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Cablegate: Ankara Media Reaction Report

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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, AUGUST 13, 2008

In Today's Papers

Russia Halts Military Operations in Georgia
All news outlets report Russian President Medvedev ordered a halt to
military operations in Georgia on Tuesday after five days of
fighting. A peace plan endorsed by Medvedev and French President
Sarkozy calls for both Russian and Georgian troops to move back to
their positions prior to August 6, 2008. Papers report Russian
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Russia would not engage in talks
with Saakashvili, stressing the Georgian President should step down.


Media coverage today reflects relief Russian President Medvedev
ordered a halt to military operations in Georgia. However, several
aggressive statements from other Russian officials are covered today
with a measure of skepticism. Russian Deputy Chief of Staff General
Nogovitsin called claims the Russians attacked the BTC pipeline,
"Tbilisi's effort to drag Turkey into the war." Foreign Minister
Lavrov's suggestion that Saakashvili should step down has several
Turkish outlets questioning if the real Russian target was the
liberation of South Ossetia, or or the deposition of Saakashvili.
Islamist-oriented Zaman notes the Russians are setting harsh
criteria for talks in the headline, "Fighting in Georgia Ends and
Peace Discussions Will Start, but Russia Refuses to Talk with
Saakashvili." Mainstream Milliyet takes it one step further and
suggests, "So the Goal is to Overthrow Saakashvili," as, "An
Operation without Weapons Begins," to topple Saakashvili, who lies
in Russia's "crosshairs." Liberal Radikal declares in a banner
headline, "At Last, Russia Stops!" Inside the paper, Radikal notes,
"Russia Shakes the Hand of Europe and Stops Their Fire." Mainstream
Hurriyet is more cynical in their headline, "... And Russia Wins."
Mainstream Aksam comments on the Russian deputy army chief
Nogovitsin's statement in the headline, "A War Trap for Turkey:
Russian Commander Says Claims Russians Bombed the BTC Pipeline were
Tbilisi's Efforts to Drag Turkey into the War." Conservative
Turkiye credits the French President with the diplomatic victory in,
"Sarkozy Convinces Russia to Make a Ceasefire Deal." Economic daily
Referans expresses their concern in, "Russia Halts Operations, But
has no Intention of Withdrawing." Mainstream Vatan carries several
headlines including, "Putin: 'We Do Not Want Georgian Soldiers on
Georgian Soil!'" and, "The Devil Putin Ends the Invasion."

In "Urgent U.S. Aid Package for Georgia," Islamist-oriented Yeni
Safak reports Deputy Assistant Secretary Matt Bryza said the U.S.,
in cooperation with the international organizations, was preparing
an economic aid package which aims supporting Georgia's economy and
preserving stability following the conflict.

Russia Welcomes Turkey's 'Balanced Stance' in the Caucasus Conflict
Leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet reports Russia's Ankara Embassy
charg d'affaires Andrey Buravov said Moscow understands Turkish
concerns regarding the conflict in the Caucasus. Buravov welcomed
the "balanced approach" of Turkey. On PM Erdogan's proposal to form
a Caucasus Stability Pact, Buravov said the issue had not come to
the meeting table yet. Meanwhile, Cumhuriyet's front page accuses
Europe of "Waiting for too long," to formulate a Caucasus Union, as
former Turkish President Demirel reminds that Turkey has lobbied for
such a union since 1999. Mainstream Hurriyet reports analysts as
saying Turkey's efforts to become a transit route for Caspian and
Central Asian oil and gas exports to Europe, along with Ankara's
desire for a stable neighborhood on its east, could suffer a setback
as the conflict between Moscow and Tbilisi underlines the fragile
security in the Caucasus.


Editorial Opinion: Georgia

"Who Is the Winner of the War?"
Ibrahim Karagul wrote in Islamist-leaning Yeni Safak (8/13): "The
current situation does not indicate a complete end to the war in

ANKARA 00001458 002 OF 003


Georgia. Russia has stopped its operations but will remain in South
Ossetia and will not allow Georgian forces in this area any more.
With this war, the West's Caucasus policy has failed. Unlike the
Balkans, the Caucasus region is more likely to experience ethnic
divisions. This conflict was also a test of power between the U.S.
and Russia as well. However Georgians and Ossetians are paying the
price for the test. Saakashvili gambled and lost; he may end up
leaving his country and moving to the United States. In fact he
should do this not only for Russia's good but also for his country's
sake. This will be a good thing for Turkey and the region as
well."

