Cablegate: Ankara Media Reaction Report
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SUBJECT: ANKARA MEDIA REACTION REPORT
TUESDAY, JUNE 24, 2008
In Today's Papers
Firat: Ataturk's Revolution Traumatized Turkish Society
All papers report AKP deputy chairman Dengir Mir Mehmet Firat told
The New York Times "Turkish society has been traumatized. Overnight
they were told to change their religion, dress, and their language.
Their religious ways were dismantled." Firat's statement to NYT
over the weekend was reported in Turkish papers Monday. Today's
papers report Firat defended his remarks about the "traumatizing"
effect of Ataturk's revolution; he stressed he was exercising the
freedom of expression. Firat noted the revolution of 1923 led to
radical changes in the Turkish lifestyle. "Each revolution is a
social trauma. This is true for Ataturk's revolution as well. The
French and the Soviet revolution are other examples, and the trauma
caused by the Soviet revolution is still felt today," Firat is
quoted as saying, adding, "I'm not longing for the return to those
days; I'm just making an assessment."
Parliament Speaker Koksal Toptan responded by saying, "Turkey is the
country it is because of Ataturk." AKP deputy Vahit Erdem said
Firat's words were "reactionary," and added Firat should have
"avoided such remarks." Opposition CHP deputy group chairman Hakki
Suha Okay said, "Firat's statement is an expression of his views
regarding the revolution carried out by Ataturk." Opposition MHP
leader Devlet Bahceli said Firat's words were a "special attempt" to
ensure the closure of the AKP. MHP deputy Oktay Vural blamed Firat
for acting as a "foreigners' spokesman."
Istanbul Bar of Lawyers said the words of Firat were the "revelation
of a hidden agenda."
"We Were Saved From another Lie"
Mehmet Y. Yilmaz wrote in mainstream Hurriyet (6/24): "This time it
was The New York Times which reminded us that the AKP's founders
have serious problems with the founding principles of the Republic.
Mehmet Firat, the AKP's number two, told the Times the 1923
Republican revolution was "traumatic" for Turkish society. His
words reflect his fundamental views on the issue, which tell us a
lot about the reasons the AKP has acted vindictively against the
Republic and its core values. Unlike many people, I don't think we
should be angry at Mr. Firat; at least he is the most candid of the
top level AKP members. His statement to the Times marks the end of
the lies claiming the AKP has no problem with the values of Republic
and strongly supports the values of the Republic. How many times
have we heard the AKP leadership, including PM Erdogan, proclaim the
AKP's commitment to secularism, Ataturk's principles and democracy?
We can now conclude that these words were nothing but hypocritical,
as they were speaking out of both sides of their mouths."
Zulfu Livaneli wrote in mainstream Vatan (6/24): "First of all, the
AKP's Firat suffers from a lack of knowledge regarding history.
Turkey's westernization did not begin with Ataturk, in fact it goes
back almost 250 years. There were even initiatives from Ottoman
Sultans to modernize everyday clothing and change the Arabic
alphabet to Latin letters. In other words, Turkey did not change
overnight, as Firat claims. Furthermore, the revolutions during the
founding of the Republic are historical fact, just like the French
revolution. This is how history evolves. The AKP seems to be
engaging in efforts to ignore or even to set the clock backwards;
this effort will fail, but not by military intervention. On the
contrary, Turkey's Republican revolution carried Turkey out of its
darkness and improved human rights and development. The founding
values brought secularism to us at a time when the world was
suffering from religious wars. After all, we are dancing in circles
around the same issue. Yes indeed, the Republic needs to be further
democratized, but this cannot be done through religion. If someone
argues that it can be done, it only paves the way toward
Erdogan to Visit Baghdad
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Hurriyet, Milliyet, Radikal, Taraf, Cumhuriyet, Zaman and others
report Prime Minister Erdogan is expected to visit Baghdad on July
4. State Minister Kursad Tuzmen will travel to Baghdad on June
29-30 to prepare for the visit. In Baghdad, Erdogan will meet with
Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and President Jalal Talabani. It is
not clear whether Erdogan will meet Massoud Barzani, the head of the
Kurdish Regional Administration (KRA). Leftist Taraf quotes Iraqi
Member of Parliament Othman Mahmoud as saying, "Erdogan will discuss
security, political issues and cultural issues, and will sign
agreements for economic and trade cooperation." Leftist-nationalist
Cumhuriyet expects Erdogan and Maliki to announce an "understanding"
on security, energy, economy and cultural cooperation.
Leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet writes, "If the understanding
mechanism is implemented, Ankara will have legitimized the Kurdistan
Regional Government (KRG)," says Cumhuriyet. However, mainstream
papers also quote President Talabani as saying the KRG should not be
excluded in this mechanism.
