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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 04 ANKARA 001549

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, MARCH 17, 2005


THIS REPORT PRESENTS THE TURKISH PRESS SUMMARY UNDER THREE
THEMES:

HEADLINES
BRIEFING
EDITORIAL OPINION
--------------------------------------------- -----

HEADLINES

MASS APPEAL
Sezer Will Go Ahead With Syria Visit - DB-Tercuman
Italy to Pull Out of Iraq - Milliyet
Iraqi Parliament Holds Historic First Session - Aksam
Iraqi Parliament Opens, But No Government Yet - Milliyet
Bush to Nominate Wolfowitz to Head World Bank - Hurriyet
US Troops Blamed for Killing 26 Captives in Iraq,
Afghanistan - Sabah
Armenians Pressure Bush to Recognize `Genocide' - DB-
Tercuman

OPINION MAKERS
President Sezer Says He Will `Definitely' Go to Syria -
Radikal
Iran Proposes `Partnership' to US - Cumhuriyet
More Than Half of Americans Oppose Iraq War - Cumhuriyet
EU Postpones Membership Negotiations With Croatia -
Cumhuriyet
Armenians in US Push for Recognition of `Genocide' - Radikal
Israel Hands Over Jericho to Palestinians - Yeni Safak
Pakistan's Nuclear Gesture for Rice - Yeni Safak
Family Wants Slain Leader Maskhadov's Body - Yeni Safak
Maskhadov's Successor Pledges Not to Attack Civilians -
Zaman


BRIEFING

Controversy Over President Sezer's Trip to Syria: President
Sezer said Tuesday that he would go ahead with a scheduled
visit next month to Syria despite US concerns that it may
send the wrong signal at a time when Damascus is under
pressure to pull its troops out of Lebanon, papers report.
Earlier this week, Ambassador Edelman urged Ankara to join
the rest of the international community in pushing for a
complete Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon. Edelman noted that
the decision about how to reflect the international
consensus `lies with Turkey.' The press interpreted these
remarks as an effort by the US to pressure Turkey to cancel
Sezer's upcoming visit to Syria. Ambassador Edelman said
that his words had been distorted in many Turkish press
reports and commentaries. FM Abdullah Gul said that
Edelman's remarks on Turkish-Syrian relations `had been
reflected in a way that was not intended.' `We see that a
correction has already been made by the US Embassy,' Gul
said. `Besides,' he continued, `Turkey is a country that
has acted in tandem with the international community on the
Syria issue.' Papers expect Sezer will to urge the Syrians
to implement UN Security Council resolution 1559 by pulling
all troops out of Lebanon.

Paper Interviews Walter Russell Mead: Council on Foreign
Relations (CFR) member Walter Russell Mead responded to
questions from the left-leaning/opinion maker "Cumhuriyet"
on the phone from Washington. Mead said that a rise in
Islamic consciousness in Turkey posed a challenge to the
history of the modern republic. Mead stressed that it is
important whether Turkey considers itself a bridge between
Europe and the Middle East or a country looking to its south
and east. The increasing presence of the United States, not
only in Iraq but in the wider region, may have caused
concerns in Turkey, and Kemalist Turks may have started
thinking the US has started to side with the Muslim elements
in their country, Mead said. He noted that many Iraqis had
cast votes at the risk of their lives, thus indicating that
they want democracy. Regarding speculation about the
establishment of an independent Kurdish state, Mead said the
US has always favored a united Iraq. `A powerful Iraq to
counter Iran is in the interests of the United States,' he
recalled, underlining the fact that an independent Kurdish
state would never serve US interests. `Barzani and Talabani
have understood that they will have to work under an
international framework,' Mead added. With powers such as
Turkey, the US, and Iraq opposing a Kurdish state, Mead
argued that it is `highly doubtful' that Kurds will gain
independence. He said he believes that autonomy for the
Kurds inside a federal Iraq would be the most reasonable
choice. Mead also claimed that Turkey's membership to the
European Union would increase the rights of Kurds in Turkey.

Ankara Ready to Include New EU Members in Accord With EU:
FM Abdullah Gul signaled that Turkey is ready to sign a
supplementary protocol that will expand the scope of the
Ankara Agreement to encompass the Greek Cypriot
administration. In a statement to the BBC's Greek Service,
Gul said Turkey will first initial the protocol and then
submit it to the Turkish parliament for approval. `We are
not about to play games,' Gul noted. `When Turkey makes a
commitment, it fulfills it,' he added. Recognizing the fact
that a reservation for non-recognition of Nicosia will not
be included in the protocol, Ankara aims to exchange letters
with the EU Commission noting Ankara's objection, or append
the reservation to the new Accession Partnership Document
which is to be announced by the end of this year. Analysts
regard the European Union decision to postpone entry talks
with Croatia over its failure to hand over a war crimes
suspect as a powerful signal to Turkey and other prospective
members, papers comment.

Minister Cicek in Jerusalem: Visiting Justice Minister and
government spokesman Cemil Cicek delivered a speech on the
second day of the opening of the Holocaust Memorial Museum
in Jerusalem, "Yeni Safak" reports. Cicek said that anti-
Semitism is a current that has to be defeated, and added:
`Anti-Semitism has not existed in the history of Turks, and
it will not exist in our future.' Cicek noted that the
Holocaust Memorial Museum is a reminder of one of the
darkest periods in human history. `Yad Vashem is not merely
a place to mourn, but also a core for humanity,' Cicek said,
warning that lessons should be taken from history so that
the Holocaust will never be repeated.

