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Cablegate: Ankara Media Reaction Report

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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 ANKARA 001595

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, SEPTEMBER 4, 2008

In Today's Papers

President Gul Set to Visit Yerevan September 6
All papers gave prominent coverage to the upcoming visit of Turkish
President Gul to Armenia. "By taking an historic step, President
Gul made a brave decision which will melt ice between the two
countries" fronts Hurriyet. Reports mention Foreign Minister
Babacan and a delegation of Foreign Ministry diplomats will
accompany President Gul on this trip. Both mainstream and
Islamist-oriented media outlets' treatment of the decision is, for
the most part, overwhelmingly positive. Taraf daily referred to a
recent poll conducted by "Metropoll." The survey questioned people
in 30 Turkish provinces, and 67.4 percent of respondents supported
President Gul's trip to Yerevan. Milliyet, Sabah, Zaman and
Hurriyet provided some details about the trip. According to press
reports, President Gul will arrive in Yerevan two hours before the
soccer game. There will a 'tte-`-tte' meeting between the two
Presidents at the Presidential Palace, and then will proceed to the
stadium to watch the game. Once the game is over, President Gul and
the accompanying delegation will return to Ankara.
Islamist-oriented Zaman, in a sidebar, mentioned that the Armenian
Football Federation made a gesture to Turkey's decision by changing
its logo design. Mount Ararat was replaced with another symbol
design consisting of an eagle and a lion.

Editorial Commentary on Gul's Yerevan Trip:

Ertugrul Ozkok wrote in mainstream Hurriyet: "President Gul's
decision (to attend the football match in Yerevan) is historic and
brave and deserves whole-hearted congratulations. A ping-pong game
helped facilitate the breaking down of the walls between China and
the United States, and today, football is likely to have the same
impact on Turkish-Armenian relations. Regardless of the score, the
winners of this football match are the Turkish and Armenian
people."

Cengiz Candar wrote in liberal-intellectual Radikal: "The Armenian
occupation of some Azeri territory was one reason Ankara has not
normalized relations with Armenia. This attitude hasn't produced
anything positive, moreover, the Armenian occupation has hardened
over the years. Once Turkey and Armenia establish ties and start
normalization, it will pave the way to ending the Armenian
occupation of Azeri land. Along with so many other reasons, this
reason alone is a good enough one for President Gul to go to
Yerevan. I suggest Gul read Hrant Dink's book, Two Close People and
Two Distant Neighbors, before he goes to Yerevan."

Davut Dursun wrote in Islamist leaning Yeni Safak: "Yerevan's
invitation to President Gul to attend the game is an indication of
the Armenian Administration's intention to change its traditional
policy toward Turkey. President Gul is now going, and this will not
be an ordinary 'watching the game' event. It is a major step toward
normalization of bilateral ties with Armenia. There are problems,
but they can all be resolved through dialogue and consensus in the
course of time, once relations are proceeding in a normal way."

Omer Taspinar commented in mainstream Sabah: "This football
diplomacy has one important mission besides improving ties between
Turkey and Armenia, and that is to support stability efforts in the
Caucasus and strategic initiatives in Georgia. It will be a start
for two nations, who were separated while living in the same land,
to move closer to each other and heal their historic wounds
together."

Semih Idiz wrote mainstream in Milliyet: "As anticipated, the
nationalists in Turkey and Armenia are reacting to President Gul's
upcoming visit to Yerevan. A collective effort towards stability in
the Caucasus requires a better relationship between Turkey and
Armenia. That is why President Gul wants to go to Armenia. This
will be a first step towards better relations and efforts to resolve

ANKARA 00001595 002 OF 004


long lingering problems. It is not realistic to expect to find a
solution to specific problems during this visit. However, this
visit will create trust between the two countries and leave
resolution of the difficult issues to the future."

Cuneyt Arcayurek in leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet: "Abdullah Gul is
making moves that cast a shadow on the ambitious foreign policy
goals of Prime Minister Erdogan. Gul called President Bush although
there was no urgent necessity to do so. This call coincided with
the time period in which Gul was deciding whether to go to Yerevan.
And, of course, Bush approved Gul's visit to Armenia, which is
happening after so much pressure from the United States. Isn't it
likely that Gul might have called Bush to remind the U.S. President
that by going to Armenia, he's keeping a promise he made during his
visit to Washington?"

Ismail Kucukkaya in mainstream Aksam: "Gul's call on Yerevan is not
a personal choice, but a requirement to demonstrate Turkey's
maturity, tolerance and courage. Our President should be able to go
to Yerevan if our national team is playing there. There will be
protests, but that is a risk that must be taken. The days we go
through today will be the history of tomorrow; what will be
remembered will be the pictures of Gul and Sarkisian watching their
national teams together."

TGS Organized Visit to the Two Generals in Jail
Sabah, Milliyet, Radikal, Cumhuriyet, Zaman, Vatan, Hurriyet and
others: Today's papers gave extended front page coverage to the
visit of Kocaeli Garrison Commander General Galip Mendi, the highest
military official in the region, to retired Generals Hursit Tolon
and Sener Eruygur, who have been under detention in connection with
the Ergenekon investigation. TGS announced on its website that the
visit was on behalf of Turkish Armed Forces (TAF). Most media
speculated that this very public announcement was meant to send a
public message of support for their retired colleagues. Mainstream
Vatan reported that some circles supported Chief of General Staff
General Basbug after the visit, arguing that TAF should have done
this some time ago, while others criticized the visit as an
attempted intervention towards the judiciary. Meanwhile, PM Erdogan
described the visit as a humanitarian move.

