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Cablegate: Ankara Media Reaction Report

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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 ANKARA 001563

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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
FRIDAY, AUGUST 29, 2008

In Today's Papers

Military Leaders Call for Respect for Secularism, Unity
All papers report on the incoming Turkish General Staff Chief
General Basbug's speech during his induction ceremony yesterday.
Leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet's headline reads "Tough Messages from
General Basbug" and reports "Basbug wanted the authorities to
seriously consider the public's concerns regarding the overwhelming
influence of religion in today's society." Mainstream Milliyet
reports, "General Basbug warned that religious communities were
getting stronger and stronger each day." Basbug said "a section of
our society is concerned about secularism and this concern should be
taken into serious consideration. This is an obligation for social
tranquility within the scope of pluralist democracy understanding.
The nation-state should be preserved and everyone should remain
loyal to the Constitutional definition of secularism. General
Basbug commented on the ongoing U.S. and Turkish military
cooperation by saying, "Our cooperation with the U.S. military is
perfect. It is one of our most important duties to preserve this
cooperation since Turkey-US relations have gained importance."

Caucasus-related Diplomatic Traffic in Turkey
Mainstream Sabah reports that Foreign Minister Babacan will meet
with Georgian FM Tkeselasvili on August 31st and with Russian FM
Lavrov on September 2nd in Istanbul. Azerbaijani FM Memmedyarov
will have meetings with Minister Babacan in Ankara today. During
these meetings, Turkey is expected to convey its discomfort with
Russia's recognition Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent
states. Minister Babacan recently talked with the foreign ministers
of the U.S., the UK, Germany and France over the phone and stressed
the concerns regarding Russia's attitudes.

Russia/Caucasus
Turkish media outlets illustrate Russia's show of force yesterday as
efforts to step up the rhetoric game. Mainstream Vatan carries the
headline, "Here is the New Eastern Block," as "Russia forms a bloc
of Asian giants" which include, "India, China, Kazakhstan, and
potentially Iran." Islamist-oriented Yeni Safak carries the
front-page headline, "Russia Makes a Show of Force" as "Russia's 45
ton Topal missile makes its debut at a ceremony in front of the
Kremlin." Mainstream Aksam carries the headline, "Russia Challenges
the West with an Inter-Continental Missile." In a related article,
Yeni Safak also notes, "The EU says Sanctions Are Coming," while
Russia responds, "You are sickening!" Islamist-oriented Zaman
reports, "The EU is preparing sanctions against Russia," while
Russian Prime Minister Putin "accuses the U.S. of provoking the war
in order to influence the presidential elections."
Leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet carries the headline, "The EU's is
the 'Power with a Sick Imagination.'" Liberal Radikal carries the
headline, "Putin says Bush Attacked for McCain," in a reference to
Putin's interview with CNN last night.

Papers also note Russia did not get the support it wanted from the
Shanghai Union yesterday. Leftist Taraf carries the headline,
"Russia Doesn't Get Its Wish," from the Shanghai meeting because,
"Heads of State at the Shanghai Organization Summit call for respect
for every country's territorial integrity and no use of force in
local clashes." Leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet reports, "The
Shanghai Union decides to not to fully back Russia."
Islamist-oriented Zaman carries the headline, "Russia Could Get What
It Wanted from Shanghai," as "the declaration does not criticize
Georgia," and "China did not recognize South Ossetia and Abkhazia's
independence due to the implications their recognition could impact
efforts for Tibetan independence." Mainstream Milliyet reports "The
EU will hold an emergency meeting on Monday to debate sanctions
against Russia," but notes, "France, Germany, Italy, and Spain are
all dependent on Russia for energy." Mainstream Hurriyet's headline
reads, "No Support from the Shanghai Summit for Russia."
Islamist-oriented Yeni Safak calls the support "measured."


ANKARA 00001563 002 OF 004


Ediorial Opinion on Current Developments in the Caucasus
Ibrahim Karagul wrote in Islamist leaning Yeni Safak: "The Black Sea
region is experiencing its most serious crisis in the last 20 years.
Russia is not backing down, while NATO is having difficulty shaping
a unified strategy against Russia. In this context, Turkey's role
is more important than ever before. Ankara has the capacity to
mediate between Russia and the United States to lower the tension.
The Georgian Foreign Minister will come to Istanbul on Sunday and
the Russian Foreign Minister will come to Istanbul on Monday. Both
visits can be a starting point for efforts to prevent a further
conflict."

Muharrem Sarikaya wrote in mainstream Sabah : "Current events in
the Caucasus have left Turkey trapped between Georgia and Russia.
During the speeches at this week's military hand-over ceremonies, I
realized that Turkey has expected tensions to reach to this point.
Now, the question is whether the situation in the Black Sea will
calm down by autumn. According to high level government officials,
diplomatic circles and academics, the US and NATO will not violate
the Montreux Convention. Russia trusts Turkey. The solution for
this crisis lies with Turkey's impartial approach."

Sami Kohen observed in mainstream Milliyet: "Turkish Cypriot Leader
Talat is empowered by the Western world's recognition of Kosovo's
independence and now the Russian recognition of Abkhazia and South
Ossetia. Maybe these developments will force the Greek side to act
more realistically in talks with the Turkish side. Or, if no
solution is reached after the negotiations, just like they
recognized their favorite countries, it will push the Western
countries and Greeks to recognize northern Cyprus' independence as
well."

