Cablegate: Subject: Turkish Media Coverage - Visit of Under
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 06 ANKARA 005947
DEPARTMENT FOR R, EUR/SE, EUR/PPD, NEA/PPD, INR/R/MR, ECA
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KPAO OPRC KMDR TU
SUBJECT: SUBJECT: TURKISH MEDIA COVERAGE - VISIT OF UNDER
SECRETARY OF STATE FOR PUBLIC DIPLOMACY AND PUBLIC AFFAIRS
1. Turkish media coverage of Under Secretary Hughes'
September 27-29 visit to Ankara and Istanbul was generally
fair and factual. Coming on the eve of Turkey's historic
start of EU accession talks, scheduled for October 3,
coverage was less comprehensive than it might otherwise have
been. The visual images of the Under Secretary's visit -
touring shops in historic markets in Ankara and Istanbul,
holding a Turkish child at the education park in Istanbul,
speaking with women NGO representatives in Ankara - were
very positive. The Under Secretary's comments following her
meeting with MFA Undersecretary Ali Tuygan, especially her
reassurance that the United States is looking at further
steps to address the PKK issue, also received positive
coverage. Reporting on Under Secretary Hughes' roundtable
discussion with women's groups focused on the Turkish
women's criticisms of US policy in Iraq. Most papers also
carried the Under Secretary's responses to those criticisms,
and implied that she had taken the criticism seriously and
pledged to pass on what she heard to President Bush. The
Under Secretary's meeting with religious leaders in Istanbul
received scant press attention, as press access was limited.
Most media picked up the Under Secretary's positive comments
about Turkey, the Turkish people, and Istanbul. Press
commentary on the visit was also limited, and focused on the
need for the US to follow words with concrete actions.
Ironically, the most negative portrayal of the visit came
when some Turkish dailies reprinted excerpts of articles
written by the US traveling press. End Summary.
NEWS REPORTING FAIR AND FACTUAL
2. Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy Karen Hughes visited
Ankara and Istanbul September 27-29 for meetings with
government officials, NGOs, and religious leaders. Coverage
of the visit in the Turkish media was fair and factual. A
summary of the coverage in major dailies follows:
"Hurriyet" -- mainstream secular (cir. 520,000) that is
Turkey's most influential daily. "We Need Your Help to
Improve Our Image" (page 24), September 29, 2005
US Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy Karen
Hughes, the person trying to improve President George Bush's
image, acknowledged to Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul that
"President Bush is aware of the reaction of people in the
region to his Iraq policy." Hughes met with Undersecretary
Ali Tuygan before being received by FM Gul. She informed
them that she wanted to make her visit to the region,
including to Turkey, go beyond just a public relations
effort for her country. Hughes said that she gives great
importance to Turkey in the effort to improve the US image
in the region, and she asked for support and views from
Ankara on this issue. Hughes acknowledged that the American
people are not well informed about countries in the region,
that she had brought 20 American journalists with her, and
that her trip was aimed at providing the public with first-
hand information on the region. Gul told Hughes that
improving America's image in Turkey would require the United
States to take concrete steps against the PKK. He also
reminded Hughes that Turkey had asked the United States to
begin direct flights or ship visits to northern Cyprus in
order to alleviate the isolation of the Turkish Cypriots.
Speaking to reporters, Hughes said that the United States
has made a commitment to the Turkish people on the PKK
issue, and that work on that issue is continuing. She
reiterated that the Americans view the PKK in the same way
they view al-Qaida. Hughes said that the United States and
Turkey need each other in order to best advance the
interests of their people. She noted that the two countries
"shared common values such as democracy, respect for human
rights, and women's rights."
Hughes later met with representatives from representatives
of various women's NGOs. She had some difficult minutes
there when many of the women criticized US policy in Iraq.
KA-DER member Fatma Nevin Vargun called on the United States
to end wars that lead to poverty. Hughes responded that, as
a mother, she also did not like war, but added that
sometimes war is necessary to protect the peace. Another KA-
DERR member, Nurdan Bernard, criticized the US for not
taking decisive action against the PKK. Hughes answered
that the US views the PKK as a terrorist organization no
different from al-Qaida. Following the discussion with
NGOs, Hughes made a brief tour of the castle area. She
chatted with shopkeepers, and bought a blue bead. Hughes
subsequently left Ankara for Istanbul, where she met with
representatives of all religions at Topkapi Palace. Hughes
said that President Bush had specifically asked her to meet
with religious leaders, and described the meeting as "a very
"Yeni Safak": Islamist-oriented, pro-government (circ.
120,000); "An Image Can't be Corrected With Blue Beads"
(page 1), September 29, 2005
Experts said that Hughes' mission to improve the US image in
the region will be difficult. They added that "an image
can't be improved by an individual. Blue beads won't be
enough." Yeditepe University Professor of Psychiatry Dr.
Arif Verimli noted that Hughes had used body language in an
effort to appeal directly to the emotions of the Turkish
people. "Especially having her picture taken with the blue
bead was an attempt to appeal to the emotions of Turks. But
having a picture of Hughes with a blue bead, which has an
important place in Turkish culture, won't be enough to fix
the image overnight." Ankara University Professor of
Psychology Dr. Ali Donmez said that "Hughes seemed sincere.
