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Cablegate: Ankara Media Reaction Report

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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 ANKARA 001950

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
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 10, 2008

In Today's Papers

Commemorating the 70th Anniversary of Ataturk's Death
Media outlets give prominent front-page feature coverage to mark the
70th anniversary of the death of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the
country's founding leader. Papers cover commentaries and interviews
in memoriam under headlines such as Sabah's "70 Years Later, Ataturk
is still Dearly Missed," far right Ortadogu's "He Lives in the
Hearts of 70 Million People," mainstream Hurriyet's "You Are Always
in Our Hearts," mainstream Aksam's "You Are Living in Our Hearts,"
Islamist-oriented Zaman's "Commemorating Ataturk with Respect," and
leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet's "He Cannot Be Forgotten." Anatolian
News Agency reports, "Today, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk was commemorated
throughout Turkey, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC)
and Turkish missions in foreign countries on the 70th anniversary of
his demise. Daily life and traffic stopped for two minutes of
silence that began at 9:05 a.m., the time at which Ataturk passed
away 70 years ago. Flags across the country were flown at
half-staff. President Abdullah Gul led a delegation of top state
officials to a ceremony at Ataturk's mausoleum, where President Gul
signed the mausoleum's register by saying, "We are honored to be in
your presence in our powerful country which is a source of
confidence and balance in its region. Turkey has gained the respect
of the whole world with its position, power, dynamism, and
international influence regarding global peace and stability."

Editorial Commentary on Ataturk's Legacy

Mehmet Yilmaz wrote in mainstream Hurriyet: "Ataturk and his
founding principles of the Turkish Republic remain a shining
historical example. All one has to do in order to reach this
logical conclusion is to spend a couple of weeks in a Muslim Arab
country or a North African country. If Ataturk had never
transformed Turkey, today's Turkey would no different from today's
Morocco, Egypt or Saudi Arabia. For this reason alone, Ataturk
deserves our full respect."

Semih Idiz wrote in mainstream Milliyet: "Some people are hiding
behind Ataturk's name as they deepen their anti-Western sentiments.
I would suggest these people check the list of books, which is
maintained by the National Library, that Ataturk used to read. That
list is the source of Ataturk's inspiration to re-shape Turkey's
political and social model. Unfortunately, some circles today do
not want to admit that Ataturk adopted the technical and
institutional infrastructure of democracy, secularism and women's
rights, not from the East but from the West. Turkey's development
relies today also on that infrastructure inspired by the West. And
that infrastructure directs Turkey's EU path. It is important to
realize reforms that are vital for Turkey, which is more important
than Turkey's EU membership."

Gungor Mengi wrote in mainstream Vatan: "Ataturk filled his short
life with miracles like military victories and unbelievable civilian
reforms. The reason for the attacks against him today lies in the
fact that Ataturk was the only obstacle to shaping Turkey
accordingly to some people's personal will. Ataturk is not only a
flag or an idol, but the gate to modernity. Ataturk is our national
trust. Any hostility directed against him is bound to be
defeated."


Alevi Demonstrations Criticize the AKP Government and Outline Their
Demands
Media outlets report around 100,000 Alevis rallied yesterday in
Ankara, urging for the abolishment of the Sunni-dominated religious
affairs directorate Diyanet. Demonstrators also called on the
government to end the construction of mosques in Alevi villages, to
recognize traditional Alevi Cemevis as places of worship and to end
compulsory religious eduction. Ali Balkiz, the head of
Alevi-Bektasi Federation, said the protests would continue. Papers

ANKARA 00001950 002 OF 003


report opposition CHP, DSP and pro-Kurdish DTP lawmakers
participated in the rally in a show of support. Islamist-oriented
Yeni Safak condemned the rally "for providing an opportunity for the
DTP to propagate Kurdish demands." Papers say the ruling AKP
government rejected the Alevi's "extreme" demands, with State
Minister Said Yazicioglu stating his government would "pay no
attention" to the demands voiced in the gathering.

