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Cablegate: Ankara Media Reaction Report

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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 ANKARA 001023

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
MONDAY, JUNE 2, 2008

In Today's Papers

AKP-CHP 'Wiretapping' Dispute Continues
All news outlets continued coverage of main opposition CHP's claims
that the ruling AKP bugged CHP Headquarters and gave the recordings
to the Islamist daily Vakit, which published, almost verbatim, a
conversation between the party Secretary General Onder Sav and a
former governor. Vakit said their correspondent called Sav on May
23rd, and Sav mistakenly hit the button to accept the call and
failed to hang up. Meanwhile, Sav was meeting with a former
governor to discuss CHP political strategy. On Friday, official
records obtained from the 'Telecommunications Board' supported the
Vakit correspondent's account that Sav's cell phone had indeed been
connected to a telephone at Vakit's offices for more than 40
minutes. Prime Minister Erdogan said Friday evening the new
information illustrated the "CHP's intention to destroy the positive
atmosphere in the country." Erdogan said the AKP would make sure
that the CHP answers for its baseless accusations at court. Erdogan
stressed the CHP should apologize for "trying to change the agenda"
by casting shadows over a new plan launched last week by the
government for enhancing the development of southeast Turkey. Last
week, the CHP charged that the AKP was "forming gangs within the
police force to create its own deep state." Both the CHP and the
AKP have taken the case to court, with the AKP asking for CHP to pay
50,000 Yeni Turkish Lira (YTL) in damages.

Islamist-oriented dailies Yeni Safak and Zaman wrote Sunday the
documents obtained from Telecommunications Board showed how
"ridiculous" CHP's allegations were. Several columnists in Islamist
and mainstream papers called on Sav to resign. Sunday papers
reported CHP as saying the document provided by Telecommunications
Board was "not reliable," and that they were waiting for documents
from the GSM operator 'Turkcell.' Monday's mainstream Milliyet says
the CHP should not have hurried to blame the government when the
transcripts of the meeting between Sav and a former governor
appeared in Vakit daily. Media outlets close to the government will
now manipulate the scandal to silence free press in Turkey, Milliyet
says.

Meanwhile, Sunday's mainstream Vatan reports a court in Ankara on
April 25, 2007 authorized the police, the intelligence service
(MIT), and the gendarme to monitor all telephone, SMS, e-mail and
Internet communications in Turkey. Sunday's mainstream Milliyet
says the police were authorized only to monitor communications in
Turkey without tapping the conversations, with an aim to facilitate
the fight against terror. In "Police, MIT and the Gendarme Monitor
All Communications in Turkey, Including Phone, SMS, E-mail and Fax,"
leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet says Turkey has been "bugged from
three separate channels." Mainstream Sabah writes in Turkey, some
"50,000 phones are tapped by the police."


Erdogan Holds 'Consultative Meetings' with Party MPs
All papers report Prime Minister Erdogan told a "consultative
meeting" of his ruling AKP cabinet ministers and lawmakers in
Kizilcahamam resort near Ankara that the longer the closure case
against the AKP continued, the more likely the Turkish economy will
be affected negatively. "The closure case should end as soon as
possible so that Turkey does not suffer economic problems,"
emphasized Erdogan, adding "Global investors will be reluctant to
invest in an unstable Turkey." He also added "incompetent people"
were fighting to preserve the 40-year old "unfair regime." Papers
report lawmakers from the mainly Kurdish southeast urged the PM to
implement the "Southeast Action Plan" at once and declare the
southeast as "disaster region" in the face of the severe drought
seen this year.

US Places the PKK on 'Narcotics Kingpin List'
Hurriyet, Milliyet, Sabah, Radikal, Taraf, Cumhuriyet, Zaman and
others reported Sunday the United States imposed further sanctions

ANKARA 00001023 002 OF 003


on the PKK to cut off its funding channels under an anti-drug
smuggling law. Under the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act,
the PKK will be denied access to the US financial system and all
trade transactions involving US companies and individuals, papers
cite a White House statement released Friday. "Now that the PKK has
been designated under the kingpin act, the penalties for doing
business with them are much higher," said Gordon Johndroe, a
spokesman for the National Security Council (NSC). Four
individuals, including Turkish national Cumhur Yakut, were also
added to the list. Yakut, son-in-law of former parliamentarian
Mustafa Bayram, has been sought by the Turkish police since 2000
under arrest warrants issued by courts in Diyarbakir, Istanbul and
Van. Yakut's whereabouts are not known but media reports say he is
hiding on the Arab Peninsula.

A Sunday column in mainstream Vatan on Sunday writes, "Over the past
three or four years, Washington has exerted intensive pressure on
the European countries to cut off the PKK's financial resources.
With the latest implementation, it will not be surprising for the
American Administration to step up anti-PKK pressures at the EU.
This means that the PKK, which is largely financed in Europe, will
face much more difficult days."

