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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.




E.O. 12958: N/A


--------------------------------------------- -----

The Era of Benedict XVI - Hurriyet
Ratzinger Is Catholics' New Leader - Milliyet
Ratzinger Opposes Turkey's EU Membership - Hurriyet
New Pope Is Anti-Turkish - Sabah
`Panzerkardinal' Ratzinger Elected Pope - Aksam
Ratzinger Was John Paul II's Best Man - Posta
Turkey to Buy 10 Drone Planes From Israel - Hurriyet
PM Erdogan to Visit Yad Vashem - Sabah
Turkish Captive Returns From Guantanamo - Sabah
`Hawkish' Bolton Accused of Harassment - Aksam
Harlem Boy's Choir Enchants Turks in Ankara - Sabah

Ratzinger, Firebrand Conservative, Elected 265th Pope -
German Ratzinger Is Catholics' New Pope - Zaman
Ratzinger Believes Turkey Should Form Union With Arabs -
Turkey Awards Israel Contract for Drones - Radikal
1.5 Million Armenians to Commemorate `Genocide' in Yerevan -
US Troops Beat Iraqi Lawmaker - Yeni Safak
Iran Halts Al-Jazeera Broadcasts - Yeni Safak
Cuba Wants US to Open Guantanamo to Inspection - Yeni Safak

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New Pope Ratzinger Raises Concern Among Turks: All papers
give extensive coverage to the election of Cardinal Joseph
Ratzinger of Germany as the new pope. The new pope's
opposition to Turkey joining the European Union could raise
obstacles to Turkish EU membership, according to the
reports. The `anti-Turkish' Pope earlier said that the
Turks should form a union with Arab countries instead of
seeking membership in the EU. He is among the backers of
the concept a `privileged partnership' for Turkey that would
fall short of full membership. A news commentary in "Zaman"
says that if the Vatican were to join France, Austria,
Denmark, and the Netherlands in opposition to Turkey, it
would send the wrong message not only to Turks but to all

Turkey to Buy Military Drones From Israel: Turkey is set to
buy 10 military drone airplanes and ground stations from
Israel at a cost of 183 million USD in a deal reached ahead
of a fence-mending visit to Israel by Prime Minister
Erdogan. The visit is scheduled for early May. A joint
venture between two Israeli firms, Israel Aircraft
Industries (IAI) and Elbit, was awarded the contract for the
10 aircraft, surveillance equipment, and ground control
stations, Turkey's undersecretariat for defense industries
said in a statement on Tuesday. The Israelis are to finish
their part of the project within 24 to 30 months, according
to the statement. A report in "Hurriyet" claims that the
Turkish military had rejected the US-produced `Predator' in
favor of the Israeli option. "Vatan" adds that the deal
with the Israelis could eventually be expanded to include
between 30-40 unmanned aircraft.

Shalom Supports Turkey on Armenian `Genocide' Claims:
"Cumhuriyet" reports that Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan
Shalom met with `influential figures' in Jewish
organizations in the United States to seek support for
Turkey against the Armenian `genocide' campaign in the US.
Shalom reportedly asked the Jewish organizations to block a
possible approval by the US Congress of a resolution on
claims of `genocide,' which may damage the `special
relationship' between the US, Israel, and Turkey.
Diplomatic sources said that the `mood' in Congress is `not
positive' due to the March 1 rejection by Turks of the
deployment of US troops through Turkey to Iraq, and because
of strong criticism against the US by PM Erdogan.
"Cumhuriyet" believes that the Armenian lobby will push the
Congress until the last minute for approval of a `genocide'
resolution. In a report from Washington, "Milliyet" quotes
American Armenian Assembly (AAA) chairman Anthony Barsamian
as saying he does not expect President Bush to use the word
`genocide.' Barsamian added, however, that the President
will come closer to recognizing the `genocide' claim than he
has in the past. Barsamian said he remains hopeful that the
US Congress will approve a `genocide' resolution this year.
"Milliyet" notes that a `genocide' resolution could come to
the fllor of Congress for a vote even after the Armenian
commemoration on April 24.

Bill on Incirlik Airbase Submitted to Council of Ministers:
A bill corresponding to the US request for a wider use of
Incirlik Airbase was been submitted to the Council of
Ministers for approval on Monday, papers report. The bill
would extend the duration of the existing regulation that
allows the use of Incirlik by coalition forces for
humanitarian purposes. Papers expect the bill to be
finalized according to the outcome of the vote in the US
Congress on Armenian `genocide' claims.

