and clear picture of Turkey."
Islamist-oriented Yeni Safak carries the headline, "EP
Report Urges Turkey to Combat Ergenekon Network." Leftist-
nationalist Cumhuriyet carries the headline, "The EU, Once
Again, Intervenes and Criticizes The Closure Case Against
AKP," but notes, "The report criticizes police for using
disproportional force against demonstrators on May 1st."
Mainstream Hurriyet writes in, "Three Calls To Turkey,"
that the report "expresses anxiety concerning the AKP
closure case and calls the amendments to article 301
insufficient." Mainstream Sabah writes, "The report wants
Turkey to pursue reforms in human rights and democracy,"
while "The events of May 1st were also highlighted."
Mainstream Vatan calls the report's suggestions "Three
Important Warnings From the European Parliament to Turkey,"
and notes, "The secular government and the constitutional
court were called on to show the highest respect for the
law," and in reference to the May 1st events, "Civil rights
must be protected." Leftist Taraf writes, "From the
European Parliament Comes Both Praise and Criticism," as
"The report was approved by a wide margin of votes," and
"the DTP was called on to place distance between itself and
the PKK."

Turkey Mediates Israel-Syria Peace Talks in Istanbul
All papers report Israel and Syria announced yesterday the
beginning of indirect peace talks under Turkey's mediation
in Istanbul. Turkish Foreign Ministry (MFA) Deputy
Undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioglu and Turkish PM's Chief
Advisor Ahmet Davutoglu joined the talks between the
delegations led by Israeli government advisors Yoram
Turbovitz and Shalom Turjeman and Syrian Foreign Ministry
advisor Riyad Davudi. Mainstream Hurriyet writes in
"Middle East's Eye is on Istanbul," that "Israel and Syria
announced indirect negotiations have started under Turkey's
auspices," adding "parties were discussing possibilities
for the return of Golan Heights to Damascus in exchange for
a lasting peace settlement." Hurriyet also writes, "Israel
and Syria took Ankara's suggestion for peace talks after
eight years," and "the delegations will stay in three
separate hotels," and "will not meet each other one-on-one
without the Turkish delegation." Leftist-nationalist
Cumhuriyet reports in, "Turkey is the Official Mediator"
that "the peace talks are at a preliminary stage to see if
the ground is solid enough to continue. Both sides agreed
to continue the dialogue within the framework of the Madrid
Conference principles." Liberal Radikal writes in "Turkey
is the Bridge Between Israel and Syria," that "officials
from both sides will come to Istanbul regularly to continue
indirect negotiations." In "The World Praises Ankara,"
mainstream Milliyet notes leaders from the U.S., the EU,
and the UN thanked Turkey for their efforts and called the

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efforts, "useful." Leftist Taraf writes, "Istanbul Hosts
Israeli-Syrian Peace," and "Israel and Syria thanked Prime
Minister Erdogan for his efforts."

Yeni Safak reports the U.S. State Department "praised
Turkey's role" and stressed the U.S. had "no role" in this
process. Leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet reports that the
U.S. praised Turkey for its mediation in talks between
Israel and Syria. Mainstream Milliyet notes David Welch,
A/S Bureau of Middle East Affairs said "I think Turkey
played a good and useful role in this regard." The paper
also quotes White House Spokesperson Dana Perino saying
that "the U.S. did not participate in the talks and it was
Israel's decision." U.S. Embassy Spokesman Kathy Schalow
said that the U.S. appreciates Turkey's continued efforts
to play constructive role in the region.

Editorial Commentary on Syria-Israel Peace Talks

"In the End, Turkey Succeeded"
Erdal Safak commented in mainstream Sabah (5/22): "Peace
talks between Syria and Israel were officially announced
yesterday. Turkey has mediated indirect talks between the
two countries for the last four years. Certainly, Ankara
will not be able to continue mediating between the two
countries on its own. After a certain point, the U.S. will
get involved and take some responsibility. As a matter of
fact, other important actors such as the EU and Russia
should support these talks. Nevertheless, as the only
country trusted by both Israel and Syria, Turkey has earned
a position of strength in the Middle East, a trump card
with the EU, and prestige in the world. If a peace
agreement is reached as a result of talks, then, Turkey's
strength and prestige will reach extraordinary levels."

Northern Iraqi Kurdish Delegation Meets AKP in Ankara
Hurriyet, Milliyet, Cumhuriyet, Radikal, Yeni Safak and
others report that on Tuesday, a delegation from the
Kurdish regional parliament in northern Iraq met with the
ruling AKP deputy chair Dengir Mir Mehmet Firat, Egemen
Bagis, and AKP Diyarbakir MP Ihsan Arslan to discuss ties.
In the Kurdish delegation were Arez Abdullah from the
Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK,) Heme Resit Maweti from
Kurdistan Islamic Union (KIU,) and Hamza Eminoglu from
KIU's Turkey representation. Both sides stressed the
existing problems needed to be resolved through peaceful
ways. The Kurds asked for more Turkish investments in
northern Iraq. Leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet says Kurds
invited the AKP to visit the Kurdish Parliament in northern
Iraq, and AKP accepted.

Editorial Commentary on Iran

"If the US Attacks Iran, What Will Turkey Do?"
Cuneyt Ulsever commented in mainstream Hurriyet (5/22):
"Due to our obsession with the turban controversy and the
AKP closure case, Turkey is unable to see the big danger
that is so close to us. Aside from the U.S. occupation of
Iraq, Iran is the most successful state on the road to
becoming an imperial power in the Middle East. Iran's
Shiites scare Sunnis in Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan.
Lately, not only the U.S., but many western countries,
including the UK, Germany, and France, believe that Iran is
making progress toward its ability to develop nuclear
weapons. Once Iran completes its nuclear program, a new
Middle East will be established and Turkey's position in
the region, and in the world, will decline. Some experts
in the West think that Ahmedinejad will be voted out of

ANKARA 00000975 004 OF 004


office in 2009. The nationalists may come to power and for
this reason the administration in Iran may want the U.S. or
Israel to attack Iran in order to legitimize Ahmedinejad's
stance against the West. During all these developments,
suppose the Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan faces the
question, 'Strategic partner, we have decided to attack
Iran, are you with us or not?' What would his answer be?"

TV Highlights
NTV

Domestic News

- Following a dysentery outbreak in the province of Aksaray
last week, on Wednesday dysentery cases were reported also
in Adana province. The Health Ministry stated there was no
typhoid, dysentery or cholera epidemic in Aksaray.

- The Istanbul Governor's Office said the Selah shipyard in
Tuzla will be shut down due to recent fatal work accidents.

- The Competition Board said there was no need for an
investigation regarding the state-owned bank loans granted
to the Calik Group in the acquisition of Sabah-ATV media
group.

International News

- Turkish and Greek Cypriot representatives met Wednesday
to review working groups' progress in an attempt to pave
the way for talks to reunify the divided island.

- Lebanon will hold presidential elections on May 25.

- Garbage is used to produce energy to power 2,500 homes in
Southern California.


WILSON

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