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Cablegate: Ankara Media Reaction Report

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RUEKJCS/OSD WASHDC//PA
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INFO RUEHTH/AMEMBASSY ATHENS 7485
RUEHIT/AMCONSUL ISTANBUL 1402
RUEHDA/AMCONSUL ADANA 1181
RUEHBS/AMEMBASSY BRUSSELS 5479
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RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 1855
RUEUITH/DET 1 39LG ANKARA TU
RHMFIUU/USDOCO 6ATAF IZMIR TU
RHMFIUU/39OS INCIRLIK AB TU
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RHMFIUU/AFOSI DET 522 INCIRLIK AB TU
RUEUITH/AFLO ANKARA TU

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 ANKARA 005746

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
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 3, 2006


ISSUE FOCUS:
President Bush Meets Prime Minister Erdogan at the White House

On Monday October 2 President Bush met with Turkish Prime Minister
Erdogan at the White House for one hour and forty minutes. All
papers report that during the joint press conference between
President Bush and Prime Minister Erdogan after the two leaders'
meeting, Bush described Erdogan as "a friend and a man of peace."
Bush praised Erdogan's economic policy by saying "I congratulate the
prime minister and his government on the economic reforms, which are
for the good of the Turkish people." Turkish papers find it
surprising that Bush did not refer to the terrorist organization,
PKK, by name during the press meeting. On Iran, President Bush
stressed that talks would cease if Tehran produces nuclear weapons;
Erdogan agreed saying such a development would adversely affect
Turkey too. Papers also report Bush asked Erdogan to make use of
his good ties with Syrian leader Bashar Assad to warn Damascus
against complications in Lebanon. A "surprise" issue raised at the
meeting was Darfur, according to papers. Bush told the press
Erdogan conveyed his impressions of the ongoing tragedy in the
region, calling on the UN to work on the issue.

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After the meeting Erdogan told reporters the US President had no
doubts with regard to the strategic partnership with Turkey: "Every
step we take in the Middle East is the result of a strategic
partnership between our two countries. We are allies in NATO.
President Bush repeatedly thanked Turkey for the logistic support it
has been providing in Iraq. He noted that Turkey has suffered the
greatest number of casualties in Iraq after the US --- "only
strategic partners speak like that," Erdogan emphasized. On the
rising anti-American sentiments in Turkey, Erdogan said he believed
the situation was not serious, and that "the elimination by the US
of the PKK will eliminate the anti-Americanism in Turkey." Erdogan
noted he also had a chance to discuss Lebanon, Israel, Palestine,
Cyprus and Turkey's EU drive with President Bush. On early Tuesday,
Erdogan flew to London to meet British Prime Minister Blair before
returning home in the afternoon today.

Ekrem Dumanli writing in the Islamist oriented-intellectual Zaman
says that the meeting provided a chance for both countries to "renew
their trust" in each other: "Washington seems to care for the ruling
AK Party even more than before because there is no other strong
right wing party, and there is also the fact that the US
administration feels uneasy about the opposition party, CHP. The
Bush-Erdogan meeting sends a clear message to Turkey. Mutual trust
between the US administration and the ruling AKP has reached its
peak in spite of many internal debates in Turkey. This meeting will
undoubtedly reflect considerable progress for Turkey's expectations
from the US, such as the fight against terror, economic cooperation
and democratization. The visit of Erdogan to the White House
provided the chance for both countries to renew their trust in each
other."

Writing in the mainstream daily Milliyet, Washington-based Yasemin
Congar thinks that the meeting cannot be called a success due to the
lack of concrete action against PKK: "Reliable Turkish and American
sources confirm that both leaders have different opinions on
regional issues and there are unfulfilled expectations on each side.
The main unfulfilled expectation for Turkey is clear action against
the PKK in Iraq, and the meeting at the White House did not change
this picture. Had Erdogan been able to get a solid promise from
Bush regarding the PKK and make this public, then this meeting could
have been regarded as a success. This did not happen. Furthermore,
Bush, who reportedly spoke in decisive terms about the PKK during
the meeting, was not equally resolute before the journalists. The
US President's failure to mention the PKK by name, the
organization's presence in Iraq or the losses to terrorism sustained
by Turkey created a serious gap in the message."


