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Cablegate: Ankara Media Reaction Report

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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
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 21, 2008

In Today's Papers


The Ergenekon Trial Begins
All papers give front-page and extensive coverage to the first day
of the Ergenekon trial yesterday in Silivri, Istanbul. The general
tone of papers is that there was chaos and disorganization because
the room where the hearing took place could not fit all of the
suspects and lawyers. The head judge of the court, Koksal Sengun,
postponed the hearing to Thursday and decided that those suspects
who are in jail and those who are not will give statements in
seperate hearings and that each suspect will be defended by a
maximum of three lawyers. Lawyers reacted to the first decision
saying that this will not be a fair trial unless one suspect hears
the statement of another one. Mainstream Milliyet notes that "[The
case] Began with Chaos" in its headline. Mainstream Aksam's headline
is, "The First Day is a Fiasco." Islamist-oriented Zaman claims that
"the supporters of the suspects in jail tried to block the
activities of the court delegation from outside and inside.
Protestors belonging to the Ataturkist Thought Association and the
Labor Party protested with flags with iron bars in front of the
Silivri Prison." Radically Islamist Vakit reports that "The Gang
Still Seeks Chaos.".
Editorial commentary on The Ergenekon Trial
Cuneyt Ulsever commented in mainstream Hurriyet: ''The Ergenekon
trial began with chaos, just as the case has created chaos in
Turkey. This is a strange country. To tell you sincerely, I am very
confused about the trial. Some of the elements of the trial make me
think that Turkey will finally confront itself and that the last
obstacles to the rule of law will be abolished. Some other elements
make me think that some people will go too far to include everyone
against the government in this business. On the other hand, I have
doubts on how seriously the evidence will be scrutinized.''
Ergun Babahan wrote in mainstream Sabah: "On March 16, 1978, seven
students from Istanbul University were killed in a bomb attack and
many others were injured. That incident led to an atmosphere that
resulted in a coup. Just like the Dink murder, it was a massacre
conducted with the support of state officials and the murderers were
never found. Yesterday, all the news agencies reported that the
court case on the March 16th incident had closed due to statute of
limitations. The Ergenekon case represents the re-opening of the
March 16th case but with different suspects. That is why the
Ergenekon case is very important for me and I am following it
closely. I want everyone to understand that in this country no one
will be allowed to conduct illegal acts and that anyone acting
illegally will be tried and punished. I want no one to dare to play
with people's lives in the name of patriotism for their own
political aims. Unfortunately, yesterday's trial started in a
chaotic atmosphere. However, this doesn't minimize the trial's
meaning and importance."
Fikret Bila wrote in mainstream Milliyet: "The Ergenekon trial
started yesterday in chaos. This trial is creating political
polarization. The picture outside the court was important - there
were groups of demonstrators against the case from the Labor Party
and Ataturk's associations while the Kurdish party DTP, Socialist
Democracy Party, and Ozgur-Der members were protesting the
afore-mentioned protestors. This atmosphere carries the risk that
this case can create a political polarization between Turks and
Kurds. Despite the political polarization and the arguments, the
court should obey the judicial rules and find the facts. The
judiciary has a very difficult job here, but it is necessary to
trust the judiciary."
Barzani's Statements
Mainstream Hurriyet and mainstream Sabah report on statements by
Massoud Barzani, leader of the regional Kurdish administration in
northern Iraq, to the press yesterday in Erbil. Barzani reportedly
told the press that "We have torn down the walls between Turkey and
us, melted the ice and opened a new page on our relations. Turkey
took a step to improve relations. The road for dialogue is open." He
allegedly stated that he could not give any details on the content

ANKARA 00001839 002 OF 003


of the meeting with the Turkish delegation and that the meetings
will continue and "they will also take place in Turkey."

PM Erdogan: "The Public cannot be intimidated by Terrorism"
Vatan, Radikal, Sabah, Turkiye, Zaman, Milliyet and others: PM
Erdogan addressed residents of Diyarbakir yesterday and said
"despite terrorism, we will continue our reforms of public services,
investments and democratization." Islamist oriented Zaman reports
that participating in the opening ceremony of the new education year
at the Dicle University in Diyarbakir, PM Erdogan harshly criticized
the terrorist organization and its supporters. Erdogan said
"Venders closed up their shops because of PKK threats. The PKK
terrorist organization is sabotaging the development process in the
southeast. There will be no investments in places where security is
not established." Mainstream Vatan reports that many shops in
Diyarbakir were closed yesterday to protest both the visit of
Erdogan and the allegations Abdullah Ocalan was tortured in Imrali
prison.

Meanwhile today's papers report about the PKK supporters' protests
in different parts of Turkey. Mainstream Sabah reports that
outlawed protests were held yesterday in Hakkari, Van, Sanliurfa,
Tunceli, Adana, Igdir and Bingol. One protestor died yesterday
during clashes with the police in Dogu Bayazit, Agri. Many shops
pulled down their shutters in Diyarbakir, Batman, Hakkari,
Yuksekova, Cizre, Nusaybin and Kiziltepe.

Editorial Commentary on the PKK Demonstrations
Murat Yetkin wrote in liberal-intellectual Radikal: ''Our reporter
who followed Prime Minister Erdogan's visit to Diyarbakir yesterday
said that he had never seen such tension in the city before. Smoke
from tire fires set by PKK members rose to the sky, most shops were
closed, and some restaurant owners told our reporter and his other
colleagues that they could not serve them food because they were
afraid. During the same hours one person died in clashes between the
police and PKK demonstrators in Dogubeyazit. There were protests not
only in Diyarbakir or Dogubeyazit, but in all cities and towns whose
municipalities are run by the DTP or in western provinces where the
DTP is organized due to immigration from the east. The reason for
the demonstrations was the fact that Abdullah Ocalan is being kept
in prison. This is the number one subject on the DTP's agenda at the
moment. The PKK has threatened to end PJAK's attempts to damage the
regime in Iran if the U.S. does not stop sharing intelligence with
Turkey. Since U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European
Affairs Dan Fried is in Ankara today, we can ask him about this."


TV News:
CNN Turk

Domestic News

- Former DTP leader Nurettin Demirtas was sentenced to 15 months in
prison on charges of spreading terrorist propaganda.

- Ali Askin, the vice-chairman of AKP branch in Tunceli, who was
abducted by PKK terrorists on September 14, was set free.

- Constitutional Court president Hasim Kilic said the detailed
ruling of the AKP closure case will be announced before Friday.

- The National Security Council will convene today to discuss the
PKK, terrorism and the developments in northern Iraq

- During an Economy Coordination Committee Meeting, participants
agreed that several steps should be taken in order to minimize the
impacts of the global economic crisis on Turkey. State Minister
Nazim Ekren said that global and national developments have started
to affect Turkey's economy.


ANKARA 00001839 003 OF 003

International News

- 17 prisoners died in a jail riot in Mexico.

- U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Dan Fried said Russia is not
complying with the agreement to return to its positions before the
outbreak of hostilities with South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

- EU Enlargement commissioner Olli Rehn says next year Serbia might
be given the status of EU candidate country.
WILSON

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