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Cablegate: Ankara Media Reaction Report

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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 ANKARA 001559

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
THURSDAY, AUGUST 28, 2008

In Today's Papers

The Caucasus Crisis Polarizes the World
"The World is polarized," and "Turkey is caught in the middle"
writes mainstream Milliyet. Turkish media outlets emphasize anxiety
regarding an escalation of tensions in the Black Sea between NATO
and Russia, with Turkey "caught in the middle." Mainstream Hurriyet
reports Russian Deputy Chief of Staff Nogovitsin warned Turkey, "If
U.S. and NATO warships violate the Montreaux Treaty by remaining in
the Black Sea for more than twenty-one days, the primary
responsibility for the violation of the treaty will rest with
Turkey." Mainstream Vatan reports, "The Black Sea is Boiling,"
claiming "This conflict is the world's new September 11th," because
"the Russian decision to recognize the independence of South Ossetia
and Abkhazia will have a similar ripple effect to September 11th,"
referring to a dramatic change in the dynamics of international
politics. In "An Iron Curtain in the Caucasus," leftist-nationalist
Cumhuriyet writes, "from now on the region is divided into two, with
NATO on one side and Russia on the other." Islamist-oriented Yeni
Safak carries the headline, "Russians Play Roulette in the Black
Sea," and notes, "NATO is tense, while Russia seeks support from
China, India, and Iran at the Shanghai Summit in Dushanbe."
Mainstream Sabah's front-page reads, "NATO Defies Russian Roulette
in the Black Sea." Sabah carries an article on the inside pages
that reports, "An anonymous high-level U.S. official spoke to Sabah
in Denver," and said, "If Turkey wants relations with NATO, then
Turkey needs to act like it. It's important for Turkey to act like
a real NATO ally." Meanwhile, mainstream Milliyet reports, "Turkey
seeks a low profile position in this conflict," because of
"implications regarding Cyprus." Milliyet quotes an anonymous
Turkish diplomatic source who said, "If Turkey joins other NATO
countries in harshly criticizing Russia for recognizing South
Ossetia and Abkhazia," then, "Russia is likely to draw attention to
Turkey's support for the independence of Kosovo and northern
Cyprus." Another diplomatic source told Milliyet, "While Turkey was
a committed NATO defender during the first Cold War," now Turkey is
so dependent on Russia for energy resources that, "in the new
international order, Turkish interests may not be parallel to NATO
interests," and "Moscow is pleased that Turkey is feeling so much
pressure."

Editorial Opinion on Caucasus
Hadi Uluengin wrote in mainstream Hurriyet: "Moscow has returned to
its historic roots of expansionism and does not care about starting
a new Cold War. From a short term perspective, this is a gain for
Moscow. The U.S. is preoccupied with Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan and
U.S. presidential elections, so the U.S. is unable to react strongly
at this time. But in the long term, Russia is doomed to suffer
because of its policy decisions. After all, Russia is still an
underdeveloped country and the flow of Western technology and
capital into Russia is vitally important. Once the Western world
applies strict measures against Russia, the rulers of the Kremlin
will suffer. Also in the long term, members of the 'Commonwealth of
Independent States' will likely seek alliances with the Western
community in order to counter Russia's expansionist spirit. All of
these developments will move Turkey even closer to the EU."

Nejat Eslen wrote in liberal-intellectual Radikal: "Developments in
Iraq and Afghanistan have not provided the political results the
United States hoped to achieve. Meanwhile, the U.S.-led revolutions
in Ukraine and Georgia did not quite gel, while Russia and China
continue to enjoy their strength. The current power struggle in
Asian geopolitics has a multilateral character, and the consequences
remain to be seen because history is being rewritten. Turkey will
find itself trapped between Russia and the Western world unless
Turkey quickly re-shapes its strategic relations."

Davut Dursun wrote in Islamist leaning Yeni Safak: "Territorial
integrity used to be the most prominent factor guiding peaceful
international relations, but this principle has been undermined by

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recent events. Certainly, the consequences of this will be very
serious. The Russian Federation may face a boomerang effect because
the current developments are enough to scare the CIS member
countries into taking steps to protect their ethnic and cultural
diversity."

Ergun Babahan wrote in mainstream Sabah: "It is a common belief
that Turkey cannot be governed with the current constitution because
it was written with an authoritarian perspective during a military
coup. The current crisis with Russia will bring Turkey to a very
important place in front of the U.S. and the EU. Despite its
problems, this position offers many opportunities for Turkey. At
this time, Turkey should hold on tightly to the EU process. It
might be difficult to change the constitution at the moment, but it
won't be that difficult to implement EU reforms one after another
and strengthen Turkey's democracy. Turkey is entering a new era of
opportunity and it is necessary that Turkey not miss this
opportunity."

Hasan Cemal wrote in mainstream Milliyet: "Turkey should never turn
its back on the EU, ever. Of course, while Turkey is gaining speed
on the path to EU accession, it should at the same time consider
Russia, China, the Gulf, and the Middle East. If Turkey strengthens
itself in the EU, it will become stronger in the East also. And a
strong Turkey in the East will strengthen Turkey's hand in the EU
and the U.S. as well."

