Cablegate: Ankara Media Reaction Report
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TAGS: OPRC KMDR TU
SUBJECT: ANKARA MEDIA REACTION REPORT
TUESDAY, JULY 8, 2008
In Today's Papers
Suspects in Dink Murder Trial Turn on Each Other
All papers report on the continuing trial against the suspects
accused of assassinating Hrant Dink, editor of the Armenian-Turkish
publication Agos. Dink was shot dead outside the offices of Agos in
Istanbul in January 2007. Ogun Samast and Yasin Hayal were later
arrested on charges of murder. The first five hearings were closed
to the media because suspect Samast was a minor at the time. One of
the now 19 defendants charged in connection to the murder said he
informed the gendarme at least four times that Yasin Hayal, a key
suspect in the plot, planned to have Dink killed. Samast, the prime
suspect in the murder trial, told the court Hayal asked him to kill
Agos daily's security guard and other employees as well -- a charge
European Parliament member Cem Ozdemir and several other
international figures attended the hearing as observers. Ozdemir
told reporters before the hearing, "Hrant Dink's vision of a
democratic, secular and European Turkey has not yet materialized."
The trial began in July 2007. Prosecutors have demanded a prison
term of 18 to 24 years for Samast because he was underage at the
time of the murder. However, life sentences are being sought for
the two key suspects, Hayal and Tuncel, for inciting murder.
'Operation Ergenekon' Reveals another Coup Attempt
All papers report a third coup plan, codenamed "Glove," was revealed
by leftist Taraf daily on Monday. The plan was set to be
implemented after two previous coup attempts failed in 2003 and
2004. The document was found in retired General Sener Eruygur's
office during searches related to the Ergenekon case. The "Glove"
plan aimed at "reshaping the parliament, the military, the
bureaucracy, and local governments," while "rewriting the
constitution, the entire legislation and the National Security
Policy Document." Operation Glove hoped to secure media support and
fund certain media efforts to harm liberals and mobilize the public
to support the military.
Islamist-oriented Zaman claims the documents seized last week in the
Ergenekon investigation revealed that the group was planning a bomb
attack in Istanbul's Taksim Square to stir chaos that would
eventually lead to military intervention. Zaman recalls that a
scenario discussed at a Hudson Institute meeting on June 13, 2007
described a bomb attack killing at least 50 people in Istanbul. The
paper adds the conspirators were also plotting to murder prominent
figures such as chief prosecutor Abdurrahman Yalcinkaya and top
According to a confiscated diary allegedly belonging to Naval
Commander Admiral Ozden Ornek, Retired General Eruygur was allegedly
a key accomplice in the plan, along with three other force
commanders. The diary also detailed failed attempts to oust the
AKP. Ornek has always insisted that the journal does not belong to
him. On Monday, Admiral Ornek once again rejected allegations that
he was the author of the diary, which was published by Nokta weekly.
Meanwhile, CNN Turk reports State Department Spokesman Sean
McCormack called the Ergenekon investigation, "an internal matter
for Turkey," during the daily press briefing yesterday.
Editorial Commentary on Ergenekon, Turkey's Political Crisis
"The Diary of a Coup"
Melih Asik wrote in mainstream Milliyet (7/8): "Retired Admiral
Ozden Ornek denied accusations that the so-called 'coup diary'
belongs to him. He also noted that only Alper Gormus of Nokta
magazine has attributed the diary to him. Some question Ornek's
denial suspiciously by asking, 'Why didn't the Admiral deny the
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allegations earlier, why did he wait this long?' As a matter of
fact, Admiral Ozden denied the allegations in Nokta only one week
after Gormus' original claim. In addition, there is no evidence or
court decision that proves the diary belongs to Admiral Ozden.
However, AKP supporters continue to accuse certain retired generals
of being coup conspirators. Their intention is not to tell the
truth, but to corner the military and remove all obstacles from
their path to a religious coup."
"Overcoming This Crisis"
Yilmaz Oztuna commented in conservative-nationalist Turkiye (7/8):
"Turkey will overcome this crisis. However, during the process it
will be important not to damage national institutions, the state and
democracy. The state and democracy should show its power. Ataturk
established the Turkish Republic together with the Turkish
Parliament. The Turkish military established the Turkish State
after saving the country from enemy invasion. Therefore, the
Turkish military, as well as the Turkish Parliament, should be kept
away from any harm. The Judiciary evaluates cases on behalf of the
Turkish people and their decision should definitely be obeyed. The
Turkish state has the ability to maintain stability and we hope to
see stability emerge from this crisis as soon as possible, without
damaging national institutions and without dishonoring Turkey's
standing in the world during this day and age."
