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Cablegate: Ankara Media Reaction Report

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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, DECEMBER 29, 2008

In Today's Papers

The World Stands Up Against Israel (Sabah)
Media outlets, from the left to the right, from secularists to
Islamists, uniformly condemn the Israeli air strikes against Gaza.
Media reflect the opinions of President Gul, who called Israel's
actions "irresponsible," and Prime Minister Erdogan, who called the
air strikes, "a serious crime against humanity." Some media take
the condemnations several steps further. Islamist-oriented Zaman
carries the headline, "Turkey Stands Up against the Israeli
Massacre," and reports the Israeli newspaper Haaretz says "Israel
began planning this assault six months ago while they sat at the
table to discuss a ceasefire," with Hamas. The website for
Islamist-oriented Yeni Safak carries the headline, "We Are All
Palestinians," while the front page of today's paper reports the
attacks are "Like Hitler." Extreme Islamist Vakit writes, "Turkey
is sending aid to the Palestinians before Israel's actions result in
genocide," and the paper calls Israel, "a terrorist state."
Leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet carries the headline, "Israel
Continues Its Merciless Attacks," as "Israel Even Strikes Children
Who Were Returning Home from School." Mainstream Hurriyet reports,
"Turkey is in shock" after the Israeli attacks. Mainstream Vatan
carries the headline, "Israel Won't Stop." Liberal Radikal's
headline reads, "Gaza Is Covered in Corpses," as the U.S. "calls
Hamas 'bandits' and defends Israel." Leftist Taraf reports on its
front page, "This Cannot Be The Will of God," as "Israel violates
one of the Ten Commandments - Thou Shall Not Kill - after the Jewish
Sabbath and Hanukkah." Mainstream Aksam reports, "Israel Launches
Gaza Strikes on the Eve of Elections."


Editorial Commentary on Israeli Attacks on Gaza

Semih Idiz wrote in mainstream Milliyet: "The U.S. and Russia
stopped short of condemning Israel's attack against Gaza due to a
rise in Islamaphobia in the West. Also, the West sees Hamas as
terrorists, not as freedom fighters. Because of this, Prime
Minister Erdogan's harsh criticisms against Israel will be seen by
the West as an expression of Islamist solidarity, which could spell
trouble for Turkey's foreign policy."

Ferai Tinc of mainstream Hurriyet wrote: "Clearly, this assault
against Gaza was planned by Israel by the time Israeli Prime
Minister Olmert visited Ankara last week and Ankara failed to
prevent this catastrophe. Nevertheless, maybe Turkey can help
mediate between Israel and Hamas."

Oral Calislar wrote in liberal Radikal: "The dominant ideology in
Israel addresses the Palestine problem only through the lens of
terrorism. Meanwhile, Israelis who want to address the social and
political aspects of the Israeli/Palestinian tensions are in
trouble. The recent Israeli attack is a result of the dominant
approach, which will not bring any solution at all. Israeli hawks
are taking steps toward escalating violence in Palestine. All of
this provides a very good lesson to us (regarding Turkey's strikes
against the PKK) as well."

Mehmet Y. Yilmaz blamed the PM for ignoring the UN structure in
mainstream Hurriyet: "Prime Minister Erdogan made strong and angry
remarks against Israel's attack and called on the United Nations to
intervene. Someone must explain to Erdogan how the UN functions.
As a member of the UN Security Council, Turkey is capable of making
direct contact with the other members and can even prepare a draft
resolution calling for the cessation of operations. However, as a
member of the UNSC, one cannot simply call on the UN in a public
speech. It seems neither the prime minister nor foreign minister
understand how the international system works."

Ceyda Karan wrote in liberal-intellectual Radikal: "It is too
simplistic to look at this situation and only blame Israel. Since

ANKARA 00002177 002 OF 004


Hamas won elections in 2006, they have failed to embrace
reconciliation. In addition, Arabs have not tried at all to
encourage Hamas to become less radical."

In Islamist oriented Yeni Safak, Hakan Albayrak made a call to
Islamic world: "Israel will continue its crimes against humanity
until Israel's hands are tied by the international community. This
calls for a united approach from the Islamic world against Israel.
Turkish parliamentarians who are members of the Turkey-Israeli
Friendship caucus group should feel ashamed. In addition, bilateral
defense agreements between Turkey and Israel must be terminated.
Turkey and other Islamic countries must support Hamas, Islamic Jihad
and Hizbullah as well as others who are working against Israel."

Mehmet Yilmaz wrote in Islamist oriented Zaman: "Israel is targeting
Gaza, which is under Hamas's control. However, the West Bank, which
is under Al Fatah, is not targeted. Therefore, it appears the
Israeli government wants to prevent Hamas from being a political
actor. Meanwhile, Israel hopes to gain a strong hand for itself
vis-`-vis President-elect Barack Obama, who is expected to initiate
a new peace initiative right after the inauguration."

Markar Esayan wrote in leftist Taraf: "Neither the U.S. nor Israel
has worked for the democratic will of the Palestinian people.
Instead, their policies and illegitimate approaches have made Hamas
more extreme, while those who seek reconciliation are left
invisible."