ANKARA 00005746 002 OF 003


Mustafa Karaalioglu, commenting in the Islamist-opinion maker Yeni
Safak, believes a big success came out of the Bush-Erdogan meeting:
"The meeting at the White House provided a venue for a warm dialogue
where everything related to bilateral ties was brought to the table
for discussion. There was ongoing speculation prior to the meeting
that Washington does not care about the ruling AKP any longer. The
truth came out during the actual Bush-Erdogan meeting which was
extended beyond the scheduled time. President Bush introduced PM
Erdogan as 'his friend and a man of peace' which was also a strong
indication of the harmony between the two leaders on serious issues.
After the event, Foreign Minister Gul was characterizing the
meeting as genuinely extraordinary. It seems Turkey and the US
talked about everything that they were supposed to. Besides, the
discussions went on amidst a warm and sympathetic atmosphere. At
some point, President Bush noted that only strategic partners can
engage in such a comprehensive dialogue. During the press event,
PM Erdogan started his remarks by calling Bush 'the president of our
strategic partner' which was a clear signal of a new state of
Turkish-American relations."

In the Papers

Buyukanit Warns against Islamist Threat in Turkey
All papers: The head of the Turkish General Staff (TGS) General
Yasar Buyukanit addressed the Istanbul War Academy yesterday, saying
that Turkey's secular regime faces a fundamentalist threat. "There
is a reactionary threat in Turkey, and every kind of measure must be
taken against this threat," Buyukanit said. Turkish military
support the country's EU aspirations, but has the right to defend
itself against EU criticism, he noted.
Buyukanit referred to recent comments by the European Commission
representative in Turkey, Hansjorg Kretschmer, sharply criticizing
the Turkish military's habit of expressing its views on civilian
issues. "The Turkish military is trying to stay out of politics. I
am a soldier doing his duty as defined in the constitution,"
Buyukanit said, rejecting criticism he was threatening democracy.

Turkish markets showed little reaction to the speech. Cumhuriyet
speculates the Buyukanit statement will prompt visiting EU
Commissioner Olli Rehn to issue in response strong warnings to
Turkey. Mainstream papers comment that Buyukanit, the hardliner new
chief of TGS, made clear he shared the fears of other military top
brass and of President Sezer over the alleged Islamist activities in
Turkey. Cumhuriyet says the ruling AKP refrained from responding
with strong statements to Buyukanit's remarks, with a party leader,
Dengir Mir Mehmet Firat, merely disagreeing with the TGS chief by
saying fundamentalism constituted no threat in Turkey.

Iraq Names Special Envoy for Countering the PKK
Zaman and Yeni Safak report the Iraqi government has appointed the
Iraqi minister for security, Shirwan al-Waaily, as the special envoy
for countering the PKK. Al-Waaily is a Shiite with military
background and close ties to Prime Minister al-Maliki.

Kurdish Party Wants to Discuss with Erdogan the PKK Ceasefire
Milliyet reports following the PKK call for a ceasefire, Turkey's
main Kurdish party DTP Chairman Ahmet Turk and his deputy Aysel
Tugluk asked for an appointment with Prime Minister Erdogan to
suggest a declaration of general amnesty, change of the election
system and further democratic openings in order for the organization
to lay down arms completely. Serafettin Elci, a former
Kurdish-descent cabinet minister, and the influential anti-PKK
Kurdish politician Abdulmelik Firat welcomed the PKK ceasefire
declaration, stressing the organization should totally cease armed
struggle. DTP said it will also ask for meetings with cabinet
ministers and other political parties in the parliament to discuss
the matter.


TV Highlights

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NTV (8 A.M.)

Domestic News

- Professor Ali Bardakoglu, Turkish religious directorate Diyanet
chief, said he deemed important the warnings of President Sezer for
combating fundamentalism.

- Turkey's main Kurdish party DTP's Diyarbakir branch and 12 other
NGOs have announced that the ceasefire declared by the PKK was a
chance for the organization to lay down all weapons.

- EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn visits Ankara to meet with
Parliament Speaker Arinc, Prime Minister Erdogan, Justice Minister
Cicek, and chief EU negotiator Babacan. Rehn will also take part in
"European Social Model and Union Rights" gathering to be held by
Turkish and Finnish labor confederations.

- In a meeting today the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) is to
discuss objections to compulsory religious education in Turkish
schools.

- Twelve have been injured in an explosion in the Aegean port city
of Izmir.

International News

- Ankara told Brussels it was ready to discuss the Finnish EU term
presidency proposal for launching direct trade between the EU and
Turkish Cypriots in exchange for approval of the customs union
protocol by the Turkish parliament. The Finnish proposal also
envisages the handing over of the ghost-town of Maras (Varosha) to
the UN.

- International Herald Tribune comments the main purpose of Pope
Benedict's forthcoming trip to Turkey in November is to discuss with
the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew a Catholic-Orthodox union
rather than seeking dialogue with Islam.

- Georgia, acting to defuse its worst crisis with Russia for years,
said on Monday it would hand over to European intermediaries four
Russian military officers detained on espionage charges.


Visit Ankara's Classified Web Site at

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

MCELDOWNEY

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