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 04 ANKARA 003033
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,
TUESDAY, JUNE 1, 2004
THIS REPORT WILL PRESENT A TURKISH PRESS SUMMARY UNDER
Government puts education bill in deep freeze - Sabah
Soros obsessed with Bush - Hurriyet
`Rolling Thunder' bikers back Bush - Hurriyet
Harley bikers meet with `Commander in-Chief' - Milliyet
PM Erdogan may visit Tehran in June - Turkiye
US, El-Sadr break cease fire: 23 killed - Zaman
UN's Brahimi stuck between Americans and Iraqis - Zaman
Washington, IGC at odds over new Iraqi president -
Tension between Bremer, IGC - Yeni Safak
Saudi Arabia pledges full support to `TRNC' - Zaman
FM Gul seeks support for `TRNC' at OIC - Radikal
Egypt supports Sharon's withdrawal plan - Cumhuriyet
Soros determined to topple Bush - Yeni Safak
Weekly Standard: 70 percent of US media liberal - Yeni Safak
Turkey and the Greater Middle East initiative: "Radikal"
expects PM Erdogan to criticize the US Greater Middle East
initiative at the G-8 Summit in Sea Island, Georgia, to
which Erdogan is being invited as a `democratic partner.'
Erdogan will tell the summit that democracy cannot be
imposed through force, and will also suggest greater EU
involvement in the process. "Cumhuriyet" writes that
Turkish and US diplomats will meet this week to discuss
Ankara's contribution to the US initiative. Ankara will
support the project by sharing its free market and democracy
experience with regional countries. Ankara reacted strongly
at being lumped in the same category with the countries to
be transformed. This reaction forced Washington to shift
its characterization of Turkey to that of a `democratic
ally,' "Cumhuriyet" claims.
`The case of Turkish Al-Qaida': The trial of 69 Turks
suspected in the Istanbul suicide bombings, which have been
linked to al-Qaeda, opened on Monday. However, judges in
the case immediately broke off the proceedings because the
State Security Court (SSC) system has been abolished as part
of recent judicial reforms. Turkey's parliament abolished
the controversial tribunals, which have handled political
and terrorism cases, in an amendment to the Cosntitution.
Legislation to replace the SSC system with Heavy Penal
Courts has not yet been passed by Parliament. Four truck
bombs killed 61 people and wounded 750 in attacks on two
Istanbul synagogues, the British consulate and the local
headquarters of British-owned HSBC bank last November.
After the hearing, Justice Minister Cemil Cicek said the
government planned to send draft legislation to Parliament
on Tuesday that transfers security-related cases to new
Higher education reform bill shelved: The higher education
reform bill is to be shelved by the Government until the end
of the year when the ruling AK Party government will seek to
implement it once again. The AK Party is also considering a
plan to introduce optional Koran courses in elementary and
secondary schools. Mainstream dailies expect the AK Party
not to press ahead with the controversial bill that has been
criticized by the TGS and secularist groups. PM Erdogan
told a party group meeting on Monday that the government's
planned education reform cannot be implemented now, and that
the party should avoid creating tension by forcing the
issue. Erdogan said his government would review the bill
after President Sezer vetoed it on Friday.
Turkey may take over ISAF command: PM Erdogan signaled on
Saturday that Turkey could send more troops and take over
command of NATO's peacekeeping force in Afghanistan next
year. "As a NATO member we have the opportunity to renew
the mission we carried out for ISAF previously. We are
aware of our duties as a member of this alliance," he told a
news conference in London, adding that he did not believe
that such a deployment would require parliamentary approval.
If it is agreed, Turkey could take command of ISAF in
February 2005. This would boost the number of Turkish
troops in Afghanistan from 155 to around 1,500.
PM Erdogan accuses Sharon: "Sharon should have helped us,
but he did not. Assassinations and recent attacks by Israel
left no room for Turkey's peace efforts," PM Erdogan told an
international conference of the World Association of
Newspapers (WAN) in Istanbul on Monday. Erdogan, who had
previously offered Turkey as a mediator between Israel and
its neighbors, accused Israel in March of "state terrorism"
after the killing of Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin.
Erdogan told the conference that Turkey would maintain and
develop its economic ties with Israel, but emphasized that
Turkey strongly disapproves of the "unlawful" assassinations
of Palestinian leaders and the raid on the Rafah refugee
camp in Gaza.