PM Erdogan to Visit Israel: Israel's Ambassador to Ankara,
Pinhas Avivi, has officially invited PM Erdogan to Israel,
"Aksam" reports. Erdogan is also expected to visit
Palestine during his visit to Israel, which is expected to
happen in the second half of April.

Visiting AKP Lawmaker Urges More US Support: Visiting AKP
deputy group chairman Faruk Celik, a member of the eight-
member Turkish Parliamentary Committee for Democracy, told a
meeting of the Center for Strategic and International
Studies (CSIS) in Washington that anti-American feelings in
Turkey did not have deep roots, "Milliyet" reports. The
negative view of the US seen among Turks can be reversed if
the Bush Administration takes steps to remove the PKK
presence in northern Iraq, Celik said. He complained that
the Turkish government has not received enough support from
the US with regard to Cyprus, despite the fact that Ankara
had opted for reunification of the divided island.

Pro-Kurdish Party Prepares for `Nevruz' Celebrations: The
pro-Kurdish DEHAP (Democratic People's Party) has invited
President Ahmet Necdet Sezer, Parliament Speaker Bulent
Arinc, and Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan as well as extreme
nationalist MHP's leader Devlet Bahceli to Nevruz
celebrations in Diyarbakir. Northern Iraqi Kurdish leaders
Massoud Barzani and Jalal Talabani and the representatives
of 50 countries are also invited.
Bill on Foreign Ownership of Turkish Media: The parliament
endorsed a bill which will enable foreigners to own radio
and television stations in Turkey. The opposition CHP and
some deputies from the ruling AK Party criticized the bill.
Opposing lawmakers said that foreigners owning national
broadcasters would carry a huge risk, and claimed that under
the new law the shaping of public opinion has been left to
`foreign forces.' According to the new law, foreigners for
the first time will be allowed to own more than 25 percent
shares of national channels.


EDITORIAL OPINION

US-Turkish Relations

"How to Improve US-Turkey Relations"
Sami Kohen opined in the mass appeal "Milliyet" (3/17):
"Whether we consider the satte of US-Turkey relations as a
`crisis' or just some `turbulence,' the fact is that this is
a very serious period. If these provocative developments
continue, the damage to relations will become impossible to
mend. To improve relations, Washington and Ankara need to
agree that better relations and cooperation are in the
interest of both sides. At least at the moment, there is a
will among both governments and official institutions to
improve the relationship. The first step at the official
level should be to begin a constructive dialog. Both sides
should intensify efforts to `fine tune' the relationship
without a further drop in mutual trust. During this
process, administrations in the US and Turkey should study
the reasons for the damaged relations and try to determine
how their own mistakes may have contributed to this trend.
NGOs should get involved in this process as well. There is
no way to improve the relationship except through continuous
dialogue and a calm diplomacy."

"Turkey's Preference"
Fehmi Koru commented in the Islamist-opinion maker "Yeni
Safak" (3/17): "Turkey's sensitive balances in many areas
depend on its relations with the US. While he was getting
ready for a pre-scheduled official visit to Syria, President
Sezer was warned not to go to Syria by the US Ambassador.
What would you do if you were in Sezer's place? If this
message had been given secretly through diplomatic channels,
it wouldn't be too difficult to find a solution by acting in
accordance with the US preference. But, as we can all see,
the US is determined not to allow Turkey to use diplomatic
options. The US warned Turkey openly and well in advance of
the scheduled trip so that it would be known that the visit
had been cancelled because of US pressure. The US offers
two alternatives -- either ignore the US warning and go
ahead with the visit, or listen to Edelman's warning and
cancel the visit... What should Turkey's stance be in the
face of this new US imperialist policy? If Turkey wants to
follow a policy without the US, than the upcoming official
visit to Syria will be an opportunity to announce this
policy to the world. Watching next month's developments
should be rather exciting."

"Sezer's Trip to Syria"
Mustafa Balbay wrote in the leftist-nationalist "Cumhuriyet"
(3/17): What do you say the following scenario? Syria
pulls out of Lebanon, but the US decides this isn't enough.
Syria stays out, and Lebanon becomes unstable. Israel
intervenes to fix this situation, while the US goes in to
`clean up' in Syria. In this way, Turkey's southern
neighbors become the US and Israel! But these neighbors
then need the water from their northern neighbor, so a joint
US-Israeli initiative is launched to take the waters of the
Tigris and Euphrates. Like I said, it's only a hypothetical
scenario.Turkey's relations with Syria have followed a
zigzag path. Relations were very poor in the 1980s and
1990s. Syria did not acknowledge that it was supporting
terrorism. Turkey was telling Assad, `the desert fox,' to
hand over the terrorist leader or else. Assad's response:
`give me your water.' In 1998 when Ocalan was kicked out of
Syria, a new period began. By the end of 1998 this period
reached a new stage with the signing of the Adana Agreement.
Syria began to support Turkey on every issue, including
terrorism. Relations are improving - or at least they
were.Sezer's trip to Syria brings to the forefront once
again Turkey's new role in the region. There are two
options for Turkey in defining its stance toward the United
States -- it can be a satellite country, or it can oppose
the US. Neiter option is in the interest of Turkey. The
sensible course would be to maintain a good relationship
without resorting to any kind of dissimulation. Our
neighbors are the US, Russia, Iran, and Syria - this is
certainly not easy, especially along with being in the
middle of the EU. It all brings to my mind what Napoleon
once said: `geography determines the fate of nations.'"
EDELMAN

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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