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Cablegate: Ankara Media Reaction Report

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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 ANKARA 005369

SIPDIS

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
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 15, 2006


In Today's Papers

The Diyarbakir Killings
All papers report that on Thursday, Diyarbakir remained largely
peaceful apart from minor clashes between youth and the police
during a march to protest the deadly bomb blast which killed 10,
including 6 children, in the mainly Kurdish city on Tuesday. The
protestors shouted slogans against Prime Minister Erdogan, and in
support of Abdullah Ocalan, the jailed leader of the PKK. The
majority of shopkeepers in the Bagcilar neighborhood, the site of
the attack, pulled down their shop shutters in support of the
protests. Kurdish leaders laid carnations at the bus stop where the
bomb went off.

Interior Minister Abdulkadir Aksu went to Diyarbakir, where he vowed
to capture those responsible for the killings. Turkey's main
Kurdish party DTP denounced the incident, saying not the PKK but the
forces attempting to block a settlement in the Kurdish question were
responsible for the attack. The PKK-affiliated Firat News Agency
blamed in a statement on its website the "counter-guerrilla forces"
within the Turkish state for carrying out the bomb attack.

Several press commentators and politicians believe the hardliners in
the PKK to be behind the deadly attack because the organization was
put under pressure by calls by the DTP for it to announce a
unilateral ceasefire. Several papers said a preliminary criminal
investigation by the police showed the mechanism that triggered the
explosion on Tuesday was the same that was used by the bombs made by
the PKK. Opposition party DYP chairman Mehmet Agar, a former police
chief, said the AKP government had turned the anti-terror struggle
into an issue to "weep over," criticizing the government for not
issuing a statement even a day after the killings.

Ralston Visit to Ankara
All papers report Prime Minister Erdogan congratulated the US
Special Envoy for Countering the PKK, retired Air Force General
Joseph Ralston, on his new job at a meeting in Ankara yesterday.
Erdogan warned Ralston not to take steps that may be interpreted as
accepting the terrorist organization as an interlocutor. He
reminded Ralston that President Bush and Secretary Rice have been
informed on the substantial steps that should be taken for
eliminating the PKK in northern Iraq. Ralston assured Erdogan that
"the terrorists will never be accepted as interlocutors," adding
"the Turkish nation will see that we will take solid and visible
measures."

Papers report Ralston's counterpart, retired general Edip Baser,
would join Turkey's Anti-terror Board, and would use the title
"Anti-terror Coordinator for Turkey," reporting to the PM. Radikal
reports Baser said he told Ralston that if there are any contacts
with the PKK, he will resign. Baser first of all will set up a
timetable for action together with Ralston. "We will outline a
roadmap for action and will fix the interim targets," Baser said.


The sensationalist Star reports an unidentified Turkish official as
saying that during the Ralston visit to Ankara, Turks and Americans
have decided to launch, if necessary, a joint operation against the
PKK in northern Iraq. Ralston said Erdogan's persistence on the
issue had been effective in determining a new concept in the fight
against terrorism. Ralston drew attention to President Bush remarks
that "We cannot accept Iraq providing shelter for terrorists,"
reports the paper.

Turkish Directorate for Religious Affairs Criticizes Pope Benedict
over Recent Remarks
All Papers: Today's papers gave extensive coverage to the harsh
response given by Religious Affairs Directorate head Ali Bardakoglu
to Pope Benedict XVI for criticizing Islam and Prophet Mohammed. In
a speech on Tuesday, the Pope quoted from a book recounting a

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conversation between 14th century Byzantine Christian Emperor Manuel
Paleologos II and an educated Persian on the truths of Islam and
Christianity. "The Emperor comes to speak about the issue of jihad,
holy war", the Pope recalled. "He said, I quote, "Show me just what
Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only
evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the
faith he preached. Labeling the statement a matter of concern and
grief both for the Christian world and for peace on earth,
Bardakoglu said that the statement may reflect hatred and enmity in
the Pope's inner world. Bardakoglu described the Pope's statement
as "disrespectful" and "hostile" and urged him to take his words
back and apologize. Milliyet reports that Bardakoglu also spoke out
against the Pope's planned visit to Turkey in November by saying
that "the visit would make no contributions to peace among different
civilizations."

