Cablegate: Ankara Media Reaction Report
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SUBJECT: ANKARA MEDIA REACTION REPORT
FRIDAY, JUNE 20, 2008
In Today's Papers
TUSIAD Calls for Comprehensive Constitutional Changes
All papers report UN Development Program (UNDP) administrator Kemal
Dervis addressed a consultative council meeting of the Turkish
Industrialists' and Businessmen's Association (TUSIAD) in Istanbul
on Thursday. According to Dervis, "Turkey should have a growth rate
around seven percent between 2010-2015." He noted Turkey had to
allocate 26-28 percent of its national income for investments in
order to maintain momentum. Dervis was optimistic about the global
financial turbulence, saying history has shown us that past crises
have been overcome sooner than anticipated. "Yes, we will witness a
slowdown but that will be over soon, and an accelerating growth
trend will again kick in for the global economy," Dervis said.
Mustafa Koc, chairman of the high consultative council of TUSIAD,
warned in his speech that political polarization was turning into
social division. "However, politicians of the same country do not
meet each other and seek solutions for problems through dialogue.
Can this behavior be justified," Koc asked, stressing "all
politicians" were responsible for the political strains in Turkey.
Koc said that it was not possible to pave the way for economic and
social development without raising Turkey's democratic standards,
adjusting the laws to the democratic standards, and making the
principle of secular, democratic state of law and individual
freedoms the common denominator for all. Koc suggested that
politicians, NGOs, academics, and judicial organs should discuss a
"comprehensive constitutional amendment." Koc also said critical
decisions about the Turkish economy should be shaped in the light of
global threats, not of the nearing municipality elections.
Papers report Turkish Union of Chambers (TOBB) and labor unions
Turk-Is, Hak-Is and DISK have boycotted the TUSIAD meeting.
Mainstream Vatan claims the unions decided to boycott the meeting
when Prime Minister Erdogan sent them the message that he opposed
the TUSIAD initiative involving Kemal Dervis.
Editorial Commentary on Trends in Turkish Politics
"A New Constitution is the Way Out of this Crisis"
Mumtazer Turkone wrote in Islamist leaning Zaman (6/20): "TUSIAD's
initiative to convene a constitutional convention could be a good
opportunity. Turkey has experienced a deep constitutional crisis
since the closure case was filed against the AKP on March 14, 2008.
Given the impending economic stagflation, the consequences of this
crisis could be fatal. The remedy is simple: The system must be
revised, rebuilt and empowered. The current democratic system was
rendered ineffective by a judicial coup. Yet, this process was only
carried out by the judiciary. The business world now supports
democracy. A free and rational democratic climate will serve
everyone's interest. A vast consensus is needed for a comprehensive
"A Vacuum in the Left Wing"
Okay Gonensin wrote in mainstream Vatan (6/20): "Ankara political
circles are busy speculating on possible scenarios in the event the
AKP is closed. The aftermath of the court decision to close down
the AKP will lead to a new party, either in the center or in the
center-right. The AKP implemented a seemingly centrist policy when
it came to power, but was unable to continue with it. Thus, a power
vacuum emerged in the political right. However, realistically
speaking, the power vacuum in the left wing is more of a reality
than the right wing's power vacuum. The CHP has completely
abandoned its socially democratic policies and even pursues a vision
compatible with the radical right wing. The AKP's six years in
office has demonstrated the consequences of a nonexistent political
left. Thus, Turkish democracy will continue to stumble unless the
vacuum in the left is filled. Nowadays there is an idea for forming
an 'umbrella-style right-wing party' and the same need applies for
the left wing as well."
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Erdogan Seeks Solutions to Prevent Tuzla Shipyards Deaths
All papers report Prime Minister held a summit meeting on Thursday
between government officials and representatives of employers and
workers at Istanbul's Tuzla shipyards over the work-related
accidents that claimed 25 lives over the last six months. In
"Erdogan pushes the button for emergency measures for preventing
work accidents in Tuzla," Islamist-oriented Yeni Safak says Erdogan
warned ship owners against neglecting work safety while aiming high
profits. "I don't want more deaths in Tuzla," Erdogan said, warning
he would "hurt" the shipyard owners unless they avoid new
work-related deaths. Liberal Radikal reports a statement by the
Prime Ministry said among the "emergency measures" to be taken would
be training for all workers, moving part of Tuzla's capacity to the
nearby Yalova district, and increasing the number of inspectors.
Ambassador Wilson at TABA Event
Mainstream Sabah reports that Turkish-American Businessmen
Association (TABA) arranged a meeting in Ankara. The theme of the
meeting was the importance of the Agriculture Sector in the
US-Turkey Relations. Agriculture Minister Mehdi Eker, in his
speech, highlighted the bitter fact that "the food products are
produced for nourishment, but unfortunately have been used as gas
for luxurious vehicles." Ambassador Wilson announced that the U.S.
will give $5 billion in international food aid during 2008-2009.
Party Closure will have Important Consequences
Mainstreams Milliyet and Sabah report that, during a press
conference at the EU Leaders Summit in Brussels, EU Parliament
President Hans-Gert Pottering and European Commission President Jose
Manuel Barosso commented on the AKP closure case. Reportedly,
Barosso said that the decision of the Constitutional Court on AKP
will bring important consequences. Pottering said "If the AKP is
closed, then, the negotiations with Turkey will stop."
Yeni Safak: 8 Reasons to Hate the U.S.
Islamist-oriented Yeni Safak carries the headline, "8 Reasons to
Hate the U.S.," and covers Human Rights Watch's report on the eight
reasons why the U.S. image is so bad. Yeni Safak notes the reasons
include, "the lack of international cooperation, ongoing policies in
Iraq, reports of the use of torture, a lack of impartiality in the
Middle East, a perception America is hypocritical, unilateralism,
the perception the U.S. denies visas to Muslims, and perceptions
that the fight against terror is a fight against Islam."
MFA Bureaucrat to Manage TRT's Kurdish Channel
Mainstream Hurriyet reports Sinan Ilhan, a Turkish Foreign Ministry
(MFA) bureaucrat, has been tasked with coordinating Kurdish-language
broadcasts on the state-owned TRT television. Ilhan, who has
carried out critical intelligence work at Turkish missions abroad,
speaks Kurdish, Arabic, Farsi, English and Hebrew. He was recently
at the intelligence desk of Turkey's special Iraq envoy. Ilhan is
in contact with prominent Kurdish intellectuals, politicians and
bureaucrats to gather a team for the new channel. Hurriyet says the
Kurdish channel will initially broadcast for 10 hours a day. It
will broadcast programs in the Kurdish dialects Kurmanci and Zaza as
well as Arabic and Farsi.
- Turkey's National Security Council (MGK) is to meet on June 26.
- Three children from Diyarbakir Municipality chorus have been
acquitted in a court case for spreading PKK propaganda with a
Kurdish song they performed at a music festival in San Fransisco.
- This year the Turkish entertainment and media sector is expected
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to grow by 16 percent.
- The New York Times reports four Western oil companies are close to
signing oil contracts with the Iraqi government for the first time
in 36 years.
- Secretary Rice and Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said they
were optimistic Iraqi and US negotiators will meet a July 31
deadline for a deal governing the future deployment of US troops.
- Greek Cypriot leader Demetrios Christofias says they will not
object to a proposal for adding the Turkish language to the list of
official EU languages.