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Cablegate: Ankara Media Reaction Report

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RHMFISS/USDOCO 6ATAF IZMIR TU
RHMFISS/39OS INCIRLIK AB TU
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RUEUITH/AFLO ANKARA TU

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 ANKARA 001660

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, SEPTEMBER 17, 2008

In Today's Papers

Deniz Feneri Prosecutor Accuses Turkish Authorities of not
Cooperating
All media outlets report that on Wednesday, a court in Frankfurt is
expected to announce its verdict in the trial against suspects
charged with financial irregularities in the Germany-based,
Islamist-oriented Deniz Feneri charity. German Prosecutor Kerstin
Lotz has called for a six-year prison sentence for Mehmet Gurhan,
director of Kanal 7 TV Europe director. A two-year sentence is
being sought for the charity accountant Firdevsi Ermis and a
three-year sentence is being sought for Deniz Feneri manager in
Germany Mehmet Taskan. Papers emphasize Lotz's allegations that the
suspects facing trial in Germany were merely henchmen, but the
masterminds of the fraud were "hiding in Turkey."
Leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet and mainstream Milliyet report
prosecutor Lotz said the main suspects behind all irregularities
were Zekeriya Karaman, the founder of the Turkish Deniz Feneri
charity and the president of Kanal 7 Television, Ismail Karahan,
Kanal 7 advertisement director, and Zahid Akman, the chair of
Turkey's radio and television watchdog RTUK. Mainstream Vatan
reports Lotz also said the Turkish police turned down requests to
investigate the Turkish leg of the Deniz Feneri irregularities.

Papers report opposition CHP leader Deniz Baykal said "Prime
Minister Erdogan has close ties with Deniz Feneri suspects, but
tried to escape responsibility by saying that he does not know
them." In addition, Baykal said, "The Deniz Feneri suspects and the
PM have worked together in solidarity."

Breaking News: Turkish televisions are currently reporting that the
court in Frankfurt has reached their decision. The court sentenced
Mehmet Gurhan to 5 years 10 months and Mehmet Taskan to two years 9
months in prison.

Editorial Commentary on Deniz Feneri Germany Case

Mustafa Mutlu wrote in mainstream Vatan: "During yesterday's court
session of the Deniz Feneri case, the German prosecutor said that
the kingpins of the organization live in Turkey and she complained
that she couldn't get any support from Turkish police. Now I have a
question for the Interior Minister and the Chief of Security. Since
when have the Turkish police ceased their duty to fight against
international and organized fraud?

DTP Defense
All papers follow Ahmet Turk's defense arguments in the
Constitutional Court case which seeks to ban the pro-Kurdish
opposition party DTP. Reports note Turk's verbal argument lasted 3
hours. Ahmet Turk said party closure is an unusual practice in
democracies and reminded the court that the DTP won 2 million votes
in the last elections. Referring to accusations the DTP supports
the PKK, Ahmet Turk said "The PKK is a result of Kurdish problem.
Imprisoned leader Ocalan is for a democratic and peaceful solution
and his views should be taken into consideration."

Vatan carries the story, "He Not Only Defended the DTP, but also the
PKK," while leftist Taraf carries the headline, "We Cannot Call the
PKK Terrorists." Hurriyet asked Ahmet Turk about his impressions of
the court proceedings and he responded, "None of the Court Justices
asked any questions, which may indicate that they see the DTP on
their deathbed."

The Constitutional Court indictment against the DTP calls for a
political ban on 220 party members, including the current chairman
Ahmet Turk.