Hakan Celik wrote in mainstream tabloid Posta: "Russia is hoping
for support from Asia during Russia's crisis with the West.
Medvedev is trying to garner support from the members of the
Shanghai Cooperation. Meanwhile, tensions are escalating in the
Black Sea between the Russian and the U.S. fleets. Just a little
spark can cause a big fire in the Black Sea. Turkey has managed to
remain impartial so far. However, this may not be so easy if the
Montreux convention is violated. Meanwhile, PM Erdogan's Caucasus
Platform initiative has not been received warmly by the U.S. and the
EU. As a matter of fact, the U.S. is disturbed by this initiative
and Senator Lugar openly acknowledged this during his recent visit
to Ankara. Despite all these negative developments, Turkey should
be able to have an open line of communication with Russia. Russian
FM Lavrov will come to Turkey on Monday. This visit is important in
illustrating Turkey's significance in the region."

Turkish Military Farewell Ceremonies Emphasize Secularism, Unity
Milliyet, Vatan, Hurriyet, Sabah, Cumhuriyet, Radikal and others:
Today's papers draw attention to the messages issued by the
Commanders during baton passing ceremonies yesterday. Mainstream
Vatan reports that the incoming Chief of General Staff General Ilker
Basbug handed over the Land Forces Command to General Isik Kosaner
yesterday. During his speech General Kosaner said "preserving the
basic principles of the republic cannot be considered as
intervention in domestic politics. The Turkish Armed Forces will
keep preserving the unified nation and the secular state."
Mainstream Sabah noted that General Kosaner criticized the EU by
saying "The Turkish Armed Forces don't need foreign supervision."
All papers note that General Kosaner highlighted the importance of
international support and cooperation in fight against terrorism.
Outgoing Land Forces Commander General Basbug, on his part, listed
the achievements of the Turkish military in the fight against
terrorism and highlighted the importance of international
coordination in the fight against terrorism. Mainstream Milliyet
reports out-going TGS Chief General Buyukanit told reporters, "The
Montreux Convention provisions were not violated in the Black Sea.
The Black Sea is a very important region for Turkey and Turkey will
do its best not to endanger the stability in the Black Sea."

Gul's First Year as the President
Sabah, Zaman, Turkiye: Papers report on President Gul's interview
with NTV yesterday, during which Islamist-leaning Zaman says
"President Gul assessed his first year as president." Gul said

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"Turkey should not miss opportunities in regard to the EU. The EU
is a process that enhances Turkey and boosts the standards of the
country. That is why I attach great importance to EU reforms." Gul
also noted, "The fight against terrorism is the most important issue
on Turkey's agenda. We saw important developments last year
regarding the fight against terrorism and I want to pay a visit to
Baghdad soon." Sabah reports that President Gul said, "I have never
discriminated against any citizens since I took over. The
principles in the presidential oath, including impartiality, are
important ideals and I believe I remained loyal to those elements."

Armenian President Invites Turkish President to Turkey-Armenia
Soccer Match
Liberal-intellectual Radikal carried an exclusive interview with
President of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan during which Sargsyan repeated
his invitation to Gul to watch the soccer match between the Turkish
and Armenian national football teams on September 6. Sargsyan sees
this even as an opportunity to strengthen ties between Ankara and
Yerevan. Sargsyan emphasized, "Once Turkey and Armenia establish
diplomatic ties, it will be possible to discuss even the difficult
issues and set up commissions to deal with all of them." Regarding
Turkey's initiative for a Caucasus Platform, Sargsyan noted it
seemed like a positive effort and said that Yerevan will shape a
stance on it as soon as receives the initiative and work on its
details. Regarding the events of 1915, Armenian President said,
"There is no single Armenian citizen in the world who believes that
the genocide did not happen. However, we certainly do not consider
the recognition of genocide as a precondition to develop relations
with Turkey. That is the very reason why we seek to establish
diplomatic ties with Turkey without any precondition."

Back to TL: Turkey drops 'new' from currency
All papers report the Turkish Central Bank Governor has launched a
campaign for a new currency by dropping "new" from the currency's
current name, "New Turkish Lira (YTL)," and reverting back to the
"Turkish Lira." Governor Durmus Yilmaz said: "The new currency will
start circulating as of January 1, 2009, under the name 'Turkish
Lira.' The term "New Turkish Lira" was only a tool for transition."
In addition, Yilmaz said a brand new note for 200 Turkish Lira will
begin to circulate. He said the new notes will be different sizes
as a measure against counterfeiting and will carry features for the
visually impaired. The depiction of the country's founder, Ataturk,
will remain on the front face of all bank notes. He said the
"Turkish Lira" will be in circulation together with the "New Turkish
Lira" until the end of 2009. As of January 1, 2010, only Turkish
Ziraat Bank and the Central Bank will change YTL notes with the new
TL notes. Turkey started the YTL regime in 2005 after deleting six
zeroes from Turkish Lira bank notes. In a related story, Yilmaz
emphasized, "The Central Bank's monetary policies have played an
important role in boosting Turkish exports."


TV News:
NTV

Domestic News


Ferda Paksut said the prosecutor is interrogating her in connection
with Ergenekon investigation in order to pressure her husband Osman
Paksut to resign as Vice President of the Constitutional Court.

Suspects detained in connection with the recent Izmir bombing
allegedly were preparing an attack during this weekend's Victory Day
celebrations.

International News


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British Foreign Secretary Miliband warns Russia not to start a new
Cold War.

Georgia downgrades diplomatic relations with Russia and pulls out
all but two diplomats from Moscow.

In a BBC interview, Russian President Medvedev accused the U.S. of
delivering weapons to Georgia under the disguise of humanitarian
aid.

A 6.3 magnitude earthquake hit the southern part of Russia's Lake
Baikal, causing no casualties or material damage.

WILSON

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