But Bush's image is at such a point that a few people aren't
going to be able to repair it in a short period of time."
"Jet Public Diplomacy For Bush's Image" (page 14): Hughes
met with representatives of a number of women's NGOs. When
some of them criticized US policy in Iraq, she answered that
"as a mother, I also don't like war. But sometimes it is
necessary to go to war to protect the peace." From
Cengelhan in the Ankara Castle, Hughes visited shopkeepers,
examining headscarves especially, before buying a blue bead.
Hughes later went to Istanbul, where she visited the
Findikzade Education Park sponsored by the Turkish Education
Volunteers Foundation. Hughes greeted the children by
saying "merhaba" in Turkish, urged the students to visit the
United States when they grow up, and made a donation of
English-language books. She then moved on to Topkapi Palace
where, following a brief tour, she listened to the Koran
being read in the Holy Trust section. She spoke for a time
to a Turkish woman in a headscarf who was touring the
palace, and to a couple from Bahrain. Hughes met for about
an hour with representatives of various religions. During
the meeting, she mentioned tolerance, and said that Turkey
could be a source of inspiration for religious tolerance for
the rest of the world. Hughes said she had been impressed
by the hospitality, warmth, and directness of the Turkish
"Radikal": liberal intellectual (circ. 45,000)
"Hughes Strikes Through Her Charisma" (page 6), September
State Department Under Secretary Karen Hughes, who arrived
in Turkey as US President George Bush's "image guru,"
learned that Ankara's image criteria include "concrete steps
on Cyprus and the PKK." Hughes was sharply criticized by
women's rights activists, who told her "not to ask for
cooperation from us on the war." Hughes, who is responsible
for public diplomacy at the State Department, met first with
MFA Undersecretary Ali Tuygan. Speaking to journalists
after the meeting, Hughes said that Turkey and the United
States need each other in order to best serve the interests
of their people. She said the two countries have shared
values that include democracy, respect for human rights, and
women's rights. Hughes added that the US supports Turkey's
membership in the EU, and reiterated that "we condemn the
PKK just as we condemn al-Qaida.
Hughes met later with women's rights activists at the Ankara
Castle. Serpil Sancar of KA-DER said that "we can cooperate
on freedom and issues of daily life, but not on war,
violence, and arms." Hidayet Sefkatli Koksal of the Capital
Women's Platform, recalled that she had made efforts and
prayers to prevent the motion from being approved by the
Turkish Parliament on March 1, 2003. Koksal continued: "I
know that you are angry with us because of March 1. But I
am bothered every time I see women in children in a
photograph from Iraq. Until this issue is resolved, it is
difficult to talk about good things. It disturbs me to see
American preachers in suits and ties on GOD-TV giving
sermons praising the war. We are trying to prevent Islamic
fundamentalism. You need to struggle against evangelical
fundamentalism." Hughes responded that the US is working
together with Iraq: "The United States will continue this
struggle until it is won. No parent in America wants to
lose their children in a war. The decision to go to war was
made with great difficulty. I saw how much pain my friend
President Bush went through in reaching this decision.
Women in the time of Saddam were not better off than the
women in today's Iraq. The women in Afghanistan are
"Sabah": mainstream secular (circ. 450,000), "Bush's Image
Maker Came to Turkey to Make Turks Love Her, But." September
At her meeting with representatives of women's NGOs, Karen
Hughes tried to justify the war by saying that it had saved
Iraqi women from being raped, and that President Bush
agonized over the decision to go to war; but in the end, her
justifications were not convincing. Karen Hughes, who
helped President Bush win the elections by giving him advice
on his image, heard lots of complaints from women in Turkey,
where she came to rebuild the US image. Hughes, the Under
Secretary for Public Diplomacy at the State Department, was
the target of the women organizations representatives' rage
against Bush for the war in Iraq.
Hughes has been tasked to rebuild the US image damaged by
the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. She came to Ankara after
visits to Egypt and Saudi Arabia, and met with women's
groups as the first event in her schedule. Hughes met with
representatives of the Association for Supporting Women
Candidates (KA-DER) and other women's NGOs at Cengelhan, in
the Ankara Castle. Hughes began her remarks by praising
Ataturk and Turkish women. She said that her job is to
foster relations between the US and other countries, and
that Turkish women could take the lead. But when the women
started to speak, she received unexpected responses.
After they completed their remarks, representatives of the
women NGOs presented gifts to Hughes before departing. It
was noticed that the American journalists accompanying
Hughes on her trip to the Middle East showed great interest
in the anti-militarist Turkish women. Hughes said that
friends are supposed to talk to each other frankly, and said
she appreciated the views that were shared. She then went
on a short tour through Ankara Castle. Hughes went into
shops, looked at souvenirs, chatted with shopkeepers, and
bought herself a blue bead. Hughes showed special interest
in children. She urged them to learn English and go see the
"Milliyet" (circ. 320,000); "She Loved Istanbul," September
Karen Hughes, Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy at the US
State Department, who was on a Middle East tour to improve
the image of US President George Bush, visited historical
and tourist places of Istanbul on the last stop of her tour.
