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Cablegate: Ankara Media Reaction Report

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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 ANKARA 005830

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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, OCTOBER 5, 2006


In Today's Papers

EU's Rehn Warns on Article 301, Free Speech
Hurriyet, Milliyet, Sabah, Radikal, Cumhuriyet, Zaman and others:
Visiting EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn warned yesterday in
an interview with the all-news broadcaster NTV that the reform
process in Turkey has slowed down over the past year. "If we see no
progress, then the progress report on Turkey will carry criticisms.
Forward steps must be taken concerning free speech," Rehn said,
stressing that the EU would not "horse-trade" with Turkey on the
matter. Rehn expressed hope that the new attempt by Finland, the
current EU President, would be successful and lead to direct trade
with Turkish Cyprus. Rehn also reiterated that the Turkish military
must be subject to civilian control. In a press conference after
meeting with Foreign Minister Gul, Rehn said Article 301 of the
Turkish Penal Code had been used to silence views that do not incite
violence, adding the number of lawsuits filed according to Article
301 had reached sixty-nine.

A court in Istanbul released the justification of its acquittal of
leading novelist Elif Safak, saying "fictional" characters in novels
cannot commit offenses. Safak had been charged under Article 301
for "insulting Turkishness" in her latest novel "The Bastard of
Istanbul" in which one of the characters refers to the mass-killing
of Armenians under Ottoman rule in 1915.

In other EU news, German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrives in Ankara
on Thursday for her first state visit to Turkey. During the visit
she will meet with Prime Minister Erdogan to discuss Turkey's EU
aspirations, the nuclear dispute with Iran, and the situation in the
Middle East. On Friday in Istanbul, Merkel, accompanied by Erdogan
and a German businessmen's delegation of twenty, will talk with the
leading Turkish industrialists and businessmen.

PM Erdogan Comments on Defining Fundamentalism
Hurriyet, Sabah, Milliyet, Zaman and others: Today's papers give
extensive coverage to the proposal presented by Prime Minister
Erdogan on his way back from London, to end tensions surrounding the
debate about 'fundamentalist threats' in Turkey. Sabah quotes PM
Erdogan as saying that "no one offers a legal definition of
fundamentalism. This issue is always approached through politics
and caused problems. Naturally, the whole issue disturbs religious
people. Maybe that is why we should not call it 'fundamentalism' bu
"extremism." Hurriyet reports that the Prime Minister extended an
olive branch to President Sezer and TGS Chief General Buyukanit by
saying "we [the AKP government] are ready to discuss your concerns
about fundamentalism." Erdogan added that Turkey needed a package
of measures for coping with the problem.

Meanwhile, reaction from media and the opposition parties to US
Ambassador Ross Wilson calling the Turkish internal debate over
secularism 'cacophony' continues. The main opposition party CHP
deputy Ali Topuz denounced the recent comments of Ambassador Wilson
as 'arrogance' and added that Wilson should not consider himself the
governor of Turkey.

THY Hijacking - the Aftermath
All papers reported about the Justice Ministry gaff of calling a
passenger from the hijacked plane the second hijacker. The Justice
Ministry realized its mistake four hours after passenger Mehmet
Ertas was called a terrorist and stated in a second statement that
they were mislead by the Interpol. Hurriyet reports that the
hijacker Hakan Ekinci, an army deserter, went to Albania last May.
His passport was confiscated by the Tirana International Hotel after
he failed to pay hotel fees. UN Immigrants Commission bought his
plane ticket to Istanbul. Meanwhile, realizing that his political
asylum request would be rejected by Albania, Ekinci requested a
travel document from the Turkish Embassy in Tirana. The Embassy
told him that he could not be given a travel document until he
withdrew his asylum request from Albania. Ekinci presented the

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Embassy with an asylum withdrawal document and managed to receive a
travel document. Because he was a draft dodger, the Embassy
informed Ankara about his travel details so that he would be
arrested on arrival. But, Turkish Airlines officials were not
informed about these details. Meanwhile, Justice Minister Cemil
Cicek said that Turkey would request the deportation of Hakan Ekinci
from Italy after the legal procedure is finalized there.

