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Cablegate: Ankara Media Reaction Report

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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 ANKARA 001475

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
FRIDAY, AUGUST 15, 2008

In Today's Papers

Erdogan Meets Saakashvili and Proposes a 'Caucasus Union'
All news outlets report Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili and
Prime Minister Erdogan held a joint press conference after they met
in Tbilisi Thursday. During the press conference, Saakashvili
claimed Russia attacked the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline
despite the fact that it was not a military target. Saakashvili
also stated Russia aims to weaken Georgia's economic power. Erdogan
said Turkey supported the preservation of Georgia's sovereignty and
territorial integrity. Liberal Radikal emphasizes that, while
Erdogan was voicing support for the territorial integrity of
Georgia, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told a press
conference it was time to "forget about Georgia's territorial
integrity," and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev assured South
Ossetia and Abkhazia of Russia's support in their bid for
independence. Erdogan said the Turkish Red Crescent (Kizilay) was
the first humanitarian relief organization to reach out to Georgia,
adding another convoy carrying 160 tons of food aid would reach the
region on Thursday. Erdogan also pledged support for rebuilding the
infrastructure of the city of Gori.

After returning home yesterday, Erdogan held a news conference in
the Aegean coastal town of Bodrum where he was vacationing with his
family before the crisis broke out in the Caucasus. Erdogan said he
shared his proposal for the formation of a "Caucasus Platform" with
the Georgian President and added that Moscow, too, was warm to the
proposal. He noted Foreign Minister Ali Babacan and Russian Foreign
Minister Sergey Lavrov would meet next week and launch the "Caucasus
Platform" process. He added that Turkey also wants Azerbaijan and
Armenia to participate in this platform. "Turkey favors Georgia's
independence, sovereignty and its territorial integrity as defined
by international law and the resolutions of the UN Security
Council," Erdogan told reporters.

Islamist-oriented Yeni Safak carries the headline, "Peace Brought to
the Caucasus," as, "there is hope for peace in the Caucasus after
Moscow and Tbilisi give support to Erdogan for a Caucasus Union."
Mainstream Sabah carries the headline, "From Now On, Turkey Is a
Major Player," as Turkish leadership has pursued, "active diplomacy
in the region" when "Erdogan goes to the area under fire."
Islamist-oriented Zaman reports, "Erdogan gives support to Georgia's
territorial integrity, while Moscow calls the notion a "dead topic"
and Russian military actions continue." Leftist-nationalist
Cumhuriyet accuses Russia of playing the "separatist card."

Editorial Opinion on Turkey's Efforts in the Caucasus

Ferai Tinc wrote in mainstream Hurriyet (8/15): "Some circles argue
that Russia gained more influence following its war with Georgia.
The Russian army displayed a show of force in Georgia that was
important after Russia showed such weakness in Chechnya. Yet at the
same time Russia has lost significant ground as a global partner to
the United States and Europe. Thanks to Georgia, the US has now a
powerful trump card against Russia. Ahmadinejad is racing against
time as he awaits the result of American elections. Meanwhile those
voices that support a strike against Iran in the US and in Israel
are getting stronger. Russia used to play a major role that
balanced international opinion against Iran, but after the war in
Georgia, Russia has lost a great deal of influence."

Erdal Safak wrote in mainstream Sabah (8/15): "While PM Erdogan in
Tbilisi was expressing support for Georgia's territorial integrity,
Russian FM Lavrov in Moscow stated that 'the territorial integrity
of Georgia is out of question after the recent developments.' For
the time being, Russia is planning not to recognize South Ossetia
and Abkhazia officially. In time, there will be a de facto
recognition. Russian media interpret this development as these two
countries will be just like the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.
I believe that this development in the Caucasus will have an impact

ANKARA 00001475 002 OF 003


on the Cyprus issue: The peace negotiations in Cyprus start next
month and the Greek Cypriot side will be conciliatory since the war
in South Ossetia started a new era of fighting for the un-recognized
states in the world."

Sami Kohen questioned in mainstream Milliyet (8/15): "PM Erdogan
suggested a 'Caucasus Stability and Cooperation platform' in Russia
and Georgia in order to find a solution to the recent problems in
Caucasus. He also noted that this is just a thought and should be
worked on before turning it into a project."

Okay Gonensin wrote in mainstream Vatan (8/15): "Turkey is in a
region where vast historical conflicts have taken place. It is not
easy to manage to stay out of the fire without taking sides. The
West was disturbed by the Ahmadinejad visit, while serious problems
continue in Georgia. The PM loves to act as a mediator, but acting
as a mediator in such a chaotic climate has some consequences. If
the AKP government starts acting outside of the traditional Turkish
policy line, it may cause serious results to Turkey."

Mumtazer Turkone in Islamist-leaning Zaman (8/15): "Russia defends
the principle of self-determination in the Caucasus; however, Russia
also has to remember the fact that this principle itself led to the
end of the Russian empire. The competition between Turkey and
Russia is growing again. It's obvious that in the new era, this
competition will not be as bloody as it was in the past. Turkish
foreign policy, however, will be shaped according to the Russian
factor. We must look at the Caucasus carefully."

