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Cablegate: Ankara Media Reaction Report

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E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OPRC KMDR TU
SUBJECT: ANKARA MEDIA REACTION REPORT
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 3, 2008

In Today's Papers

Afghan President Karzai and Pakistani President Zardari to Meet in
Istanbul
Media outlets report that on Friday, President Abdullah Gul will
bring together Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Pakistan's new
President Asif Ali Zardari in Istanbul in an effort to improve ties
and cooperation between the two countries. A tripartite summit
among the three presidents was held in Ankara in April last year.
In the declaration released at the end of their meetings, Pakistan
and Afghanistan had agreed to enhance relations on the basis of good
neighborhood and respect for territorial integrity.
The three countries also set up a joint working group which held its
first meeting in Ankara in July 2007. This week's meeting will
focus on the fight against terror, drug smuggling and organized
crime. President Abdullah Gul said the meeting would be about
"security in Asia, the future of Afghanistan and the friendly
settlement of disputes between Afghanistan and Pakistan," papers
report.

Turkish Military Expels 5 Officers for Fundamentalist Islamist Ties

All papers highlight a statement issued by Turkish General Staff
after the Supreme Military Council meeting, a supreme body headed by
Prime Minister to regulate military promotions. The statement
announced the expulsion of 24 military personnel, including 5
officers for ties with Islamic extremism. The military says 19
other officers were expelled for reasons related to drug addiction
and ethics violations.

Due to TGS's statement which clarified "the decision was approved
through a majority of votes," papers speculate about who stood
against the expulsions. Radikal, Milliyet and Cumhuriyet are saying
that like in previous meetings, PM Erdogan and Defense Minister
Gonul were likely to have been against the expulsion decision.
However President Gul has given a final approval, as papers noted.

PKK Claims Responsibility for AKP Attack
Papers report that a PKK-linked organization named "The
Revolutionary Headquarters" claimed responsibility for yesterday's
parcel-bomb attack against the AKP headquarters in Istanbul, Beyoglu
district. Last summer, the same organization claimed responsibility
for the mortar attack on a military building in Istanbul. Sabah
says one suspect was taken into custody and police continue to
investigate. Meanwhile Prime Minister Erdogan visited the AKP site
and said that 5 of the 10 wounded were released from hospital, but
the two of the remaining are still in critical condition. Erdogan
denounced the attack by saying "there is no where to go, and nothing
to gain through terror and violence" as highlighted in the papers.

Tuzmen Predicts 'Difficult Year' for Turkey in 2009
Media outlets report State Minister Kursad Tuzmen said 2009 would be
a difficult year for Turkey. Tuzmen predicts Turkey would be hit by
the effects of "contraction and recession" from abroad. "In 2009,
we project a 17 percent decrease in exports and a 25 percent
decrease in imports," he said. Tuzmen added the AKP government will
offer exporters incentives in order to encourage them to broaden
their markets to Asia, the Middle East and Africa.

On Tuesday, opposition CHP leader Deniz Baykal lashed out at the
ruling AKP government, saying its failure to make a deal with the
IMF prevented the government from releasing a package of economic
measures. Baykal argued Prime Minister Erdogan was "deeply
confused" over economic issues, recalling it was only few months ago
that Erdogan was totally against a deal with the IMF. Opposition
MHP leader Devlet Bahceli said the "illusory picture" drawn by
Erdogan was evidence that "the PM is living on a different planet."
Bahceli charged that the ruling AKP had destroyed the Turkish
economy by selling the country's agriculture and national assets to
pro-government groups through privatization. "This crisis will

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eventually send the AKP into the dark tunnels of history," Bahceli
said.

Papers report Turkey's elite business group TUSIAD Chairwoman
Arzuhan Yalcindag publicly disagreed with Prime Minister Erdogan
when he said the worst part of the economic crisis was over. "The
government is late in taking the necessary measures to cope with the
crisis," Yalcindag emphasized, and she suggested that "a cut in
value added tax rates could have a positive impact on Turkish
markets." Meanwhile, papers report rating company Moody's said
Turkey would enter a recession in 2009 without an IMF deal that
markets have been asking for. Moody's official David Munves said
"economic activities will start to recover in two years."

"Will Hillary Clinton Be Good for Turkey?"
Media outlets are asking if Hillary Clinton is going to be a
Secretary of State that will 'be good' for Turkey, meaning will
Clinton risk damaging relations with Turkey by supporting the
passage of the Armenian Genocide Resolution? Liberal Radikal notes,
"The Armenian lobby is very happy to see Hillary Clinton as
Secretary of State." In "Clinton Is Good Luck for Ankara,"
leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet reports, "Experts in Washington say
that Clinton was the best pick for Turkey," even though, "the
Armenians are also happy." Mainstream Hurriyet reports, "For the
first time, the U.S. President, the Vice President, and the
Secretary of State all support the Armenian Genocide Resolution."

