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Cablegate: Ankara Media Reaction Report

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JCS PASS J-5/CDR S. WRIGHT

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OPRC KMDR TU
SUBJECT: ANKARA MEDIA REACTION REPORT
TUESDAY, JUNE 17, 2008

In Today's Papers

AKP Submits Its Defense to the Constitutional Court
All news outlets report the AKP submitted its defense to the
Constitutional Court in connection with the closure case against
Turkey's ruling party on Monday. "The closure case was based on
Google search results, not on law," comments the leftist Taraf while
citing arguments from the AKP defense that the prosecutor used
Google to gather evidence against the party on the Internet. The
AKP defense says the case was "politically motivated," stressing the
efforts of the prosecutor to link the party to violence were
"ridiculous." In addition, the defense contends, "This case is a
result of the chief prosecutor's democratic secularism allergy,
scientism and reservations about Turkey's EU entry." The defense
also blames the prosecutor for "dictating a militant understanding
of secularism as a way of life." It notes, "The six-year
performance of our party proves it is the guarantor of the
democratic, secular and social rule of law." The defense points to
the "psychological manipulation" efforts over the Constitutional
Court through comments made by Prime Minister Erdogan years before
the foundation of the AKP. The AKP is not a continuation of any
political party, and it does not have any hidden agenda, the defense
emphasized. It also underlined President Abdullah Gul was elected
president and had cut ties with the ruling party before the closure
case was filed. Papers report Gul believes efforts to link him to
the closure case are "unconstitutional."

Government spokesman Cemil Cicek told the press yesterday the case
should be finalized without delay because "uncertainty harms
Turkey." Mainstreams Hurriyet and Milliyet as well as liberal
Radikal and Islamist-oriented Zaman carry the same headline, "The
AKP Responds: This is a Google Case." Leftist-nationalist
Cumhuriyet reports "The AKP Attacks Prosecutor in its Defense."

In his indictment, the chief prosecutor has also demanded 71 AKP
members, including President Abdullah Gul who was formerly foreign
minister, former Parliament Speaker Bulent Arinc, and Prime Minister
Erdogan, to be banned from politics for five years.

Israel-Syria Meet in Second Round of Indirect Talks
Hurriyet, Sabah, Radikal, Taraf, Cumhuriyet, Zaman and others report
Syria and Israel completed the second round of their indirect peace
talks, and are now preparing for the third round of talks. Turkish
Foreign Ministry (MFA) said in a press release Monday the parties
reiterated their determination to continue talks on a regular basis.
MFA noted the next round of the Israeli-Syrian talks was also
scheduled, but did not mention a specific date. Papers cite
Ha'aretz quoting an unidentified Israeli official as saying the
sides agreed to two more rounds with Turkish intermediation, but no
dates have been set. Other Israeli officials said French President
Nicolas Sarkozy is attempting to set up a three-way meeting with
Olmert and Assad. "The Israelis are working with French President
Sarkozy to coordinate a meeting between Sarkozy, Olmert, and Esad
during the Mediterranean Summit in Paris July 13th," writes liberal
Radikal and the Islamist-oriented Zaman.

Gendarme Request Authorization for Filing Personal Information
Hurriyet, Sabah, Radikal, Cumhuriyet, Zaman and others report
Gendarme General Command requested changes in some articles of the
draft law on Protection of Personal Data. The draft says, "Personal
information including race, political views, religion and private
life cannot be revealed." During the works of the subcommittee that
operates under the parliamentary Justice Committee on the draft law,
Gendarme General Command sent a letter asking to store personal data
records of suspects to investigate and prevent crime. In its
letter, the gendarme objected to the selection of the seven-member
Personal Data Protection Council by the Council of Ministers which,
according to gendarme, might damage the autonomy of the council as
well cause nepotism and favoritism.


ANKARA 00001121 002 OF 004


"Iran Like A Bird"
Columnist Enis Berberoglu wrote today in mainstream Hurriyet
referring to a conversation between Ambassador Wilson and Energy
Minister Guler. "It was a friendly talk until they began to discuss
Iran. The Ambassador suggested the Minister give up on Iranian
natural gas imports. When Guler asked how Turkey would compensate,
the Ambassador referred to Iraqi gas. When the Minister argued that
Iraq did not have it, the Ambassador claimed that Iraq could develop
it. Guler reminded the Ambassador of his earlier reference to one
bird in hand being better than two birds on a branch. Ambassador
Wilson responded, 'But the bird might burn along with the branch
soon.' Some people in Ankara misinterpreted this comment as an
early signal of a US operation against Iran. US Embassy officials
confirmed the Ambassador only wanted to point out the risks of
making business with a country that was under UN sanctions. Ankara
reacted to the Ambassador's comments since an operation on Iran
could further weaken the hand of the AKP as they fight against their
party's closure. A possible US operation against Iran would lead to
rapprochement between the Turkish and American militaries, and
weaken the AKP's credibility as well. Also, the AKP government
might be politically stuck between the US and Muslim Iran. That's
how the US Ambassador's words were exaggerated from ears to ears."