Editorial Commentary on the Visit to the Generals in Jail:

Mumtazer Turkone in Islamist-oriented Zaman: "The TGS statement
saying a general, on behalf of the Turkish military, visited two
retired generals under custody in the Ergenekon investigation places
the institutional support of the military behind the two suspects.
This visit could also be perceived as an 'intervention' in an
ongoing case. The launch of the Ergenekon case took some pressure
off of the military, and the arrest of two generals was perceived as
the military's support of the elimination of gangs. Now, how do you
think the judges of the case should interpret this visit which was
ordered by the military's leadership?"

Ergun Babahan wrote in mainstream Sabah: "The visit to Kandira
prison yesterday on behalf of the Turkish Armed Forces(TAF), was a
political visit. This visit to the jailed retired generals could
have been done, but without the need to announce on the TGS web site
that it was done on behalf of the TAF. The timing of the visit and
its announcement was wrong. Any initiative that could be seen as
influencing the judiciary should be avoided."

Melih Asik wrote in mainstream Milliyet: "Generals could be tried
also. However, if the law is violated during the trial, it becomes
a humanitarian duty to try to prevent this. When (Ankara Chamber of
Commerce Chairman) Sinan Aygun was detained, TOBB interfered and
supported him. But no comment came from the TGS at that time
regarding the arrested generals. Maybe the military remained quiet
because of their respect for the judiciary. However, the public
interpreted this silence as "TGS believes as well that the Generals

ANKARA 00001595 003 OF 004


were involved in this case." Yesterday's visit was important to
eliminate this misperception. Some interpreted yesterday's visit as
interfering with the judiciary. However, demanding respect for
supremacy of law is not interference, but a humanitarian duty."


Turkish Charity Case in Germany Charges AKP-Related Figures
Media outlets report about the ongoing court case against the
Islamist Deniz Feneri [Lighthouse] charity organization based in
Frankfurt, which has been accused of forming a fraud network that
allegedly swindled millions of Euro from Turks and other Muslims
living in Germany. The organization's accountant, Firdevsi Ermis,
and two other suspects, Mehmet Gurkan and Mehmet Taskan, told a
court in Frankfurt that from 2002-2007, Deniz Feneri raised 40
million Euro, 18 million of which was then sent to various companies
in Turkey, including the Islamist-leaning Kanal 7 TV. Ermis said
Turkey's Radio and Television High Council (RTUK) chairman, Zahit
Akman, a former partner in the organization, was among the couriers
who carried the money. Akman denied the charges as "unfounded" in a
press conference Wednesday, saying he had not engaged in Deniz
Feneri business since becoming the head of RTUK three years ago.
Leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet, however, gives the dates Akman was
appointed as RTUK head and the date he resigned from his duties in
Deniz Feneri, showing Akman resigned four months after he began his
job at RTUK. In "Shadow of Deniz Feneri Falls on AKP," liberal
Radikal points to the fact that all the suspects in the case were
figures close to the ruling AKP and particularly to Prime Minister
Erdogan.

European Court Releases Alleged al-Qaeda Financier al-Kadi's Assets
Islamist-oriented Zaman and Yeni Safak report the European Court of
Justice has released the assets of Saudi businessman Yasin al-Kadi
and his Sweden-based charity organization International al-Barakat.
In 2001, the EU had frozen al-Kadi's assets for financing al-Qaeda.
The European court said the EU did not respect al-Kadi's right to a
defense while freezing his assets. Yasin al-Kadi's investments in
Turkey also had recently been a focus of controversy, but Prime
Minister Erdogan defended the Saudi businessmen, who is a personal
friend of the PM, by saying he would stand bail for al-Kadi. Papers
cite wire services' conclusions that the European court's decision
could weaken the EU's sanctions regime.

TV News:
NTV

Domestic News

- A US navy vessel, the USS Mount Whitney, sails through the
Bosporus Straits and into the Black Sea to deliver humanitarian aid
to Georgia.

- President Abdullah Gul said during a joint press briefing with
visiting Bosnian Presidency Chairman Haris Silajdzic, "We support
the multi-cultural structure in Bosnia-Herzegovina -- therefore, our
relations with all ethnic groups are equal."

- Two soldiers who were killed by PKK terrorists in the eastern
province of Bingol while participating in an Iftar were laid to rest
in their hometowns yesterday. Four PKK terrorists were killed in
the skirmish on Tuesday.

International News

- President Bush, in an address to the Republican National
Convention via satellite, said that John McCain is ready to lead the
nation in a "dangerous world" and will protect the US from
terrorism.

- Iraq plans to rebuild the notorious Abu Ghraib prison, which was
closed in 2006 after a scandal over abuse of prisoners by US troops.

ANKARA 00001595 004 OF 004


- In Beslan, people will come together for three days of
commemoration to honor the hostages and soldiers who were killed in
a Chechen terrorist raid there on September 3, 2004.
WILSON

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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