Mustafa Balbay in leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet (8/15): "President
Bush talked about sending an American fleet to the Black Sea. A
U.S. fleet, of course, will enter the Black Sea through the Straits,
and not the Urals. The U.S. wants to dominate the Black Sea, and to
that end, pushes Ankara to not apply the Montreaux Treaty provisions
to the United States. The status of the Straits will be a hot topic
in the days ahead. Turkey's interests lie in establishing a balance
in the region, not in taking sides. It is not possible to read the
21st century correctly with the Cold War era compasses."

Iranian President Ahmadinejad Comes to Turkey
All papers: In the first day of his working visit to Turkey,
Iranian President Ahmadinejad met with President Gul and the two
leaders held a joint press conference following the meeting.
President Gul said "we support Iran's right to use nuclear energy
for civilian purposes but, Iran should cooperate with the western
world and resolve the issue through diplomatic ways." Islamist
-oriented Zaman reports that three memoranda of understanding were
signed for cooperation between the national libraries, cooperation
in transport and environmental issues. Mainstream Hurriyet notes
that the energy agreement, which the US was against, was not signed.
But the two countries made a very extensive agreement in security
issues. Ahmadinejad will meet with PM Erdogan today and leave the
country tonight.

Editorial Opinion on Ahmadinejad's Turkey Visit

Turker Alkan wrote in liberal-intellectual Radikal (8/15): "We all
witnessed the tragedy even a small-scale war in Georgia can cause.
If Iran is attacked by the US and/or Israel, the aftermath will be
like a colossal earthquake. The solution to the problem requires a
change in Ahmadinejad's two major policy lines. He has to give up
his threats to wipe out Israel and his ambition to produce an atomic
bomb. Given the speeches he makes, he seems to live in a different
reality. He has to wake up and be realistic before he painfully
learns the difference between rhetoric and reality."

Ibrahim Karagul wrote in Islamist-leaning Yeni Safak (8/15): "There
are some overlooked facts about the aftermath of the war in Georgia.
Moscow does not recognize Georgia's territorial integrity any more.
East-West energy routes are no longer safe without [the involvement

ANKARA 00001475 003 OF 003


of] Russia and Iran. Turkey's leaders realize the importance of
these consequences and PM Erdogan rushed to Russia to propose a
Caucasus union. Meanwhile the visit of Ahmadinejad angered Turkey's
allies. Israel gave a protest note to Ankara a week ago. In fact
Turkey wants to make the Black Sea a region for peace and economic
stability. What could be wrong about an Iran-Turkey rapprochement
in this respect? Apparently Turkey is not wanted as a regional
power."

New Detentions in Ergenekon Case
Cumhuriyet, Turkiye, Vatan, Milliyet, Hurriyet and others: Retired
Colonel Arif Dogan and two others were detained in Ankara and
Istanbul under the Ergenekon probe. Hurriyet says police seized a
truckload of documents believed to have been from the archives of
the Gendarmerie intelligence Unit (JITEM), 1000 bullets, 280
grenades, and 2 Kalashnikov rifles from Dogan's estate agent office
in Istanbul.

Meanwhile, papers report that an arrest warrant was issued for
retired General Levent Ersoz and former AKP deputy Turan Comez.

Paper: Armenia's 'Visa Gesture' for Turks
Leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet and the Islamist-oriented Zaman
report the Armenian government decided Thursday to establish a
visa-free regime for Turkish soccer fans' entry into Armenia from
September 1-6 for the September 6 World Soccer Cup qualifier game
between the teams of the two countries. Last month, Armenian
President Serzh Sargsyan invited his Turkish counterpart Abdullah
Gul to Yerevan to watch the game together. Ankara has so far not
responded to the invitation.

TV News:
CNN Turk

Domestic News

- On Thursday, at least 40 members of the pro-Kurdish DTP were taken
into custody in Adana under suspicions they were planning attacks
before August 15, the anniversary of the date when the PKK staged
its first armed attack in 1984.

- Workers in Istanbul's Tuzla shipyards return to work after the
death of three colleagues in a deadly lifeboat test earlier this
week.

- The body of the extreme left DHKP-C leader Dursun Karatas was
brought to Istanbul for burial. Aslan Tayfun Ozkok, a potential
DHKP-C leader to replace Karatas, was captured in south Cyprus while
trying to board a plane to the Netherlands to join Karatas' funeral.


International News

- Jerome Corsi attacks Senator Barack Obama in a book saying that
Obama has tried to cover up "extensive connections to Islam."

- The white majority in the U.S. will be outnumbered by Americans of
other races by 2042, eight years sooner than previously projected by
the Census Bureau.

- British Airways PLC, American Airlines and Spain's Iberia SA say
they have signed a joint business agreement on flights between North
America and Europe.

SILLIMAN

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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