Ankara Briefs US, Israel, EU on Sezer's Syria Visit: The
Turkish Embassy in Syria briefed EU ambassadors, and the
Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) briefed US and Israeli
Ambassadors in Ankara on the results of the recent visit to
Syria by President Sezer to Syria, papers report. The Turks
said the main topics of Sezer's meetings in Damascus had
been domestic reforms and Syria's withdrawal from Lebanon.
They insisted that Sezer had conveyed to President Assad the
message from the international community on the need to pull
out of Lebanon.

Turkish Detainee Freed From Guantanamo: A 24-year-old
Turkish man, Salih Uyar, who spent over three years in
Guantanamo on suspicion of ties to Al-Qaeda was released and
sent to Incirlik air base in southern Turkey. Uyar was then
freed by a local prosecutor for lack of evidence, but was
ordered to be handed over to the Turkish military for draft
evasion. The Turkish media reports that two other Turkish
citizens are still being held in Guantanamo.

Investigation Shows Villagers Killed by Security Forces in
1994: The Prosecutor's office in Diyarbakir said Tuesday
that no evidence had been found to support claims by Turkish
security forces that 38 people were killed by PKK terrorists
in two villages in Turkey's southeastern province of Sirnak
in 1994. The prosecutor told the press that the villagers
had been killed by bombs that had `fallen' from planes and
helicopters. A local villager told "Milliyet" that the two
villages had been bombed by Turkish security forces after
the villagers refused to become village guards.

Erdogan Due in Afghanistan: Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan
will depart for Afghanistan early Wednesday, papers report.
In Kabul, the Turkish Prime Minister will call on President
Karzai, former king of Afghanistan Mohammad Zakir Shah, the
ISAF command, and the Turkish community in Kabul.

World Bank Report Shows `Unfair' Wealth Distribution in
Turkey: "Vatan" carries a World Bank report showing that
income disparity in Turkey is much greater than previously
thought. The poorest 10 percent (seven million Turks)
receive only 2.3 percent of national income (6.9 billion
USD), while the wealthiest 10 percent receive 31 percent
(92.1 billion USD).
AKP Lawmaker Quits Parliament: Cemal Kaya, a deputy of the
ruling AK Party, resigned hisparliamentary seat on Tuesday
in order to defend himself against allegations of
involvement in a corruption scandal related to contracts
awarded by the Ministry of Energy. Press reports suggest
that Kaya resigned at the insistence of Prime Minister
Erdogan. The PM termed the resignation `appropriate.' Kaya
remains a member of AKP.

Mersin Becomes a Center for Smuggled Fuel: Turkey's
southern port city of Mersin has become a center for
smuggled fuel from Iraq, with 57 distribution companies now
operating in the city, "Zaman" reports. A parliamentary
committee has learned that there is one gas station for
every 300 cars in Mersin. Smuggled fuel costs Turkey 3
billion USD per year, according to the report.

Harlem Boy's Choir Performs in Ankara: On a first visit to
Turkey, the Boy's Choir of Harlem gave an `exceptionally
delightful' concert in Ankara on Monday and Tuesday, papers
report. Formed by Dr. Walter Turnbull, the Harlem Boy's
Choir in considered to be among the most famous choirs in
the history of American music, writes Turkey's leading daily
"Hurriyet." US and Israeli Ambassadors to Turkey, Eric
Edelman and Pinhas Avivi were among the audience who gave
the choir a standing ovation after the concert, says the
paper. US Embassy Ankara co-sponsored the choir's
participation in the 22nd Ankara Music Festival.

