Cablegate: Ankara Media Reaction Report
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TAGS: OPRC KMDR TU
SUBJECT: ANKARA MEDIA REACTION REPORT
MONDAY, AUGUST 11, 2008
In Today's Papers
Conflict in the Caucasus
All news outlets report Tbilisi's military action against Georgia's
breakaway region of South Ossetia last week triggered a military
clash with Russia. Monday papers report the dispute threatens to
spiral into a major conflict because Russian strikes continued
despite a Georgian withdrawal of South Ossetia. Papers quote White
House Deputy National Security Advisor James Jeffrey's warning that
Russia's continued "disproportionate and dangerous escalation" could
well result in a "significant long term impact on the U.S.-Russian
On Sunday, the Turkish Foreign Ministry (MFA) said in a statement
Foreign Minister Ali Babacan spoke on the telephone with the
Georgian and Russian foreign ministers. Babacan invited Russia to
calm during his talk with Sergei Lavrov, and stressed the importance
of preserving Georgia's territorial integrity. The statement noted
Babacan spoke on the telephone with Secretary Rice as well.
Mainstream Sabah writes, "The press in Russia also hold Turkey
responsible for the war in Ossetia, as Putin did not return Ankara's
call," and, "Prime Minister Erdogan called Georgian leader
Saakashvili and Russian PM Putin on Friday in order to make a call
for a peaceful solution," but while "Saakashvili spoke with Erdogan,
Putin did not return Erdogan's phone call."
Liberal Radikal said on Sunday Turkey was concerned that it might
face a large wave of incoming refugees and increased risks for the
Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) oil pipeline. Mainstream Vatan reported
Sunday Russian warplanes fired on the BTC pipeline but missed it.
Monday's leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet says in a news commentary
that Turkey was afraid the conflict in South Ossetia might harm the
projects carried out in cooperation with Georgia, which include the
Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) oil pipeline, the Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum
natural gas pipeline, the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railroad project, and
the Black Sea Highway Project. Cumhuriyet calls Russia's actions in
South Ossetia, "Russia's Kosovo Re-Match," meaning Russia was
defeated over world recognition of Kosovo's independence, so
"Ossetia is Russia's return game in response to this defeat." Vatan
writes, "Russia responds to Georgia's call for an unconditional
ceasefire by telling Georgia 'End the war and withdraw your
troops.'" Mainstream Milliyet carries photos of Russian tanks and
other military vehicles in Georgia under the headline, "Georgia Is
under Siege," and notes, "while Georgia wants a ceasefire," the
Russians, "continue to increase their attacks." Mainstream Hurriyet
writes, "They gave up when the Russians were 65 kilometers from
Tbilisi," as the Georgians "make a call for a ceasefire," while the
Russians say, "We are ready to talk," and the Americans accuse
Russia of "using disproportionate force." In addition, mainstream
Sabah notes, "The Russian press accuses the U.S. and Turkey of
supplying military assistance to Georgia." Liberal Radikal writes
in "This Time the Kosovo and Genocide Card is in Putin's Hand," as,
"Putin answered the recognition of Kosovo's recently declared
independence by accusing Georgia of genocide in South Ossetia."
Islamist-oriented Zaman writes, "Turkish Journalists Are Targeted,"
as, "a Kanalturk TV correspondent, an NTV correspondent, and an NTV
cameraman were injured when their vehicle was attacked with
gunfire." Leftist Taraf writes, "Despite the Ceasefire, The War
Continues," as the Russians form "a blockade in the Black Sea," and
"reject Georgia's calls for a cease fire."
A commentary in mainstream Sabah says, "As a result of the Southeast
European Stability Pact, today the Balkans are much more stable both
politically and economically. Why can't this magic formula that
brought democracy, stability and welfare to the Balkans, be used in
the Caucasus as well?"
