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Cablegate: Ankara Media Reaction Report

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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, AUGUST 20, 2008

In Today's Papers

Debate over U.S. Aid Shipments to Georgia via Black Sea Sparks
Controversy
All media outlets report about the negotiations between the U.S. and
Turkey regarding the transport of aid to Georgia via the Bosporus
and Dardanelles. Islamist-oriented Zaman carries the front-page
headline, "The U.S. Wants Passage through the Bosporus, Ankara Wants
to Find a Formula for an Agreement," as, "Russia is against the
deployment of U.S. ships in the Black Sea." Mainstream Aksam
reports, "Ankara is afraid that one violation of the Montreux Treaty
could open up debates concerning the entire convention," and calls
the negotiations with the U.S. "a fresh crisis." Mainstream Vatan
notes, "Turkey is caught between the U.S. and Russia. If Turkey
does not allow the U.S. ships through the straits, a new crisis with
the U.S. will emerge. If Turkey does allow the U.S. ships through
the straits, Russia will see this as a violation of the Montreux
Treaty and a new crisis with Russia will emerge." Mainstream
Hurriyet notes, "Turkey warned NATO that a violation of the Montreux
Treaty could provide Russia with a powerful trump card in the
region." Leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet carries the comments of
Ariel Cohen of the Heritage Foundation, who compared Turkey's
refusal to allow U.S. warships into the Black Sea to the March 1,
2003 crisis in which Turkey declined permission to the U.S. to open
a northern front in the Iraq war via Turkey.

The U.S. Will Abide By the Montreux Treaty
Hurriyet, Milliyet, Vatan, Radikal, Cumhuriyet, Zaman and others
report Deputy Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs
Matt Bryza spoke at the Foreign Press Center yesterday. Today's
coverage of his comments is straightforward and appears to calm the
frenzy surrounding the Montreux controversy. Leftist-nationalist
Cumhuriyet carries the banner headline, "The U.S. Will Abide By the
Montreux Treaty," and notes, "while the Pentagon insists on sending
naval hospital ships to the Black Sea, the State Department
announced there is no crisis with Turkey and the U.S. will abide by
the provisions of the Montreux Treaty." Islamist-oriented Zaman
writes, "Bryza said the U.S. has not made a formal request for the
passage of U.S. Navy hospital ships." NTV reports Bryza said, "The
U.S. can send cargo ships that abide by the guidelines set by the
Montreux Treaty." Mainstream Milliyet, however, focuses on Bryza's
take on Turkish efforts to create a Caucasus Stability Pact, "I was
surprised by this effort," because, "I was not informed of these
efforts despite the close partnership that exists between Turkey and
the U.S."

Editorial Commentary on Aid to Georgia through the Straits

Semih Idiz wrote in mainstream Milliyet (8/20): "Despite the
Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman's statements regarding negotiations
with Turkey about the passage of U.S. naval vessels through the
Turkish straits, the Turkish Foreign Ministry stressed the U.S. has
made no official request yet. The U.S. Embassy in Ankara also
confirmed that there is no official request for vessel passage.
According to the Montreux Treaty, there are strict regulations for
warships passing through the straits. A well-known law professor,
Huseyin Pazarci, told me 'Turkey should be careful in applying the
rules of the Montreux Treaty. Otherwise, stability in the Black Sea
could be damaged and Turkey will suffer the most." Circles within
the Foreign Ministry agree. Moreover, the Foreign Ministry
reiterated that they will assist the U.S. in every possible
regarding humanitarian aid to Georgia via air passage and there are
no limitations there."

Papers Continue to Criticize Turkey for Receiving Sudan's Al-Bashir
All papers report President Abdullah Gul met with Sudanese President
Omar Al-Bashir on Tuesday at the Turkey-Africa Summit in Istanbul.
Gul told Al-Bashir that Turkey was willing to make new investments
and be involved in oil exploration in Sudan; he also reportedly
urged Al-Bashir to work to bring an end to the humanitarian crisis

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in Darfur.

Meanwhile, papers report opposition CHP lawmaker Ahmet Ersin
submitted a motion in Parliament calling on Prime Minister Erdogan
to explain the frequent invitations extended to Al-Bashir. Ersin
noted the potential damage such invitations can have on Turkey's
image, especially after criticism from leading international human
rights organizations.

Leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet carries the headline, "Official
Reception to the Perpetrator of Genocide," and criticizes President
Gul for meeting with the figure accused of atrocities in Darfur.
Liberal Radikal strikes a similar tone, criticizing the fact that
Al-Bashir was given high level receptions in Turkey. "Gul Shakes
That Man's Hand Again," says leftist Taraf, slamming President Gul
for meeting with Al-Bashir and not touching on the Sudanese
president's responsibility in Darfur killings.

A joint declaration released at the end of the summit announced
Turkey's 'strategic partnership' with the African Union and Turkey's
new initiatives in Africa. Papers comment the real aim of the
summit was to garner support from African countries for Turkey's bid
for a seat at the UN Security Council during 2009-2010. Turkey will
compete against Iceland and Austria when the voting is held in
October. Turkey must secure the support of 128 UN members.
Ethiopia's Prime Minister Meles Zenawi was reported as saying he
believed "almost all African countries would support Turkey's
candidacy for a nonpermanent seat at the UN Security Council."