Turkey's Institutions Disagree on Kyoto Protocol
Hurriyet, Sabah, Radikal, Cumhuriyet, Zaman and others report
Turkey's Environment Ministry, the Foreign Ministry (MFA,) the
General Secretariat for EU Affairs all support signing the Kyoto
Protocol. The Transport Ministry says it is not prepared to meet
the Kyoto Protocol requirements. The Industry Ministry says
Turkey's energy consumption was below the world average, adding
Turkey should fix carefully its positions in the Kyoto process.
Mainstream Milliyet reports the State Planning Organization (DPT) as
well as ministries and business representatives warn the
implementation of the protocol in Turkey would be costlier than in
Europe. Turkish Union of Chambers (TOBB) says Turkey should
complete all preparations for meeting Kyoto Protocol requirements
before signing it, and warns that hasty steps could harm the Turkish
economy. The Turkish Employers' Union (TISK) says being a party to
the protocol would harm Turkey's competition potential. In a
statement released Monday, Turkish Industrialists' and Businessmen's
Association (TUSIAD) welcomed the Turkish government's decision to
join the Kyoto Protocol, saying Turkey would have a voice in shaping
the new global order in the post-2012 era.

Bugun: PKK Makes Money from Philip Morris' Tobacco Smuggling into
Iraq
Conservative-nationalist Bugun reports a conference to be held by
the U.S. Ankara Embassy had to be cancelled when Turkish police,
gendarme and organized crime department of police declined to send
representatives to the gathering after Turkish Foreign Ministry
(MFA) warned them on the "ties" between the PKK and American tobacco
producers. The MFA letter written by Security Affairs
Director-General Ambassador Hayati Guven recalled the EU Commission
had initiated a lawsuit against some U.S. tobacco producers for
money laundering via tobacco smuggling into Iraq. The PKK also
makes profits from such activities of the U.S. companies. The U.S.
counsel firm serving the Turkish Embassy in Washington is evaluating
Turkey's chances for launching a court case against American tobacco
companies within the frame of their alleged ties with the PKK, says
the letter. Bugun says the Philip Morris International (PMI) was
cited among the participants in the conference invitation sent out
in February by the U.S. Ankara Embassy, and that the EU Commission
had also filed a court case against PMI.

Poll: Turks Trust Erdogan
Islamist-oriented Zaman carries the U.S.-based
WorldPublicOpinion.Org poll of 19,751 people in nations composing 60
percent of the world's population, including Egypt, Pakistan, the
Palestinian Territories, Iran, Jordan, and Turkey. The poll found

ANKARA 00001121 003 OF 004


55% of Turks trust Prime Minister Erdogan. After Erdogan, Turks
trust Iranian President Ahmadinejad by 16 percent and the Pakistani
President Musharraf by 15 percent. French President Sarkozy is
trusted the least, by 4 percent. 6% of Turks trust Iraqi PM
al-Maliki and 7 percent trust U.S. President Bush. Among regional
leaders, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki had the lowest marks in
all the Arab countries polled. Majorities in all three of Arab
countries polled, Egypt, Jordan, the Palestinian Territories, and 62
percent of the Turks say they had "no" or "not much" confidence in
Ahmadinejad.

The poll was conducted from January 10-May 6.

Editorial Commentary on SOFA; Irish Referendum

"The Security Agreement between Iraq and America"
Fikret Bila wrote in Islamist leaning Zaman (6/17): "The United
States is working very hard to ensure its status and presence in
Iraq before the UN Resolution expires in December of this year.
There are important meetings going on and tough bargains are being
made behind closed doors for a comprehensive security agreement
between Iraq and the U.S. Even though the Bush administration hoped
to finalize this before the end of July, it seems unlikely.
According to statements from Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki as well as
from other officials, the two sides have not yet reached consensus
on any of the details, while Americans are voicing optimism. David
Satterfield, the State Department's top advisor on Iraq, has
recently expressed similar optimism for concluding an agreement with
Iraq despite ongoing opposition from Iraqi politicians. At this
point, it is hard to understand the agreement since no further
details are available. We still do not know if the United States is
seeking 58 permanent bases in Iraq, as Iraqi politicians claimed.
There is also speculation the Americans will transfer custody of
detained Iraqi nationals to Iraqi local authorities. It will be
very interesting to follow the outcome of this process and see the
nature of the agreement. This is so very important for everyone,
including Iran and Turkey."

"Can the EU Still Be A Union?"
Sami Kohen wrote in mainstream Milliyet (6/16): "The Irish
referendum indicated the value of even a small member country's
influence upon the Union's future. The rate of Irish no votes is
only 0.02 percent compared to the total population of EU member
countries. However due to the unanimity rule, Ireland's votes to
reject the Lisbon Treaty are enough to prevent the treaty's
implementation in 2009. It appears structural reforms within the EU
are often regarded negatively by the public. For example, France
and the Netherlands rejected the EU Constitution in 2005; the Lisbon
Treaty was, in fact, a diluted version of the 2005 constitution.
European voters either have no information about the changes or they
are against the changes because they believe in sovereignty. Unlike
their leaders and governments, the people of EU nations are not keen
on political and security unification. Ireland's referendum shows
the EU's 'European identity' has not yet reached the level of the
man on the street."

TV News:
CNN Turk

Domestic News

- Tuzla shipyard workers went on strike yesterday to draw attention
to work safety problems.

- 21 Turkish universities will elect their new rectors on June
18-19.

- The overall unemployment figure in Turkey rose to 10.7 percent,
marking 2.5 million unemployed people.


ANKARA 00001121 004 OF 004


International News

- EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn said Ireland's rejection of
the European Union's reform treaty does not diminish the bloc's
commitment to admitting Turkey into the bloc.

- The EU adopts amendments to the Green Line Regulation concerning
goods, services and persons crossing the line between north and
south Cyprus.

- Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said his country still needs
American troops to secure progress achieved as a result of a
successful US surge strategy.

WILSON

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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