Following her visits, which were covered only by "Milliyet,"
Hughes said that "Turkey and Turks have fascinated me. I am
very impressed by Istanbul. I have decided to come back to
Istanbul with my husband next summer for holiday."
Professor Filiz Ozer, an art historian, accompanied Hughes,
who first went to Hagia Sophia in a heavy rain. Smiling
continually at the people around her, Hughes later went to
the Grand Bazaar to do some shopping and chat with
shopkeepers. Hughes visited carpet shops and asked for
information on antique kilims. She drank apple tea that was
offered to her, and tasted simit bought from a street
seller. The shopkeepers presented Hughes with a blue bead
to ward off the evil eye.
Answering our questions on her way out of the Grand Bazaar,
she said "I am very happy that I have come here and met with
you. It's been a great experience for me." Hughes also
said that she had been "fascinated" by Istanbul: "I've
realized that I should spare more time for this city. The
people are incredibly welcoming and hospitable. I loved the
Turks. Istanbul is a place that has to be seen, definitely.
No matter which way I turn, I come across a marvelous view."
Emphasizing that she had had a great evening and very useful
meetings, Hughes said "I wish I could stay here longer and
do some more shopping. I will come back as soon as possible
and do shopping for my house." Hughes, who will prepare an
extensive report for President Bush on Egypt, Saudi Arabia,
and Turkey, left for the US on a private plane yesterday
INTERVIEW FOCUSES ON US-TURKISH BILATERAL ISSUES
3. As part of her media outreach in Turkey, the Under
Secretary interviewed with Ferai Tinc, foreign news editor
of Turkey's leading national daily, "Hurriyet." The
interview focused on the main issues in the US-Turkish
bilateral relationship. A translation of the interview as
it appeared in "Hurriyet" follows:
"BUSH'S IMAGE GURU TO RETURN WITH GUL'S MESSAGE"
An interview by Ferai Tinc
"Hurriyet," September 30, 2005
"As I go back to America, I am carrying a message that has
impressed me very much".
The message that Bush's so-called "image guru," Karen
Hughes, the Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy at the US
State Department, is carrying is from Foreign Minister
At our meeting in Istanbul, the last stop on her tour of
Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey, Hughes explained the
message that she was taking to Washington as follows:
"Listen, I want to tell you something. It has really
touched me. When I met with Foreign Minister Gul yesterday,
he made an effective explanation. He told me about the
difference in mentality between us and the people on the
streets in Turkey. He said `When you look at Iraq, Iran,
and Syria from America, you see them as countries "over
there"; but they are our neighbors.' Now I will take these
words to America, to the policy meetings at the State
Department. In the coming months, or weeks, or even days,
when it is time to address these issues, you will see us
saying `this issue concerns Turkey's neighbors, so maybe we
should talk to Turkey about it first.' That is what I am
taking with me from Turkey back to Washington."
Describing the aim of her visit not as "correcting the US
image," but "listening to important allies, and ensuring
that their views are reflected in the US policies," Hughes
gave interesting answers to my questions. My questions and
her answers follow:
Q: We hear news that it is now Syria's turn after Iraq. Is
HUGHES: No. Iraq was a special situation. People
shouldn't just look at Iraq and think what happened there
will also happen somewhere else. What we expect from the
Government in Syria is to change its behavior and stop
allowing insurgents and terrorists to infiltrate to Iraq
across its borders.
Q: What do you expect from Turkey on this?
HUGHES: We don't expect anything from Turkey. It is in the
interest of Turkey as much as it is in the interest of the
United States that Syria stop supporting the insurgents in
Iraq, and interfering in the affairs of Lebanon and
We should do more on the PKK
Q: Why has the US effort to address the PKK issue been
ineffective? It is claimed that the US needs the PKK to
destabilize Iran and Syria. Is that true?
HUGHES: We do not cooperate with terrorists, full stop.
PKK is a terrorist organization. We support Turkey. We
share information with Turkey about the activities of the
PKK. We have started to work with the Turkish Government to
dry up the financial resources of the PKK. We encourage the
Iraqi Government to cooperate with Turkey in its fight
against the PKK. The PKK kills innocent people every day.
We understand the concerns of the Turkish public. As our
National Security Advisor said, we should contribute more to
resolve this issue. When I return, I will draw our
government's attention to this issue and tell them that more
should be done to overcome the PKK. We should give Turkey
the confidence that we will do that.
The isolation of Turkish Cypriots should come to an end
Q: Do you have any new approaches to resolve the Cyprus
HUGHES: We support the UN's solution process and the ending
of the isolation of the area under Turkish authority.
Q: The civic turmoil that resulted from the war in Iraq
threatens the region. When will you withdraw from Iraq?
Why were the Turkmen targeted in Tal Afar?
HUGHES: We will leave Iraq as soon as Iraq becomes capable
of governing itself. Yes, the Turkish Government and
Turkish people were against the war. But we have to keep
going, with Turkey's support, to achieve a democratic,
united, and stabile Iraq. We are trying to make sure that
the rights of all groups in Iraq are respected.