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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
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 30, 2008

In Today's Papers

Republic Day Celebrations across Turkey
All media outlets feature prominent and flashy front page coverage
of the celebrations marking the 85th anniversary of the Turkish
Republic. Reports highlight that although people celebrated the
anniversary across the country with great enthusiasm, some members
of the opposition parties Republican People's Party (CHP) and
Democratic Left Party (DSP) boycotted official ceremonies. CHP
leader Deniz Baykal and most CHP deputies, along with DSP leader
Zeki Sezer and all deputies of the DSP, were absent from as
President Gul received visitors following ceremonies to mark the
85th anniversary. In addition, the parliamentarians did not attend
an additional reception at presidential palace hosted by Gul and his
wife. Most of the pro-Kurdish opposition party DTP parliamentarians
attended both official events in Ankara. Meanwhile, local
ceremonies in various provinces were boycotted by mayors from the
DTP. The only CHP deputy who was present at a later reception at
the presidential palace in Cankaya was Sukru Elekdag, a retired
ambassador.

High ranking military attended the official events. Diplomatic
mission representatives were present at the presidential palace
reception along with the prime minister of Pakistan Gilani, who is
on an official visit to Turkey.

Mainstream Hurriyet carries the front-page headline, "Our Spirits
Were Enlightened by the Republic's Values," while Islamist Zaman
commented "On this 85th Anniversary We All Are Longing For a
First-Class Democracy." Mass appeal Aksam highlights under the
headline, "One Republic and Three Receptions" that in response to
President Gul's reception, which allowed no spouses, at the
presidential palace, General Basbug, the Chief of General Staff,
hosted a separate reception at the Officers' Club where spouses were
welcome to attend.

In Islamist leaning Zaman, Huseyin Gulerce commented: "Let's tip our
hats one more time to another year for the Republic, and let's note
that our military is one of the best in the world and is a great
source of pride for our country. But let's also remember that this
is not a regime of the elites."

Mainstream Sabah's Erdal Safak commented about this booklet: "In an
effort to solve the Kurdish problem, the DTP has suggested a
'Democratic Autonomy Project' in a 64-page booklet in three
languages (Turkish, English and Kurdish) and the cover is decorated
in green, red, and yellow. Strong reactions have come from
deputies, including CHP's Mustafa Ozyurek, who says the proposal
'appears to divide the Turkish federation.' We believe in nurturing
every kind of proposal for Turkish democracy's solution to the
Kurdish problem. Proposing a Kurdish autonomous region is not a new
idea. The 7th president Kenan Evren and 8th president Ozal and even
the late PM Bulent Ecevit in the 1970s called for reviews of the
democratic system and talked about regional governing system. Even
though DTP uses the 1921 Constitution as a basis for its autonomous
region suggestion, that constitution itself cannot be a precedent
for the Democratic Autonomy Project. Nevertheless all of the
suggestions should be discussed and we should not be afraid of the
debate. Already TGS Chief General Basbug at the Council of
Ministers meeting said, 'In order to finish off terror, we must try
everything, everyone must be met with in order to support the
efforts.' We want to see this as a first step."

EU Progress Report on Turkey
Media outlets report the EU's latest report on Turkey criticized the
performance of the government in many areas, but praised President
Gul for his reformist profile. Mainstream Milliyet writes "The
report says the government failed to prepare a stable and
comprehensive reform program despite its huge political power. The
government is criticized for its failure to prepare a comprehensive

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strategy to fight corruption and for making partisan appointments in
the bureaucracy." Milliyet's columnist Semih Idiz concludes that
"The EU expects more direct engagement from President Gul in order
to compensate for the government's negligence." Idiz notes that the
report "not only praised President Gul's performance but also
emphasized the importance of his efforts to mediate between
political actors and civil society." Mainstream Sabah writes the
report "draws attention to the AKP closure case process" and the
European Commission will ask Turkey "to change the law of political
parties as per AIHM decisions and the Venice criteria." The
religious freedoms for Alevis were raised in the report as well and
Turkey was criticized for the unfair treatment of Alevis.

Semih Idiz wrote in mainstream Milliyet: "As the report states, the
government did not move forward with reforms and Turkey is still
being remembered with an increasing number of torture stories. This
in and of itself is a huge shame for the AKP government because of
prior claims of 'zero tolerance for torture.' Given the
government's negligence, the EU obviously expects Gul will take a
more direct role in the EU negotiation process."

Karabakh Summit in Moscow
News outlets report with a tinge of skepticism regarding Sunday's
Moscow summit between Russia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan regarding the
disputed region of Karabakh. Mainstream Milliyet reports in "An
Armenian-Azeri Summit in Moscow," that "on Sunday, Russian President
Medvedev will host Armenian President Sargsyan and Azeri President
Aliyev for the sole purpose of solving the crisis in Karabakh."
Liberal Radikal reports "The Russian leader wants a solution to the
disputed mountainous region." In "A Russian-Azeri-Armenian Summit
for Karabakh," leftist Taraf reports, "During Azeri President
Aliyev's October 24th official swearing-in ceremony, Aliyev promised
that his first visit outside of his country would be to Turkey
because of the strong ties between Turkey and Azerbaijan. Instead,
his first trip is to Russia." In addition, the paper notes, "Since
the Georgia-Russia war broke out and Russia recognized South Ossetia
and Abkhazia, their activities in the Caucasus have increased," and
"while the Karabakh crisis is not likely to be solved in this
summit, the meeting can be a step towards decreasing the tensions in
the region." Leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet reports, "Russia,
following the war with Georgia, is dressing itself up like a
mediator in the Caucasus."