Cengiz Aktar wrote in mainstream Vatan: "The interim period after
the Cold War is almost over and now a new "lukewarm war" is
starting. The US is fully involved in their upcoming elections and
Western Europe relies on Russia for energy. Now, Russia is speaking
a very dangerous language of its own. In this atmosphere, Turkey
should determine its own policies. Will Turkey be like Russia and
believe peace can be established only by war? Or will Turkey be
like the EU and believe in resolving the issues in diplomatic
ways?"

Cyprus/Talat in Ankara
All papers report the visit of Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali
Talat and highlight his meeting with President Gul. Coverage draws
a parallel between the Cyprus situation and the Russian recognition
of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Islamist-oriented Zaman carries the
headline, "Developments in the Caucasus Could Affect Cyprus," as
Turkish Cypriot Leader Mehmet Ali Talat visited President Gul
yesterday and told journalists during a press conference, "We are
watching developments in South Ossetia, Abkhazia, Kosovo, and East
Timor." Sami Kohen of mainstream Milliyet says "Talat's hand is
strengthened," as developments in the Caucasus "will likely force
the Greek side to be more realistic." Milliyet also notes,
"President Gul called attention to the similarities between South
Ossetia and Cyprus."

During a joint press conference with President Gul, Talat answered a
question in this context by saying "I think the Russian recognition
of South Osssetia and Abkhazia will have an impact on the Cyprus
issue, but I can't make a prediction in which direction that would
be." President Gul also responded, "However, the Cyprus issue is
not a result of the Cold War era. There is an ongoing UN
negotiation process, and I think everybody will realize the
legitimate rights of Turkish Cypriots as the talks progress."
Mehmet Ali Talat's visit came before the proximity talks with Greek
Cypriots scheduled for September 3. He met with President Gul, PM
Erdogan and FM Babacan, papers noted.

Turkey/Armenia

ANKARA 00001563 003 OF 004


Liberal daily Radikal carried a follow up interview with President
Gul regarding Turkish relations with Armenia. President Gul
expressed a positive tone about Sargsyan's remarks on
Turkish-Armenian relations and added: "We are all living in the same
region, and we want to solve problems with our neighbors. Turks and
Armenians have lived for many years on this soil." Regarding the
re-establishment of diplomatic ties between the two countries,
President Gul expressed support for regional peace efforts and
emphasized the importance of mutual dialogue. "We believe that the
frozen crises in the Caucasus, such as the Nagorno-Karabakh, should
be dealt with through dialogue and courage in order to have a
peaceful impact on the region and bring stability." However, Gul
indicated no decision had been made on whether he will attend the
September 6th soccer match in Armenia.

Radikal also asked political party figures whether President Gul
should accept the invitation. Parliamentarians from opposition CHP
and MHP emphasized that the solution to the Karabakh issue should
remain Turkey's priority. Ruling AKP's Deputy Group Chairman Bozdag
refused to comment, "It's not suitable for me to comment on this
issue, it is up to President Gul to decide." Mainly pro-Kurdish DTP
Co-Chairman Emine Ayna expressed support for dialogue and said "If
the President goes to Yerevan, it will be a very positive step."

Editorial Opinion on Turkey-Armenia
Hakki Devrim wrote in liberal-intellectual Radikal: "Armenian
President Sargsyan's recent statement about relations between Turkey
and Armenia deserves appreciation for its distinguished quality.
Turkey has to take advantage of this very important quality at the
highest level and President Gul must accept the invitation to go to
Yerevan for the soccer match. I am literally tired of Turkey's
usual attitude of deferring important problems into the future
instead of dealing with them directly."

Editorial Opinion on Turkish Human Rights and Democracy Debates
Ertugrul Ozkok wrote in mainstream Hurriyet: "When I heard about the
beating of a shop owner in Ankara's Kecioren Municipality, I kept
waiting for a statement from the Municipality and/or from the
Interior Ministry. However no statement of any kind came from the
officials. The actual security camera footage verifies the
horrifying nature of the incident. It looks like a group of mafia
figures brutally beat a shop owner in the nation's capital to punish
him for selling alcohol. Even the American Embassy felt uneasy about
this, while Turkish leaders, including the Interior Ministry and
other government officials, preferred to turn a blind eye. The
mentality that limits democratization to the headscarf issue and the
Ergenekon case makes Turkey's accession to the EU a far-fetched
dream."

Barack Obama/US Elections
Mainstream Hurriyet carries the front page headline, "Martin Luther
King's Dream Comes True" and all papers pay particular attention to
Barack Obama's unique contribution to American politics as the first
African-American presidential candidate. Mainstream Milliyet
carries the headline, "Obama Makes History." Mainstream Hurriyet
reports, "A former soldier who fought in Iraq and lost her legs came
to the convention to support Obama," as "A Black Man Writes
History." Leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet says, "Obama is ready for
the Presidency." Far right Ortadogu carries the headline, "There Is
No Stopping Obama," as "for the first time in a U.S. presidential
election, a black candidate will compete."


TV News:
CNN Turk

Domestic News

Ferda Paksut, the wife of Constitutional Court vice-president Osman
Paksut, was interrogated as part of the Ergenekon investigation.

ANKARA 00001563 004 OF 004

15 people were injured during clashes with municipality security
forces in Bakirkoy.

A group of PKK terrorists opened fire on a civilian truck in
Semdinli, killing the truck driver and injuring two soldiers and
three village guards.


International News

Georgia's parliament approves a resolution calling on the government
to cut diplomatic ties with Russia.

The National Convention of the Democratic Party in Denver nominates
Barack Obama as its candidate for the November elections.

NATO hands over responsibility in Kabul to Afghan troops.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel tops Forbes magazine's list of the
world's 100 most powerful women for the third year running.

WILSON

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