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Cablegate: Ankara Media Reaction Report

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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 ANKARA 001700

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 24, 2008

In Today's Papers

16 New Detentions in 'Ergenekon' Investigation
All media outlets report that on Tuesday, 16 suspects, including
television station owner Tuncay Ozkan, known for his strong
opposition against the governing AKP, were taken into custody in the
'Ergenekon' investigation. Ozkan established a popular opposition
platform, "How Many Are We?" He was also the former owner of
nationalist Kanalturk TV, a media outlet fiercely critical of the
AKP. Ozkan sold the outlet to pro-AKP figures also having close
ties with the Islamist sect leader Fettullah Gulen's group, a sale
which upset fellow ultra-nationalists. Mainstream Sabah says Ozkan
and his group allegedly represented the "media wing" of the
Ergenekon network and are suspected of using "black propaganda"
methods and "disinformation" to agitate the public. Also detained
were Gurbuz Capan, a columnist and shareholder in the nationalist
and anti-AKP Cumhuriyet; Adnan Bulut, journalist and former board
member of Kanalturk TV; Tanju Guvendiren, a retired colonel, and
Adil Serdar Sacan, a retired police chief.

Milliyet notes Prime Minister Erdogan and Interior Minister Besir
Atalay held two-and-a-half hour meeting before yesterday's
detentions happened. Islamist-oriented Zaman points to the timing
of the detentions, which came one month before the first hearing in
the Ergenekon trial to be held on October 20. Leftist-nationalist
Cumhuriyet finds the new wave of detentions "interesting" as it came
at the time the Deniz Feneri scandal is at the top of the Turkish
domestic agenda.

President Gul Addresses UN General Assembly
All papers: President Gul delivered a speech at the UN General
Assembly in New York yesterday. Mainstream Sabah reports that in
his speech, President Gul extended support to calls for UN reform
and said that the greatest task for the international community is
closing the gap between the richest and poorest countries as fast as
possible. Islamist-oriented Zaman reports that in reference to
Turkey's neighbors President Gul said "Turkey has contributed to
peace in its region. In this context, I believe that the Turkey's
proposed 'Caucasus Stability and Cooperation Platform' will be a
useful framework in which to discuss regional problems in a
democratic arena." Regarding the Cyprus issue, Gul urged the
international community to ease economic limitations on the
Turkish-Cypriots. Sabah notes that President Gul also asked for
support from the General Assembly for Turkey's candidacy for a
non-permanent seat at the UN Security Council by saying "Turkey has
not been represented at the Council for nearly half a century. We
believe that our foreign policy and our economic, social and
cultural characteristics will help us make positive contributions to
the Council's work."

Meanwhile, economic daily Referans reports that in a speech at a
meeting organized by the Foreign Policy Council in New York
yesterday, Foreign Minister Ali Babacan said that Turkey, Armenia
and Azerbaijan are determined to solve their problems. On Friday,
September 26, the Foreign Ministers of Turkey, Armenia and
Azerbaijan will hold a trilateral meeting in New York, the paper
adds.

Global Economic Meltdown
All papers carry State Minister Nazim Ekren's remarks about possible
impact to Turkish economy. Minister Ekren was quoted as saying
"Turkey managed to organize itself through fiscal discipline and
banking regulations during the 2001 crisis, therefore it is unlikely
that the current crisis will hugely affect the Turkish economy. The
U.S. is now trying to adopt similar measures to regulate the system.
However, debts and current deficit are the two main problems we
have to deal with."

The economy pages feature quotes from the CEO of Turkey's Sabanci
Holding, one of Turkey's leading conglomerates, and Rifat

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Hisarciklioglu, chairman of Turkish Chamber of Commerce (TOBB).
Guler Sabanci characterized the current crisis as the biggest tremor
the world has seen, thus nothing will ever be the same again.
Expressing hope for a new IMF agreement for Turkey, Ms. Sabanci
added "The consequences of the current crisis will be felt in Turkey
more in 2009 than today. Turkey's growth rate and liquidity will be
the main areas hit by this crisis." Papers also highlight Chairman
Hisarciklioglu's advice during a meeting with TOBB members: "The
global crisis will hit everybody throughout the world. Nobody is
safe because of the domino effect. Turkey has to focus on two goal:
a strong economy and a strong democracy."

