Cablegate: Ankara Media Reaction Report
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SUBJECT: ANKARA MEDIA REACTION REPORT
TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 26, 2006
In Today's Papers
Talabani Expects the PKK to Call a Ceasefire Soon
All papers report Iraqi President Talabani, in New York to attend
the 61st UN General Assembly meetings, announced that the PKK was
expected to declare a ceasefire within a few days. Talabani said
the cease-fire would help open a new page in Iraqi ties with Turkey.
The Iraqi President called on Turkey to take forward steps
concerning the democratic rights of the Kurds. Turkish Foreign
Ministry (MFA) sources told Vatan that following the visit of US
special envoy for countering the PKK, Joseph Ralston, to northern
Iraq, Iraqi Kurdish leaders bargained with the PKK to cease attacks
targeting Turkey, and in exchange have been given guarantees that
they will not be handed over to Turks.
Papers say that according to a provision added to the draft Kurdish
constitution submitted to the Kurdish Parliament in Erbil, asylum
seekers in Iraq will not be extradited under any condition. Papers
expect the provision to be applied to PKK members. Turkey is
alarmed by the draft in which Iraqi Turkmen are rendered to the
status of a minority, papers comment.
Questioning the reliability of Talabani and his remarks, Murat
Yetkin wrote in the liberal-intellectual Radikal: "Remarks from
Iraqi President Talabani, while in the US, attract a different kind
of attention in Turkey. The international press mainly focused on
his request from the US for two military bases and a permanent army
unit. Yet in Turkey, the PKK related remarks are the essence of
stories about him. He was saying that the PKK were convinced to
declare a ceasefire, and are talking about a new chapter about to
open between Turkey and Iraq relations. Talabani presented the
PKK's normal procedures as a ceasefire -- the terror organization
traditionally stops its attacks due to weather conditions and waits
to get ready for a new series of attacks after winter.
Interestingly enough Talabani was talking about it as if it were a
new thing. Turkey's special representative for countering
terrorism, General Edip Baser has expressed concern about Talabani's
remarks, emphasizing his mistrust for both Talabani and Barzani.
Baser strongly believes that if Talabani is sincere he should
concentrate his energy on convincing the PKK to give up arms. It
looks like the special-envoy-for-countering-PKK-terrorism mechanism,
which was established because the US pushed for it, has to produce
results that will ease the public opinion. The closure of
PKK-related bureaus and ongoing efforts to cut off the PKK's
financial links are not good enough to satisfy the expectations.
There is an urgent need for concrete result otherwise the countering
terrorism mechanism will be totally meaningless. This is what the
Turkish envoy believes too."
General Basbug on the Fundamentalist Threat on Turkey
All papers report the Turkish Land Forces Commander General Ilker
Basbug made some strong remarks about the role of the army in
protecting the Turkish Republic's founding principles, predominantly
territorial integrity, unity and secularism. During the opening
ceremony of the new academic year at the Land Forces Academy,
General Basbug said that the fundamentalism threat has reached to a
worrisome level. He added that the fight against fundamentalism
should be a popular movement. He also noted that religious sects
became centers for movements against the Republic. General Basbug
criticized the remarks by "those inside and outside" that the army
should not interfere in such issues, which papers picked up as a
response to the remarks by EU Representative in Ankara about the
excessive involvement of the military in Turkish politics. "When it
comes to protecting the founding principles of the Republic, the
Army has a duty and cannot remain neutral" he added.
AKP deputy group chairman Faruk Celik, in response to GEN Basbug's
remarks, said "if there is fundamentalism in Turkey, it would be the
government's job to fight against it first."
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President Sezer, in his message to Ankara University, said that the
youth should be kept away from dogmas. He noted that universities
should graduate students who have the capacity to think freely and
Non-Muslim Turks Blame the Government and Opposition
Milliyet reports that a group of Turkish citizens of Greek and
Armenian origin released a statement blaming both the government and
the opposition party CHP for their negative stance regarding a
recent parliament bill which called for the return of assets seized
from minority foundations. Opposition CHP asked for the postponement
of the bill until the Turkish government makes sure that Greece does
the same in the principle of reciprocity.
Signed by more than 100 Turks of Armenian and Greek origin, the
declaration says that both the government and the opposition ought
to abide by the requirements of democracy, and denounces
discriminative views voiced during debates in parliament.
Freedom of Expression: Article 301 is Back in Action
All papers report that a new law suit was filed against the editor
of Agos newspaper (serves the Turkish Armenian community), Hrant
Dink. Dink is accused of "insulting Turkishness." A local
prosecutor in Istanbul demands up to three years for Dink due to his
printed remarks in the Agos newspaper which accepts genocide as a
fact. Papers remind that Dink was earlier given a suspended prison
sentence for "insulting Turkishness" and he will have to serve in
prison if this case turns out against him.
Editorial Commentary on Pope Remarks Criticizing Islam
Hasan Cemal wrote in the mainstream Milliyet: "There is no way to
approve of the Pope's recent remarks. By establishing a link
between Islam and violence, the Pope paved the way for provocative
developments. It looks like there is a hideous political game going
on. But the right approach to dealing with this plot goes through
efforts for dialogue rather than conflict. This is the only way to
make the plot ineffective. Providing more fuel to the fire is an
irresponsible act. There are signs that demonstrate the Islamic
world is not ready for discussing faith or related issues in an
intellectual context. Instead we see Muslim masses provoked into
more violence and conflict which is a very dangerous path. Stating
Islam as a religion for peace requires a different approach than
this. The Pope is going to visit Turkey in November. This visit
can be a unique chance to turn an atmosphere of conflict into a
platform for dialogue. Any type of provocation during this visit
will not only hamper Turkey's EU accession but also will harm
NTV (8 A.M.)
- A jandarma lieutenant was killed in a clash between the Turkish
security forces and the PKK militants in the southeastern province
of Mardin last night.
- Representatives of non-Muslim minority groups have released a
statement accusing the parliament, and especially opposition party
CHP, of discriminating against minorities in Turkey.
- President Ahmet Necdet Sezer will address the parliament at the
opening of the new legislative year. Sezer will address the
parliament for the last time as president.
- The ruling AK Party said civil servants will be granted 12.2
percent wage hike in 2007.
- Anne Krueger, the former IMF first deputy managing director, urged
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Turkey to continue economic stabilization reforms.
- EU Commission President Barroso said the European Union must stop
expanding after taking in Romania and Bulgaria next year.
- Turkey's chief EU negotiator Ali Babacan is to kick off a tour of
European countries this week.
- Turkish Cypus "President" Mehmet Ali Talat has approved the
coalition government formed by CTP and the newly founded Free Party
- During a meeting with Muslim envoys in Vatican, Pope Benedict XVI
declined to apologize for his controversial comments about Islam,
but said dialogue between Christians and Muslims was vital for
global peace and stability.
- Britain's Independent reports Sunni insurgents have largely taken
control of the Iraqi province of Diyala, where the insurgents are
believed to be close to establishing a "Taliban republic".
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