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Cablegate: Ankara Media Reaction Report

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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 ANKARA 001224

SIPDIS

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
MONDAY, JULY 7, 2008

In Today's Papers

Retired Generals Charged with Links to the Ergenekon Network
All news outlets reported over the weekend and today that retired
Generals Sener Eruygur and Hursit Tolon were charged with
"establishing and administering a terror organization" and sent to
prison on July 5th by an Istanbul court. The court ordered the
arrests of 10 suspects, including Ankara Chamber of Commerce (ATO)
president Sinan Aygun and retired Colonel Hasan Atilla Ugur.
Meanwhile, 11 suspects were released, including leftist-nationalist
Cumhuriyet's Ankara Bureau Chief Mustafa Balbay and retired Admiral
Ilker Guven. A total of 21 suspects, including Tolon, Eruygur,
Aygun and Balbay, were detained on July 1 on suspicion of links to
the ultra-nationalist Ergenekon gang, which allegedly sought to
overthrow the current government.

Mainstream Vatan says the documents seized in Eruygur's office
contain plans to reconstruct the state after a possible military
takeover. One of the alleged plans transforms the National Security
Council (MGK) into a ministry. Today's Taraf says the coup plotted
by Eruygur was his third coup attempt after two previous foiled coup
attempts in 2003 and 2004. Papers report Eruygur is refusing to
speak before he is officially indicted, while speculation indicates
Tolon was allegedly in charge of garnering support for the coup from
civic organizations. In addition, papers report the Ergenekon
network allegedly formed a team of 30 former PKK terrorists to carry
out assassinations.

Opposition CHP leader Deniz Baykal told the private Habertuk TV
Sunday night the charges in the Ergenekon probe were, "fictitious,"
and the investigation was, "political." Baykal claimed the
investigation was "retaliation" for the closure case against the
AKP, and that the PM was behind the investigation. Baykal noted a
new Turkey would emerge once the Constitutional Court reaches a
decision on the closure case against the AKP. Leftist-nationalist
Cumhuriyet quotes unidentified European diplomats as saying it is
not clear whether the unprecedented Ergenekon detentions were "signs
of democratization" or "an operation aimed at liquidating political
adversaries." Weekend papers reported the Istanbul prosecutor
needed additional time to prepare the indictment in the Ergenekon
investigation.

Balbay Released in Ergenekon Investigation
All papers report that over the weekend, Cumhuriyet daily's Ankara
Bureau Chief Mustafa Balbay was released after he spent five days in
detention on claims of links to the Ergenekon network. Balbay said
he was interrogated by the Istanbul prosecutor for many hours
without knowing the charges under which he was detained. Balbay
said he was a "victim of terror," according to papers. Mainstream
Milliyet's front-page headline reads, "The Prosecutor Even Asked
about Balbay's Lunch with the American Ambassador." However,
leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet reports Balbay said he attended the
lunch along with the Ankara representatives of Islamist-oriented
Zaman, economic daily Referans, and mainstream Milliyet.

Mainstream Vatan columnist Mehmet Tezkan writes the latest
developments show that opposition against the government is seen as
a crime. "Balbay is charged with membership in a terror
organization simply because he fulfills his duties as a journalist.
This is a Putin-type democracy," writes Tezkan.

Editorial Commentary on Ergenekon

"The Last Exit before Ergenekon"
Ekrem Dumanli commented in Islamist-oriented Zaman (7/7): "The
Ergenekon indictment was supposed to be released last Friday but it
was postponed for one week. The 2500-page indictment will be a
turning point regarding the issue of the 'deep state.' However,
people have already determined the sides they will defend. Some
will say 'this indictment reveals all kinds of deep dark secrets'

ANKARA 00001224 002 OF 003


while others will say, 'there is nothing to the charges in the
indictment.' Both attitudes here are wrong. The Ergenekon
indictment is not and cannot reveal all the secret organizations
within the state. Nevertheless, all media should realize that this
case should not be treated lightly. First of all, this case was
accepted by the prosecutor's office because of concrete incidents;
certain information was confiscated which could be accepted as
evidence. However, some media organizations are trying to distort
the Ergenekon case. Here is my warning for them: You are facing a
dangerous, secret organization. If you don't fight against them,
you'll reveal your preference for a dictatorship. Let me remind you
of some facts. Those who were arrested were not put into jail
because of they were exercising their freedom of thought, as some
media organizations claimed. These individuals were accused of
terrorist acts that sought to create an environment of chaos. No
matter what one's rank or mission might be, nobody should step
outside the boundaries of law and use weapons, which were purchased
with public tax funds, against the nation. Those who were arrested
already know why they are charged. This investigation had nothing
to do with alleged feelings of revenge. A new era has begun in
Turkey because of the Ergenekon investigation. From now on, Turkey
will not be a country where military coups take place every ten
years and military officers avoid trial. If retired commanders are
arrested along with journalists and businessmen for establishing a
secret organization and plans for a coup, then this demonstrates the
strength of the state and the nation."