Peace Assembly Rally in Istanbul
Sabah, Milliyet, Vatan, Zaman, Cumhuriyet, Radikal: Papers report
that around 20,000 people attended a rally in Istanbul to call for a
democratic solution to the Kurdish problem. The rally was organized
by Turkey Peace Assembly. Mainstream Milliyet reports that many DTP
deputies, including Ahmet Turk, Hasip Kaplan, Sebahat Tuncel, Aysel
Tugluk, Akin Birdal, also attended the rally. Security Forces
stopped ROJ TV's live broadcasting through a rented vehicle from the
rally area, Milliyet notes.

Ankara University Rowing Team Attacked in Sapanca
Weekend papers, today's Sabah, Milliyet, Radikal, Cumhuriyet and
others: Weekend papers reported that during Turkey Rowing
Championship in Sapanca town of Sakarya, the Ankara University
Rowing Team was attacked and beaten by 25 people. Reportedly, the
attackers cursed the team members for wearing shorts. Ankara
University Water Sports training center head Prof. Yilmaz Akca said
"I withdrew the full rowing team from the competition because of
their injuries. We've been preparing for the championship for the
last six months. This unfortunate incident prevented us from
competing for the championship."

Metropoll Conducts Poll on AKP Closure Case
Islamist-oriented Yeni Safak reports that a poll conducted by
Metropoll Company showed that closure of the AKP will not change
people's political preferences and that 48.8% of those polled will
continue supporting Tayip Erdogan even if the party was closed. The
same poll showed that 65.9% of CHP supporters were against CHP
leader Baykal's re-election.

Editorial Commentary on Iraq; US Elections

"Is There A Happy Ending For Iraq?"
Hakan Albayrak wrote in Islamist-leaning Yeni Safak (6/2): "In
order to ensure a hopeful future for Iraq, the Baghdad
administration must send all occupation forces out of Iraq
immediately. If Shiites and Sunnis can unify on this matter, even
the US will not be able to object. Given the recent stories from
Iraq, we may be seeing this happen. The US is currently working to
expand its military presence through a long-term strategic agreement
with Iraq. Fortunately, Sunni resistance groups have joined Iraqi
Shiites who oppose the presence of occupation troops. The prominent
leaders of both groups clearly state they will not recognize any
agreement which may violate Iraq's sovereignty. It seems very
difficult for the Iraqi government to allow American bases in their
country under such immense opposition. Prime Minister Maliki also
confirms that Iraqi groups are getting closer and closer to each

ANKARA 00001023 003 OF 003


other every day. By looking at the overall developments, there are
good reasons to be optimistic about Iraq's future and the withdrawal
of all occupation forces."

"Obama-mania and Ankara"
Omer Taspinar wrote in mainstream Sabah (6/2): "American university
youth are wrapped up in Obama-mania as they are excited about Barack
Obama's promises of change. Obama-mania is also the reason for the
American youth's interest in elections. Hillary Clinton, compared
to Obama's campaign, is falling behind in the race. I think the
real defeat will hit John McCain in the upcoming elections since he
does not comprehend the social desire for change. The more Obama
represents change, the more McCain represents the continuation of
the current administration. Interestingly enough, the ruling AKP
favors John McCain, most likely due to his Iraq policy. Just like
McCain, Ankara does not want the US to withdraw from Iraq
immediately. Ankara worries about a civil war between Shiites and
Sunnis, along with the possibility of Iraqi Kurds fighting for
independence. However Ankara has to realize that Obama also does
not want an immediate withdrawal from Iraq. He repeatedly assures
American people by saying 'we will not repeat the mistakes we made
when we invaded Iraq when we withdraw from Iraq.' It will be very
unfortunate if Ankara continues to favor McCain. Instead of
focusing on Iraq, Ankara had better think about McCain's policy on
attacking Iran."

TV News:
CNN Turk

Domestic News

- Transportation Minister Binali Yildirim announced June 12 as the
new date to launch a new generation communication satellite, Turksat
3A, from French Guiana, which is located on the northeastern coast
of South America. The launching of Turksat 3A was postponed on
Friday due to a problem in its launching software.

- Foreign Minister Ali Babacan will visit the US from June 3-9 to
meet Vice President Cheney, Secretary Rice and the secretaries of
Treasury and Energy.

- President Abdullah Gul will pay an official visit to Japan from
June 3-8. Gul's 'historic' visit to Japan will be Turkey's first
presidential visit to Japan since 1924, when the two countries first
established diplomatic relations.

International News

- Israel disclosed plans on Sunday to build around 900 new homes for
Jews in the disputed east Jerusalem.

- Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert delayed a key cabinet decision
on an Egypt-mediated truce with Hamas in and around the Gaza Strip.


- The death toll from China's earthquake on May 12 has increased to
70,000.

WILSON

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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