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Cablegate: Ankara Media Reaction Report

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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 ANKARA 001370

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
WEDNESDAY, JULY 30, 2008

In Today's Papers

Erdogan, Baykal on Istanbul Bombings, Talabani Phones Gul
All papers continue coverage of the aftermath of Sunday's bomb
attack in Istanbul's Gungoren neighborhood which claimed 17 lives.
Interior Minister Besir Atalay said the explosive used in the
bombing was TNT. Atalay said victims of the bombings will be
compensated. Prime Minister Erdogan called for "unity against
terror" in his party group meeting yesterday. "They will never be
able to drag Turkey into instability through terrorism and murder,"
Erdogan told a meeting of his AKP parliament group. The PM also
asked the press to not "name the terrorists," and thus refrain from
spreading terrorist propaganda. The main opposition CHP leader
Deniz Baykal, addressing his party group in parliament, disagreed
with Erdogan, saying the "naming" of terrorists was to condemn their
actions.

Meanwhile, papers report Iraqi President Jalal Talabani phoned
President Abdullah Gul to condemn the terror attack in Istanbul.
Talabani also gave Gul details about Monday's bomb attacks in Kirkuk
which killed 32 Kurds and wounded hundreds. The Iraqi President
condemned the attack on the Iraqi Turkmen Front (ITF) building after
the attack, and said "all ethnic groups in Kirkuk should learn to
live together in peace." Gul thanked Talabani and expressed his
condolences for the Iraqis killed in the Kirkuk bombing.

Court Expected to Rule on AKP Closure before Weekend
All papers report the Constitutional Court's deliberations on
whether to ban the AKP continued Tuesday. On Monday, the court met
for 12 hours, and yesterday's sessions lasted 13 hours. In
yesterday's deliberations, the court members examined the evidence
compiled by the prosecutor to see whether it supports charges that
the AKP had become a "focal point of activities against secularism."
Several papers expect the court to complete case deliberations by
Wednesday or Thursday, and a ruling to be handed down by Friday.
Mainstream Sabah says the Constitutional Court was expected to make
a verdict before the High Military Council (YAS) meeting that begins
August 1. Papers speculate the court might stop short of closure
and merely opt to cut state funding to the party.

Intelligence Report: Baykal Affiliated to 'Ergenekon'
Leftist Taraf reports on its font page that opposition CHP leader
Deniz Baykal's name was mentioned as a member of the 'Ergenekon'
gang in a report written by the National Intelligence Organization
(MIT). The MIT report on the gang was submitted to the Turkish
General Staff (TGS) and Prime Ministry in 2003. The report also
includes several other prominent politicians and journalists names
supposedly affiliated to 'Ergenekon.' The report will be added to
the 'Ergenekon' indictment, according to Taraf.

Babacan Meets Iranians in Tehran
All papers report Foreign Minister Ali Babacan, in Tehran for the
Nonaligned Movement summit, told the press before his departure from
Ankara that the Turks were working on setting up a visit of Iranian
President Ahmadinejad to Turkey, but no date has been fixed. Press
reports have claimed Ahmadinejad will come to Turkey on August 14.
In Tehran, Babacan came together with Ahmadinejad, Foreign Minister
Manuchehr Mottaki and chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili.
Babacan reportedly gave Iranians the message nuclear talks between
Iran and the West were "important," and that this process should
continue. Islamist-oriented Zaman says Iran considers recent
proposals coming from the West important. The paper claims "the
Iranian side is seriously considering the incentives offered by the
West, and attaches great importance to the new process." Mainstream
Milliyet carries the headline, "Nuclear Diplomacy," and says
"Babacan stressed the importance of continuing the talks on nuclear
negotiations."

