Cablegate: Ankara Media Reaction Report For
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 ANKARA 008470
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 FOR
TURKISH PRESS REACTION TO THE UN CYPRUS PLAN
The Turkish press has for the most part reacted very
positively to UN Secretary General Annan's plan for
resolving the Cyprus issue. Most commentators have argued
that, despite some negative aspects of the proposal, the
Annan plan is probably Turkey's "last and best chance" to
achieve a comprehensive settlement. The initial cautious
official response to the plan stood in contrast to a series
of optimistic commentaries that appeared in Turkey's
mainstream and Islamist press. Press analyses generally
view the Annan plan as an "historic chance" that should not
be missed. The position of most influential Turkish media
on the Cyprus plan is perhaps best summed up by the November
16 front-page headline in the national daily "Milliyet":
"If Not Now, When?" End summary.
COMMENTATORS URGE NEGOTIATION:
The positive press reaction to the UN plan stems from the
perception that the plan recognizes, for the first time, the
sovereignty and equality of Northern Cyprus. Most
commentators have also noted the "disappointing" elements of
the plan, particularly with regard to territorial
concessions, refugee resettlement, and the reduction of
Turkish troops. They also point out the inherent advantage
of the Greek Cypriots, who will become part of the EU with
or without a settlement. While pointing out the negatives,
however, most columnists have consistently advocated a
negotiation process aimed at reaching a settlement. There is
a general consensus (with limited exceptions among
nationalist commentators) in the Turkish media that the
Annan plan should not be rejected, and that the plan's
shortcomings should be dealt with at the bargaining table.
Mehmet Yilmaz of "Milliyet," for example, wrote that "an
experienced leader like Denktas has the ability to perform a
diplomatic juggling act and is capable of correcting
mistakes in the plan at the negotiating table. If Denktas
believes he does not want to discuss this plan, then I think
he should retire." Negative public comments by Turkish
officials have been largely discounted in commentaries and
editorials. When the nationalist daily "Ortadogu" ran a
front-page story citing former Foreign Minister Sukru Sina
Gurel's characterization of the plan as a "plot against the
Turkish Cypriot nation," the same paper's foreign policy
editor wrote on the same day that "sources close to
diplomatic circles tell us that the initial evaluation of
Kofi Annan's Cyprus plan was deemed positive."
[Following is a representative sample of Turkish
commentaries -- both positive and negative -- on the Cyprus
plan during the period November 13-19]
"Dream Might Come True in Cyprus"
Editor-in-Chief Mehmet Y. Yilmaz wrote in mass appeal
Milliyet (11/19): "The Turkish people want to see a
settlement in Cyprus. The Turkish people want to see Turkey
in the EU. As for the Turkish Cypriots, they do not want to
be left out while the Greek Cypriots join the European
Union. . This common desire calls for Denktas to evaluate
the UN plan very seriously. An experienced leader like
Denktas has the ability to perform a diplomatic juggling act
and correcting mistakes in the plan at the negotiating
table. If Denktas believes he does not want to discuss this
plan at the negotiating table, then I think he should
"Kofi Annan's Cyprus Plan"
Kamuran Ozbir wrote in nationalist Ortadogu (11/15):
"Sources close to diplomatic circles tell us that the
initial evaluation of Kofi Annan's Cyprus plan was deemed
positive, particularly because of its recognition of the
Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. There are, however,
certain elements which cause serious concern, such as
territorial concessions, property issues, and demographic
movements. . It seems that the Turkish Foreign Ministry
will have to conduct a comprehensive study of the plan,
which might take at least a couple of days, and leave the
matter for a final decision at the upcoming National
Security Council meeting at the end of November."
"Style is important on the Cyprus issue"
Ferai Tinc wrote in mass appeal Hurriyet (11/15): "The
current situation calls for a diplomatic juggling act. .
The upcoming Copenhagen summit is not only going to evaluate
the Cyprus situation in light of current developments, but
also make more binding decisions for Turkey. The EU's
Accession Partnership Document clearly draws a direct link
between Turkey's EU process and the Cyprus issue. . We do
not mean to say `let's give away Cyprus and get rid of this
issue.' Yet we don't have to reject efforts for a
settlement with crude rhetoric either. The Turkish side
should announce its readiness to negotiate the Annan plan."
"What is Ankara's position?"
Sami Kohen wrote in mass appeal Milliyet (11/15): "There are
certain parts to which the Turkish side would object, such
as the territorial concessions and demographic movements.
Yet the plan, very positively, verifies the equality and
sovereignty of the two sides -- something that we have been
working for years to achieve. Now is the time to think
realistically and act pragmatically. Rejection of the plan
will definitely work against the interests of Turkey as well
as Turkish Cypriots."
"The UN plan is a death verdict for the TRNC"
Columnist Hasan Unal argued in Islamic-intellectual Zaman
(11/14): "The UN plan aims at liquidating the Turkish
Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) as a state and the
Turkish Cypriots as a nation. . It might give the impression
that it meets Turkish demands on constitutional issues, but
in fact it provides an opportunity for the founding of a
unitary Greek Cypriot state. . The plan also gives very
limited and very unproductive territory to the Turkish
Cypriots. . In short, the UN plan expects Turkish Cypriots
to make vital concessions without meeting their ultimate
demands. Cyprus will gradually become a Greek Cypriot
island. It is clear that Turkey's security guarantees will
not be valid the moment Cyprus joins the EU."
Hadi Uluengin calls the UN plan a historic chance in mass
appeal Hurriyet (11/14): "Clearly this is a unique chance
for a Cyprus settlement and definitely should not be missed.
Creating excuses or making evasive remarks in order not to
take advantage of this chance would be a crucial mistake.
Whoever makes this mistake, whether it is the Turks or the
Greeks, will be harshly judged by history. . The Annan plan
is almost perfect. Therefore, whichever side rejects the
plan and causes the continuation of a 'no-settlement'
situation will be doomed to deprive its people of the
opportunities coming with the new millennium."
"The Blending of Models"
Sami Kohen wrote in mass appeal Milliyet (11/13): "The UNSG
seems to have found a middle way between `federation and
confederation' as well as between the Swiss model and the
Belgian model for Cyprus. Therefore, both sides will find
certain elements of this plan acceptable, and certain parts
unacceptable. . From our side, it is very important that the
Annan document complies with Turkey's longstanding
insistence on partnership and equality in Cyprus. . Yet
there are some negative points which the Turkish side might
not like very much, such as giving away some territory, the
migration and settlement issues, and the disarmament of the
island. However, a constructive approach can solve these
issues through fair and just bargaining."
"Turkey should not miss this chance"
Mehmet Ali Birand supports the plan in mass
appeal/sensational Posta (11/13): "Turkey faces a final
historic opportunity. Though it does not fully satisfy the
Turkish side, the Cyprus package offers extremely important
gains. Casting aside the `We will not give away even a
pebble' rhetoric, we must take the most we can get and close
this file. If we allow ourselves to be slaves to our old
habits, we will lose Cyprus legally on the day after the
upcoming Copenhagen summit. . In that case, everyone will
be bound to suffer from the harmful effects."
"The Annan Plan"
Semih Idiz opined in mass appeal Aksam (11/13): "It seems
that the Turkish Cypriot leadership will not burn his
bridges, but instead will continue to discuss the plan,
which is described by Turkey as `a plan with a glass of
water, half empty and half full.' That means the two sides
will negotiate the plan and work on the nuances. . The two
Cypriot sides will also feel pressured, because the US and
UK are strongly supporting the Annan plan behind the