Cablegate: Ankara Media Reaction Report
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SUBJECT: ANKARA MEDIA REACTION REPORT
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 23, 2008
In Today's Papers
Constitutional Court Releases Opinion Regarding Headscarf Verdict
All papers: The Constitutional Court publicly issued its written
opinion in the decision to annul a constitutional amendment allowing
female students to wear headscarves in universities. Mainstream
Hurriyet reports that the Court's decision said, "The amendment was
an attempt to use religion as a tool for political motives and it is
against the principle of secularism." Hurriyet notes that the
Court's decision also said, "Wearing a religious symbol could become
a tool used to pressure people with different political or religious
views." Mainstream Sabah reports that the Constitutional Court
president Hasim Kilic and member Sacit Adali criticized the verdict
and said "this is judicial guardianship." A professor on
Constitutional Law, Prof.Ergun Ozbudun, said "the verdict oversteps
judicial authority." Liberal Radikal's headline reads "Parliament's
Legislative Authority is Restricted" and reports that a law
professor from the AKP, Burhan Kuzu, said "the verdict curbed
parliament of its functions." Islamist-oriented Yeni Safak quotes
Hasim Kilic, the president of the Constitutional Court as saying
"setting rules on clothing in universities contradicts academic
freedoms. Universities are not military barracks. The Court has
gone far beyond its limits as stated by the Constitution."
Mainstream Milliyet quotes PM Erdogan saying at his party meeting
that "the Constitutional Court overstepped its authority."
Editorial Commentary: Constitutional Court Decision on the Turban
Ergun Babahan wrote in mainstream Sabah: "This country has
continuously denied two issues for years - Kurdish rights and
headscarf freedom. Turkey has ignored the Kurds' presence and has
banned them from using their mother tongue. Moreover, torture was
used against the Kurds during the September 12th process, which
paved the way to an increase in PKK activities. Now, Turkey is
ignoring the headscarf issue. The administrators of this country
should realize that it will not be possible to establish peace in
this country if Kurdish broadcasting is not allowed, if the Kurds'
right to use their mother tongue is ignored, or if girls are banned
from school because they are wearing headscarves and thus girls are
deprived of their basic rights to education."
Taha Akyol wrote in mainstream Milliyet: "The Constitutional Court
decision regarding the headscarf ban in the universities is a
political one. The high court seized on the parliament's decision
to lift the ban and reached a decision based on the high court
members' political beliefs. But, there is nothing anyone can do
about this. There is no higher court to which an appeal can be
made... All we can do is to criticize the decision and defend
contemporary liberal beliefs. But while doing this, we should never
disrespect the Court's decision."
Mehmet Tezkan wrote in mainstream Vatan: "The AKP is responsible
for turning the use of headscarves into a political symbol. PM
Erdogan's deepened the crisis when he said, "The headscarf is not a
political symbol, but even if it is, so what?" The Constitutional
Court's decision is trying to say "regardless of the percentage of
votes a party receives, no one can damage the principle of
secularism embedded in the Constitution."
Ergun Ozbudun wrote in Islamist oriented Zaman: "The recent Court
decision regarding the headscarf issue reminded us of the
seriousness of the constitution problems facing Turkey's democracy.
Only a new constitution can solve Turkey's problems. This
constitution must reflect global and democratic values regarding
freedom. Otherwise, Turkey will remain partially democratic and
partially free, as Turkey has been described on the international
polling companies' lists."
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A New Structure against Terrorism
Sabah, Milliyet, Hurriyet, Vatan, Zaman, Yeni Safak and others:
Today's papers report that a new era is beginning in the fight
against terrorism. Mainstream Sabah says that a new structure will
be established within the Interior ministry to fight terror, called
the Homeland Security Undersecreteriat. The Interior Minister will
now carry the title "Deputy Prime Minister." Islamist-oriented
Zaman reports that a homeland security board and a homeland security
secretariat general will be established, and will have offices in
the Middle East and in Europe.
The Dollar Flies in Turkey. (Milliyet)
All media outlets note that although the Turkish economy has not
experienced the same ill effects as other economies in the recent
global financial crisis, the U.S. dollar has suddenly risen sharply
against the Turkish lira in recent days. Mainstream Milliyet
reports in "Foreigners Flee and the Dollar Flies," that "Investors
are fleeing from developing nations and hedge fund sales are on the
rise," as "the dollar climbs and all eyes are on the Central Bank,"
in order to strengthen the Turkish currency. Mainstream Vatan
reports, "Turkey will offer limitless guarantees on two-year bank
deposits in order to attract deposits from foreign markets back into
Turkey's banking system." Leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet reports,
"Foreign investors are frightened," so "the dollar surges against
the lira." Economic daily Referans reports in "Here Are the Reasons
for the 2-Day Surge in the Dollar," that "$15 Billion in foreign
investment has left the Turkish economy."
Editorial Commentary on Russia-Armenia relationship
Fikret Ertan wrote in Islamist-oriented Zaman: "Russian President
Medvedev paid an official visit to Yerevan earlier this week. This
is one of the four times that Sarkisyan and Medvedev have met during
2008. According to a source close to the highest levels of the
Kremlin, the talks during this summit aimed at strengthening the
alliance and the political dialogue between Russia and Armenia.
This source said that face to face meetings between Medvedev and
Sarkisyan are expected to continue, but it's not known yet if any
decisions or agreements will come out of the meetings. Since 1991,
Russia has made close to $2 billion in investments in Armenia, with
$428 million of these investments made only in this year alone.
From this perspective, the recent summit between Russia and Armenia
shows the bilateral partnership is strengthening. We must be
informed of these developments. Of course that's what we're trying
- FM Babacan met with Shiite leader of Iraq Al-Hekim yesterday and
asked for active cooperation against PKK.
- 5,000 people attended the funeral of Ahmet Ozkan, who was shot
dead during an illegal protest in Dogubeyazit. The funeral turned
into a pro-PKK demonstration.
- Diyarbakir's Chief Prosecutor's Office has launched an
investigation into DTP leader Ahmet Turk for his recent remarks in
- The parliament approves a bill that grants amnesty to students
dismissed from university after June 7, 1995.
- The court rejects a request from the Ergenekon suspects for the
appointment of a new judge to hear their case.
- British Prime Minister Gordon Brown says the British economy is
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likely to fall into a recession for the first time in 16 years.
- Iraqi Kurdish Regional Government President Massoud Barzani pays a
visit to Iran.
- The United States signs an accord allowing more than 80 personnel
to take part in a vast European Union justice mission in Kosovo.