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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.

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ANKARA 000007

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
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 31, 2003


THIS REPORT WILL PRESENT A TURKISH PRESS SUMMARY UNDER
THREE THEMES:


HEADLINES
BRIEFING
EDITORIAL OPINION


HEADLINES


MASS APPEAL
Unlike Powell, Khatami opposes dialogue - Hurriyet
Bam quake melting ice between US, Iran - Milliyet
Bam quake toll rising: 50,000 dead - Hurriyet
Papadopoulos ready to discuss Annan Plan - Milliyet
Talat searching for an `Annan government' - Hurriyet
Diyanet gives green light to New Year celebrations - Sabah
Saddam will be tried for killing 300,000 civilians - Turkiye


OPINION MAKERS
TGS urges Erdogan not to abandon Denktas - Cumhuriyet
TRNC leaders due in Ankara in January - Zaman
Syria blamed for providing arms to Iraq before war - Zaman
Letter bombs, attack fears: Europe's tense new year -
Cumhuriyet
Qadafi promises el-Baradei that Libya will turn a new page -
Cumhuriyet


BRIEFING


Cyprus: The MFA and TGS are expected to work together to
shape a Cyprus proposal by the Turkish Government.
Sensitivities of the military will be taken into account
while making final adjustments to the plan. Prime Minister
Erdogan was briefed about the plan by MFA officials on
Tuesday. TRNC President and party leaders from northern
Cyprus will be invited to Ankara in early January for a
summit meeting at the presidency. Meanwhile, Turkish
Cypriot prime-minister designate Mehmet Ali Talat said he
was open to a broad-based coalition formula, as long as the
new coalition would support negotiations with the Greek
Cypriots on the basis of the Annan Plan. President Denktas
has repeatedly said he favors a national unity government
with the participation of all four parties represented in
the Turkish Cypriot parliament. If Talat fails to form a
new government, UBP leader Eroglu will be designated as
prime minister. If no government is formed within two
months, Denktas may call for early elections.


Force commander outraged by behavior at funeral: Land
Forces Commander General Aytac Yalman condemned the behavior
of devout worshippers who kissed the beard of an Islamic
sect leader at a funeral in Istanbul. General Yalman said
such behavior was `out of step' with a modern Turkey seeking
to enter the EU. `I strongly condemn this mentality
despite the fact that they still claim, despite all the
contrary evidence, that they are loyal to the principles of
Ataturk,' General Yalman said, vowing that the basic
principles of the Republic will be protected. "Cumhuriyet"
slams the authorities for turning a blind eye to those who
aim to replace the regime in Turkey with a shariah
administration.


AKP lawmaker draws criticism for remarks on Ataturk: Land
Forces Commander General Aytac Yalman condemned AK Party
lawmaker Husrev Kutlu for demanding that a portrait of
Mustafa Kemal Ataturk that hangs in the parliament building
and depicts Ataturk in field-marshal uniform should be
replaced with a civilian portrait of the founder of modern
Turkey. Prime Minister Erdogan has ordered disciplinary
party action against Kutlu. The TGS condemned Kutlu in a
written statement on Wednesday for making `irresponsible
remarks.'


New Year celebrations universal - Diyanet: In contrast to
earlier condemnations by fundamentalists claiming that New
Year celebrations were inspired primarily by Christian
traditions, the head of the Religious Affairs Directorate
Prof. Ali Bardakoglu said that the occasion of New Year has
become `a component of universal culture' just like the
Mothers' Day or Labor Day. Christmas is a religious holiday
for Christians, Bardakoglu noted, whereas celebration on New
Year's eve is a universal event and is therefore not in
conflict with Islam.


EDITORIAL OPINION: Iraq; Libya


"2003-2004"
Hadi Uluengin analyzed in the mass appeal Hurriyet (12/31):
"The year 2003 began with Iraq, and now it has ended with
Iraq as well. The US and the coalition forces undoubtedly
won the Iraq battle, yet the US has actually lost the war.
Even though the capture of Saddam Hussein will probably be
good enough for President Bush to be reelected, the US is
still a loser from a long-term strategic perspective. .
This assessment is based on three main indicators. First of
all, stability and order in Iraq has not been established.
Instead, the casualties among American forces are
increasing. Second, the US administration continues to be
blind to the importance of the Palestinian issue.
Washington insists on not seeing the reality that the gist
of the problems in the region stems from the Palestinian
issue. Third, US relations with its European allies are at
a low point. The Europeans remain distant from the US side,
and transatlantic relations have never been worse in the
post-World War II period."


"Qadhafi Decided to Be Smart"
Zafer Atay wrote in the economic-political Dunya (12/31):
"Timing is sometimes very interesting. Qadhafi declared his
decision to abolish Libya's WMD program right after the
capture of Saddam Hussein. Yet this announcement did not
happen overnight. Apparently, Qadhafi has been secret
contact with the Americans and the British for some time. .
According to American and British experts who visited Libya
during the last three months, the Libyans had developed
their nuclear technology more than had been previously
thought. Nevertheless, Qadhafi decided to act smart as soon
as he saw the footage of Saddam Hussein on television. In
the end, it is very likely that the US will erase Libya from
its list of rogue states and lift the trade embargo. There
are some encouraging signs for cooperation with the US from
Syria and Iran as well. These are all very positive
developments. However, one part of this picture is still
missing: Israel. Israel should also open its huge nuclear
arsenal for international inspection."


EDELMAN

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