PM Erdogan in Erzurum
Sabah, Milliyet, Turkiye, Vatan, Hurriyet, Radikal, Zaman,
Cumhuriyet: PM Erdogan addressed residents of eastern province of
Erzurum yesterday and said "We were always against ethnic and
regional nationalism. We remained at the same distant to all
beliefs and never discriminated against other religions or sects,"
reports mainstream Hurriyet. Mainstream Vatan reports that after
the protests he faced in the Southeast, PM Erdogan's morale was
boosted in Erzurum yesterday with the warm welcome he received from
the residents of Erzurum. Posters carried by the crowd pleased the
PM, including one that read, "Our windows, doors and souls are open
to you." Conservative-nationalist Turkiye quotes Erdogan from his
speech in Erzurum when he said, "Turkey does not have time to waste
with arguments or clashes. We have a single flag and single
state."

The AKP's Dengir Mir Mehmet Firat Resigns
Media outlets reported over the weekend and today that top AKP
official Dengir Mir Mehmet Firat resigned from his post as deputy
chairman. Firat's resignation comes amid rumors that he was sacked
by Prime Minister Erdogan over disagreements regarding the Kurdish
issue. Firat allegedly criticized Erdogan during the most recent
party board meeting for his hard-lined statements during a recent
trip to southeast, in which the PM said those who were not happy
with Turkey should feel free to leave the country. Firat was also
allegedly uncomfortable with another statement Erdogan made in
support of a man who has fired his shotgun on DTP demonstrators in
Istanbul. Erdogan announced Firat quit due to health problems.
Firat was replaced by former Interior Minister Abdulkadir Aksu, an
influential Kurdish leader from Diyarbakir. Mainstream papers
speculated over the weekend that Firat, feeling cornered in the face
of corruption charges directed earlier by CHP's Kemal Kilicdaroglu,
used Erdogan's statements on the Kurds as a pretext to leave his
party.

Editorial Commentary on U.S. President-elect Barack Obama

Ceyda Karan writes in liberal-intellectual Radikal: "Turkey will
face foreign policy challenges during the Obama administration.
Turkey can be prepared for this by producing policies based on
regional realities. Relations with Armenia and Iraq are only some
of these challenges. It will be to Turkey's benefit as long as
America, under Obama's leadership, promotes a dynamic Turkish
foreign policy."

Huseyin Bas opines in leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet: "Obama's
options are limited, because no matter what he does, he will have to
gather his staff from among those who are responsible in the
negative situation we are going through today. The real danger is
that under this establishment, this talented and honest man might
turn into one of those he wants to change --- just like Tony Blair,
who came to power with great expectations but concluded his term as
an ordinary politician, turning into just the opposite of what he
wanted to be."

Ali Bulac writes in Islamist-oriented Zaman: "Before Obama had time
to announce his victory, Israel killed six innocent civilians in
Gaza in a senseless air strike on the region. Could it be a message
from the Israeli hawks that Obama's presidency won't change Israeli
policy towards Palestine? Political and strategic calculation in
Afghanistan is one question, but the continuation of massacres
against innocent and defenseless people formulates another problem.

ANKARA 00001950 003 OF 003


The world, first of all, wants Obama to decisively stop these
massacres."

TV News:
CNN Turk

Domestic News

- Opposition CHP leader Deniz Baykal said "The AKP is collapsing,"
and challenged Prime Minister Erdogan to confront him in a televised
debate.

- Three PKK suspects were arrested in Izmir while preparing to stage
a bomb attack.

- Turkey's state-owned weapons company MKEK will produce sniper
rifles with a 1000-meter range.

International News

- The Polish President's office backtracked on a previous claim that
President Obama promised to continue the Bush administration's
missile defense program.

- A Taliban suicide car bomb attack on a NATO military convoy in
Afghanistan killed two Spanish soldiers.

- Inspired by Barack Obama, the French first lady and other leading
figures publish a manifesto urging an end to racist discrimination
in French politics and society.

WILSON

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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