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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 002717

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,
THURSDAY, MAY 13, 2004

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


HEADLINES
BRIEFING
EDITORIAL OPINION


HEADLINES


MASS APPEALS
Zarkawi executioner of Nick Berg - Hurriyet
Zarkawi's revenge for abused Iraqis - Aksam
Decapitation shock in US - Milliyet
Bush: Killers aim to shake our will, they won't succeed -
Hurriyet
Private England: `I was ordered to photograph abused Iraqis'
- Sabah
AKP hurries to pass `Imam Hatip' bill - Milliyet
AKP, CHP duel on education reform bill - Sabah


OPINION MAKERS
Al-Qaida tape of decapitation worse than US torture of
Iraqis - Zaman
Nick Berg's father blames Bush - Cumhuriyet
Vatican: For Americans, abuse of Iraqis worse than 9/11 -
Radikal
High-ranking US commanders blamed for torture in Iraq -
Radikal
PM Erdogan against US sanctions on Syria - Zaman
PM Hariri: US Syria sanctions extremely disturbing for
Lebanon - Radikal
Speaker Arinc: Iraqis must join forces for a solution - Yeni
Safak
Intensive clashes in Karbala - Cumhuriyet
US planes continue bombing Karbala, 25 killed - Yeni Safak
Greek Cypriots open to new referendum, want changes to Annan
Plan - Zaman
Oil prices soar over $40 - Yeni Safak


BRIEFING


Educational reform bill: The AK Party government sent the
higher education reform bill to parliament on Wednesday amid
criticism from the secularist groups, especially the
military, that the legislation will increase the influence
of Islam in education. The CHP has strongly criticized the
bill, saying that proposed changes would undermine the
secularist establishment. CHP leader Baykal blamed the AK
Party for exploiting religion for the sake of political
gains. The tensions over the education reform have spoiled
Turkey's positive image abroad created by the passage of EU
harmonization laws, says "Hurriyet." A US official said to
"Hurriyet" on the condition of anonymity that Turkey should
refrain from moves that can derail the country on its way to
the EU. `Secularism and democracy are traits that bring
Turkey into conformity with Western values. Moves that
might be seen as intervention in the democratic system or
efforts to increase the role of religion in education and
the overall regime will eventually hurt Turkey. Turkey must
concentrate its energy on getting a date from the EU for
full membership talks by the end of this year,' the US
official reportedly said. On Wednesday, Land Forces
Commander Gen. Aytac Yalman and the Aegean Army Commander
Gen. Hursit Tolon voiced support for the TG S statement
criticizing the education bill. Protests against the bill
are gaining pace, with students to protest at parliament on
Thursday and university staff to hold a silent protest at
Ataturk's mausoleum on Friday.


Ankara on US sanctions on Syria; Israel: PM Erdogan on
Wednesday criticized a decision by the US to impose
sanctions on Syria, saying they would prove
counterproductive. "I don't think embargoes are in
accordance with human rights in this era. This approach
does not help a solution but increases the problem. The way
to peace and globalization is not through embargoes," PM
Erdogan said during a joint news conference with the
visiting Lebanese PM Rafik al-Hariri. Erdogan also said
Israel's plan to withdraw unilaterally from Gaza, but retain
most of its West Bank settlements, was "not right, nor aimed
at a solution." Hariri urged Turkey to support a natural
gas project that aims to carry Egyptian gas to Europe via
Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.


AKP lawmakers criticize US, UK on Iraq: On Wednesday,
deputy parliamentary speaker AKP lawmaker Sadik Yakut said
US and Britain would be `drowned in the blood they have shed
in Iraq.' The head of the Turkish-Syrian friendship group,
AKP's Yuksel Cavusoglu, condemned at a press conference
yesterday the abuse of Iraqi prisoners, and criticized the
`sadistic' acts of American soldiers. Such harsh statements
have created a sensitive atmosphere on the eve of the May 17
Ankara visit of Britain's Tony Blair, say papers. PM
Erdogan will pay a visit to England May 27-29.


Greek Cypriots not against a new referendum: A public
opinion survey conducted by RAI Co. in south Cyprus on May 6-
8 shows that 51 percent of the Greek Cypriots want the Annan
Plan to be re-voted in south Cyprus if additional guarantees
are given on the implementation and security issues, papers
cite the Greek Cypriot daily "Politis." Only 29 percent
have opted for restarting negotiations with the Turks
without the Annan Plan. Turkish Cypriot leader Denktas said
of the survey that Greek Cypriots had no right to force
Turks into a new referendum. `The Annan Plan is annulled
since one of the sides has rejected it. But we are ready to
hold talks with the Greek Cypriots under new conditions,'
Denktas said.


EDITORIAL OPINION: Iraq


"Future of Iraq"
Cengiz Candar noted in the conservative-sensational DB
Tercuman (5/13): "Although there was some invalid US
arguments about the Iraq war, such as the verification of
WMD, the fact of the matter is that Saddam regime is
completely over in Iraq, and this is a good thing. Brutal
regimes like the Saddam regime should be erased from human
history. The ideal solution was to have him toppled via
internal forces, yet it did not happen. . Today the focus
should be the future of Iraq rather than unnecessary debates
about whether or not the war was justifiable. The US vision
for Iraq, as stated from the beginning, is a democratic Iraq
with territorial integrity. The formula to achieve this
goal is a federal Iraq. The Abu Ghraib photos created a
fatal blow against the American intentions, yet American
vision for Iraq's future remains a valid as well as a legal
goal. . The US should not abandon its policy of transferring
authority to Iraqis. Transfer of authority must be
coordinated with an election calendar. The US should also
take steps toward fairness in the Israel-Palestine conflict,
and urgently discard its `pro-Israel' image. As for the
Abu Gharib scandal, the US should make sure that the
responsible persons, including the responsible political
rank, receive severe punishment."


"Torture Overshadows the GME"
Murat Yetkin wrote in liberal-intellectual Radikal (5/13):
"The G-8 Foreign Ministers conference in Washington was
originally designed to discuss the Greater Middle East
Initiative. The US was expecting some contribution from EU
members of G-8 as well as Russia, which would help prevent
the GME from being labeled an `American project.' This
issue remains on the agenda of the conference. However, the
Abu Ghraib scandal has become the number one priority item.
The ministers of the G-8 will discuss at length the torture
and abuse scandal, and also the future of Iraq, particularly
after the transfer of authority on June 30. . There is still
a major opportunity for international cooperation, not only
for Iraq's future but also for the future of the Middle
East, if Secretary Powell can bring a satisfactory plan for
Iraq's future before the G-8 members."
"Bush's Chance For Re-Election"
Yilmaz Oztuna commented in the conservative-mass appeal
Turkiye (5/13): "The civilized world, which defends not
only the human rights but also rights for every living
creature, has every right to react to ongoing torture news.
The spread of such disgusting crime among the US military,
which has a mission to bring peace to the world, is proof
that the world will continue to suffer in this new era.
Unfortunately, this issue is being evaluated in the US for
its effects on the President's re-election possibilities.
The President is the head of the executioners. He has great
authority in every issue, including the use of the nuclear
weapons. In return, he is the responsible authority for
everything. The US elections will be held in six months
time. Despite all the problems in Iraq, today's opinion is
in favor of Bush's re-election because the Democratic
Party's candidate is not very strong. Besides, Americans
don't like to change presidents at a time of war. If you
ask `who is America's enemy, whom they are fighting with',
you cannot get a standard answer to this question. But, it
is clear that the torture accusations will create more
enemies for the US. The only way for the US to get rid of
these negative feelings is to punish the criminals for
life."


EDELMAN

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