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Cablegate: Ankara Media Reaction Report

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RHMFISS/USDOCO 6ATAF IZMIR TU
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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 ANKARA 001879

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, OCTOBER 28, 2008

In Today's Papers

Land Forces Commander General Kosaner Briefs Media on Aktutun
Attack
All papers gave extensive coverage to General Kosaner's press
announcement regarding the investigation results from the General
Staff regarding the October 3rd PKK attack against the Aktutun
military outpost which left 17 soldiers dead. At a news briefing at
the General Staff headquarters, General Kosaner said no flaws were
found in military actions during the attack. Kosaner stressed that
the images published in leftist Taraf daily were not images of
Aktutun and, contrary to press reports, the people seen in the
footage were not terrorists but farmers. General Kosaner noted that
"American unmanned aircrafts receive the images and after filtering
them, they pass it to Turkish General Staff headquarters. The TGS
shares the information with the relevant offices. We cannot know
whether the U.S. shares that intelligence with anybody else.
Intelligence is to be shared. It is sent to many receivers. That
is why a closed investigation was carried out without the
possibility of leakage from various places."

Meanwhile, papers report that Chief of General Staff General Ilker
Basbug attended yesterday's Council of Ministers' meeting and
briefed the cabinet members about on the fight against terrorism.
Islamist-oriented Zaman reports that Basbug made a detailed
presentation regarding the recent terrorist attack on Aktutun
military outpost, the investigation, the steps needed to be taken in
the fight against terrorism and the demands of the Turkish
military.

Turkey Thumbs its Nose at the IMF
Media outlets report Prime Minister Erdogan has rejected claims that
the global financial crisis is affecting Turkey and stepped up his
criticism of the IMF. Media outlets are mixed in their coverage of
Erdogan's defiance of the fund's loan conditions. Islamist-oriented
Yeni Safak carries the front-page headline, "Defiance to the IMF,"
and reports, "Central Bank Governor Yilmaz says Turkey does not need
the IMF's money." Mainstream Sabah reports, "The IMF's Plan is to
Pressure Turkey" and outlines the IMF's "demands" by saying, "The
IMF is against government plans to use funds to construct new roads
and to restructure tax debt," while the IMF "is pressuring the
government to restrict public spending." Erdal Saglam, columnist
for economic daily Referans, writes, "Everyone believes that Erdogan
does not want to make a deal with the IMF because he does not want
to curb municipal spending before the local elections in 2009."
Saglam notes "the IMF delegation has been stunned by Erdogan's harsh
words against the IMF," as "his statements lead one to assume the
IMF is asking the government to cut spending." In a related
article, Referans notes "the IMF wants the government to reduce
current spending in order to use the funds to ease the pressure on
the economy," while "the AKP government wants to increase spending
in the lead up to the local municipal elections." In addition, the
article reports, "The IMF is concerned about transparency regarding
municipalities' spending," because "their budget is almost as large
as the state budget." Columnist Ugur Gurses of liberal Radikal
notes, "This crisis is global, but our mindset is still local," and
"what needs to be done is to develop formulas in order to ensure
credit flow," but "our government instead prefers to publicly defy
the IMF." Okay Gonensin of mainstream Vatan says, "The PM is acting
like the IMF is asking for some kind of favor from him and he is
bravely fighting against the IMF," but "someone should explain to
the PM that the IMF is trying to help Turkey."


A cartoon from today's Milliyet depicts Prime Minister Erdogan
hanging by a thread and saying "Nothing can happen to us!"

Cartoon from today's Sabah in which a truck called "IMF" is depicted
running over a Turk who is hitchhiking.


ANKARA 00001879 002 OF 004

Editorial Opinion on Turkey-IMF

Ugur Gurses wrote in liberal-intellectual Radikal: "Given the
magnitude of the current global financial crisis, Turkey needs to
develop formulas with the IMF and G-7 nations in order to ensure
credit flow. Instead, our government prefers publicly defy the IF.
While this economic crisis is certainly global, our mindset is still
local."

