Cablegate: Ankara Media Reaction Report
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SUBJECT: ANKARA MEDIA REACTION REPORT
FRIDAY, JULY 31, 2008
In Today's Papers
Turkish Leaders on Court Decision on AKP
All news outlets continue giving extensive coverage to the
consequences of the Constitutional Court ruling in the AKP closure
case announced Wednesday. In his monthly address to the nation,
Prime Minister Erdogan called for "unity." "The AKP has never been
a focal point of anti-secular activities, and will continue to
protect the values of our republic," said Erdogan. President
Abdullah Gul said in a written statement released yesterday that in
the coming period everyone must focus on the priority issues of the
country such as the fight against terrorism and EU membership."
Parliament Speaker Koksal Toptan called on politicians to "assess
well the reason for the decision, and take lessons." Opposition CHP
lawmaker Onur Oymen told Italy's La Repubblica the Constitutional
Court ruling was a "victory of the secularists." "This is a
judicial decision and everybody should respect it," said far right
MHP acting group chairman Oktay Vural.
Several papers report following the announcement of the
Constitutional Court decision, PM Erdogan told high-level party and
Cabinet officiales that he cannot accept the claim that AKP has
become a center for anti-secular activities. AKP Vice Chairman
Dengir Firat said his party has always defended the basic principles
of the Republic, and would continue doing so.
Mainstream Hurriyet comments that the Court's decision has put in
place "red lines" for the ruling party. If the AKP attempts new
moves on controversial issues such as the headscarf or Islamic
theology high schools (Imam-Hatip,) the prosecutor could ask for the
closure of the party again. Mainstreams Sabah, Hurriyet and Aksam
say the PM might consider a cabinet reshuffle in September.
Mainstream Milliyet says Erdogan discussed with President Abdullah
Gul on Sunday the possibility of changing five or six ministers in
the cabinet. Hurriyet expects Education Minister Huseyin Celik to
be moved to the party board, and Energy Minister Hilmi Guler, Health
Minister Recep Akdag, and party deputy chairman Dengir Mir Mehmet to
replaced. Papers also speculate the AKP might seek a compromise
with the opposition on possible constitutional changes once things
settle down in October.
International Reaction to Court Decision on AKP
Papers report Iraqi President Jalal Talabani phoned PM Erdogan to
congratulate him over the favorable outcome. German Chancelor
Merkel, Georgian President Shaakashvili, Italian PM Berlusconi and
Iraqi PM Maliki called Erdogan and expressed their pleasure. Joost
Lagendijk, the co-chairman of Turkey-EU Joint Parliament Committee,
said in a statement that a court decision to close the AKP would
have been anti-democratic and incompatible with European values.
Lagendijk also asked the AKP to take the right lessons from the
court verdict, and to continue reforms that would lead towards the
EU. British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said, "The fact that
the court chose not to close the party means Turkey can follow a
more democratic and European path," and added Turkey's priority now
should be reforms. The EU term president France said the EU "took
note of the Constitutional Court decision," and that it would
continue to watch Turkey, particularly its democratic institutions.
Mainstream Milliyet reports EU ambassadors in Ankara see the
Constitutional Court ruling as a "yellow card" for the AKP.
Editorial Commentary on Court Decision on AKP
Okay Gonensin wrote in mainstream Vatan (8/1): "The Prime Minister
spent an entire year creating suspicion and making statements that
fed worry. Therefore, it should now be his priority to eliminate
those fears and worries in society. He has every resource he needs
to do that: a parliament majority, popular support and a weak
opposition. The European Union project is the most effective
resource. It's been nice to hear government figures speaking about
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a 'new style' in the aftermath of the court decision. Let's hope
these figures move beyond lip service to a new style to actual deeds
that put it into effect."
Yasemin Congar wrote in leftist Taraf (8/1): "Let's hope that the
AKP uses the Court decision as a chance for rebirth by moving
forward with reforms and taking strong steps on difficult foreign
issues. There is also a chance for AKP to fight with a strengthened
political will against Ergenekon to its bitter end. The ruling
party can be more reformist, pro-EU integration and decisive in
foreign policy issues such as Armenia, northern Iraq and Cyprus. It
can take the initiative towards a civilian constitution and form
social consensus with a more democratic approach. If and when AKP
chooses this path for the future, we can all take a deep breath of
relief in the name of democracy."
Mainstream Milliyet carried this op-ed (8/1): "The Court decision
represented a sensitive balance between democratic stability and the
protection of secular values. The decision is like a guide to all
sides of the dispute as well as to the public about the boundaries
of this sensitive balance. The decision is a chance to decrease
polarization within society and to establish a strong base for
reconciliation. The current crisis is a result of the AKP's loss of
aspiration for EU integration. Being inspired by the EU project is
important for opening a new horizon for Turkey. The European Union
also must show an effort to regain the hearths and minds in
Ihsan Dagi wrote in Islamist-leaning Zaman (8/1): "The Court
decision aims to create a hold over the AKP. The Court's message to
the ruling party is 'You are guilty, but pardoned.' The AKP must
either live with this restraint or reform the political structure.