"Trumping the Balkans with the Caucasus"
Sami Kohen wrote in mainstream Milliyet (8/13): "The military side
of the five-day war has ended with the start of a diplomatic
process. This incident goes beyond 'Russian reprisal for Kosovo'
because it is in fact a part of long term Russian strategy to gain
influence in the Caucasus in exchange of the Balkans. The Balkans
are now under Western influence since Russia has lost significant
ground there. Russia was determined to prevent the same loss of
influence in the Caucasus. The Russian lesson to Georgia was also a
message to the Western world. As diplomacy begins to proceed we
will witness the reshaping of regional and global balances."

"Disproportional Force"
Mehmet Y. Yilmaz wrote in mainstream Hurriyet(8/13): "It made me
smile when I heard Washington's accuse Russia of using
disproportionate force. I couldn't help but think about several
events in the past, such as what happened in Panama, Granada and
Iraq. Aside from the U.S. invasions of Panama and Iraq, the
disproportionate force the U.S. used in nearly sunk the islet. This
indicates one thing - 'self interest' is the key element in
international relations."


UNHCR: 100,000 Homeless after Georgia-Russia Conflict
Leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet reports the UN High Commissioner for
Refugees (UNHCR) said at least 100,000 people left their homes when
the conflict broke out between Georgia and Russia on August 6. The
Turkish Foreign Ministry (MFA) will reportedly launch an initiative
to evacuate Turks from Georgia through Azerbaijan. An estimated
2,000 Turks live in Georgia. France and the U.S. have also begun
evacuating their nationals in Tbilisi. The U.S. State Department
said 170 Americans were sent to Armenia in two convoys, reports
Cumhuriyet.

Papers and television channels report the Turkish Red Crescent
Society (Kizilay) said Tuesday that Turkey was the first country to
send humanitarian relief to Georgia. "The civilian death toll has
reached 3,000. Our teams that made it to Tbilisi report people were
running to the forests for their lives, leaving children and the
elderly in the cities," said Kizilay Chairman Tekin Kucukali.

Ahmadinejad's August 14-15 Visit to Istanbul
Sabah, Aksam, Ortadogu and Yeni Safak report on Thursday, Iranian
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is expected to meet President Abdullah
Gul and Prime Minister Erdogan in Istanbul. Islamist-oriented Yeni
Safak says the two sides are expected to sign an energy agreement
and discuss the PKK/PJAK and the Russia-Georgia conflict in the
Caucasus. The Turkish side is expected to warn the Iranians
concerning Tehran's uranium enrichment activities. Turkey will say
nuclear weapons would harm the Middle East a great deal, and will
urge Iran to cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency
(IAEA,) according to Yeni Safak. Mainstream Sabah carries a recent
editorial from the Washington Times which claims, "If Turkey and
Iran sign an energy agreement, the U.S. will withdraw its
intelligence support to Turkey's struggle against the PKK in
northern Iraq." Mainstream Aksam says, "The Bush Administration did
not send a direct warning against the visit," but, "Washington was
not pleased with the visit."

ANKARA 00001458 003 OF 003

Tuzla Shipyard Accidental Deaths
Sabah, Hurriyet, Milliyet, Cumhuriyet, Star and others: The deaths
of three shipyard workers last weekend remains high on the domestic
agenda. Mainstream Sabah reports, "The experts warned, but they did
not take it seriously," and Kerem Kiper, director of French Lloyd
company, who examined the ship after the life boat accident and said
"I cannot describe this as an accident. The shipyard authority was
negligent in this case. Our experts warned them not to do this test
with people. In Europe, these tests are not conducted with human
beings." Meanwhile, trade associations said "using people as test
dummies is nothing else but murder." Mainstream Milliyet's headline
reads "Send the Workers to Death, And Pay Only 20,000 YTL" and
reports that there was great negligence in the life boat accident,
but those responsible would pay only a fine of 20,000 YTL in
compensation to each of the victims' families for causing such an
accident.

TV News:
NTV

Domestic News

- Nine soldiers killed by a PKK landmine in the Erzincan province
earlier this week were laid to rest in their hometowns.

- Seven pro-Kurdish DTP members in Izmir were taken into custody for
praising the PKK and its jailed leader Abdullah Ocalan.

- The Higher Education Council (YOK) will announce its rector
nominees for 23 new universities on Wednesday.

International News

- Iranian Defense Minister Mostafa Mohammad Najjar announces Iran
has built a new unmanned intelligent submarine.

- The United Nations says 18 Colombian indigenous communities living
in the Amazon jungle are threatened with extinction by the ongoing
government-rebel conflict.

SILLIMAN

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