Air Force wants Israeli arms: Turkeys' Air Forces Command
has presented the AK Party government a list outlining its
`emergency' arms requirements, "Milliyet" reports. The list
outlines a proposed weapons purchase agreement with Israel
that amounts to $800 million. The Air Force wants to
purchase Israeli `smart' missiles, mini-assassination planes
and electronic equipment for F-16 night flights. The list
also includes a deal for modernization of F-4 jetfighters.
DEHAP warns of increasing armed conflict in SE Turkey:
Tuncer Bakirhan, leader of the pro-Kurdish party DEHAP,
warned in a letter to PM Erdogan about increasing clashes
between PKK members and Turkish security forces in the
country's southeast. Bakirhan said that increased conflict
and casualties pose a threat to peace and democracy in the
region. He blamed the government for failing to discuss a
democratic solution to the Kurdish problem since the
unilateral cease-fire was declared by the PKK five years
b) Global Defense Posture Review
Melih Asik observed in the mass appeal Milliyet (6/1): "The
US press has started making efforts to redeem itself to its
readers for disseminating the lies produced by the Bush
administration. Yet the style of the apology is far from
satisfactory. When you notice the way the crimes against
humanity in Abu Ghraib are being dealt with in the American
press, you see that there is no reference to torture. The
term `torture' is replaced by `individual psychopath,'
`rape' and `abuse.' How can we talk about a free press when
torture cannot be called by its name. It seems that
democracy is not working in America, even while the US
claims to be bringing democracy to the Middle East. One
wonders what type of democracy that would be?"
"The US Global Defense Posture"
Fikret Ertan noted in the Islamist-intellectual Zaman (6/1):
"As a matter of fact, the US intended to restructure its
military presence around the world right after the end of
Cold War. Yet the last 10 years have gone by without any
concrete action. The restructuring initiative on this began
after 9/11 and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. . The US
Global Defense Posture Review is designed to reduce the
number of large bases such as those in Germany, and redeploy
to smaller bases in countries such as Poland, Hungary,
Bulgaria and Romania. These countries are expected to be
the new hosts for small American bases to be developed over
the next 5 or 6 years. . The US bases, both new and old,
will be the main centers for fighting against the new enemy
- international terrorism. Militarily speaking, the bases
will be designed to launch quick responses to terrorist
actions or enemy states. The US appears to be asking for
some bases and certain military privileges from Turkey.
These requests are obviously part of the Global Defense
Posture Review. Turkey is not the only country on the list,
so we should not maintain the unrealistic position that if
Turkey rejects the US demands, the restructuring will not be
implemented. That approach would be wrong, because the US
can move forward with its restructuring with or without
Turkey's contribution. Let's keep in mind that if Turkey
stays out of the new US strategy, there will be a price to
pay because many bases will be established in countries
"The US is in Search of A New Adventure"
Zafer Atay commented in the economic-political Dunya (6/1):
"It was rumored that the US would open small bases for rapid
reaction forces in the Balkans, mainly in new NATO member
countries such as Bulgaria and Romania. Such bases have
been considered in Hungary, Poland and the Caucasus as well.
Under this scenario, Incirlik airbase in Turkey would not be
closed, but would be downsized. After the Iraq war began,
Washington withdrew its planes that had been used for
Operation Northern Watch" from Incirlik because the
operation was no longer necessary. Of course, all of this
happened before the US started having problems in Iraq.
Lately, the US has pushed the idea of opening new bases and
intensifying its use of Incirlik. Washington wants to
reinforce its air power at Incirlik with 48 new planes.
Moreover, it has requested to use the base in Konya. It
does not end there. The US is taking the pulse in Turkey for
the possibility of deploying U-2 spy planes at Incirlik too.
Of course, there is also a proposal for new US bases in
Samsun and Trabzon on the Black Sea. Some of these
proposals fall within the scope of the defense cooperation
agreement between Turkey and the US, and can be agreed
without problems. The main problem is with the U-2 planes.
There are bad memories about them in Turkey. In 1960, a U-2
plane that took off from Adana was downed by the USSR in
Russian airspace. The pilot, Gary Powers, was arrested.
The Soviet leader exhibited the pilot and the wreckage of
the plane to the world after Ankara and Washington denied
the incident. Turkey had a hard time because it had not
been informed about this flight by the US. .Why does the US
wants these bases? There is no clear answer to that. Some
think the US will use all of its power in the near future to
break the resistance in Iraq. The situation in Afghanistan
is not any better. Although the command belongs to NATO
there, the US is reportedly preparing for wider operations
in Afghanistan in an effort to capture Osama Bin-Laden. Who
knows, maybe the US will start thinking about bringing
democracy (!) to another country in the region."