Editorial Commentary on Iran, Iraq/Kirkuk


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"War or Peace?"
Erdal Safak wrote in mainstream Sabah (7/30): "While the talks
between Syria and Israel through Turkey's mediation continued with
its fourth round, Foreign Minister Babacan left for Iran. Though
the purpose of his visit seems to be attendance at the Non-Aligned
Conference, the Iranian nuclear program is his real purpose. There
is caution in both Western circles and Russia about Turkey's role in
the Iranian nuclear crisis. There are warnings that Ankara may
regret its actions in the end since Iran knows how to gain time
without actually doing anything. In fact, Turkey's role is not a
direct mediation, but more of a message carrier between sides. Yet
there will be a serious consequence for Turkey if Iran does not
respond positively to the negotiations by August 2nd. When that
happens, Ankara will be forced to take a clear side in this dispute.
The initial phase of Israel-Syria talks was not very encouraging,
but ultimately efforts toward peace prevailed. Let's hope that FM
Babacan comes back from Tehran with a similar positive tone."

"The Kirkuk Bombing"
Sami Kohen wrote in mainstream Milliyet (7/30): "The suicide bombing
in Kirkuk brings some question marks along with it: Is this only a
suicide attack against the protestors or is there a greater goal of
creating chaos and anarchy in Kirkuk? Based on previous terrorist
incidents in Kirkuk - which is a relatively calm area of Iraq -
Iraqi and American suspect al-Qaeda as the perpetrator. Regardless
of who has done it and what the real purpose might be, this bombing
caused a serious blow to the delicate balance among Kirkuk's ethnic
groups, particularly between Turkmens and Kurds. The controversial
election law provided an opportunity for equal local parliamentary
representation of Kurds, Arabs and Turkmens, but Kurds rejected it,
because they don't want to lose the privileges of being a majority.
After President Talabani's veto, the election law must be debated
again. Given these conditions, there may be no election by the end
of this year. The attacks against Turkmen right after the suicide
bombing is actually the most worrying aspect of the Kirkuk incident.
It looks as if some Kurds are planning to demolish the ethnic
tranquility and balance in Kirkuk through violence. If this is the
genuine intention, not only does it pose a threat to ethnic harmony
in Kirkuk, it also threatens the future of Iraq."

Foreign Experts on Drug-Trafficking in Afghanistan
Islamist-oriented Yeni Safak refers to a Financial Times' report on
Afghan dealers importing Turkish chemists to process heroin. The
paper says "according to a UN Drug and Crime Office warning, drug
dealers are importing chemists from Turkey, Pakistan and Iran and
smuggling in illegal chemicals to produce high quality heroin.
Liberal Radikal writes in "Turkish Chemist Under Afghan Heroin's
Service" that "Afghanistan, which still carries a narco-state
identity after the U.S. invasion, conducts drug-trafficking in a
sophisticated way by employing foreign chemists."

UN Envoy Downer Meets Cypriot Leaders
Liberal Radikal writes "Downer is Hopeful for a Solution," and
reports there are good signs for the future of Cyprus because "after
his first meetings with the two leaders of the island, Turkish
Cypriot President Talat and Greek Cypriot counterpart Christofias,
the UN Secretary-General's new Special Envoy for Cyprus, Alexander
Downer stated that he's encouraged about the future of Cyprus."

TV News:
NTV

Domestic News

- On Tuesday, Turkish fighter jets struck a group of 30-40 PKK
terrorists around Mount Kandil in northern Iraq.

- Turkey's High Military Board is to convene in Ankara from August
1-4.


ANKARA 00001370 003 OF 003


- Turkish papers report on Sunday, Prime Minister Erdogan and
President Abdullah Gul held a 'secret' five hour meeting in the
house of Gul's brother-in-law in Ankara.

International News

- Thousands of far-right nationalists rallied in Belgrade to protest
the arrest of former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic.

- Thousands of Kurds rallied in the city of Erbil in northern Iraq
in protest against a provincial elections law.

- Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Israel and the US both
agreed that no option should be taken off the table in dealing with
the Iranian threat.

WILSON

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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