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Cablegate: Ankara Media Reaction Report

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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 ANKARA 005537

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
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 21, 2006


In Today's Papers

Turkey-Iran Plane Dispute
All papers report Turkey rejected a charge by Tehran that an Iranian
plane was forced to land at Istanbul airport because Ankara had
denied it flight permission over Turkish territories. Diplomatic
sources said the pilot asked to land at Istanbul's Ataturk Airport
to refuel after being warned by Turkish authorities that the plane
carrying Iranian ministers and lawmakers entered Turkish airspace
without proper authorization. After refueling, the plane took off
for Tehran. The Iranian administration summoned the Turkish
Ambassador in Tehran Gurcan Turkoglu to express their disturbance
over the matter. Turkish Foreign Ministry (MFA) Spokesman Namik Tan
rejected reports that the plane had been forced to land, stressing
that it had asked Turkey for permission to refuel. Vatan says that
the plane had obtained permission to use Turkish airspace while
flying to Venezuela, and had not notified Turkish officials en route
to Iran.

Turkey-Greece to Hold First Joint Military Exercise
Milliyet and Radikal report Turkish and Greek navies are to hold
their first ever joint military maneuvers in the southern Aegean Sea
involving a small number of frigates on September 23. The Greek
daily Ta Nea said bilateral cooperation of this nature was unique,
quoting a Greek general staff source as saying this is the first
time such cooperation has taken place.

Article 301, Halki Seminary, Case against Safak
Hurriyet, Milliyet, Sabah, Cumhuriyet, Radikal, Zaman, Yeni Safak
and others: The ruling AK Party government is reluctant to dilute
Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code, often used to prosecute
writers and journalists, because it fears boosting support for the
nationalist MHP. Prime Minister Erdogan and other AKP officials
want to see the implementation of the provision before launching
more reforms in line with EU demands. The AKP is afraid that changes
to Article 301 will be exploited by the MHP in election campaigns.


Sabah reports that AKP lawmakers had filed a proposal for amendments
designed to pave the way for the reopening of Halki Seminary in
Istanbul. The proposal said that non-Muslim Turkish nationals,
including the members of the Greek, Armenian and Jewish minorities,
had the right to study in minority schools. The proposal has been
accepted by the parliament with the support of AKP, but was later
pulled back in the face of reactions coming from CHP lawmakers.

The case against novelist Elif Safak, accused of "insulting
Turkishness" in her new novel, was dropped Thursday morning with a
ruling that there was not enough hard evidence.

PM Erdogan Asks Iraqi Government to Ban PKK
Vatan, Bugun, Hurriyet, Cumhuriyet and others: Vatan reports that
PM Erdogan sent a letter to Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki on September
11 and urged him to stop PKK infiltrations to Turkey from Northern
Iraq. PM Erdogan, reportedly, demanded the closing of all PKK
affiliated offices in Iraq, as well. Cumhuriyet reports that being
concerned that the Iraqi envoy to counter PKK might be a Kurd,
Ankara relaxed after hearing the post went to a retired Sunni
General.

Foreign Ministry Withdraws its Objection to al-Kadi Case
Vatan, Milliyet and others: Following the action of the Prime
Ministry, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs also withdrew its
objection to the Council of State ruling related to the Saudi
Businessman Yassin al-Kadi, whose name is on the UN list of people
supporting global terrorism. Earlier both the Prime Ministry and
the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had objected the court ruling that
would keep al-Kadi off the terrorist list in Turkey.


ANKARA 00005537 002 OF 003


Ambassador Wilson on the PKK, Lebanon, Iran
Milliyet, Cumhuriyet and Yeni Safak report that in a speech he
delivered at a meeting of the Turkish Contractors' Association, US
Ambassador Ross Wilson promised to back Turkey "more decisively and
visibly" in the fight against the PKK. Wilson said the US wanted to
ensure that northern Iraq is not used as a base by the PKK
militants. He noted the Iraqi government decision to close all PKK
offices in Iraq was a small step, and that more measures would be
put in place. Wilson emphasized that US Special Envoy for
Countering the PKK, Joseph Ralston, had held talks with the Turkish
and Iraqi authorities, and that his meeting with the PKK was out of
the question. Wilson praised the Turkish decision to take part in
the international force for Lebanon, stressing that the deployment
would enhance the US-Turkey cooperation in third countries. The US
Ambassador also lauded Turkey for supporting efforts for a
diplomatic solution in the nuclear crisis with Iran.

Editorial Commentary the Papal Visit to Turkey
Writing in the tabloid Posta, Mehmet Ali Birand warned that the
Pope's scheduled November tip to Turkey will be "a test" for the
country: "The Pope's scheduled visit to Turkey became more important
after recent developments. The Pope's recent remarks, which caused
so much fury among Muslims, coupled with Turkey's excessive
reaction, which made Turkey look like the Pope's leading critic,
have increased the visit's importance incredibly. The storm has
begun to subside, but one should not be fooled. Some political
parties will try to exploit the matter to gain votes in the coming
elections and you will see them flooding the streets during the
Pope's visit. If they truly love their country, they should act
differently. However, the way they show this love makes one think
that their patriotism is just for show. The Pope's visit will be a
test for Turkey. The international media will be following it very
closely and every incident will be analyzed in detail. If effigies
of the Pope are burnt on the streets and if people throw things at
him wherever he goes, the story will make headlines around the
world. If things get truly out of hand, the number of people who
oppose Turkey's EU membership will increase. This will make Austria
very happy and the entire Catholic world will be against us. Every
time I think about this, I get depressed. Let's wait and see what
those who really have Turkey's interests at heart will do."


TV Highlights
NTV, 7.00 A.M.

Domestic News

- Turkish Parliament Speaker Bulent Arinc said with regard to the
remarks of Pope Benedict XVI against Islam that world leaders should
refrain from statements which harm peace among religions.

- The main opposition CHP leader Deniz Baykal said his party would
not give unconditional support to EU harmonization reforms.

- President Sezer urged universities to uphold secularism and fight
against Islamist tendencies in an address yesterday marking the
start of the new academic year.

- The World Bank and IMF have agreed to hold their annual 2009
meetings in Istanbul.

International News

- Presidents Bush and Ahmadinejad exchanged remarks at the UN with
Bush labeling Iran a sponsor of terrorism and Ahmadinejad accusing
the US and Britain of abusing their positions in the UN Security
Council.

- Pope Benedict XVI stopped short of apologizing to Moslems again,
saying only that he respects all religions, especially Islam, at a

ANKARA 00005537 003 OF 003


mass the pontiff held at the Vatican on Wednesday.

- Palestinian Prime Minister Haniya rejected conditions set by the
Middle East quartet for resuming direct financial aid to the
Palestinian administration. The quartet demands the formal
recognition of Israel.

- Thailand's military coup leaders will choose a new prime minister
within two weeks and step back from power, army chief General Sonthi
Boonyaratglin said, adding that new parliamentary elections would be
held in October 2007.

- Israeli soldiers confiscated about USD 1 million in a series of
early morning raids Wednesday on West Bank money changers.


Visit Ankara's Classified Web Site at

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

WILSON

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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