SONAR Survey Reveals Considerable Decrease in the Popularity of AKP
Cumhuriyet reports that a survey carried out by polling company
SONAR has revealed that the ruling party AKP lost a considerable
amount of its popularity. According to SONAR survey at the
beginning of 2006, 43.32 percent of Turkish voters were supporting
PM Erdogan, whereas, the latest survey shows that this number
dropped to 25.51 percent. Main opposition party CHP's popularity
jumped from 13.35 to 20.08. The survey was based on interviews with
1851 people in Ankara, Izmir, Adana, Bursa, Diyarbakir, Denizli,
Edirne, Erzurum, Gaziantep, Kayseri, Mersin, Samsun and Trabzon.

Editorial Commentary on War on Terror and NATO
Yilmaz Oztuna writes in the conservative Turkiye: "President Bush
has called on Americans to support the fight against terrorism by
arguing that otherwise terrorism will bring a horrifying future for
the coming generations. However, people in the wealthy nations of
the west, including Americans, are not in favor of any war or being
involved in any kind of fighting. Europeans, after committing
suicide twice in 20 years with two world wars, are always trying to
change Washington's mind when an international crisis escalates and
leads up to a war situation. Currently NATO has almost become the
full extension of the US as Europeans stay away from making
significant contributions. It seems Washington is going to continue
its policy goals in the Middle East with Israel and the UK, as well
as with Kurdistan and Armenia. At this point, Washington wants
Turkey to be in this league however Ankara pledges nothing, only
gives advice."

Sami Kohen asks in the mainstream Milliyet whether or not NATO has
become outdated: "Obviously NATO members, Turkey included, are
totally unwilling to respond positively to the request for
additional forces for the Afghanistan mission. European nations,
due to the pressure of public opinion, do not want to get involved
in a dangerous military adventure. In addition, for most Europeans,
the situation in Afghanistan is considered to be a US war. As for
Turkey, there is one more reason for the unwillingness to contribute
additional forces - the public strongly believes that the western
community has not done anything on Turkey's terrorism issue.
Regardless of the reasons, NATO faces a new situation which requires
an extensive debate on the organization's out-of-area
responsibilities and operations. Otherwise NATO will eventually
turn into an outdated organization."


TV Highlights
NTV (6 a.m.)

Domestic News

- Visiting Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul had been given a warm
welcome in Paris, with several French officials lauding Ankara's
decision to join the international force in Lebanon.

- A delegation of Turkish officials is to hold talks in New York on

ANKARA 00005369 003 OF 003


September 15-16 to discuss the technical details of the upcoming
Turkish peacekeeping mission in Lebanon.

- Two suspects fled after throwing a hand grenade at a jandarma
patrol team in the Aegean tourist town of Marmaris.

- State Minister Ali Babacan said the transfer of Turkish Central
Bank headquarters would transform Istanbul into a financial center
as well as strengthen Ankara as a political center.

- IMF said it expected the year-end inflation in Turkey to stand at
10.2 percent, predicting 5 percent growth.

International News

- The Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) has released a
statement asking the Vatican to unveil its views with regard to
Islam.

- The Turkish Embassy in Baghdad has been working for the release of
a Turkish driver, Yildirim Tek, abducted by the insurgent "Brigades
of the Lions of Righteousness" in Iraq. The insurgents had
threatened over the weekend to kill Tek within 72 hours unless
Ankara withdraws his company Vinsan operating in Samarra.

- French Le Figaro slammed the EU for trying to humiliate Turkey by
forcing it to open its ports and airports to the Greek Cypriots
despite the fact that Turkish Cypriots had accepted UNSYG Annan's
reunification plan for Cyprus.

- French socialist politician and presidential hopeful Segolene
Royal warned her rival Nicolas Sarkozy's calls for excluding Turkey
from Europe would bring "disastrous consequences."

- Prime Minister Haniya claimed the US was trying to block efforts
for forming a new national unity government in Palestine.

- A report by Amnesty International (AI) accused Hezbollah of
violating international law by deliberately killing civilians in
rockets attacks into Israel during the 34-day conflict in Lebanon.
Hezbollah rejected the charges.

Visit Ankara's Classified Web Site at

http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/eur/ankara/

WILSON

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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