"A Dark Tunnel"
Tufan Turenc wrote in mainstream Hurriyet (7/7): "The Ergenekon
investigation is just like a dark tunnel. The prosecutor has not
been able to complete the indictment for 13 months. Most of the
suspects who have been in prison for the last 12 months don't even
know what they are accused of. As a matter of fact, some lawyers
have called for an investigation against prosecutor Zekeriya Oz for
his failure to prepare the indictment. Milliyet columnist Can
Dundar was also interrogated by Oz and I was horrified when I read
Can's column describing the meeting with prosecutor Oz! Can Dundar
says that the prosecutor continuously played with his prayer beads
during 2.5 hours meeting, which struck me as suspicious. Oz is a
Fethullah Gulen follower and he arrests opponents of the AKP
government. I really hope that the judicial process will eliminate
all the concerns about the investigation process."

The 'Abant Platform' Prescribes Solution to Turkey's Kurdish
Question
Hurriyet, Sabah, Radikal, Taraf, Cumhuriyet, Zaman and others report
the "Abant Platform" meeting of intellectuals, academics, activists
and journalists over the weekend offered a "prescription" for
resolving Turkey's Kurdish question. The final declaration of the
meeting suggested that prejudices should be dispelled, all
restrictions to free speech should be removed, education in mother
tongues should be recognized, and economic measures should be
implemented in southeast Turkey. Leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet
reports the meeting also called for the Turkish government to
improve ties with the Kurdish Regional Government in northern Iraq.


Talabani: The PKK Should Either Disarm or Leave Iraq
All papers report Iraqi President Jalal Talabani told Elefterotipia
daily in Athens, "PKK members should leave northern Iraq if they
refuse to lay down their arms." Talabani also held the PKK
responsible for turmoil in northern Iraq. He asked, "Would Greece,
for instance, tolerate a guerrilla group that was sheltered in
Albania and launched attacks from there onto Greek soil?" Mainstream
Hurriyet quotes Talabani as praising the AKP, saying Turkey's ruling
party has always pursued a "friendly and transparent policy" toward
Iraq. He noted even if the court decides to ban AKP, a new party
will replace it and would again win the majority in the Turkish
Parliament.


ANKARA 00001224 003 OF 003


Editorial Commentary on Turkey-Armenia

"The Invite from Yerevan"
Erdal Safak wrote in mainstream Sabah (7/7): The Armenian president
invited President Gul to the soccer game on September 6th. Everyone
wonders whether this development might lead to a process that will
open the border and improve relations with Yerevan. However, Turkey
did not shut down its border gate because of the 1915 controversy,
but because the Armenian rebels in Nagorno-Karabakh declared their
unilateral independence. Unless the Nagorno-Karabakh controversy is
resolved in a way that pleases Azerbaijan, Turkey should not open
the border gate or establish diplomatic relations with Armenia. The
Minsk group should make both sides reach a consensus concerning
Nagorno-Karabakh; otherwise a very bloody war will be inevitable
soon."

TV News:
CNN Turk

Domestic News

- On Tuesday, the parliament will discuss a motion to extend the
mandate of Turkish peacekeepers in Lebanon.

- Foreign Minister Ali Babacan will represent Turkey at the
"Developing 8 (D-8)" meetings in Malaysia on Monday.

- The OECD says unfavorable international conditions and domestic
political uncertainty will increase Turkey's risk premium.

International News

- Turkish Cyprus leader Mehmet Ali Talat said he "almost reached
compromise" with Greek Cyprus leader Demetris Chistofias on a
timetable for reunification talks on the island.

- French Presidential advisor Henri Guaino said "Turkey will no
doubt join the Mediterranean Union at the July 13 Mediterranean
summit in Paris."

- Iran says a top PJAK member was killed in an operation against the
terror organization on Iran-Iraq-Turkey border.
WILSON

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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