Editorial Commentary on Sudan President's Turkey Visit

Tufan Turenc criticized Al-Bashir's visit to Turkey in mainstream
Hurriyet : "The democratic world hates Al-Bashir for his criminal
role in the Darfur genocide. While he is not allowed into 108
countries, Turkey opens its doors and rolls out the red carpet each
time he comes to Turkey. Al-Bashir flaunts the support Turkey and
the Turkish government openly bestow upon him. What happened to AKP
policies and efforts that sought to rid this country of criminals?"

Hikmet Cetinkaya in Cumhuriyet: "Sudan's Al-Bashir has visited
Turkey for a second time; his first call was in January. Those who
had breakfast with the Butcher of Darfur could have asked him why
hundreds of thousands of people were killed in Darfur; but they
don't have the guts to do that. The Sudanese president, known for
his responsibility in the genocide in Darfur, held a private meeting
with Abdullah Gul in Istanbul. What can we say? This is such a
disgrace for Turkey."

Paper: Rice and Babacan Give Each Other the Cold Shoulder
In several papers, photos of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and
Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan dominate the international
pages. Mainstream Vatan carries the caption, "Rice and Babacan give
each other the cold shoulder," at the North Atlantic Council Meeting
in Brussels yesterday. Meanwhile, mainstream Milliyet's caption to
this photo reads, "Babacan and Rice are side by side in Brussels."


This photo of Rice and Babacan at the NAC is carried in all papers
today.

President Gul Pardons Erbakan
Vatan, Milliyet, Hurriyet, Cumhuriyet, Zaman, Posta, Bugun, Turkiye,
Cumhuriyet, Radikal: President Gul pardoned former leader of the
banned Welfare Party (RP) Necmettin Erbakan, who was under house
arrest after being found guilty on corruption charges, publicly
known as the "lost trillion" case. Erbakan was accused of fraud of
falsifying party records. Mainstream Vatan's headline reads "Is
this right, Mr. President?" Vatan reports that President Gul was
among those implicated in this 'lost trillion' case. Mainstream

ANKARA 00001504 003 OF 004


Sabah and leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet report that the main
opposition party CHP deputy Atilla Kart said "President Gul
exercised the power given to him by the Constitution, however the
decision should be questioned ethically because Gul himself is a
suspect in the same case and cannot not be tried because of his
political immunity."

Suicide Bomber Detonates his Car in Mersin, Injures 13 Policemen
Sabah, Milliyet, Zaman, Yeni Safak, and others: Mainstream Milliyet
reports that Mersin police followed a tip about a car loaded with
explosives and tried to stop the car at a check-point. While the
suicide bomber managed to escape the first check-point, he detonated
the bomb strapped to him at the second check-point when he realized
that he would be captured. 13 police officers were injured in the
blast. The explosive is believed to be 30kg of C-4 and it was
revealed that the target of the bomber was the police department in
Mersin.

Editorial Commentary on Pakistan, Political Islam vs. U.S.

Hikmet Bila in leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet: "Pakistan, struggling
in an environment of blood and death, might be assigned a new task
concerning Iran. Could Pakistan accomplish this new assignment
without Musharraf? Or are we going to see new Musharrafs or Ziya
ul-Haks in Pakistan? Pakistan, which has recently been debating
secularism and moderate Islam, is now discussing whether it should
choose secular Islam or radical Islam. It's for the Pakistanis who
celebrate Musharraf's departure to pick among these options."

Mehmet Barlas observed in mainstream Sabah (8/20): "Some describe
the situation in Georgia as 'the beginning of a new Cold War.' In
this new war the hostile parties are not the communists or the
capitalists. The ideological angle against the U.S. in this new
cold war is political Islam. This political Islam could be carried
out by Khomeini, Al-Qaeda, Hamas, Hizbullah or the Taliban. Now
that Musharraf has resigned, Pakistanis are concerned that political
Islam could fill the power vacuum. In this new Cold War era,
countries' internal stability is very important. Turkey is aware
that the path to security is the path to the EU. Therefore, every
attempt by the government to carry out EU reforms should be
supported fully."

TV News:
NTV

Domestic News

- Opposition CHP will not back the AKP-proposed constitutional
reforms, while MHP will support the reforms mentioned in Turkey's
National Program for EU harmonization.

- The Council of State (Danistay) suspended the privatization of
nine motorways and two Bosphorus bridges.

- Bulgaria opens a consulate in the city of Bursa.

International News

- U.S. presidential nominee Senator John McCain warns if Russia
captured the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline, it could exert increased
influence in the energy market.

- Turkish Cypriot presidential spokesman Hasan Ercakica blamed Greek
Cypriot leader Christofias for trying to seize the cities of
Guzelyurt, Karpaz and Maras before the start of the talks on the
divided island.

- Ahmad Fayyazbaksh, the head of an Iranian state-owned nuclear
energy production company, says Iran is preparing to build more
nuclear power plants.

ANKARA 00001504 004 OF 004

SILLIMAN

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