"The Future of the Parliament"
Muharrem Sarikaya commented in mainstream Sabah (7/8): "Because the
Constitutional Court is deciding whether or not to close the ruling
party, the ruling party wants to keep the Parliament open until the
resolution of the case. However, MHP Leader Devlet Bahceli allowed
all but one of his deputies to go on vacation and CHP Leader Deniz
Baykal will not demand that all CHP deputies remain in Parliament.
While the Constitutional Court also considers the closure case
against the DTP and the DTP holds its Party Congress this weekend,
it is natural that the DTP will be occupied with other things
outside the Parliament. Therefore, only the AKP deputies remain in
Parliament this summer. However, as long as the Parliament remains
open an additional problem emerges for the AKP. Former Deputy Prime
Minister Abdullatif Sener is actively seeking 20 deputies to join
his newly formed political party. In order for his party to run in
the elections, he needs at least 20 deputies to support him in order
to meet the threshold. Sener expects a number of his old friends
from the party to join him and he can recruit from the AKP deputies
that are present in Parliament. For this reason, it seems unlikely
that keeping the Parliament open will decrease tensions. Instead,
it is likely that keeping the Parliament open will aggravate
Fried: We Don't Want a Divided Island
Mainstream Milliyet, CNN Turk and NTV carried straightforward
coverage of Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs
Dan Fried's comments in Nicosia after meeting Turkish and Greek
Cyprus leaders, "We don't want a divided island." Mainstream
Milliyet notes Fried emphasized the U.S. had "no special plan" for
the island, and called for a "bi-zonal, bi-communal federation and
one nation, one citizenship in Cyprus."
Babacan Meets Ahmadinejad in Malaysia
Hurriyet, Milliyet, Sabah, Radikal, Cumhuriyet, Zaman and others
report Foreign Minister Ali Babacan, who is attending the
'D8-Developing 8' meetings in Malaysia, met Iranian President
Ahmadinejad to discuss developments in Iraq and the fight against
the PKK. In his talk with Babacan, Ahmadinejad reportedly praised
Ankara's position on the controversy regarding Iran's nuclear
program. Prime Minister Erdogan was expected to attend the D-8
summit but changed his plans due to the ongoing investigation into
the Ergenekon group, according to papers.
Will Turkey Join the Mediterranean Union and the Black Sea Union?
CNN Turk reports European lawmakers called on the EU to establish a
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Black Sea Union that includes Turkey. Meanwhile, Islamist-oriented
Zaman writes in "Paris' Eyes Are on Turkey," that "The French are
confident Turkey will join the Mediterranean Union," but that
"Turkish leaders are carefully evaluating the option," but such a
union, "would not be accepted by Turkey as an alternative to full
membership in the EU." Sami Kohen of mainstream Milliyet writes
Turkey would play a role in "a Mediterranean Union that targets
issues such as the environment, energy, commerce, terrorism, and
illegal immigration." In addition, Kohen comments, "The
Mediterranean Union and the EU can work together and cooperate in a
number of fields," which he feels, "would create an atmosphere that
could facilitate a solution to the problem," of Turkey's EU
accession. Leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet writes in, "Ankara Cannot
Get a Guarantee from Paris," that "last year Germany, Spain, and
France signed an agreement in Rome stating that a country's
membership to the Mediterranean Union will not impede that country's
negotiations for full EU membership," however the paper notes,
"Ankara does not find this to be a sufficient guarantee."
- Leading AKP figures say former Deputy Prime Minister Abdullatif
Sener should resign from the AKP since he is preparing to form a new
- On Monday, three people died of the "Crimean Congo Hemorrhagic
Fever," a tick borne viral disease, in the provinces of Bursa,
Canakkale and Amasya.
- Turkey is ranked 55th in the IMF list of countries with the
highest per capita income.
- NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said the EU should
extend its defense ties with Turkey to help ease European
cooperation with NATO.
- On Tuesday, the European Court of Human Rights will announce its
ruling regarding Turkey's 10-percent election threshold.