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Cablegate: Ankara Media Reaction Report

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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 ANKARA 001657

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
TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 16, 2008

In Today's Papers

Turkey Watches the Deniz Feneri Court Case in Germany
All media outlets continue reporting on the fraud case in a German
court regarding the German-owned Deniz Feneri charity. Speaking to
a court in Frankfurt on Monday, Chief Police Inspector Alexander
Bohm, who is in charge of the investigation into irregularities in
the charity, said the Turkish government did not exert pressure on
German officials, but that they displayed close interest in the
investigation. Bohm disclosed the minutes of meetings between PM
Erdogan, Justice Minister Mehmet Ali Sahin and German Ambassador to
Ankara Eckart Kuntz. The minutes show that Erdogan and Sahin were
following the developments in the Deniz Feneri charity investigation
even when the German prosecutor had not finalized the indictment.
In one meeting, Erdogan asked Kuntz whether there were any links
between Deniz Feneri investigation and Kanal 7 Television. Erdogan
also complained about the long detention of the suspects, according
to the minutes. Inspector Bohm told the court there was no evidence
showing that Deniz Feneri suspects delivered funds to Prime Minister
Erdogan. He, however, added that Erdogan's name was written on an
electronic receipt dated February 2, 2005, indicating that funds
collected by the charity were to be delivered to the PM. There is
no amount on the receipt, but the charity's accountant Firdevsi
Ermis confessed the document was related to the transfer of 250,000
Euro from Mehmet Gurhan (Director of Kanal 7 TV Europe) to Zekeriya
Karaman (Director of Kanal 7 TV Turkey) who, according to Ermis,
gave the money to Erdogan. Bohm said the confessions of Ermis made
the German inspectors conclude that initials in the receipts such as
ZA and ZK referred to Zahid Akman (Turkish media watchdog RTUK's
chair) and Zekeriya Karaman. Bohm also testified that Akman
couriered the charity funds to Turkey.

Papers report the AKP leaders are expected to discuss the Deniz
Feneri case at a party board meeting on Wednesday.

International Press Institute Responds PM Erdogan's Criticism
Hurriyet and Radikal carry a statement from the International Press
Institute Committee on Turkey in response to Prime Minister
Erdogan's retort to IPI warning not to pressure the media.
Yesterday, papers reported the PM replied to the IPI warning by
saying, "Who is IPI to give me an ultimatum?" The IPI Turkey
Committee, in a written statement, criticized Prime Minister Erdogan
for creating a pro-government media and called his treatment of
stories critical of the government a "serious threat against press
freedom." IPI pointed out that Prime Minister Erdogan has attended
two different IPI meetings in Istanbul.


Cartoon in today's mainstream Hurriyet depicting a newsstand in the
shape of PM Erdogan's head and implying the PM seeks to see the
media as his mouthpiece. (Note: Hurriyet is the Dogan Media Group's
flagship newspaper.)


Editorial Commentary on Deniz Feneri Case

Hasan Cemal in Milliyet comments on PM Erdogan's attitude regarding
the Deniz Feneri case: "At the end of the day, Erdogan has now
criticized and insulted even the International Press Institute
(IPI). Of course, Erdogan is not the first PM to attack IPI since
1950s. But, there is one thing you should never forget - the Prime
Ministers who have attacked press freedoms in Turkey and the IPI
never win this kind of conflict."

Mustafa Mutlu wrote in mainstream Vatan: "While PM Erdogan
threatens and blackmails the media in Turkey regarding the 'Deniz
Feneri' case, German police Chief Alexander Bohme claimed at
yesterday's court session that there was a connection between the

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government in Turkey and the courier of Deniz Feneri in Germany.
Now, the Turkish media will write about this serious claim and the
PM will get angry with Turkish columnists once again. Mr. Prime
Minister, I would suggest that you continue to attack the
journalists like me who do not keep quiet, but never ever dare to
attack the German police chief verbally. Because, there is law,
democracy and freedoms behind the German police chief and he will
always be the winner."

CJCS Admiral Mullen Calms the Montreux Frenzy
All media outlets pay special attention to CJCS Admiral Mullen's
press conference in Ankara yesterday. Mainstream Sabah reports
Mullen emphasized, "The U.S. will continue to support Turkey as long
as Turkey asks for U.S. support," regarding the war on terror.
Leftist Taraf carries the headline, "The U.S. Military Chief Gives
the Green Light for Cross Border Operations." Mainstream Hurriyet
carries the front-page headline, "The U.S. will abide by the
Montreux Agreement," and noted, "This is not the first time the U.S.
has delivered aid via military ships to countries in trouble."
Islamist-oriented Zaman writes, "The U.S. Has No Intention to Change
the Montreux Agreement."

Editorial Commentary on Admiral Mullen Visit

Murat Yetkin wrote in liberal-intellectual Radikal: "U.S. Chairman
of the Joint Chiefs Admiral Mike Mullen's visit indicates the good
level of Turkish-American relations between the two militaries.
Earlier, General General Basbug called the bilateral
military-to-military relations "excellent," particularly in the
fight against the PKK. However, there is a limit to the results
achieved through military means, and Basbug is well aware of this.
He knows that, regardless of the cooperation level with the American
military against the PKK, this fight cannot be won via military
methods only. Thus his meeting with the press today is very
important. Basbug will likely mention the importance of
implementing other measures to enhance internal peace while fighting
against PKK at the highest level of international cooperation."

