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Cablegate: Ankara Media Reaction Report

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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
TUESDAY, JUNE 10, 2008


In Today's Papers

AKP's Iyimaya: Parliament Should Suspend Constitutional Court
Ruling
All papers report AKP member Ahmet Iyimaya, head of parliament's
justice committee, has proposed suspending the Constitutional
Court's headscarf ruling, saying the court "overstepped its
authority and violated the constitution." In "AKP Seeking Ways to
Stop the Constitutional Court," liberal Radikal reports Iyimaya has
offered to pass constitutional reforms which would empower the
parliament to suspend the rulings of the Constitutional Court. In a
written statement he released Monday, Iyimaya said the decision of
the Constitutional Court on the headscarf reforms was an indication
of a "Constitutional Court crisis" in Turkey. He accused the Court
of undermining the legislative powers of the parliament. According
to Iyimaya's proposal, once a Constitutional Court decision is
annulled by the parliament, the Court will not be able to reconsider
the issue for five years.

Opposition CHP deputy group chief Hakki Suha Okay responded to the
proposal by saying the AKP was trying to "seize the control of the
judiciary," adding sarcastically that the AKP should have proposed
the abolishment of the Constitutional Court as well. Opposition MHP
deputy chair Mehmet Ekici warned, "The proposal may pave the way for
giving parliament the power to control judicial decisions."
Pro-Kurdish DTP lawmaker Hasip Kaplan said Turkey needed a new
constitution that included judicial reforms.

Prime Minister Erdogan is expected to break his five-day silence at
his party group meeting in parliament today. Erdogan has not spoken
publicly since last week's Constitutional Court decision regarding
headscarf reforms. Erdogan is expected to unveil his new strategy
in today's AKP party meeting. Papers speculate Erdogan will wait
for the outcome of the closure case, propose early elections, or opt
for constitutional reforms. Papers expect Erdogan to stress today
that the court ruling targets not only the AKP, but the entire
parliament, and that the problem should be resolved in the
parliament. Leftist Taraf comments Erdogan was not likely to give
up his "exaggerated optimism" that the AKP would not be closed. A
column in mainstream Vatan says Erdogan could respond strongly to
the closure case in his address to the AKP group today, but was not
likely to "openly confront the regime."


EDITORIAL OPINION: The Constitutional Court Decision Aftermath

"On The Subject Of Ignoring This..."
Erdal Safak wrote in mainstream Sabah (6/10): "In democracies,
sovereignty solely belongs to the people. In Turkey, this
fundamental right was taken from the people by military coups in
1960 and 1980, respectively. Some legal experts today argue that
the Constitutional Court's decision regarding turban resembles such
previous interventions. During last year's presidential elections,
the Constitutional Court became a controversial institution due to
its politically motivated decision to require a quorum. Since then,
the Court's status, as well as the system of checks and balances, is
up for debate. The recent proposal by a ruling AKP lawmaker brings
a new dimension to the current debate. His offer includes a
constitutional amendment to suspend the Court's decision. AKP
members believe that, given the current situation, the political
system should enhance parliament's legislative and representative
functions. However, suspending the Court's decision will be an
intervention against the judiciary, and this will further damage the
system of checks and balances. It seems the debates will never come
to an end until a comprehensive constitutional change is achieved
through a vast consensus. We have to resolve this debate as quickly
as possible within the confines of a legitimate and a
consensus-seeking process."

"The Main Court of Suspicions"

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Tamer Korkmaz wrote in Islamist leaning Yeni Safak (6/10): "It is
obvious that the Constitutional Court has violated more than one
article of the Constitution, and by annulling the parliament's
decision it has exceeded its mandate. Given the current approach,
the Court from now on is capable of taking over parliament's role
because every amendment can be reviewed by the Constitutional Court.
In practice, this can be called a judicial coup and nothing else.
It is not about the supremacy of law; it is all about undertaking a
coup by violating the law. The supporters of the status quo are no
longer capable of arranging a military coup, and therefore they have
intensified their efforts to block a civilian constitutional review
process. When CHP leader Baykal warned against changing the
constitution with the argument that the time and climate is not
right, he in fact was expressing the status quo's opinion. A
civilian constitution is what Turkey needs and it is going to happen
regardless of efforts to the contrary."

