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Cablegate: Ankara Media Reaction Report

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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 ANKARA 001957

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
WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 12, 2008

In Today's Papers:

The EU Issues PKK Report

Defense Minister Gonul Makes Controversial Comments

Industry Shrinks by 6.4 Percent

Journalists' Accreditation Revoked by Prime Ministry

High Expectations for G20

A Diplomatic Gesture from Switzerland

--------------------------------------------- ------
The EU's Issues PKK Report
Islamist-oriented Zaman says on its front page a report of the EU
Institute for Security Studies (ISS) states the Kurdish Regional
Government (KRG) of northern Iraq has cut support for the PKK, but
continues its policy of tolerance towards the organization. The ISS
report estimates there are 5,000 PKK militants in northern Iraq and
around 2,000 in Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir. The report notes that
one of the chiefs of the PKK, Murat Karayilan, has met at least
twice with officials from Turkey's National Intelligence
Organization (MIT). The ISS report cites comments by Masrur
Barzani, son of KRG President Massoud Barzani, who is also the KRG
intelligence chief. The report quotes Masrur Barzani as saying,
"Abdullah Ocalan, who is in a prison on Imrali Island, is controlled
by Turks and has been turned into "a propagandist for Kemalists."
In addition, the report says Masrur emphasized, "Turkey does not
want to force Ocalan to improve the situation because Turkey, or at
least its military, has no interest in changing the situation." The
report also notes Turkey could occupy the northern Iraqi city of
Erbil within two hours, and it would be impossible to get Turkish
troops out of the region once they get in.

Editorial Commentary on Turkish Democracy Debates/Kurdish Issue

Rusen Cakir wrote in mainstream Vatan: "AKP parliamentarians who
are of Kurdish origin are concerned but hopeful regarding efforts to
find a solution to the Kurdish issue. After the AKP won the July
2007 elections PM Erdogan said that his party is the right one to
address the Kurdish issue. Unfortunately, neither the AKP
parliamentarians of Kurdish origin nor the PM put forth any
suggestions to resolve the Kurdish issue. At this point, I really
don't know what the PM can do about the Kurdish issue, but first of
all he must change his derogatory attitude towards DTP. I don't
believe that such an approach is suitable for the prime minister of
a democratic country."

Cuneyt Ulsever wrote in mainstream Hurriyet: "The government's
intention to work for a civilian constitution is history. They are
not even talking about it any more. In fact, Prime Minister Erdogan
abandoned his freedom and democracy platform right after a date for
negotiations was designated by the EU. In the eyes of the AKP
government, this action from the EU was an endorsement of the AKP's
legitimacy vis-`-vis the European Union and thus the AKP saw no need
for further reform. In other words, the prime minister is no longer
interested in a democratic republic, but he is interested in
establishing a religious republic."

Serdar Akinan wrote in tabloid Aksam: "Diyarbakir has 200,000
children under the age of 18. Of the 145 people arrested in
Diyarbakir during the most recent protests, 16 were elementary
school students. 91 children were arrested in March 2006. Lawyers
for these children claim the children were mistreated and tortured
by the police and prison officials. Everyone agrees that if torture
had not been used against PKK suspects in Diyarbakir in the 1980s,
the PKK would not be as strong as it is today. Dozens of children
remain in a Diyarbakir prison over charges of membership to terror

ANKARA 00001957 002 OF 004


organizations. What do you think will happen once those children
are released from detention? This will become everyone's problem as
everyone holds some kind of responsibility in this issue."

Defense Minister Gonul Makes Controversial Comments
Media outlets continue to highlight the ongoing controversy over
Defense Minister Gonul's recent remarks which were interpreted as
overly nationalistic. During a reception at the Turkish Embassy in
Brussels, Minister Gonul said, "Turkey would not be the same country
it is today if the Greek community still lived in the Aegean region
or the Armenians still lived in many parts of Turkey."

Today's papers carry a public response from Minister Gonul saying
that his words were "misunderstood" and he was "making reference to
Turkey's foundation." Gonul added, "However, today minorities
enrich our society." He also attempted to clarify his prior
comments by saying, "while building a new country, neither Greece
nor Turkey wanted different religious elements in their societies as
they formed their identity."

Editorial Commentary on Gonul's Remarks

Hasan Cemal wrote in mainstream Milliyet: "Defense Minister Vecdi
Gonul asked if Turkey would be what it is today if Greeks and
Armenians had been allowed to stay in Turkey. With such
unacceptable comments coming from a state minister, how can Turkey
advance toward democracy and human rights? How will Turkey succeed
among contemporary civilizations with this kind of ignorant
mentality? I wonder when Turkey will manage to mature? A state
minister in a civilized country would not remain in his position
after saying such things."

Ali Bayramoglu wrote in Islamist oriented Yeni Safak: "There are
dark points in every country's history. The 1915 disaster, the 1937
events that were anti-Semitic in nature and the 1942 Special
Taxation Law for non-Muslims are some of our past events which call
for a conscientious response. Unfortunately, the Defense Minister
is now defending the dark intentions behind those past events. It
is very unfortunate to see such a mentality is still alive and has
representation in the government."

