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Cablegate: Ankara Media Reaction Report

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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 ANKARA 002069

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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
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 28, 2008

A QUICK LOOK AT THE TURKISH PRESS
December 1, 2008


In Today's Papers

Thousands Protest AKP Policies in Ankara
Media outlets report that over the weekend, more than 50,000
demonstrators in Ankara protested the AKP's handling of the global
financial crisis in Turkey. The rally, held in Ankara on Saturday,
was organized by Turkey's leading labor unions KESK and DISK, and
several NGOs and political parties. Clashes erupted between the
demonstrators and riot police with the police using tear gas and
batons, and demonstrators throwing stones. Scores of demonstrators
and six policemen were hurt and nearby shops were damaged. The
rally protested rising unemployment, price increases in natural gas
and electricity, and the ruling AKP policies that protect the
wealthy at the expense of laborers, papers report.
Editorial Commentary on Erdogan-Domestic Politics
Ismail Kucukkaya in tabloid Aksam: "If PM Erdogan had continued his
policy of conflict with the military, those who criticize him now
would continue praising him. TGS chief General Basbug and Erdogan
place a high priority on the fight against terror. Some simply
can't stand this. They want to attribute a negative image to
Erdogan, and push him into his old orbit. It's true that Erdogan
has made many mistakes. The economy is in critical condition. We
must not allow disputes on the basic principles of the republic,
such as secularism. We have already lost too much time on abstract
matters, and our problems continue to grow. Today, Erdogan's basic
political line is correct, and southeast policies form the backbone
of this line. Erdogan must not be sacrificed, the new way he's
experiencing could provide a way out for Turkey."

Erdogan: Global Crisis Will Have Limited Effect on Turkey
Media outlets report Prime Minister Erdogan, in a televised address
to the nation on Sunday, said the global economic crisis has begun
to subside and that the crisis would have a limited effect on
Turkey. The PM did not announce a package of economic measures to
deal with the crisis, but said his government had introduced various
tax incentives to attract funds to Turkey, and had offered
zero-interest loans totaling 350 trillion YTL to small and
medium-size enterprises. Business daily Referans says economic
indicators show the measures taken by the government have not
produced results, and warns about a possible drastic decline in
domestic consumer demand on the eve of the forthcoming Feast of
Sacrifice and New Year holidays. The paper also criticizes the
government for delaying a critical deal with the IMF. "Erdogan
Still Underestimates the Crisis," says leftist-nationalist
Cumhuriyet in a front page headline. Liberal Radikal, too, finds
Erdogan's approach "too optimistic."

Editorial Commentary on Global Economic Crisis-Turkey
Erdal Saglam wrote in mainstream Hurriyet: "At his party group
meeting in Kizilcahamam last weekend, PM Erdogan said 'The source of
the economic crisis is not Turkey, but the US and Europe.
Therefore, no one can blame the AKP government for the crisis.'
This interpretation of the crisis ignores the efforts taken by 38
countries to halt the crisis. We cannot expect much from this AKP
government. When the AKP government was asked to make an agreement
with the IMF in May, the government just pushed aside the suggestion
and insisted, "This crisis will not hit Turkey." After such
comments and a refusal to take precautions, the government is saying
"no one can blame the AKP government!" Thus, Turkey is affected by
the economic crisis because of bad governance."

Suleyman Yasar wrote in a column entitled, "Is the Government Late?"
in leftist Taraf: "In dynamics of internal 2001, Kemal Dervis cited
two reasons for Turkey's economic crisis that year. First, he noted
the debt and he noted the problems with the unhealthy structure of
the public banking system. Because of this, a crisis of confidence

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emerged in Turkish markets which lead to the 2001 financial crisis.
Now, due to the global financial crisis, foreign investment in
Turkey is beginning to be affected. When the current global crisis
began to hit, our government leaders insisted that Turkey had
already taken steps to strengthen our economy and Turkey would not
be affected by the crisis. The AKP government's crisis lobby
accused foreign investors of being irresponsible and criticized them
for losing money. But still the government did not take any
measures to cope with the crisis. Yes, the government is late.
Only now is the government planning to implement measures that are
parallel to what the Federal Reserve did to address the crisis in
the U.S. As the IMF opens their pockets to address the effects of
the financial crisis in Turkey, our government leaders are working
to deepen the effects of the financial crisis on Turkey by creating
tensions and criticizing those - like the IMF - who are helping
Turkey take steps to curb the effects of the global crisis. The
government's criticism of the IMF could very well affect trust in
Turkey's markets and trust in the government's approach to economic
policy."

Metropoll Survey on Local and General Elections
Mainstream Vatan reports that according to a public survey carried
out by Metropoll Research Company, which is known for its ties to
the AKP, support for the AKP decreased both in a possible general
election and for upcoming local elections in March. The survey was
conducted in 30 provinces, among 1248 people in November 24-26.
According to the poll, in a possible general election AKP's votes
were 32.6 percent, CHP's 12.5, MHP's 7.6 and DTP's 3 percent. For
upcoming local elections AKP's votes were 28.5 percent, CHP's 12.7,
MHP's 7.2 and DTP's0.8 percent. A total of 26.7 percent of
participants said they had no idea for whom they would vote.