Turkish Youth Want Election Age Lowered
Radikal reports on its front page that a gathering of Turkish
youngsters, Turkey Local Agenda 21 Youth Organization, is to launch
a signature campaign in 73 cities in an effort to lower the age at
which people can be elected to office to 25 from 30. "Agenda 21"
said Turkey, a country with some eight million young voters, was the
only country in Europe with a minimum election age of 30. The
outcome of the campaign will be submitted to Turkish Parliament on
October 16.

Erdogan Orders US Cargill's Problems Solved
Milliyet reports that prior to his trip to the US, Prime Minister
Erdogan has given "firm instructions" to his aides to solve the
problems of US food giant Cargill in Turkey. Erdogan told Cargill
representatives in New York about the steps taken to solve their
problems. Cargill is in trouble with Turkish authorities for
building an industrial plant in a farming area in Bursa near
Istanbul in violation of legal regulations.

Editorial Commentary
Writing in the mass appeal Hurriyet Oktay Eksi complains about
recent remarks by diplomats about Turkey: "Diplomats are generally
known as very careful speakers although there are always some
exceptions to this rule. Some even forget about their position and
act as if they are ruling the country to which they are assigned.
The recent series of disrespectful statements started with the
remarks from Turkey's EU representative, followed by the US
Ambassador and ended with EU Commissioner. It is difficult to say
that such disrespectful statements will not continue. Especially
when the rulers of a country show weakness in preserving national
pride, then diplomats without subtlety can easily find a platform to
speak up."

In the Islamist-intellectual Zaman Ekrem Dumanli comments on the
debate over the influence of religious fundamentalism, praising PM
Erdogan for suggesting that "extremism" was a more appropriate word:
"PM Erdogan made some comforting statements about the ongoing
debate and the growing speculation regarding the rise of religious
fundamentalism in Turkey. He suggested that faithful people should
be respected and that it would be better to talk about the issue of
'extremism' instead of 'religious fundamentalism.' His statement
was tolerant and embracing as he noted the importance of
understanding and tolerance to each other, and suggested that we
should try to win over the extremists to make them centrist. Some
people are angry at the use of the word 'cacophony,' but in fact
Ambassador Wilson has made a normal statement, because there is no
need to worry about something which is based on merely suspicions.
Therefore when we ask people in Turkey we cannot find a person who
can thinks religious fundamentalism is a threat to Turkey. People
do not want to see fights over this issue and know well enough to
live together in harmony with differences."

TV Highlights
NTV, 7.00 A.M.

Domestic News

- Justice Minister Cemil Cicek said Turkey would request the
extradition of draft dodger Hakan Ekinci who had hijacked a Turkish
airliner to Italy on Tuesday.

- According to a Transparency International (TI) survey concerning

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offering bribes of more than 11,000 business people in 125
countries, companies from India, China, Russia and Turkey were
listed at the bottom of the 30 countries ranked, while Switzerland,
Sweden and Australia topped the list. Companies in Turkey have a
bad reputation for paying bribes abroad.

- Several NGOs, professional organizations and political parties in
Diyarbakir have released a statement welcoming the cease-fire called
by the PKK as an important development.

- Three Turkish soldiers were injured in a landmine explosion in the
eastern province of Elazig.

International News

- The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) General
Assembly has adopted a report urging more cultural rights for Kurds
in Turkey.

- At least 14 have been killed and 75 others wounded in a car bomb
attack targeting the convoy of Iraq's industry minister in central
Baghdad.

- Northern Ireland's ceasefire watchdog the Independent Monitoring
Commission said in a report the IRA campaign of violence was over.

Visit Ankara's Classified Web Site at

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

WILSON

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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