The future of AKP is through full democracy which calls for freedom,
supremacy of law for everybody and equality. But this is not in
reconciliation with the current system which is based on supremacy
of the appointed ones over the elected ones. If AKP compromises
with this bureaucratic ruling, it will lose its power."
The Supreme Military Council (YAS) Convenes
Hurriyet, Sabah, Milliyet, Posta, Bugun, Vatan, Cumhuriyet, and
others: Papers report that the Supreme Military Council (YAS) will
convene under PM Erdogan today. 111 colonels and generals'
retirement and promotion will be determined at the YAS and .
decisions will be announced to the public following President Gul's
approval on Monday August 4. Mainstream Sabah says Land Forces
Commander General Basbug is expected to be assigned as the Chief of
General Staff, Gendarmerie commander General Isik Kosaner will be
the Land Forces Commander and deputy Chief of TGS General Saygun
will be the 1st Army Commander. Air Force Commander General Aydogan
Babaoglu and Navy Commander Admiral Metin Atac will remain at their
posts for one more year.
Tensions High in Kirkuk
Hurriyet, Milliyet, Sabah, Radikal, Cumhuriyet, Zaman and others
report on rising tensions surrounding the Kirkuk Provincial
Council's decision to join the Kurdish Regional Administration.
Liberal Radikal writes "Kirkuk Annexed to Kurdish Region," saying
"while Kurds are protesting the provincial elections law which
provides equal rights to Turkmens and Arabs, the Provincial Council
decided yesterday the city should be annexed to the Kurdish region."
In "Tensions at the Top in Kirkuk," mainstream Milliyet writes
"while tensions rise with the attacks targeting Turkmens in Kirkuk,
the Provincial Council has decided in a special meeting to join the
Kurdish Administration." The paper carries the Turkish Foreign
Ministry's statement on the issue which expresses its concern about
the rising tensions in Kirkuk. The statement notes "there's no
change in Turkey's Kirkuk policy and Turkey invites all parties in
Kirkuk and Iraq to compromise and pursue dialogue." Mainstream
Hurriyet reports in "Turkmen's Cry for Help," that "Turkmen's are
worried about the rising pressure of Kurds."
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Karadzic Appears at War Crimes Court
All papers report the former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic
appeared before the UN war crimes tribunal at The Hague yesterday to
face genocide charges. Mainstream Milliyet writes "Time to Pay the
Bill," noting "Karadzic's bushy beard and the guru-like hair that
helped him stay hidden nearly 13 years on the run, was gone."
Mainstream Sabah writes in "Serbian Butcher Claims the U.S. Sold
Him" that "Karadzic shockingly claimed that former Secretary of
State Richard Holbrooke attempted to arrange for the indictment to
be withdrawn in exchange for a deal with Karadzic that he disappear
from public life." Liberal Radikal writes "Karadzic: U.S.
Guaranteed," and reports "Ambassador Holbrooke denied all of
Karadzic's claims, however, adds that Holbrooke further explained
that Karadzic had to quit politics, and he did that."
Leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet carries the headline, "I Have
Holbrooke's Word," saying "Karadzic made his shocking appearance on
the very first day."
One Sergeant Martyred at PKK Attack in Sivas
Sabah, Milliyet, Hurriyet, Cumhuriyet, Zaman, Radikal and others:
Today's papers report that PKK terrorists opened fire on a military
vehicle near Cukuroba village in Sivas. One sergeant was killed and
two soldiers and a technician were injured during the attack.
Meanwhile, Islamist-oriented Zaman reports that big personnel losses
by the PKK in recent military operations, the terrorist group is
exerting efforts to recruit new members. With little recruitment
success in Turkey, the PKK is training Iranian youth at Kandil
Zaman also carries a PKK corruption story in which two
administrators of a German PKK-affiliated association ran away with
500.000 Euro. Reportedly, the PKK gave the execution orders for
these two fugitives.
- Breaking News: On Friday, a three story girls dormitory collapsed
in the central Anatolian city of Konya, killing more than 10
students. Many children are still buried in the rubble. The
dormitory was reportedly used for religious education for girls.
- Merrill Lynch sees Turkish markets as "stable" following the
Constitutional Court ruling in the AKP closure case.
- The Turkish Parliament's honorary award for 2008 goes to world
famous Turkish historian, Professor Halil Inalcik.
- The Italian Parliament ratified the Lisbon Treaty one week after
the Senate and lower house approved the accord.
- President Bush declares progress in the Iraq war, saying
terrorists "are on the run" and that further troop reductions should
- Seventy-one terror attacks were reported in Turkey in the second
quarter of 2008.