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Cablegate: Ankara Media Reaction Report

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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 ANKARA 001549

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 27, 2008

In Today's Papers

Russia Defies the World
Media see Russia's decision to recognize the independence of
Abkhazia and South Ossetia as a power game that defies the world and
raises international tensions. Mainstream Sabah reports, "Russia's
decision increases world tensions," while Islamist-oriented Yeni
Safak agrees, "Russia Defies the World," and "turns up the heat in
the Caucasus." Leftist Taraf accuses Russia of "paving the way to
the most intense tension since the Cold War." Islamist-oriented
Zaman characterizes Russia's decision as "Russia's Kosovo Missile."
Liberal Radikal reports, "Russia Pulls the Pin on the Grenade," as
"the noose is tightening in the Caucasus crisis," and "the winds of
the Cold War are blowing in the Black Sea." Mainstream Vatan
reports in, "A Huge Crisis!" that "Russia recognizes separatist
regions, the West reacts harshly, and Moscow says they are scared of
nothing." Meanwhile, Vatan notes, "Turkey is worried" about being
caught between the U.S. and Russia. Leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet
reports, "NATO is Establishing Itself," in the Black Sea, as Russia
claims, "the number of NATO war ships in the Black Sea has climbed
to 10." Cumhuriyet also criticizes Russia for "the dismemberment of
Georgia." Mainstream Milliyet carries the headline, "Russia Burns
Its Bridges with the West." The media also characterizes the
uniquely difficult situation in which Turkey finds itself. Hurriyet
reports, "Ankara is trapped. If Ankara opposes Russian recognition
of the breakaway regions, it will create problems with Ankara's
position regarding northern Cyprus. If Ankara opposes independence
for South Ossetia and Abkhazia, Russia could retaliate against
Ankara's efforts for the recognition of northern Cyprus."

Editorial Commentary on Russia/Caucasus
Ismet Berkan wrote in liberal-intellectual Radikal: "Interestingly
enough Russia recognized independence for South Ossetia and Abkhazia
while the same Russia brutally stopped independence efforts in
Chechnya. Recognition of their independence is likely to have no
significance, as both will be under Moscow's full control. However,
Russia succeeded in establishing itself as the leader of a bloc
against the Western bloc, which is led by the United States. In the
end, this is a global competition for power. The terms of the game
may not be the same as they were in the Cold War, but the
methodology will be the same."

Oktay Eksi wrote in mainstream Hurriyet: "The broader picture of
current developments in the Caucasus indicates that this struggle is
about control of the Black Sea. When the U.S. made a similar move
in Afghanistan, Russia lost its influence there completely. Since
the demise of Soviet Union, former Soviet countries almost entirely
joined the Western community, while Russia's consolation prize was
the Commonwealth of Independent States. The formerly Soviet areas
are occupied by Western powers but not with military force. Now
Russia has told the Western world "Enough is enough." Whether
Russia is right or wrong for intervening in Georgia, this is the
background that created this situation."

Ibrahim Karagul wrote in Islamist leaning Yeni Safak: "The United
States is working on a long term strategy to create its own silk
road by controlling energy resources from Europe to the Pacific.
Russia and China are doing their best to prevent this from
happening. Now there is a giant energy power game between the NATO
Pact and the Shanghai Pact. During this game a lot of things could
happen. For instance, Armenia may change its political stance, the
Karabakh issue could be resolved and the Black Sea may turn into a
very troublesome area."

Sami Kohen in wrote mainstream Milliyet: "The crisis in the
Caucasus reflects negatively on stability in the Middle East.
Russia's success in Georgia has prompted initiatives to extend
Russian influence to the Middle East. Already, Russia has managed
to pull Syria to its side. If the crisis in Caucasus continues and
the tensions between the West and Russia escalate, there will be a

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power struggle in the Middle East among the big players. Georgian
intervention into South Ossetia and Russia's radical retaliation
sent shockwaves throughout the world. These shockwaves are already
being felt in the Middle East. All these developments strike a big
blow against the U.S. vision of a greater Middle East. For the time
being, Russia seems to be the winner, but the big game continues!"