Turkish Industry Shrinks by 6.4 Percent
Media outlets report Turkey's industrial production, including
automotive and technology sectors, has shrunk by 6.4 percent.
Automotive production was cut by 14,000 automobiles in September.
The Turkish lira has fallen against the U.S. Dollar to a value of
1.61 YTL to $1. Islamist-oriented Yeni Safak reports gas stations
continued selling petrol at high prices despite the 60 percent fall
in global oil prices. Papers also report Prime Minister Erdogan as
saying the global financial crisis has begun to ease off. The PM
stressed his hopes continued that Turkey, with its strong economic
structure, would be elevated to the level of "a financially
attractive country."

Editorial Commentary on Turkey-IMF

Ali Bulac observes in Islamist-oriented Zaman: "Big capital groups
in Turkey are pressuring the government to sign an agreement with
the IMF in the face of the global financial crisis. Turkey's elite
business circles have opposed the ruling AKP government over
ideological concerns and are now blackmailing the government. The
PM has even named those who have increased their wealth 6-7 times
during the AKP's term. PM Erdogan must resist such pressures and
stand behind his word that we don't have a penny to spend on those
who want to benefit from the economic crisis."

Journalists' Accreditation Revoked by the Prime Ministry
All papers: Islamist-oriented Zaman reports that the Prime Ministry
revoked the accreditation of six journalists yesterday without
giving any reason for it. Mainstream Hurriyet's Hasan Tufekci and

ANKARA 00001957 003 OF 004


Turan Yilmaz, mainstream Milliyet's Abdullah Karakus, mainstream
Star TV's Fatma Cozen, mainstream Aksam's Ali Ekber Erturk, and
pro-Kurdish Evernsel's Sultan Ozer were told yesterday that their
accreditations as prime ministry correspondents were not renewed.
The Press Council statement criticized the revocations and said
"such applications indicate the pressure on the press. We demand
the annulment of the decision immediately."

High Expectations for the G20
Media outlets expect a lot from the G20 meeting, including the
continuation of bailout measures on a wider and more comprehensive
scale. NTV reports, "The G20 Will Take Measures," to address the
global economic crisis, "in a united and coordinated effort." CNN
Turk reports the G20 summit comes "as World Bank President Zoellick
notes the number of countries needing assistance is climbing."
Columnist Erinc Yeldan of leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet notes,
"there is no one solution to this global crisis, one can't say to
countries like Turkey 'reduce public expenditures and practice
financial discipline,'" but it is expected "that whatever comes out
of the summit, the G20 countries will see the necessity for more
comprehensive support packages." Meanwhile, Islamist-oriented Yeni
Safak reports the summit "seeks to solve the current economic crisis
and find a way to return to normal in the markets." Columnist Ugur
Gurses of liberal Radikal reports in "Economists Warn the G20," that
"the countries comprising the G20 are prepared to suggest measures
to deal with the global economic crisis, but what about Turkey?"
Mainstream Hurriyet reports in, "Everyone is Having Difficulty and
Wants Help as the U.S. Rescue Package Gets Crowded," that the
Detroit auto giants, Fannie Mae, and American Express are joining
the list of those who will be bailed out by the U.S. government.

In a related story, mainstream Hurriyet reports "Prime Minister
Erdogan will not meet with President-elect Obama when he joins the
G20 Summit in Washington," but "Erdogan will be able to send a
message to the Obama Administration when he speaks to the Brookings
Institution," which the paper describes as "the think tank that is
closest to the Democrats."


A Diplomatic Gesture from Switzerland
Hurriyet, Milliyet, Yeni Safak, Vatan and others: President Gul and
his visiting Swiss counterpart President Pascal Couchepin attended a
ceremony at a historical museum in Ankara yesterday where Couchepin
presented Gul with the table on which the Lausanne Treaty was
signed. Couchepin said that Switzerland appointed its first
Ambassador to Turkey in 1928 and he had presented his credentials to
President Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. He also underlined the importance
of the Lausanne Treaty signed in 1923 for bilateral relations,
reports mainstream Milliyet. Islamist-oriented Yeni Safak reports
that Couchepin and the Swiss government recently acted to halt money
laundering activities by the PKK in Switzerland.

TV News
Domestic

- The interrogation of 86 suspects implicated in the Ergenekon
network has begun.

- Haci Uzen, the former head of the pro-Kurdish DTP branch in the
southeastern town of Silopi, was given a one-year prison sentence on
charges of spreading PKK propaganda.

- DTP leader Ahmet Turk says "Turkey would be much richer if defense
spending had been used to boost the welfare of Turkish people."

International

- Representatives from Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and
the United States will meet in Paris on Thursday to discuss the next
steps concerning Iran's nuclear program.

ANKARA 00001957 004 OF 004

- Israeli defense officials say the military has deployed
remote-controlled machine-guns along its border with the Gaza Strip.


WILSON

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