High Courts Clash over Small Town Municipalities
Media outlets reported over the weekend and today that the High
Election Board (YSK) opened the way for small municipalities with
populations below 2000 to enter the forthcoming municipal elections
in March, despite an earlier law sponsored by the ruling AKP in
Parliament to exclude the small communities. Almost all of the 862
municipalities that were to be excluded due to their population
criteria filed lawsuits seeking to participate in the local
elections. The Council of State (Danistay) recently ruled that the
862 municipalities were to be reclassified as towns in the Turkish
Statistics Institute (TurkStat) so they may take part in the local
elections in order to elect a mayor, provided that they reach a
population of more than 2,000 and file a lawsuit against TurkStat
before March, 6, 2009.

The Council of State ruling, however, sparked a heated debate over
allegations that the court had exceeded its authority, as the
Constitutional Court had previously announced that these
municipalities could not appeal to the judiciary to nullify the bill
in question. Constitutional Court President Hasim Kilic, in a
statement released on Wednesday, lashed out at the Council of State
and the YSK, saying these two verdicts would lead to a violation of
the Constitution. Constitutional Court Deputy Chairman Osman
Paksut, however, said Kilic's statement doesn't reflect the opinion
of all the top court justices. "The statement is not a joint
decision of the Constitutional Court. It's the personal conviction
of Kilic. He said ruling against the top court's verdict is a
violation of the Constitution," Paksut explained.

Following Paksut's remarks, Kilic told reporters that the statement
was released with the support of six of the Constitutional Court's
11 judges. However, eight members of the top court released another
statement yesterday in which they said they do not share Kilic's
statement. Opposition CHP leader Deniz Baykal called the debate
"chaos in the judiciary" and accused Prime Minister Erdogan of being
the source of the discord. CHP leader Deniz Baykal says his party
was waging legal struggle against the disbanding of 1400
municipalities. On Friday, AKP group leader, Bekir Bozdag, accused
the Council of State of breaching the constitution. "Nobody wants
to see politics involved in the judiciary. Judges should reflect
their political orientation at the ballots, not in their verdicts,
Bozdag said.

ANKARA 00002177 003 OF 004

AKP's Mayoral Candidate for Ankara Not Clear
Media outlets report Prime Minister Erdogan said yesterday they will
announce the mayoral contenders for metropolitan municipalities,
including Ankara, this week.

Among 46 provinces where the ruling AKP holds the mayoral office,
the AKP decided to proceed with the existing mayors in 18 provinces
in the upcoming period. Erdogan said the decision about the Ankara
candidate would be made at a meeting of AKP administration tomorrow.
Papers see the delay as a negative omen for Ankara mayor Melih
Gokcek. So far, the AKP has announced the mayoral contenders for
the metropolitan municipalities of Istanbul, Izmit, Antalya, Konya
and Kayseri.

New Anti-Terror Approach
Mainstream Hurriyet reported on Sunday that Turkey will establish "a
new unit for the struggle against terrorism consisting of contracted
officials dedicated solely to this mission." Deputy Prime Minister
Cemil Cicek, who chairs the Higher Board of Counter-Terrorism, said
there was "a lack of coordination among the current institutions
struggling against terrorism" and added, "a new team of contractors
from various professional groups like retired prosecutors, retired
police officers and professors would fill this shortage." Also, he
said, "The struggle against terrorism will be fully implemented.
Those who take part in this struggle against terrorism will be
dedicated to the task 24 hours a day. This will be an uninterrupted
struggle." He also said that intelligence was very important to the
struggle against terrorism and that gathering the collected
information at one center and sharing it with the relevant agencies
was an important part of this struggle.

Armenian Genocide Claims in 2009 Make Turks Nervous
CNN Turk reports Foreign Minister Ali Babacan told reporters he is
afraid that Armenian genocide claims "could lead to a car wreck in
relations with the U.S." Cengiz Candar says in mainstream Sabah,
"While the incoming Obama administration will open a new page in
relations with Turkey by withdrawing its forces from Iraq," problems
may arise because, "Obama could officially recognize Armenian
genocide claims in 2009."

TRT to Launch Radio, TV in Armenian
Mainstream Hurriyet reports today that Turkey's state-owned
broadcaster TRT has signed a cooperation agreement with Armenia's
state television, according to which TRT will launch radio
broadcasts in Armenian in February. TRT will also launch a website
as well as a television channel in Armenian over the course of next
year, says Hurriyet.

TV News:
CNN Turk

Domestic News

- Turkish oil company TPAO will meet with the U.S. oil company
Chevron in January to search for oil and natural gas in Black Sea.
TPAO earlier signed a cooperation agreement with the U.S.
Exxon-Mobile Company.

- The pro-Kurdish DTP leader Ahmet Turk said Prime Minister Erdogan
has turned the upcoming local elections into "a fight with the
Kurds," adding that Kurdish-language broadcasts on state-owned TRT
were "election-oriented investment."

- Turkey's 2009 budget of 259.1 billion YTL (USD 169 billion) was
approved by parliament.

International News

- Iraqi President Talabani has approved a parliamentary resolution

ANKARA 00002177 004 OF 004


allowing the presence of non-U.S. foreign troops in the country
after the expiry of a UN mandate at the end of the month.

- A 5.2 magnitude earthquake shakes central Greece. There are no
reports for injuries or serious damage.

- The first U.S. ambassador to Libya in three decades has arrived in
Tripoli.

JEFFREY

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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