Sinan Ogan analyzed in Islamist leaning Zaman: "Medyedev's
recognition of the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia shows
that Russia is ready for anything and everything and will take all
kinds of risks with relations with the Western world. However, this
means the Caucasus Stability Platform initiative is weakened.
Turkey's position is very sensitive because of Russia's recognition
of the two breakaway republics. Both NATO and U.S. war ships passed
through Turkish straits under the Montreux convention. However,
just a little spark between these ships and the Russian ships will
cause a very big fire. Leaning on the West's support, Georgia can
attack once again. If a war starts again, Turkey, this time, might
find itself as a mediator between Russia and the West instead of
between Russia and Georgia. Turkey's role and stance will determine
the end of these crises. Turkey should continue to remain
impartial. These crises show the importance of the Caucasus and the
Black Sea Region for Turkey and for the entire world."

Lugar Asks Turkey to Put Brakes on Caucasus Stability Pact
Mainstream Milliyet reports in "No Support from the U.S. for the
Caucasus Pact," that Senator Richard Lugar spoke with Foreign
Minister Ali Babacan yesterday and "said it was necessary to
postpone the initiative until after Russia withdraws from the
region." Liberal Radikal reports Lugar "expressed his anxiety"
regarding the proposal and noted that "the crisis in the Caucasus is
a crisis for Turkey." Mainstream Vatan reports, "Without American
Consent, the Caucasus Pact Cannot Be Established."

Russia Warned about Customs Restrictions on Turkish Products
Bugun, Star, Milliyet: Papers report that State Minister Kursad
Tuzmen sent a warning message to Russia on Tuesday over customs
restrictions imposed against Turkish trucks transporting Turkish
exports to Russia. Tuzmen said "it really bothers us that our
trucks have been delayed by Russian customs officials for three
weeks now." Tuzmen warned Russia that, "Turkey might be forced to
retaliate against these disturbing restrictions."

Operations Continue against PKK
Mainstream dailies Hurriyet, Sabah and Milliyet report PKK
terrorists raided a village in the Mus province and 5 village guards
were killed during clashes. In return, the military launched
operations in pursuit of the culprits and killed 15 of them.
Reports also mention a separate operation against PKK terrorists in
Mardin province, in which significant amounts of A-4 explosives and
ammonium nitrate were seized. During this operation, Security
forces killed two PKK terrorists who were preparing the explosives
for use.

Former Gendarme Commander Complains
All papers carry highlights from Gendarme Commander General
Kosaner's remarks during a change of command ceremony as he bade
farewell and congratulated the new Gendarme Commander Atila Isik.
Papers note that General Kosaner made a clear reference to the
ongoing Ergenekon case and complained about the general tendency to
accuse institutions of crimes. Regarding the Gendarme's duty to
fight against terrorism, General Kosaner expressed concern about
EU-harmonization laws which he believes 'make it more difficult for
security forces to do their jobs properly.' Kosaner added that
"Turkey does not have the luxury to pretend as if it does not have
terrorism problem."


TV News:
CNN Turk

ANKARA 00001549 003 OF 003

Domestic News

- Opposition party MHP leader Devlet Bahceli calls for
Constitutional reforms.

- CHP Deputy Hakki Suha Okay says his party will not support MHP's
proposals
for constitutional reforms.

- President Gul approves 114 laws during his first year in office.

- Ferda Paksut, the wife of Constitutional Court vice-president
Osman Paksut , has been summoned for questioning in the Ergenekon
case.


International News

- White House spokesman Tony Fratto said North Korea would stay on
the U.S. terrorism black list until all sides agree on a protocol to
verify North Korea's accounting and dismantling of its nuclear
programs

- A Sudanese passenger plane with more than 100 people on board was
hijacked and landed in Libya.

- A suicide bomb attack killed 28 people in Baghdad.


WILSON

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