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Cablegate: Ankara Media Reaction Report

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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 ANKARA 005898

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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 12, 2006


In Today's Papers

Turkey Awaiting French Parliament Vote on Armenian Genocide Claims
All papers focus on the French Parliament's discussion of a bill
which will penalize the denial of the 'genocide' of Armenians by
Ottoman Turkish troops between 1915-23. Papers report Ankara has
warned European capitals that the approval of the draft would be
perceived by the Turkish people as a hostile act. Foreign Minister
Abdullah Gul said if the genocide bill is passed, Turkey will not
lose anything but France will lose Turkey. Cumhuriyet and Yeni
Safak believe the French parliament will jeopardize ties with Turkey
for the sake of pleasing 200,000 Armenian voters. Several papers,
however, note that the French government may choose to freeze the
controversial draft by delaying its approval by the senate.

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EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn warned Paris that the bill
would block dialogue between Turkey and Armenia, extending support
to a Turkish proposal for discussing the issue by a joint commission
of historians. The EU-Turkey Joint Parliamentary Commission
Co-chairman Joost Lagendijk said after working for years to boost
free speech in Turkey, he found the French move, contradicting such
efforts, as "unacceptable." EU term president Finland's Parliament
Speaker Paavo Lipponen also warned that the genocide bill has not
helped Turkey-EU relations. Milliyet reports US Ambassador to
Turkey Ross Wilson said Washington had conveyed to Paris its
concerns about the approval of the controversial bill. Wilson noted
the US deems important the Turkish proposal for establishing a joint
committee of historians to investigate genocide claims. Zaman
reports the French ambassador in Ankara told Paris that if the bill
is passed, bilateral economic ties would be harmed and anti-French
sentiment would increase in Turkey. The paper also reports the head
of the Turkish-Armenian Businessmen's Association said the French
bill, in fact, aimed to block Turkey's entry into the EU. The
Armenian Patriarch in Turkey, Mesrob II, has released a statement
denouncing the bill.

Murat Yetkin of the liberal-intellectual Radikal commented that the
debate at the French Parliament today will not only damage the ties
between Turkey and France, but will also allow the French system to
be discussed again in France and in Europe. "Obviously, France will
continue to use Armenian genocide claims to pressure Turkey,
especially on the issue of EU entry. A commentary in yesterday's
Financial Times claimed that many messages have been conveyed to
Turkey from Europe already to warn the Turks that they are not
wanted in the European Union. Maybe, the goals of these initiatives
are to force Turkey to abandon its EU aspirations. At this stage,
there two questions that should be asked: Will Turkey make
adjustments in Article 301 to block the genocide bill? And also,
could Turkey continue to walk on its path as if nothing has
happened? I think a train crash in Turkey's EU entry drive might
offer everyone an opportunity to restart Turkey-EU relations".

Ralston Visits Ankara
Hurriyet, Milliyet, Sabah, Aksam, Cumhuriyet, Radikal, Zaman, Yeni
Safak and others report that the US Special Envoy for Countering
the PKK, retired General Joseph Ralston held a two-hour meeting with
Turkish counterpart Edip Baser which was joined by officials from
the Turkish Foreign Ministry (MFA,) the Turkish General Staff (TGS,)
and the intelligence service MIT. The two envoys discussed a
roadmap for combating the PKK. Radikal says the Turkish side raised
the issue of the closure of Mahmur camp in northern Iraq.
Cumhuriyet reports Ralston told the Turkish side to 'take seriously'
the PKK declaration of a ceasefire, pointing to the opportunity for
the PKK to lay down its arms. The Turks said the PKK should lay
down its arms instead of merely declaring a ceasefire, according to
Cumhuriyet. With regard to the absence of the Iraqi envoy Shirwan
al-Walily at the talks yesterday, MFA Spokesman Namik Tan said a
three-party meeting had not been envisaged during yesterday's
Ralston visit. Milliyet claims the Iraqi coordinator had not been

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invited to Ankara in reaction to a recent statement of President
Talabani that he had convinced the PKK to declare a ceasefire.
Ralston will depart Ankara after meeting with Foreign Minister
Abdullah Gul on Thursday.

Papers expect the Iraqi envoy al-Walily to accompany the Iraqi Prime
Minister Nuri al-Maliki on a state visit to Ankara next week. At
the October 16 talks the sides will discuss the PKK and Kirkuk
before the forthcoming 2007 referendum on the status of the oil-rich
northern Iraqi city.

Buyukanit to Visit Athens
Aksam reports Turkish General Staff (TGS) Chief General Yasar
Buyukanit will pay a visit to Athens in November as the official
guest of his Greek counterpart Admiral Panayotis Hinofotis. The two
generals will discuss the military aspects of confidence building
measures on the Aegean and the evolving issue of illegal immigrants
in the Aegean Sea.

Minister Says Article 301 May be Changed
Sabah and Radikal report Turkey's chief EU negotiator and State
Minister Ali Babacan said the Turkish government had asked lawyers
to work on possible amendments to Article 301 of the Turkish Penal
Code. Babacan said Turkey would not move to amend Article 301
before seeing the French parliament's decision about the Armenian
genocide bill. The Turkish Justice Ministry, the General
Secretariat for EU Affairs, and the Turkish Foreign Ministry (MFA)

SIPDIS
denied that there were preparations to amend the controversial
Article 301 which restricts free speech.

Report: Kurdish Education, Investment Needed in Southeast Turkey
Yeni Safak reports the main opposition CHP lawmaker Bulent Tanla
said in a report he drafted for the EU ambassadors in Ankara that
Kurdish education must be allowed in east and southeast Turkey if
the region is to be developed into a 'center of attraction' for the
Middle Eastern countries. A regional development bank must be
established and USD 40 billion of investment is needed over the
course of the next 20 years, according to the report.


TV Highlights
NTV, 7.00 A.M.

Domestic News

- Turkish troops to be deployed with UNIFIL will depart from the
Mersin port on the Mediterranean for Lebanon on October 19.

- The Turkish Parliament has approved a bill against money
laundering which envisages the establishment of a special board for
fighting financial crimes.

- The Turkish General Directorate for Natural Disasters has
announced that 70 percent of Turkish people live in high-risk
earthquake zones.

- The new domestic and international flights terminal at Esenboga
Airport in Ankara will be inaugurated on October 13.

International News

- President Bush called for tough sanctions on Pyongyang for its
reported nuclear test, asserting the US has no intention of
attacking North Korea.

- According to a controversial study by Britain's Lancet, the
conflict in Iraq has killed 655,000 since the US-led invasion in
March 2003.

- The Israeli deputy Prime Minister Shimon Peres said President

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Bashar al-Assad of Syria is welcome to come to Jerusalem for peace
talks.

- Two people were killed when a small plane slammed into a high-rise
apartment building in New York on Wednesday. Initial investigations
indicated that the crash was not terror-related.


Visit Ankara's Classified Web Site at

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

WILSON

© Scoop Media

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