KRG President Massoud Barzani: "The PKK is not a Terrorist
Sabah, Milliyet, Cumhuriyet, Bugun, Taraf: Papers report that in an
interview with Il Tiempo, an Italian newspaper, KRG President
Massoud Barzani asked if he was afraid of a Turkish invasion.
Barzani replied, "We are not afraid of anyone. But, the occupation
of northern Iraq would trigger a crisis for the whole region. Kurds
should wage a political, not a military struggle. The PKK is not a
terrorist organization. If the PKK refuses to meet its pledges to
hold talks with Turkey, then it could be branded a terrorist
organization. The Kurdistan region has taken important steps to
establish security. International coordination is needed to fight
terrorism and extremism." In response to a question regarding
Kirkuk, Barzani said "Kirkuk is definitely part of Kurdistan.
However, Kirkuk's identity should be determined by respecting those
living there. We have no intensions to jeopardize security and
stability in Iraq. The decision about Kirkuk should be based on a
Chief Prosecutor's Verbal Assessment on DTP Comes Today
Milliyet, Radikal, Star: Court of Appeals Chief Prosecutor
Abdurrahman Yalcinkaya will present his views verbally on the DTP
closure case at the Constitutional Court today. The party will
present its defense on September 16. Meanwhile, Liberal Radikal
reports that Mahmut Alinak who has announced his candidacy for DTP
chairmanship said that if he was elected as chairman, he would go to
Imrali to speak to Abdullah Ocalan or Kandil in order to enable the
PKK to take a "no-action" decision. He also added that he would
urge the Turkish General Staff to end the operations within and
outside the country, and would propose a solution plan to the
government to end the Kurdish problem.
Gul, Erdogan to Basel for Turkey-Germany Soccer Game
All papers report President Abdullah Gul will travel to Basel on
Wednesday to watch Turkey's match with Germany in the Euro 2008
soccer championship semi-finals. Prime Minister Erdogan and German
Chancellor Angela Merkel also are expected to attend the game.
EU Freezes Iranian Assets
Coverage regarding the EU's decision to close Iran's national bank
is portrayed in a straightforward fashion as the measure is
considered a blow against Iran. However, coverage noticeably
excludes Iran's view of the sanctions, except for reporting by
Islamist Zaman, a paper considered pro-Iran. Mainstream Milliyet
reports, "The EU Imposes Heavy Sanctions on Iran," as, "Iran's
national bank is closed in London, Paris, and Hamburg," and "Twenty
of Iran's top officials will not be able to travel to the EU."
Leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet reports, "Iran's banks are banned."
Islamist-oriented Zaman reports, "Iran withdrew its money from
European banks before the news of new U.S.-EU sanctions emerged,"
yet Zaman makes no mention of the assets in the Iranian banks closed
by the EU. Leftist Taraf reports, "Following Sarkozy's speech to
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the Knesset during his visit to Israel, Iran's largest bank was
closed and travel restrictions were placed on 20 Iranian officials
and 15 Iranian organizations were closed." Liberal Radikal reports,
"The EU Cuts Tehran's Financial Arteries."
Yeni Safak: Blackwater Agents in Pakistan
Islamist-oriented Yeni Safak reports from its Islamabad bureau that
the private security company Blackwater has now entered Pakistan.
Yeni Safak cites unnamed intelligence sources who confirm,
"Blackwater agents are disguised as diplomats and are sent in teams
of 20-25 to assist the CIA and FBI in clashes with the Taliban and
Al Qaeda." In addition, the paper reports "Experts warn that
Blackwater agents in the region could complicate the situation and
make it worse," as Pakistani defense expert Hamit Mir told the
paper, "this is a major threat to (Pakistan's) national security."
- Energy Minister Hilmi Guler said Turkish state-owned oil company
TPAO might form a consortium or bid alone for future Iraqi oil and
- On Tuesday, Prime Minister Erdogan is to join a ceremony in Ankara
to mark a contract to be signed by Tusas Aerospace Industries (TAI)
with Italy's Augusta Westland to co-produce attack helicopters.
- The Turkish Prime Ministry said in a statement a "slush fund" was
used to meet state spending in 2007. It's not possible to make
public statements about the secret fund, the statement said.
- The President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of
Europe (PACE), Luis Maria de Puig, said the Turkish Constitutional
Court should abide by the European Convention on Human Rights and
Venice Commission criteria while ruling on the AKP closure case.
- The International Crisis Group says the new process in Cyprus
might be the last chance for the reunification of the divided
- Natural gas-rich Tarija has become the fourth Bolivian state to
declare autonomy from the government of President Evo Morales.