Okay Gonensin wrote in mainstream Vatan: "PM Erdogan is scolding
everyone to the point where he appears pathological. The IMF has
had its share of his attitude. PM Erdogan not only scolded the IMF,
but also acted as if the IMF was asking for some favor from Turkey
and he is bravely fighting it! Someone should explain to the PM
that the IMF is trying to help Turkey emerge from the global crisis
with minimum damage. And of course, it should be explained to PM
Erdogan that the economic crisis cannot be solved by scolding the
IMF."

Widespread Protests for Kurdish Rights
All papers give extensive coverage to the aftermath of recent
protest marches in many provinces organized by pro-Kurdish political
party DTP, and focus on the statements from high level officials in
the party. Ahmet Turk, Chairman of the DTP, told reporters on his
way to Brussels that the protests should be considered 'normal' as
they were reflecting democratic reaction. DTP's Parliament Group
Chairman Selahattin Demirtas told the press of an upcoming action
plan to protest alleged mistreatment of PKK's imprisoned leader
Abdullah Ocalan. Demirtas told press of a two-day sit-in protest in
Diyarbakir, and leftist Birgun mentions that it will start on
November 1 and 5,000 people are expected to participate. Meanwhile
papers carry Chairman Ahmet Turk's remarks that blame PM Erdogan and
opposition CHP leader Baykal for creating tension in the region on
the eve of local elections.
Editorial Opinion on PKK/Kurdish Problem
Fehmi Koru wrote in Islamist leaning Yeni Safak: "The Kurdish issue
has polarized Turkey. When an issue is assessed in only black and
white terms, solutions are rarely found. However Turkey must solve
this problem now. The AKP has largely linked their solution process
to upcoming local elections, however, in light of recent
developments, this approach must be revised."

Barzani Transits Incirlik
Several media outlets report that Iraqi Kurdish Regional Government
President Massoud Barzani transited Incirlik Air Force Base in
Turkey on his way to the U.S. Kanal 24 carried the reports in
straightforward coverage, while today's Hurriyet reports Turkey
acted graciously toward Barzani by facilitating his travel to the
U.S. In "Barzani Transits Incirlik for U.S. Tour,"
Islamist-oriented Yeni Safak reports, "Barzani was flown via U.S.
military aircraft to Incirlik, where he transferred to a flight that
took him to the U.S. for 'an official visit' with U.S. President
George Bush."

Human Rights Stays on the Agenda
In "A Police Battalion against a Handful of Protesters," mainstream
Hurriyet reports that 27 people protested the AKP in Ankara and all
of them were detained. The protesters blamed the AKP government for
the death of inmate Engin Ceper while he was undergoing police
interrogation. Hurriyet, Yeni Safak and Radikal report an upcoming
human rights review meeting by the Prime Ministry Human Right Board
on October 30 will examine the case of Engin Ceper. Mainstream
Vatan also reports the Parliamentary Human Rights Commission made a
secret visit to the police station in Istanbul where Ceper was
allegedly tortured to death.

War Breaks Out in Syria (Yeni Safak)
All media outlets are critical of the U.S. cross-border raid into
Syria that killed eight civilians on Sunday. Mainstream Hurriyet

ANKARA 00001879 003 OF 004


carries the headline, "Yes, We Attacked," and reports, "Before, the
U.S. said 'We don't have any information about an attack launched
into Syria on Sunday,' but yesterday the U.S. military confirmed the
strikes." In addition, Hurriyet notes, "Damascus has called the
strikes 'criminal' and 'a terrorist attack.'" Mainstream Milliyet
reports in "A Cross Border Operation against Al Qaeda Leaders," that
"U.S. helicopters were targeting Al Qaeda leaders in Gahdiya, but
instead the fifteen-minute attack killed eight civilians."
Islamist-oriented Zaman reports, "America's Attack against Syria
Angers Russia and Other Arab Nations." Leftist-nationalist
Cumhuriyet reports in "Enormous Rage In Response to the U.S.
Attack," that "mourners at the funerals of the civilians killed in
the raid shouted slogans against the U.S." while "Damascus publicly
holds the U.S. responsible for the civilian deaths." Liberal
Radikal reports, "Damascus is Beside Itself with Rage over the
American Attack." Leftist Taraf writes, "Damascus Holds the U.S.
Responsible for Whatever Results Come from the Attack." NTV reports
the Syrian press says the raid constitutes "a war crime."