General Basbug Meets the Press
All papers report on the "communication meeting" that the Turkish
General Staff (TGS) chief General Basbug held with the media

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yesterday. Mainstreams Sabah's headline reads "Basbug Sets His
Criteria," in a reference to the rules he outlined regarding
communication with the media. Meanwhile, Milliyet's headline reads
"New Lines from General Basbug" and Hurriyet notes Basbug's warning
to politicians, "Do Not Try to Involve Us in Politics." Sabah
reports that during the three and a half hour meeting with media
executives, General Basbug addressed several issues including the
EU, Georgia, terrorism and cross-border operations. He supported
Turkey's EU bid by saying, "Turkey's EU membership is the
realization of Ataturk's goal to carry Turkey above the level of
contemporary civilizations." However, he also warned the EU to "not
play with our nation-state structure in an attempt to weaken our
unitary state structure." On politics, Basbug said "no one,
including the media, should try to use the Turkish Armed Forces
(TSK) for their own political ends. Do not include the TSK in daily
matters. Martyred soldiers should not be used as a tool for cheap
politics." Regarding terrorism, General Basbug said "the separatist
terrorist organization (PKK) is coming to an end. Only people from
Syria, Iran and Europe are joining the organization. Still, the PKK
is actively recruiting those in the 14-18 age group. It is an
important duty to save these people from the terrorist
organization." Cumhuriyet reports that General Basbug assessed
secularism, unitary structure, EU, terrorism and regional
developments in his meeting with the editors-in-chief and the Ankara
representatives of the newspapers. Zaman reports that the TGS will
be having weekly press briefings to strengthen relations with the
media. The first such briefing will be held on September 26.

Meanwhile, Hurriyet notes that General Basbug gave a fact sheet
regarding the last 24 years of terrorism. Basbug said "32,000
terrorists have been rendered ineffective. The number of civilian
casualties is 5,560 and the number of soldiers lost in the fight is
6,482."

Editorial Commentary on General Basbug Meeting with Press

Oral Calislar wrote in liberal-intellectual Radikal: "Given the
nature of current events, it is important to follow what General
Basbug says to the media. On the other hand, the military should
have no influence on politics in a real democracy. Democracy and
civilian politics work parallel to each other. General Basbug's
remarks on important issues signal some changes in the military's
approach. Thus, relations between the media and the military are
entering a new period. However, the extent to which it will help
civilian politics remains to be seen."

Ergun Babahan wrote in mainstream Sabah: "General Basbug has the
characteristics of a soldier and a diplomat. He wants to open a new
page in the relations between the General Staff and the media. His
message to politicians is clear - "Don't use the martyrs for cheap
political tricks." He is definitely a different commander.
Democracy and the state of law is as important as secularism for
him."

Fikret Bila wrote in mainstream Milliyet: "General Basbug wants a
transparent communication system. He warned everybody, including
the media, not to use the Turkish Armed Forces for their own
interests. And he urged everyone not to involve the military in
daily issues and to leave the martyred soldiers out of cheap
politics."

Hakan Celik wrote in tabloid Posta: "During his meeting with the
media, General Basbug spoke on topics ranging from secularism to the
PKK to relations with the U.S. His speech was prepared with the
sensitivity of a diplomat and an academic. And with every sentence,
he pledged that the Turkish General Staff will be more active and
transparent with the media and the public from now on."

Mustafa Unal in Islamist-oriented Zaman: "Information leaked from
Basbug's meeting with the press indicates Basbug used very careful

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language despite the fact he made a long speech, and that he was
particularly careful when talking about controversial issues which
might negatively affect his ties with the government. The first
signs have been good. I expect, in the new era, the military will
put its focus more on military matters. As a result of this, we
might move forward regarding the war on terror. There's full
consensus between the government and military over the authorization
to launch cross border operations into northern Iraq. We arrived at
this point through talks behind closed doors, and not by debating
the issue in front of the public. It seems that the two years
Basbug will remain in office will be a normal period."

Odierno, The 'Hood General,' Takes Control of Forces in Iraq
Media outlets have donned U.S. General Ray Odierno the "Hood
General," in a reference to an incident in 2003 when U.S. forces
apprehended and hooded Turkish Special Forces in northern Iraq. At
that time, Odierno was in charge of U.S. forces in northern Iraq, so
the Turkish press holds him responsible for the humiliation of
Turkish troops. Mainstream Sabah reports, "The Hood General is the
Head of Forces in Iraq" Leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet writes, "The
Era of the Hood General in Iraq," begins as "Hood General Odierno
assumes the throne in Baghdad." Liberal Radikal, "From Now On,
Iraq's Boss is Hood General Odierno," and notes Odierno sees Iraq
"as his second home." Islamist-oriented Zaman reports, "From now
On, Iraq is entrusted to Odierno," and reminds, "Odierno drew
reactions when he suggested negotiations with the PKK."