Toptan: Senate Could Filter Referrals to Constitutional Court
All papers report Parliament Speaker Koksal Toptan said Monday he
did not understand why he was being "punched from the left to the
right" for suggesting a bi-chamber parliament in order to prevent
future political crises caused by high court decisions. Toptan said
the Constitutional Court's workload was excessive. "I think the
fewer conflicts referred to them, the better it would be. I'm
merely suggesting minimizing the necessity of taking issues to the
court. The senate could be a filter on the path leading to the
Constitutional Court."

Over the weekend, Toptan suggested Turkey discuss drafting a new
constitution and adding a senate chamber to Parliament. He also
said he planned to bring together all political party leaders to
discuss the Constitutional Court decision on turban reforms.

Cicek: Senate Not on Our Agenda
All papers report government spokesman Cemil Cicek said
Parliamentary Speaker Koksal Toptan's proposal to create a senate
was not on the government's agenda at the moment. According to
Cicek, "The government expected the parliament speaker to criticize
the judiciary's violation of parliamentary authority." Cicek talked
to the press after a cabinet meeting Monday and said, "This is not a
problem for the AKP alone, it is a question of the principle of the
separation of powers," and, "There has been an infringement against
the authority of parliament. Parliament's area of responsibility
has been narrowed." In addition, Cicek noted, "Before we consider a
senate proposal, we first need to address the broader questions
regarding Turkey's democracy." Cicek dismissed the suggestion that
there had been any disagreement with the parliament speaker.

Kurdish Families Are Going to The European Court of Human Rights
Sabah, Zaman, Cumhuriyet: The London-based Kurdish Human Rights
Project (KHRP) will file a complaint with the European Court of
Human Rights regarding the military operations Turkey launched
against the PKK in northern Iraq earlier this year. Reportedly, KHRP
will speak on behalf of Iraqi villagers who claim they lost their
homes during the operations and thus deserve compensation from
Turkey. KHRP director Kerim Yildiz argued that there were civilian
deaths during the Turkish bombardment, which damaged many houses and
demolished and agricultural lands."

Tuzla Workers Preparing for Strike
Sabah, Taraf, Bugun, Star and others: During the funeral of a
worker who died in an accident at Tuzla shipyard on Sunday, labor
unions announced that shipyard workers will strike on June 16 to
protest unsafe working conditions at the shipyard. One union member
said "Almost every day one of us dies at the shipyard. On the 16th
we will say 'Instead of killing us one by one, here we are, kill all
of us together.' This is the first time in the world that workers
are going on strike so they will not have to die." Leftist Taraf
reports that, due to the very slow judicial process, most of the
time families of the victims prefer to take compensation offered by

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the employers (not more than 60 thousand YTL) instead of waiting for
the completion of their court cases.

TV News:
CNN Turk

Domestic News

- President Abdullah Gul will visit Croatia on June 10-12 to meet
President Stjepan Mesic, the Croatian Parliament Speaker and the
Prime Minister.

- A parliamentary delegation from Turkish Cyprus traveled to
Brussels on Monday to attend European Parliament meetings.

- Turk Telekom director Paul Doany said the number of ADSL users in
Turkey was expected to climb to 6 million by the end of the year.

- A gendarme soldier died when he stepped on a PKK-laid land mine in
Semdili town of Hakkari. Also, three PKK members were killed in
clashes with Turkish security forces in the Munzur valley of
Tunceli.

International News

- The second round of indirect peace talks between Israel and Syria
will be held this week in Istanbul.

- Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said Russia welcomes
dialogue between the two sides in Cyprus and will actively support
efforts aimed at its successful completion.

- President Bush is in Slovenia for an EU-US summit on climate
change, trade and foreign policy.

WILSON

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