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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
THURSDAY, JULY 3, 2008

In Today's Papers

Ergenekon Investigation Reveals Plans for a Coup to Begin July 7
Sabah, Vatan, Radikal, and Yeni Safak report documents seized during
searches of Gendarme Commander Sener Eruygur's office indicate plans
to stage a military takeover on July 7, 2008. The plan allegedly
begins with organized illegal protests in 40 cities across Turkey on
July 7. At the rallies, demonstrators would voice support for the
judiciary and call for the closure of the ruling AKP. In addition,
armed clashes would be instigated between the police and protestors.
In an effort to escalate the national crisis, thirty assassins
would coordinate assassinations against prominent figures. Finally,
concerns raised about the economy would lead to the collapse the
government.

Within this framework, Ankara Chamber of Commerce (ATO) Chairman
Sinan Aygun was to express concern about the Turkish economy and
encourage the formation of a new party as an alternative to the AKP.
Cumhuriyet daily's Ankara bureau chief Mustafa Balbay and the
Tercuman daily's chief editor Ufuk Buyukcelebi were in charge of
coordinating the media effort. The High Military Council (YAS)
meetings scheduled for August 1-4 would be postponed in order to
ensure the rise of officers close to the Ergenekon network and block
the promotion of officers from a rival group dubbed the "NATO
Group." Mainstream Sabah reports that once these events create
sufficient chaos, the military would be called in to take over and
restore order. Islamist-oriented Yeni Safak claims Sinan Aygun
would become the new prime minister after the military takeover and
former deputy PM Abdullatif Sener the new president.

On July 1, Turkey detained more than 20 people as part of a
long-running investigation into the underground ultra-nationalist
Ergenekon gang. Among those detained were two retired generals, two
journalists and the head of the Ankara Chamber of Commerce.

Tamer Korkmaz of Islamist-oriented Yeni Safak calls the Ergenekon
arrests, "A coup against the coup plotters." Huseyin Gulerce of
Islamist-oriented Zaman writes, "The Untouchables have now been
touched," as "this investigation is a milestone in Turkey's
advancement toward democracy." Ismet Berkan of liberal Radikal
notes, "Regardless of the results of this investigation, for the
first time, those who plot a coup are being charged, which uplifts
Turkey's democratic standards." Ertugrul Ozkuk of mainstream
Hurriyet writes, "I have severe concerns that the Ergenekon
investigation is being promulgated by a certain ideology," and, "If
Turkey's EU criteria are so important, then why have people been
detained for 11 months without any charges filed against them? Is
this in line with EU criteria?"

General Basbug and PM Erdogan Deny They Discussed Ergenekon
All papers report that Land Forces Commander General Ilker Basbug
denied allegations that PM Erdogan and he talked about the Ergenekon
investigation during their meeting on June 24. General Basbug added
"Turkey is going through difficult days. All of us must act with
more common sense, more care and more responsibly." The Prime
Ministry also issued a statement ruling out allegations that the
issue of detentions were not taken up at the June 24 meeting between
the PM and the Land Forces Commander.

EU Commission Warns Ergenekon Investigation about International
Standards
Mainstreams Hurriyet and Milliyet report that the EU Commission
stressed that the Ergenekon investigation is being followed closely
and the EU expects that the highest international standards should
be applied during the police investigation and the course of the
trials.

Editorial Commentary on "Ergenekon" Arrests and AKP Closure Case

Irfan Yildirim wrote in Islamist leaning Zaman: "Some of the media

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reacted harshly against the Ergenekon-related arrests, which brings
up the urgent need to discuss the connection between the coup
plotters and the media. Some retired generals and retired
prosecutors write for a certain newspaper. This by itself indicates
Turkey's deep-rooted problems with democracy. The pro-coup figures
operating in the media must be discussed extensively until their
links are eliminated. There is also a need to create public
awareness so that neither the judiciary nor the AKP feels alienated
in this Ergenekon investigation against the coup plotters."

Cuneyt Ulsever wrote in mainstream Hurriyet: "I share the
presumption that the two generals detained were considering plans to
overthrow the AKP, if they had the resources and the capability.
Yet, such a strong conviction needs to be justified by strong
evidence. If the indictment has strong proof in this nature, our
democracy will gain enormous momentum. However I cannot help but
smell politics in all of those detentions. The lack of an
indictment for the last 11 months and the way the arrests were
carried out are questionable."

Semih Idiz wrote in mainstream Milliyet: "Very interestingly enough,
the AKP's number two asked for respect for the judiciary following
the Ergenekon case detentions. This very same name was furiously
criticizing the judiciary on the closure case. How can the
judiciary be impartial regarding Ergenekon while it is allegedly
biased in the closure case? We want to believe the supremacy of law
will prevail. Otherwise the whole issue will come down a struggle
between good judges and bad judges, in which case democracy will be
the loser."

'Sivas Victims' Commemorated
All papers report the 15th anniversary of the "Sivas incident" was
marked Wednesday with ceremonies in Sivas as well as other major
cities of Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir. On July 2, 1993, 37
intellectuals, poets and writers were burned to death by a
fundamentalist mob in the Madimak Hotel in Sivas. Around 50,000
rallied in Sivas yesterday, protesting the killings and the inaction
in investigating the perpetrators over the last 15 years. The group
also called for turning Madimak Hotel into a museum honoring those
who lost their lives. More than 20 CHP lawmakers, the pro-Kurdish
DTP deputy group Chief Emine Ayna and other political parties
participated in the demonstrations yesterday outside the parliament
and labor unions.

TV Highlights
CNN Turk

Domestic News

- A draft asking for the transfer of the Turkish Central Bank
headquarters from Ankara to Istanbul in two years was submitted to
the parliament for approval.

- In the southeastern border province of Sirnak, one soldier was
killed by a landmine believed to have been planted by the PKK.

- Visiting Russian Foreign Minister Segei Lavrov said Russia
formally removed restrictions on Turkish fruit exports.

International News

- Prime Minister Erdogan cancelled his visit to Malaysia on July
7-8. President Abdullah Gul will represent Turkey at the D-8
meeting in Malaysia.

- Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari announced Jordan's King
Abdullah II and Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan would visit Iraq
soon.

- Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki told NBC TV Iran might

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consider the suggestion of Secretary Rice on opening U.S. interest
office in Tehran.

WILSON

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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