Cablegate: Ankara Media Reaction Report

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.




E.O. 12958: N/A




Turkey, Syria won't let Iraq disintegrate - Hurriyet
Assad turns a new page with Turkey - Milliyet
US not bothered by Assad visit - Turkiye
Bush wants problems of US firms in Turkey solved - Milliyet
Papandreou to replace Simitis - Milliyet
Exemplary move: Greece's Simitis to leave his post -
Kurds threaten to withdraw from IGC - Sabah
PM Erdogan wants national unity government in TRNC - Turkiye

Bush wants Erdogan to bring a Cyprus solution package to US
- Cumhuriyet
Economy paves the path to peace with Syria - Cumhuriyet
Turkey, Syria share views on Iraq - Cumhuriyet
A happy day with Syria - Radikal
Partnership with Syria for stability, peace - Yeni Safak
Syria becomes Turkey's ally - Radikal
Assad asks Ankara's help for a nuclear-free Middle East -
Syria won't give up arms program unless Israel scraps WMD -
Israel should disarm first - Assad - Radikal
Robert Connan: Infrastructure investment best opportunity in
Iraq - Zaman


Syrian Head of State in Ankara: Turkey and Syria reiterated
their joint opposition to the disintegration of Iraq during
the first day of an official visit by Syrian President
Assad. Assad condemned all approaches that pose a threat to
Iraq's territorial integrity. Assad's `historic' visit to
Turkey has contributed to a new atmosphere of trust in
bilateral relations through economic cooperation. Syria is
to open a consulate in Gaziantep, and Assad said that Syria
is eager to sign a free trade agreement with Turkey in the
future. Dailies claim that 11 free trade zones, including
one in the disputed province of Hatay, will be established
near the Turkish-Syrian border. The Turkish side conveyed
to Assad a message by Israel urging Damascus to cut support
for fundamentalist terror organizations. If a proposal for
Turkish mediation between Israel and Syria is accepted,
Istanbul may host a summit meeting between the two
countries. Assad told the press that Damascus would not end
its weapons program unless Israel scraps its WMD program as

PM Erdogan's upcoming US visit: The success of the January
28 Bush-Erdogan meeting depends on progress on Cyprus and
the solution of problems regarding US investments in Turkey,
according to "Milliyet." The US is pressing hard for a
breakthrough on Cyprus in January, the paper reports. At a
meeting with Prime Minister Erdogan last week, US Ambassador
Eric Edelman explained to the Turkish prime minister the
American expectation for a settlement on Cyprus by May of
this year, "Cumhuriyet" reports. Erdogan is seeking an
appointment with UN Secretary General Annan in New York to
submit a Cyprus peace package prepared by the MFA. Erdogan
will urge Annan to step up pressure on the Greeks and the
Greek Cypriots to resume the Cyprus peace talks. The
American side is expected to ask Erdogan to resolve problems
faced by a number of US companies that have invested in
Turkey. Ankara should not expect the issue of Northern Iraq
to be resolved through Erdogan's meetings in Washington,
"Milliyet" warns. 200 businessmen and 60 journalists will
accompany Erdogan on his visit to the US.

Cyprus: After meeting with Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf
Denktas on Tuesday, prime-minister designate Mehmet Ali
Talat of the CTP said he would not insist on sacking
Denktas as chief negotiator after a government is formed.
Dailies highlight Ankara's role in the formation of a new
government in the TRNC. A commentary in "Vatan" claims that
many AK Party lawmakers share the views of Rauf Denktas.
This fact has made Prime Minister Erdogan afraid to take the
risk of making concessions for a Cyprus settlement. The
military's uneasiness with the Annan Plan is another major
factor blocking a possible solution, "Vatan" argues.

Embassy seminars on `Doing Business in Iraq': In a seminar
on Iraqi reconstruction organized by the US Embassy in
Ankara and the Ankara Chamber of Industry (ASO), Iraq
Private Sector Business Development Director Robert Connan
said that the first bids for reconstruction contracts are
due by January 15. There are considerable security problems
in Iraq, Connan noted, pointing to the negative impact of
the unstable conditions on the business community.
Contracts amounting to $18.6 billion will be administered
transparently, Connan promised. ASO Chairman Zafer Caglayan
complained at the seminar that `certain difficulties' have
been placed in front of Turkish companies doing business in
Iraq. A "Hurriyet" column blames Paul Bremer for being
reluctant to award contracts to Turkish companies. The
seminar will be repeated with local businessmen in Izmir and
Istanbul on January 7 and 8.

EDITORIAL OPINION: Syrian President's visit to Turkey

"A New Era in Syria, Iraq and the Middle East"
Murat Yetkin commented on the Syrian president's visit to
Ankara in the liberal-intellectual Radikal (1/7): "The
Syrian president's visit is a significant step for optimism
in bilateral relations. It has provided ground for Ankara
to ask Syria's contribution to regional peace. Ankara's
message to Syria can be summarized under two headlines.
First, just like the US, Turkey wants Syria to change its
policy on weapons of mass destruction. Second, just like
Israel, Turkey wants Syria to stop supporting Palestinian
terrorist groups. Syria prefers to link the WMD issue with
Israel, and wants to change its WMD policy only if Israel
does the same. Support for terrorist groups, on the other
hand, is being held as a trump card against Israel. .
Statements by Syrian President Assad during his visit to
Ankara prove that he is well aware of the rapidly changing
political geography in the Middle East, particularly in the
post-war era. Yet it remains to be seen to whether such
awareness will lead to radical political changes in

"Syria wants to view issues different than before"
Mehmed Ali Birand observed in the mass appeal Posta (1/7):
"The Kurdish issue that divided Turkey and Syria five years
ago has now pushed the two countries together. Syria used
to hold the Kurdish card against Turkey. Whenever Turkey
complained, the Syrians would always respond by telling
Ankara to solve their own Kurdish issue first. But since
then, international developments have led both Turkey and
Syria to become frightened by the possibility of a separate
Kurdish state. Both countries are now cooperating to avoid
this by formulating a joint policy. Turkey for the first
time ever seems to have found an ally. It is very obvious
that Syria and Turkey need each other. For Turkey, Syria is
a door to the Middle East and the Arab world. Each year
more than 25,000 trucks carry Turkish goods to the Middle
East via Syria. Turkish relations with the Arab world are
normalizing in large part due to Syria. For Syria, Turkey
is a door that opens to the West, the Caucasus and the
Balkans. Turkey can prevent Syria from being crushed by the
US and Israel. Leaders from both countries should forget
the past and begin their relations from scratch. Syrian
President Assad's visit presents an opportunity that should
not be missed."


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