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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 03 ANKARA 001854

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, MARCH 29, 2004


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


HEADLINES
BRIEFING
EDITORIAL OPINION


HEADLINES


MASS APPEAL
AKP gets 57 provinces - Hurriyet
AKP's second election victory - Turkiye
AKP takes CHP strongholds - Milliyet
Baykal suffers heavy defeat - Sabah
CHP strongholds fall, Baykal silent - Sabah
PM Erdogan: The Nation has voted for stability - Turkiye
Erdogan, Gul to send `SOS' to Washington on Cyprus -
Milliyet
Rantisi: Bush an enemy of God, Islam - Aksam
Bribery charges threaten Sharon - Hurriyet


OPINION MAKERS
Turkey pulls to the right - Radikal
Government renews confidence, opposition sinks - Zaman
Nation gives AKP vote of confidence - Yeni Safak
CHP collapses - Yeni Safak
Critical three days in Switzerland - Radikal
Historic expansion in NATO - Cumhuriyet
Richard Clarke strikes at confidence in Bush - Cumhuriyet
Bribery causes deep trouble for Sharon - Radikal
Hamas, Hizbullah declare solidarity - Yeni Safak


BRIEFING


AK Party triumphs in municipal elections: In local
elections on Sunday, the ruling AK Party increased its votes
by 10 percentage points over the general elections in 2002,
winning mayoral races in 57 provincial capitals. The AK
Party easily won mayoral races in Ankara and Istanbul, but
failed to oust the CHP in Izmir. Early, unofficial results
showed the Justice and Development Party (AKP) winning 42.2
percent of the municipal vote, far ahead of its nearest
rival, CHP, which was projected to win 21.4 percent.
"Radikal" concludes that Turkey's political left continues
to weaken, as the political center of gravity shifts
rightward. CHP leader Baykal is expected to face pressure
to give up the party leadership after the poll results
produced disappointment at party headquarters. Some 30 CHP
lawmakers are expected to submit a petition to Baykal on
Tuesday urging him to step down. The extreme rightist
Nationalist Action Party (MHP) and center-right True Path
Party (DYP) recovered some of their voting base from Cem
Uzan's Youth Party (GP). Uzan's GP lost almost all of the
7.2 percent of the vote it won in the 2002 elections,
finishing the night with just 2.6 percent of the municipal
vote. The Social Democratic People's Party (SHP) benefited
from an election alliance with pro-Kurdish DEHAP party to
win five provinces in southeast Turkey. However, the
`Democratic Unity' movement of the two parties won just 4.7
percent of the vote, a significant decline from 2002, when
DEHAP won 6.2 percent of the national vote bu itself. The
AKP grabbed four of the seven municipalities in the
southeast that were previously held by DEHAP. "Vatan"
speculates that while Turkish nationalism remains strong,
Kurdish nationalism is weakening. Observers predict that
the divide in DEHAP will grow. The results on Sunday are
expected to strengthen PM Erdogan's position in meetings
with other officials during the UN-backed Cyprus peace talks
set to take place Monday in Switzerland.


Cyprus: UN Secretary General Kofi Annan is expected to
submit a fourth plan for resolving the Cyprus issue to the
Turkish and Greek prime ministers in Burgenstock,
Switzerland on Monday. The plan reportedly includes
amendments intended to satisfy the concerns of both sides.
Papers say that the Turkish Cypriots want Turkey's guarantor
country status to be continued, and want to preserve a
separate parliament, government and court system. The
Turkish Cypriots have also insisted that fewer Greek
Cypriots be allowed to move to the north, and have shown a
willingness to cede some territory to achieve this goal.
Cyprus negotiators from the US and Britain attended the four-
way talks in Switzerland on Saturday. Concerned bt Greek
moves to stall the talks, FM Gul phoned Secretary of State
Powell Saturday evening to urge greater US support for some
of Turkey's `crucial' demands. Powell promised Gul to
discuss the issue with EU foreign ministers at meetings in
Berlin and Brussels. PM Erdogan has been told in bilateral
meetings with EU officials that it will not be possible to
make the Cyprus agreement part of EU primary law, according
to EU diplomatic sources. The Turks have signaled that the
scheduled April 20 referendum in Turkish Cyprus could be
canceled if the EU does not provide sufficient guarantees on
this point.


"Powell letter brought four convictions": Four policemen
blamed for killing a university student, Birtan Altinbas,
while he was in police custody in 1991 were convicted by a
Turkish court on Friday and sentenced to 4.5 years in
prison. "Hurriyet" writes under a banner headline that `the
Powell letter brought four convictions.' The paper was
referring to the fact that Secretary Powell raised the
Altinbas case in a letter to FM Gul in late February.
Powell urged that the case be resolved before the statute of
limitations expired.


EDITORIAL OPINION: Elections in Turkey/US-Turkey Relations


"US views on a new period in Turkey"
Yasemin Congar wrote from Washington in the mass appeal
Milliyet (3/29): "Washington considers the March 29 date
[the day after Turkey's local elections] as the beginning of
a new period. This is because the ruling AKP has emerged
with a resounding victory, far outdistancing its rivals on
both the left and the right. US observers expect that the
AKP will become more energetic and more courageous in the
wake of the election results. It remains to be seen when
and where this energy will be exercised. A US diplomat
speaking right before the elections sketched out an ideal
scenario for Turkey and Turkey's ruling party. The scenario
keeps the focus on Turkey's EU prospects and more decisive,
concrete steps toward Turkey's full accession to the EU. In
sum, Washington's expectation about Turkey after the local
elections is very much indexed to Brussels."


"Reflecting on the elections"
Asli Ayditasbas wrote from Washington in the mass appeal
Sabah (3/29): "Washington is preoccupied with the ongoing
Cyprus negotiations more than with the AKP victory in
Turkey's local elections. The US has been following every
minute of the Cyprus negotiations and has been even more
involved in the process through a recent phone call from the
Turkish FM to Secretary Powell. . The election results did
not bring any surprise for the Washington administration.
However, the US believes that a political opposition has an
important role to play in any democracy. The US
administration thinks that a single-power authority without
an effective opposition makes for an unhealthy democracy.
This same argument applies to Turkey. . In any case, nobody
in Washington is upset about the opposition CHP's poor
showing in the election. The general observation about CHP
is that it has persisted in its anti-American rhetoric and
shown an inability to establish a constructive opposition
that addresses the country's fundamental issues."
EDELMAN

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