Cablegate: Ankara Media Reaction Report
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TAGS: OPRC KMDR TU
SUBJECT: ANKARA MEDIA REACTION REPORT
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 14, 2006
In Today's Papers
Erdogan Rejects Calls from President and Opposition for Early
All papers report President Sezer called for early general elections
in April, saying that Turkey has entered a "problematic period."
Opposition leaders Deniz Baykal of CHP and Mehmet Agar of DYP
supported the call, but Prime Minister Erdogan maintained elections
will be held on schedule and not before. Erdogan said the existing
parliament will elect the president as scheduled. "The Constitution
has a provision regarding the presidential elections and it cannot
be changed according to anybody's wishes," he stressed. "Those who
cannot even tend to a flock of two sheep [i.e. handle the simplest
of tasks] are talking about early polls," remarked an angry Erdogan.
Erdogan also claimed most lawmakers in the parliament oppose early
elections because they are afraid of not being re-elected.
Blair to Pay a "Surprise Visit" to Turkey
Hurriyet, Milliyet, Sabah, Radikal, Yeni Safak: On Friday, British
Prime Minister Tony Blair will pay a brief visit to Ankara
immediately after EU leaders wrap up a Brussels summit that would
see a decision to slow down Ankara's membership talks. Sabah
expects Blair to urge Erdogan to stick with the EU entry bid. Yeni
Safak claims Blair is coming to Turkey to announce an EU decision to
open discussions on four new negotiation chapters. Blair and
Erdogan will also discuss Cyprus and the Middle East. Following his
contacts in Ankara, on Saturday Blair will go to Egypt, the first
leg in his Middle East tour of four countries. The details of his
program have not been revealed, except for a meeting with
Palestinian President Abbas in Ramallah on Monday.
Urbancic Meets Turkish Press on the PKK
Hurriyet, Milliyet, Sabah, Radikal, Cumhuriyet, Zaman, Yeni Safak
and others report
Principal Deputy Coordinator for Counterterrorism Frank Urbancic
briefed Turkish journalists in Washington on the US steps to counter
the PKK, particularly in Europe. Urbancic stressed that the US
wants an end to the PKK. "The PKK must lay down arms. We are not
interested in establishing contact with the organization, ceasefire,
or meeting with them," Urbancic told the Turkish press. Cumhuriyet
reports on its front page that the US will pressure Europe to end
support of the PKK, by putting an end to PKK propaganda, cutting off
financial sources and not providing political asylum to the PKK
members. Zaman quotes Urbancic extensively under a headline, "Call
Me a Liar if you Want, but We are Sincere about the Fight against
the PKK." "A Turk killed in southeast Turkey is a serious concern
for us; it's not different than an American being killed in Izmir or
California," he said. Several papers carry Urbancic's statement
that the PKK "is like an octopus" with Milliyet quoting him as
saying "The PKK in Europe has many methods of operation - even doing
things like extorting protection money from kebab sellers. We
expect new anti-PKK steps from Europe." Papers report that,
accompanied by the State Department Southeast Europe Director Doug
Silliman, Urbancic visited six European countries in ten days in an
effort to "stop the PKK's activities." In an interview with the
all-news NTV, Urbancic said his visits together with some top US
officials to Europe would continue next year.
Sabah meanwhile says in a front page report that Turkish special
envoy for countering the PKK, retired General Edip Baser, might quit
his job after arguing with some bureaucrats at the Prime Ministry
when his large staff of 13 was not given offices in the same
building as Baser.
A/S Peter Rodman in Turkey for High Level Defense Group Meeting
Aksam, Zaman, Vatan, Yeni Safak and others: In Turkey to chair the
visiting US Defense delegation, which visited Turkey for the
Turkey-US High Level Defense Group Meeting, Assistant Secretary of
Defense Peter Rodman said during a roundtable with reporters that
the "US wants to be a reliable ally of Turkey. We attach great
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importance to Turkey's contribution to attaining stability in the
region. Therefore, we are trying to give the appropriate responses
to the concerns of Ankara. All of us expect concrete results in the
fight against the PKK. Turning the Turkey-Iraq border into a border
of peace is a main goal of the US."
Editorial Commentary on Iraq, EU
Yilmaz Altug, writing in the conservative Turkiye, warns of the
implications of the escalating Sunni-Shiite violence in Iraq: "There
is a civil war in Iraq between Shiites, trained by Iran, and Sunnis.
The Shiite groups resemble an army under al-Sadr. Fearing Iranian
influence, Saudis are now talking about intervening, as there is
growing fear about Sunnis being wiped out after an ethnic cleansing.
On the other hand, President Bush seems to be listening to advice
in the Baker-Hamilton report and working on a pull-out program.
Even if the US works on strengthening the central government in
Iraq, hoping that it will take measures to decrease the level of
violence, reality indicates the opposite will happen. When the US
forces pull out of Iraq, the fight between Sunnis and Shiites will
accelerate even more. Given the fact that Lebanon is also going
through a civil war, the Middle East will eventually find itself in
greater turmoil. When we look at the big picture, can we possibly
talk about a federal Iraq where Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds will be
Camel Sacrifice at Istanbul Airport Sparks Debate
All papers: On Tuesday Turkish Airlines (THY) publicly sacrificed a
camel on the tarmac to mark the retirement of a fleet of aircraft
associated with accidents. Yesterday's mainstream dailies gave
extensive front page coverage to the incident with photos of the
camel and THY personnel holding the sacrificed animal's flesh in
their hands. There was a huge reaction to the incident and
Transportation Minister Binali Yildirim announced the suspension of
the THY manager who was responsible for arranging the slaughter.
Meanwhile, opposition party ANAVATAN deputy Huseyin Guler launched a
formal legislative query into the incident yesterday and asked "Is
this brutal event something that serves the image of contemporary
Turkey on the way to membership in the European Union?"
Increased Violence in the Universities Protested
Cumhuriyet reports that a group of professors and students from
Ankara University protested recent violence and "fascist attacks"
against students. There were protests at the Middle East Technical
University as well to criticize violent attacks all over Turkey
mainly against male students who "have long hair, wear earrings or
are of Kurdish origin."
NTV, 6.00 A.M.
- Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk returned to Istanbul from Stockholm
late on Wednesday, saying he accepted the prize for Turkey as fans
applauded at Istanbul's Ataturk Airport.
- Lawyers from Istanbul Bar Association will stage demonstrations on
December 15 to protest the isolation of inmates in F-type prisons.
- 20,000 jobseekers have applied for 1500 vacant posts at the
state-owned tea producer Caykur in the Black Sea city of Rize,
revealing the striking dimensions of unemployment in Turkey.
- The Turkish Central Bank sets 4 percent inflation target until
- World Bank projects Turkey's current deficit to reach 8 percent by
the end of 2006, and to decline to 7.5 percent in 2007 and to 6.4 in
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- A World Economic Forum report says Turkey surpassed EU member
Poland and would-be members Bulgaria and Romania in economic
- EU leaders are expected to approve at the December 14-15 summit
talks in Brussels the EU foreign ministers' decision for partially
freezing talks with Turkey. Olli Rehn, the EU commissioner for
enlargement, said the EU had managed to avoid a train crash with
- A two-day conference in Iran which called into question the Nazi
Holocaust has sparked outrage among Holocaust survivors.
- Unidentified gunmen shot dead a judge from the governing Hamas
movement in front of a courthouse in Gaza.
- Workers began a nationwide 24-hour strike in protest at the
government's tight 2007 budget proposal, paralyzing transportation
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