CNN's Genocide Documentary
Liberal Radikal reports in "Discomfort with CNN's 'Genocide
Documentary,'" that, "the documentary is creating uneasiness in
Turkey regarding its depictions of Armenian genocide claims." CNN's
Christiane Amanpour's documentary entitled "Scream Bloody Murder" is
set to air on CNN International on December 5th and examines ethnic
violence from the 20th century until present day in Darfur, Sudan.

Ruling Party Disbanded in Thailand
The top international story today focuses on the Thai constitutional
court's decision to disband the ruling party and ban the prime
minister from politics. Turkish press pay close attention to this
case due to the parallels to recent Turkish politics - this past
summer the ruling party in Turkey was almost closed due to
allegations the party had become a source of anti-secular
activities. While the Turkish constitutional court ruled against
closing the ruling party, media note the Thai court did the
opposite. Secularist mainstream media cover the story in a
sensationalist manner. Meanwhile, Islamist media appears stunned by
the court decision and focus more on the corruption charges against
the Thai ruling party. Mainstream Sabah reports in "A Judicial
Coup," that the Thai prime minister "was banned from politics," as
"the constitutional court decision to disband the ruling party stirs
up the country." Liberal Radikal reports in "Judicial Sauce (Is
Poured) on the Crisis in Bangkok," that, "demonstrators received
good news from the court yesterday," as "the prime minister was
banned from politics for five years due to charges of electoral
corruption." Mainstream Vatan reports, "It Wasn't The People Who
Overthrew The Government, It Was the Judges Who Overthrew the
Government!" Leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet reports simply, "The
Court Overthrew the Government." Sami Cohen of mainstream Milliyet
notes, "This Time the Court Overthrew the Government," and "the
prior coup was orchestrated by the military," military coups are
also a part of Turkey's recent political history. Islamist-oriented
Zaman carries a wire report under the simple headline, "In Thailand,
The Ruling Party is Closed." Islamist-oriented Yeni Safak carries
the banner headline, "They Closed the Party," due to "corruption
during the elections."

Editorial Commentary on Domestic Turkish Politics

Hasan Cemal wrote in mainstream Milliyet: "Given the current phase
of the global financial crisis, the timing of local elections is not

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good for the AKP and Prime Minister Erdogan. Inevitably the
economic crisis will deepen during the next couple of months with
growing unemployment and a decline in economic wealth - this will
create a nightmare situation for the ruling party. The month of
February is the best time to make a better judgment about the impact
of the economic crisis on the government's approval rating."

Fehmi Koru wrote in Islamist oriented Yeni Safak: "Among Turkish
intellectuals, there is a tendency to draw an analogy between the
behaviors of politicians abroad and here in Turkey. When Indian
government officials resigned after the terrorist attack, many
papers presented it as an example of responsible behavior. When
President Bush wanted a war in Iraq, there were many leaders in this
country who strongly defended his thesis. Have they ever though
about quitting as the Iraq war now presents an example of big
failure?"

Mehmet Kamis in Islamist-oriented Zaman: "'You either vote for us or
for war,' DTP's co-chairperson Emine Ayna said in Bingol this week.
It's not difficult to predict there will be a new terror wave in the
lead up to the municipal elections, because they have no political
argument other than terror. Terror will use the Nevruz Feast as a
last opportunity before the elections in March. So far, the DTP
municipalities have failed in providing services such as road,
water, sewage and transport. They have done nothing to increase the
life quality of the Kurds, and they stoke tensions again and again.
The PKK's rhetoric and its policies are applauded by the DTP, but
have brought nothing but death and distress for the Kurds."

Ali Bulac in Islamist-oriented Zaman: "In August, the British
domestic intelligence service MI5 issued a report which says those
who use terror don't know their religion well, and most of them
don't even practice their religion. The report shows those who are
involved in terror are above the age of 30, and the majority of them
are married with children. Most of them are British citizens with
legal status. Almost half of them are born and raised in Britain.
Conducting politics through the faith of Islam is disrespectful and
unfair. As the MI5 report shows clearly, terror is something
totally different and has nothing to do with Islam or Muslims, who
believe life is a gift from God."

TV News:
CNN Turk

Domestic News

- President Abdullah Gul will travel to Diyarbakir on December 8,
the first day of the Feast of Sacrifice.

- Energy Minister Hilmi Guler said this week Turkey would decide on
the proposal of a Russian company that submitted a bid for the
construction of a nuclear plant in Akkuyu in the Mediterranean
coastal city of Mersin.

- On Wednesday, President Abdullah Gul will open the Center for
African Studies at Ankara University.

International News

- Greek Foreign Minister Dora Banoyannis criticized Turkey over not
exerting efforts to resolve the problems of Cyprus and territorial
waters in the Aegean.

- A study being briefed to Vice President-elect Joe Biden predicts
the U.S. can expect a terrorist attack using nuclear or biological
weapons before 2013.

- Croatia assumes its one-month presidency of the UN Security
Council in New York.


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JEFFREY

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