Editorial Commentary on Global Economic Meltdown

Fehmi Koru wrote in Islamist-leaning Yeni Safak: "Walking through
the streets of New York and seeing the faces of people tells a lot
about the ongoing crisis because it means unemployment for many New
Yorkers in the very heart of American finance. The Bush
Administration is trying to convince the Congress to pass the 700
million dollar bailout, a sum which is actually more than Turkey's
national income. The Bush Administration's policy to shape the
world played a significant role in the current economic crisis.
However, it is not much of a debate here since both Republicans and
Democrats agree wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were a mistake.
American resources were used for the war instead of the country's
economic welfare."

Cukurova Media Group Gives Payment Plan to State Body
Hurriyet, Sabah and Yeni Safak report that Cukurova Group, which
owns a large media portfolio, has made an agreement with the banking
regulatory and insurance board (TMSF) to repay its debts. The group
presented a plan to repay 400 million dollars in 8 years to the
Treasury and a protocol is expected to be signed soon, reports
added. Cukurova Group portfolio includes dailies Aksam and Tercuman
as well as Show tv.

Editorial Commentary on the PM vs Media

Hasan Cemal wrote in mainstream Milliyet: "Recently, PM Erdogan has
been very tense. He gets very angry with all the questions from
journalists. I am sure the PM is aware of the fact that the media
in every democratic country makes an effort to catch the mistakes of
the government. And I am sure he is aware that it is not the
Turkish media's policy to be merciful in their criticism. Let me
remind him of a phrase from Winston Churchill who received plenty of
criticism from the media "Don't ever complain, don't ever answer
back." Mr. Prime Minister, this is not the time to lose your cool,
either locally or internationally."

Mehmet Tezkan wrote in mainstream Vatan: "I am sure The Economist
has the most upsetting question for PM Erdogan "Isn't AKP pure any
longer?" But if you continue to support all the suspects of Deniz
Feneri case, if you continue to say this case has no links with
Turkey, if you continue to support RTUK chairman Akman and neglect
initiating an investigation against him, then even foreigners will
continue to ask same questions: "Isn't AKP pure any longer?" or
"Isn't Erdogan acting like Putin?"

Editorial Commentary on US-Pakistan

Ergin Yildizoglu writes in leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet: "The
suicide bomb attack on the Marriot Hotel in Islamabad has made it
easier for the Pakistani Administration to explain to its people why
it is cooperating with the US. Experts who know the region and the
social texture of Pakistan believe that such cooperation will drag
Pakistan toward destruction. One thesis claims the US is trying to
create enough instability to legitimize an American seizure of
Pakistan's nuclear weapons. Another one says NATO is trying to to
create a permanent presence in the region, as far as the Chinese
border. Whether the Pakistani and Afghani peoples as well as others

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in the region object, NATO aims to create a continuous war and a
confusion zone to legitimize its presence as a security element in
the whole region."

TV News:
CNN Turk

Domestic News

- AKP deputy chairman Dengir Mir Mehmet Firat and CHP deputy group
chief Kemal Kilicdaroglu are expected to hold a televised debate on
Thursday concerning the accusations they made against each other
within the Deniz Feneri scandal.

- The German Embassy spokesman in Ankara said press reports claiming
Turkey's main opposition party CHP accepted a donation from the
German Friedrich Ebert Foundation were "not true."

- Greenpeace activists staged protests at the Energy Ministry in
Ankara against the bidding process for the construction of Turkey's
first nuclear power plant in Akkuyu in the Mediterranean province of
Mersin.

- Director Nuri Bilge Ceylan's "Uc Maymun" (Three Monkeys) movie
will represent Turkey in the competition for a foreign-language film
category nomination at the 81st Academy Awards.

International News

- President Bush tells the UN General Assembly the international
community needs to stand firm against the nuclear ambitions of North
Korea and Iran.

- Iraq resumes oil supplies to Jordan for the first time since the
2003 US-led invasion.

- Iran plans to build a car production plant in Afghanistan.
WILSON

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