The "Baby-Faced Butcher" Reveals Mumbai Attackers Sought 5000 Deaths
(Hurriyet)
In the aftermath of the bloody terrorist attacks last week in
Mumbai, media outlets note the frightening confessions of the one
terrorist to be captured alive. In addition, media pay attention to
the ensuing tensions between India and Pakistan, while PM Erdogan
actively pursued 'telephone diplomacy' in order to call the
reduction of tensions in the fragile relationship between the two
nuclear-armed democracies. Mainstream Sabah reports in "The Butcher
of Mumbai," that captured terrorist Azam Amir Kasab, whose last name
means "butcher" in Turkish, told Indian officials "our target was to
kill 5000 people." Islamist-oriented Yeni Safak reports, "The only
terrorist to be captured alive after India's September 11th-like
attacks made a terrifying confession when he said their target was
to kill 5000 people." Mainstream Hurriyet calls Kasab, "the
baby-faced butcher." Liberal Radikal carries the headline, "The
Example of India's Bad Temper," and reports, "India is blaming
Pakistan for the terrorist attacks in Mumbai," while, "protestors
take to the streets to protest the government's failure to prevent
the blood-letting." In "The 'Moral' Resignations in India,"
mainstream Milliyet reports, "The Interior Minister and the National
Security Advisor have resigned due to their 'moral responsibility'
for the attacks in Mumbai. CNN Turk reports this morning, "At a
time when relations were improving between India and Pakistan, the
deadly terrorist attacks in Mumbai threaten the fragile relationship
between the two nations." Leftist Taraf reports, "The Indian
Government is Furious," with Pakistan and Indian government
officials want to "reevaluate the process of peace and dialogue"
with Pakistan.

Meanwhile, media also note that Turkish PM Erdogan spoke with
leaders in order to contribute to peace in the region. In "Erdogan
Sought Peace and Spoke With Five Leaders," mainstream Vatan reports,
"Erdogan phoned world leaders in order to ease tensions between
India and Pakistan." According to the article, Erdogan spoke with
UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, Israeli PM Olmert, British PM
Brown, Pakistani PM Gilani, and Indian PM Singh. Mainstream Milliyet
calls Erdogan's approach "telephone diplomacy." Mainstream Sabah

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reports Erdogan "initiated his mediation efforts after the Pakistani
PM requested his help" because Pakistan "is being held responsible
by India for the attacks." Islamist-oriented Yeni Safak reports,
"Erdogan told UNSG Ban Ki Moon that the UN could step in and diffuse
tensions."

Ambassador Jeffrey Arrives in Turkey
In "Ambassador Jeffrey: I'm Happy to be in Turkey," mainstream
Milliyet reports the newly-appointed U.S. Ambassador to Turkey James
Jeffrey spoke to journalists in Turkish as he arrived at the airport
in Ankara. Mainstream Sabah notes the new U.S. Ambassador "is a
diplomat with a military background." Islamist-oriented Zaman
reports Jeffrey is "a diplomat who knows Turkey very well."

El Pais: Guantanamo Prisoners Transported Through Turkey
Islamist-oriented Yeni Safak reports in "Guantanamo Clearance
through Incirlik," that Spain's El Pais newspaper published secret
documents indicating "Guantanamo prisoners were transported through
Turkey under the guise of 'an emergency situation.'"
Leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet carries the headline, "Ankara Also
Knew," and reports, "El Pais contends that officials from Spain,
Portugal, Italy and Turkey knew about prison transfers to Guantanamo
via their countries."

Editorial Commentary on Turkey-Iraq

Semih Idiz wrote in mainstream Milliyet: "Following the SOFA
agreement between Iraq and the US, allegations have increased
regarding Turkey's need for Iraq's permission to conduct cross
border operations. However, if these operations are necessary
because of Iraq's weakness and inability to control its own
territory, then Turkey should not need Iraq's permission. Moreover,
article 51 of the UN Charter gives a country the right to defend
itself against external attacks. Unfortunately, this article has a
drawback from Turkey's angle because if the operations are launched
based on this article, then, Turkey should inform the UN Security
Council immediately and then both countries would have to abide with
the UN decisions. In short, the Turkish military will have the
right to launch CBOs against the PKK until Iraq says "CBOs are
unnecessary because the region is fully under Iraqi control", and of
course then, Iraq will need to prove this.

TV News:
CNN Turk

Domestic News

- The Prime Ministry Ethics Board has initiated an investigation
into corruption and fraud claims against Zahid Akman, the head of
the Turkish media watchdog RTUK.

- The ruling AKP will name its candidates for the municipal
elections by January 15.

- The Turkish Parliament will celebrate on "World Human Rights Day"
December 4.

International News

- The head of Iran's atomic energy agency, Gholam Reza Aghazadeh,
proposes building nuclear power plants jointly with neighboring Arab
countries.

- Four Turkmen are killed in attacks in northern Iraq over the last
two days.

- Hamas blocks scores of Muslim pilgrims from leaving the Gaza Strip
for the annual hajj pilgrimage.
SILLIMAN

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