NATO Military Exercises Raise Eyebrows in the Black Sea
Islamist-oriented Yeni Safak carries the front-page headline,
"Jackals in the Black Sea," and reports, "7 countries, including the
U.S., are engaging in military exercises called "Jackal Stone" in
the Black Sea as a "rehearsal for war." Mainstreams Milliyet and
Sabah report a total of 1300 soldiers will be involved in the
exercises, according to a statement from a Romanian court, and the
exercises will end on September 24th.

Yerevan Positive towards Ankara's History Commission Proposal
Islamist-oriented Zaman reports that President Gul's visit to
Yerevan began a new era in the Turkey-Armenia relationship. During
the visit to Yerevan, Turkish officials observed that Armenia was
more positive towards Turkey's proposal to set up a joint commission
of historians to do a scientific research on 1915 incidents. Ankara
is very pleased with this approach and interprets it as the
"realizing the facts."

Global Economic Meltdown
All media outlets report anxiously on the effects of the continuing
crises in global financial markets, particularly to the Bank of
America buyout of Merrill Lynch and Lehman Brothers filing for
bankruptcy protection. Mainstream Sabah carries the headline, "The
Crisis of the Century," as "The entire world is feeling the effects
of the mortgage crisis." Leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet carries the
front-page banner headline, "Earthquake in the Markets." Mainstream
Vatan notes, "The Global Crisis Brings Down a 158-Year-Old Giant,"
referring to Lehman Brothers, and calls there bankruptcy claim "The
Biggest Bankruptcy in U.S. History." Mainstream Milliyet reports,
"A Giant collapses, and the World is dumbfounded." Liberal Radikal
calls yesterday "Black Monday," as, "The global financial crisis
collapses two global financial giants." Islamist-oriented Zaman

ANKARA 00001657 003 OF 004


carries the headline, "The Masterminds of the Economy are ruined."
Islamist-oriented Yeni Safak leads with the headline, "The Brothers
Collapse," as "Lehman Brothers collapses and the Bank of America
buys out Merrill Lynch in order to prevent a global crisis."
Conservative-nationalist Turkiye carries the headline, "Earthquake
in the Economy - A Giant Bank Collapses and World Markets are
Rocked." Economic daily Referans notes, "Markets Tumble as Wall
Street's Giants Collapse."

Editorial Commentary on Global Economic Meltdown

Ibrahim Karagul wrote in Islamist leaning Yeni Safak: "The current
events go beyond ordinary bankruptcy cases. This is clearly the
demise of a global finance system led by the United States, a system
that is a colossal failure. Those who were after a new world order
will have to clean their own back yards because the system that they
tried to design for the whole world has collapsed."

Editorial Commentary on DTP Closure Case, the Caucasus, Israel,
German Marshall Fund Survey

Ergun Babahan wrote in mainstream Sabah: "Even if the DTP is
closed, the Kurds' demands will not end, violence will not end, and
the Kurdish issue will not be resolved. However, our fears should
not create obstacles for democratization. Turkey's aim should be EU
membership. A developing Turkey on the path to the EU will be a
happy place for everyone regardless their ethnic origin."

Mustafa Balbay in leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet: "We have no energy
agreement with Iran despite the fact that Turkey has wanted this
badly for years. Additionally, as seen in the arbitrary cuts of
natural gas flow to Turkey, we have trouble keeping intact the few
agreements we have with Tehran. Turkey has sunk into total impasse
regarding the Balkans and the Caucasus. Together with the U.S., we
were among the first countries to recognize Kosovo. Russia,
inspired by the status of Kosovo, called on Turkey to recognize
South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Turkey should be cursing itself instead
of boasting."

Husnu Mahalli in mainstream Aksam: "Sooner or later, the truth will
be disclosed and all will see it -- just like the Israeli PM Olmert
who was forced to resign over corruption. Olmert says, 'The dream
of a Great Israel has ended. Our people must see this fact and
accept coexisting with the Palestinians and Syrians." We must
congratulate Olmert for this speech. May Bush and his successors as
well as our politicians and the lovers of the U.S. and Israel in
Turkey see the same thing."

Ihsan Dagi in Islamist-oriented Zaman: "A recent poll conducted by
the German Marshall Fund (GMF) shows Turks feel close to
Palestinians by 40 percent. Europeans rank the second by 33
percent, Americans follow by 14 percent, and Russians 18 percent.
Americans, toward whom Turks have chilly feelings, love the Turks by
47 percent - much more than we feel for them. The same rate for the
Europeans regarding their warm feelings for Turks is 43 percent. No
need to be offended, but as long as we continue viewing the world
from a perspective of conflict and not cooperation, and thus
continue seeing the outside as enemies instead of partners, we will
continue swinging back and forth between democracy and militarism."


TV News:
CNN Turk

Domestic News

- Pro-Kurdish DTP supporters protested the lawsuit for the closure
of their party in front of the Constitutional Court.

- The ruling AKP's provincial board member, businessman Ali Askin,

ANKARA 00001657 004 OF 004


was abducted by the PKK in the eastern city of Tunceli.

- 40 suspects, including four doctors, were taken into custody in
the southeastern city of Siirt over irregularities in health
dealings.

International News

- Russian President Medvedev warned that any state which imposes
sanctions on Russia over its military intervention in Georgia would
suffer "symmetric losses."

- EU foreign ministers approved that on October 1, the 200 EU
monitors will start their monitoring mission in Georgia and on the
borders of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

- EU envoy in Afghanistan, Francesco Vendrell, says conditions there
had become the worst since 2001.
WILSON

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