Barzani's Meetings in Washington
Mainstream Sabah reports, "Kurdish Regional Government President
Massoud Barzani met with President Bush about the bilateral security
agreement (SOFA) and the fight against the PKK, but that no
statement was made after the meeting." Leftist Taraf reports
"Barzani met with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and with
Vice President Cheney," in order to discuss, "Iraq's general
situation, the bilateral security agreement, the future of Iraq's
Kurds, U.S. policy in Iraq during the new administration, and
relations between the Iraqi Kurds and Turkey." Leftist-nationalist
Cumhuriyet carries the headline, "Barzani Presents Thanks," as the
KRG President told U.S. President Bush the "Kurdish people are
grateful to the U.S. people and to the men and women in the U.S.
armed forces."

Syria Attack Complicates SOFA
Islamist-oriented Zaman reports, "The Syria Attack Challenges the
Security Agreement," noting, "Iran has again raised concerns that
the agreement with the U.S. would not bring security," as "experts
argue that because of the attack against Syria, Iranian Shiite
leaders have increased pressure against the agreement by saying that
control over Iraq's domestic arena is not in the hands of the
Iraqis." In a related article, Zaman also reports, "Damascus
Demands an Apology and Compensation from the U.S." for the
cross-border attack. Liberal Radikal reports "Following the U.S.
attack in Syria on Sunday, Baghdad shared with the public that
sections of the SOFA provisions proposed by Iraq specifically state

ANKARA 00001888 003 OF 004


that no attacks against Iraq's neighbors can be staged from bases in
Iraq." CNN Turk reports, "Syria demands that the U.S. apologize for
an American raid launched from Iraqi territory into Syrian territory
that killed eight people."

Davutoglu's Warnings for the Next U.S. President
News outlets cover the prime minister's foreign affairs advisor
Prof. Dr. Ahmet Davutoglu's visit to the U.S. to meet with the two
presidential campaigns. Mainstream Milliyet reports in "A Warning
from Davutoglu to Obama," that Davutoglu warned Barack Obama against
"taking the wrong step" regarding recognition of the events of 1915
as a genocide. Mainstream Hurriyet reports in "A Warning from
Ankara to Obama," that Davutoglu warned the presidential candidate
against the recognition of claims of an Armenian genocide, "Do not
offend us and do not to pose a potential risk to the strategic
relationship with Turkey." Liberal Radikal calls Davutoglu "The
lead architect of Turkey's foreign policy" and notes he warned "If
you want to see the continuation of relations between Turkey and
Armenia, steps must not be taken to offend us." Leftist Taraf
reports, "Davutoglu expressed concern over the demands of the
Armenian diaspora to Barack Obama's foreign policy advisors," and
said, "In the interest of keeping Turkey as an important global and
regional ally, you must not pose this potential risk to the Turkish
public," by recognizing the genocide claims. In "Don't Offend
Turkey," leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet reports, "Davetoglu went to
Washington in order to prevent the likely crisis," over recognition
of the genocide claims.

Milliyet also added that adviser Davutoglu, along with the Obama and
McCain foreign policy advisers, met with NSC Adviser Stephen Hadley
and Jim Jeffrey, the new Ambassador to Turkey.

U.S. Elections
Based on observations from the ongoing election campaign, Radikal's
editorial board carried the banner front page headline, "Here Comes
Obama" and the paper's columnist Cengiz Candar wrote from
Washington: "Being in Washington to check the pulse in upcoming
presidential elections provided a valuable insight - clearly Barack
Obama is leading the presidential race. Despite fabricated stories
regarding his origin as well as his faith, Obama managed to turn
these speculations into opportunities. There is now less than a
week before we learn who will be the next leader of America, and of
the world. The world wants Obama and America wants Obama."

TV News:
NTV

Domestic News

Turkey celebrates the 85th anniversary of the founding of the
Turkish Republic.
The governor of Adana has warned that the parents of children who
participated in violent protests against security forces will lose
their access to free medical services.
Civil organizations in Antalya staged protests against the killing
of Cagdas Gemik, 18, who refused to stop at a police checkpoint.
DTP distributes to members of parliament a booklet containing
details about the "democratic autonomy project" of jailed PKK leader
Abdullah Ocalan.
Vakit journalist Huseyin Uzmez, facing trial for raping a minor
girl, appears on TV to reject all accusations.
CHP leader Deniz Baykal says the 85th anniversary of the founding of
the Turkish Republic is celebrated while republican values are worn
out.

International News
At least 170 people are killed and many other are injured after an
earthquake measuring 6.4 on the Richter scale hits western Pakistan.

US President Bush meets Massoud Barzani, the president of the

ANKARA 00001888 004 OF 004


semiautonomous Kurdish region in northern Iraq.
Iraq's national security adviser Mowaffak al-Rubaie says the
security pact between Iraq and the U.S. would prevent the U.S.
military from launching attacks on Iraq's neighbors.

WILSON

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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