Paper: 'One By One, They are Falling'
Media outlets find no relief from their anxieties despite USG
efforts to solve the financial crisis. Coverage expresses fears
global markets have not see the worst yet. Leftist-nationalist
Cumhuriyet reports, "Markets Come to a Halt," as "The Fed is
attempting to solve Wall Street's problems by extending $70-75
billion in support of saving major companies like AIG, and
potentially JPMorgan, Chase, and Goldman Sachs," but that "the plan
to save AIG may not be successful in saving the markets from a
disaster." Islamist-oriented Zaman reports, "The Business World Is
Preparing an Emergency Action Plan to deal with the Global Economic
Turmoil," but describes no actual action plan and even notes, "the
Turkish private sector has over $170 billion in debts overseas,"
which "increases the risk for foreign investments in Turkey."
Mainstream Vatan carries the headline, "The Most Critical Day for
the Markets," and reports, "World markets hold their breath as they
await the fate of American insurance giant AIG." Vatan also reports,
"U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson insists the U.S. will not pay
to save banks with taxpayer money," but notes, "If liquidity
problems like the one involving AIG continue in other private firms
and the government does not help them, more companies like Lehman
Brothers will declare bankruptcy and market tension will increase."


Editorial Commentary on Global Economic Meltdown and Turkey

Cuneyt Ulsever wrote in mainstream Hurriyet: "The Turkish economy
runs on hot cash from global markets. Given the magnitude of the
recent global crisis, the transfer of hot cash may come to an end.
It is unclear whether PM Erdogan is really aware of the serious
nature of the current global economic crisis. Moreover, he has a
bad reputation for managing crises poorly. Corruption and poverty
are famous for toppling governments. It looks like the duo is just
about to strike in Turkey."

Ibrahim Karagul wrote in Islamist leaning Yeni Safak: "The collapse
of Lehman Brothers indicates that the global economic bosses cannot
even manage themselves, much less the world economy. The aftermath
of this crisis is even more frightening. Will there be another
9/11? Will there be new American military interventions in order to
obtain some new economic funds? Nobody knows what is next."

Turkish PM's Iftar with Foreign Ambassadors

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Hurriyet, Milliyet and Yeni Safak report Prime Minister Erdogan
hosted an Iftar dinner for the Ambassadors to Turkey. Erdogan
expressed disappointment about the EU's treatment of Turkey's EU
bid, "Turkey does not want anything more than the same process
applied to other candidates. The EU should tell us if their
intentions in this process are sincere or not."

Editorial Commentary on Pakistan

Gokcen Ogan writes in Islamist-oriented Zaman: "It won't be
surprising to see Pakistan's new president Asif Ali Zerdari continue
Pakistan's top level relationship with the U.S., in return for
American support for his government. The Pakistani military's
objection to U.S. operations along the border with Afghanistan will
be limited, because the Pakistani military needs American help in
order to replenish its military power, close the technology gap with
India, and preserve its regional power. And also, if Osama
bin-Laden is captured before the upcoming presidential elections in
the U.S., the Republicans will win the election."

TV News:
CNN Turk

Domestic News

- President Abdullah Gul warns university rectors in a meeting
Tuesday against tensions and polarization in universities.

- The pro-Kurdish DTP has called for a parliamentary investigation
into this summer's forest fires in east and southeast Turkey.

- 41 companies are given licenses authorizing metal exploration in
the Aegean tourist city of Marmaris.

International News

- NATO chief Jaap de Hoop Scheffer says Georgia's path to NATO
membership was "wide open."

- Pakistan's military says its forces had received orders to fire on
U.S. troops if they entered Pakistani territory.

- President Bashar Assad has named Syria's first ambassador to Iraq
since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.
-
WILSON

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