Editorial Commentary on Georgia
"The Lessons from Georgia"
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Murat Yetkin wrote in liberal-intellectual Radikal (8/11):
"Saakashvili made a serious tactical error regarding Ossetia. In
order to gain Ossetia, he aggravated Russia to the point of attack
and failed to win the U.S. support he hoped for. In the end, it
seems Saakasvili is going to lose both his leadership position and
Abkhazia at the same time. Given the current situation, Turkey has
to take a lesson out of these developments and recalculate its
policy on energy and security in the region. Otherwise we may end
up with another natural gas supply crisis this winter."
"Who Pushed Saakashvili?"
Ferai Tinc wrote in mainstream Hurriyet (8/11): "Out of nowhere,
Saakasvili stirred up the Ossetia tensions, even though the problem
lay dormant for 13 years. It looks like he was provoked to attack
with the hope of claiming Southern Ossetia for Georgia. Before
this, things were going really well for Georgia. Their NATO
membership bid was proceeding and possible EU membership was not a
distant dream. It is obvious that he was being encouraged by some
foreign powers to go ahead with the South Ossetia plan; otherwise he
would not have enough power to act alone. There are speculations
that the U.S. made a secret deal with Russia swapping Russian
support for sanctions against Iran in exchange for U.S. neutrality
regarding South Ossetia. Time will show what really happened, but
the sad fact is that the people will continue to pay for the
"The End of Chauvinism"
Hakan Albayrak wrote in Islamist leaning Yeni Safak (8/11): "Both
Turkey and the United States provide military support to Georgia.
This support is part of a common goal to prevent Russian expansion
in the region. That said, it does not mean Ankara and Washington
have a joint policy on Georgia. Ankara considers Georgia a security
buffer against Russia. However in the eyes of Washington, Georgia
is an instrument to get a greater share of the Caucasus pie.
Saakashvili made a big mistake and invaded South Ossetia. He is
acting like a missionary imposing a Christian Georgian identity upon
the entire region. The reaction in South Ossetia, as well as the
lack of American support, has wound up making him beg for mercy.
Under the current circumstances, this is the very time to call
Saakashvili to act with common sense regarding both Abkhazia and
PM Erdogan Fined for not Enforcing Court Ruling
Mainstream Milliyet's weekend edition reported that the Supreme
Court of Appeals (Yargitay) ruled that PM Erdogan, along with some
of his administrators, must pay a fine for allowing the U.S.-owned
Cargill starch factory in Bursa to continue construction despite a
previous court decision to the contrary. Despite the court order,
PM Erdogan personally instructed that work continue on the
construction of the factory.
Turkey's Missile Shield Program
Vatan, Milliyet, Sabah, Turkiye and others: Milliyet reports that
Defense Industry Undersecretary Murat Bayar said that Turkey aims to
establish a missile defense shield by implementing a Long Range
Regional Defense and Missile Defense System Project. Bayar added
that within the scope of this project, initially four missile
batteries will be purchased for the Air Force command and a total of
8 anti-missile systems will be established. Turkey is considering
the purchase of missile defense systems from four countries - the
U.S., Russia, China and Israel. Conservative-nationalist Turkiye
reports that two out of eight missiles will be deployed in Ankara
Thousands Join Funeral of Soldier Killed by the PKK
Hurriyet, Milliyet, Sabah, Cumhuriyet, Zaman and others report on
Sunday, around 10,000 people joined the funeral ceremony of a
private killed in a PKK attack on a gendarme outpost in the eastern
province of Elazig. The martyred gendarme Private Cem Havale was
scheduled to be discharged from army in 10 days.
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- The ruling AKP government has launched a program for tackling
poverty, unemployment and migration in the Southeastern Anatolia
Project (GAP) region.
- The state-owned broadcaster TRT will launch Kurdish language
broadcasts in 2009.
- Energy Minister Hilmi Guler said daylight savings time
implementation in Turkey will be scrapped in two years.
- Russian media accuses Turkey of instigating war in the Caucasus by
extending military support to Georgia.
- Around half of Georgia's 2,000-strong contingent in Iraq returns
home to redeploy in the conflict in its province of South Ossetia.
- U.S. and Iraqi negotiators reportedly are "very close" to reaching
a long-term security pact that will decide the fate of American
troops in Iraq.