Editorial Opinion on U.S./Syria

Sami Kohen wrote in mainstream Milliyet: "The U.S. purposefully
dispatched four military helicopters from a military base in Iraq in
order to carry out a military operation 10 kilometers across the
border into Syrian territory. This operation surprised the world
and shocked Syria. Despite Syria's rapprochement with the West, the
U.S. has never changed its stance against Syria. The Bush
Administration continues to pursue a policy of isolation against
Syria amid its allegations Syria supports terrorism. This recent
incident will create further distance between the two countries.
The U.S. is following the same kind of cross-border policy in
Pakistan. In order to pursue Taliban terrorists who flee
Afghanistan, the U.S. is launching occasional air operations into
Pakistan. Thus, Pakistan's relations with the U.S. and Afghanistan
are rather tense nowadays. America's cross-border operations into
Syria and Pakistan are not solving the terrorism problem. On the
contrary, these operations are creating political problems. Of
course, no country has the right to violate the sovereignty of
another country. But in order to prevent such violations of
sovereignty, no country should allow others to use its territory as
a base from which attacks can be launched into other countries."

Barzani Transits Incirlik
Several media outlets report that Iraqi Kurdish Regional Government
President Massoud Barzani transited Incirlik Air Force Base in
Turkey on his way to the U.S. Kanal 24 carried the reports in
straightforward coverage, while today's Hurriyet reports Turkey
acted graciously toward Barzani by facilitating his travel to the
U.S. In "Barzani Transits Incirlik for U.S. Tour,"
Islamist-oriented Yeni Safak reports, "Barzani was flown via U.S.
military aircraft to Incirlik, where he transferred to a flight that
took him to the U.S. for 'an official visit' with U.S. President
George Bush."


Former Ambassador Mark Parris' Advice for next U.S. President
Media outlets report former U.S. Ambassador to Turkey Mark Parris
issued advice to the next U.S. president in an article entitled
"Common Values and Common Interests - The Bush Legacy in US-Turkish
Relations," in the latest edition of a quarterly journal published
by the Turkey-based SETA Foundation for Political, Economic and
Social Research called "Insight Turkey." Mainstream Milliyet
carries the headline, "Mark Parris: The New President Must Place
Turkey at the Top of the List," and notes Parris wrote, "Ties have
deteriorated between the U.S. and Turkey during the Bush
administration." Islamist-oriented Zaman reports, "Whoever wins the
U.S. election will have a more positive image in Turkish public
opinion by simply not being George Bush." CNN Turk says Parris
"urges the next U.S. president to give Turkey top priority."


ANKARA 00001879 004 OF 004


Erdogan Sends Advisors to the U.S.
Mainstream Hurriyet and leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet report that
Prime Minister Erdogan has sent two advisors, chief foreign affairs
advisor Ahmet Davutoglu and AKP Vice Chair for Foreign Affairs Suat
Kiniklioglu, to meet with the foreign affairs advisors of both the
Obama and McCain campaigns. Hurriyet reports Erdogan's envoys will
address key bilateral issues with the campaigns, including the
cooperation against the PKK, Iraq's stability, the Caucasus Platform
proposal, Turkey's efforts to expand ties with Armenia, and Turkey's
efforts to promote peace in the Middle East. Leftist-nationalist
Cumhuriyet, meanwhile, reports that Erdogan "preferred to send his
own advisors instead of sending officials from the Ministry of
Foreign Affairs," to discuss these key bilateral issues with the
presidential campaigns.

TV News:
NTV

Domestic News

The General Staff briefed the Council of Ministers on developments
in the fight against terror.

President Gul says he is ready to give up his authority to appoint
university rectors.

Turkey extends support to Ukraine's NATO membership.

Opposition party MHP starts preparations for the municipality
elections.

Prime Minister Erdogan will go to the U.S. next month.

A court in Istanbul declares a news blackout in connection with the
death of Engin Ceber, who died as a result of torture while in
police custody.

World News

Monday's Gallup Poll: Obama holds a commanding 52-42 percent lead
over John McCain among all voters.

WILSON

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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