EDITORIAL OPINION: US Foreign Policy, Cyprus, AKP and
Turkish Nationalism

"Washington Plays with Fire"
Rusen Cakir argued in the mass appeal "Vatan" (4/20): "The
US collaborated with the totalitarian regimes of the Islamic
world for years, and refrained from interfering in their
domestic affairs. In the aftermath of 9/11, the US
administration decided to `drain the swamp' as part of its
struggle against radical Islamist networks such as Al-Qaeda.
. The essence of the US policy is to conquer hearts and
minds to win the war against terrorism. For this purpose,
the US is advocating democracy, liberty, women's rights, and
free market values in Islamic countries. The establishment
of direct links with opposition movements and NGOs that will
pressure the rulers are part of this policy. The approach
is a product of the neo-cons in the US administration, who
don't even mind that their project is portrayed as a kind of
`democratic imperialism.' Yet the general feeling in the
Islamic world is different. The Islamic world views the
project as `imperialist,' and believes that the rhetoric
about democracy is only a pretext. The effect of this is
that the more the US wants democracy in this region, the
more anti-Americanism grows. . The neo-cons are nevertheless
pleased because they consider the situations in Afghanistan,
Iraq, Palestine, Lebanon, Egypt, and Kyrgyzstan as signs of
their victory. When the Red Army pulled out of Afghanistan,
that was also interpreted as a triumph. But circumstances
only helped the Taliban and Al-Qaeda to flourish there.
Today, one cannot feel very sure about the possible
consequences of spending more dollars in the name of
democracy. The Islamic world certainly needs reforms to
greater democracy, freedom, and women's rights. This will
happen sooner or later. But such developments cannot emerge
through pressure, nor can they be bought with money.
Democracy cannot flourish through help from outside."

"Hope is there, Sign yet to come"
Sami Kohen observed in the mass appeal "Milliyet" (4/20):
"It seems that the whole world, including the UN, the US,
the EU and Russia, is pleased with Mehmet Ali Talat's
election as president. Talat is considered a realistic, pro-
settlement leader. Everybody is talking about increasing
chances for a Cyprus settlement, and diplomats believe that
the ball is now in Papadopoulos' court. It remains to be
seen whether the Greek Cypriot leader will be willing to
take advantage of this enormous chance for a settlement, and
whether the international community will seriously engage in
the process. Currently we can talk about hopes and
expectations, but concrete signs of progress have yet to
come. .. There is a direct link between the stance of the
Greek Cypriot leadership and the level of determination
within the international community. So far, such a
determination has not been seen. The UNSYG awaits a call
from both sides before taking action. The UNSYG does not
want to force Papadopoulos even though his current stance is
viewed as an obstacle. The EU remains helpless. The EU
does not like Papadopoulous' position either, but has
refrained from taking action that might help to change it.
The US has been occupied with other priorities, namely Iraq,
and Cyprus is not part of its immediate agenda. Other
international forces, including Russia, do not seem to have
any intention of taking an active role. Given the
circumstances, it is up to Turkey's diplomatic skill to try
to secure greater involvement by influential international
players. Talat is about to take some steps in this regard.
If these steps come to nothing, there is little more that
can be done."

Erdogan: "Isn't There Any Province Besides Diyarbakir?"
Muharrem Sarikaya wrote in the mainstream daily "Sabah"
(4/20): When Prime Minister Erdogan came out of the AKP
group meeting yesterday, he shook our hands and drew us to
one side. `How's it going?' he asked. We gave a clear
answer: `things are fine with us, but how about you? You
said the EU is trying to divide Turkey. Is there something
happening that we aren't aware of?' Erdogan gave the
following answer: `You need to read that statement very
carefully. For us, the important thing is that we are
carrying out our official contacts with EU officials. There
is no problem there. But all of us also know about the
negative behavior of some circles within the EU. They come
to Turkey and travel around from Ankara to Istanbul and
Diyarbakir. All of them go to Diyarbakir. Isn't there any
other province in Turkey besides Diyarbakir? Is their
intention really clear?' When we asked the Prime Minister
why his words had been misunderstood, he went after the CHP:
`We have not taken a single step back from our EU goal. We
are focused in working toward October 3. But the main
opposition party has adopted a different position, as if the
EU were not its goal. They are saying senseless things,
claiming we want to break off our relations with the EU.
But since we are all agreed on our EU target, they shouldn't
say these kinds of things or try to draw distinctions on
that issue.' When we noted that some had interpreted his
words as an attempt to steer his policy toward nationalism,
Erdogan responded in this way: `I am a nationalist. But I
have already announced the limits of my nationalism. We
will never, ever implement policies based on ethnic,
regional, or religious nationalism. These are our limits,
and we will not make concessions.' We later were chatting
with Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul as he came out of the
meeting. We pointed out that the writer Ali Bulac had said
the AKP is starting to slide toward a nationalist policy.
Gul said he had read Bulac's statement, but added that
`probably since he left us, Bulac has had difficulty in
understanding what we are doing.'"


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