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Cablegate: Ankara Media Reaction Report

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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 ANKARA 006670

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
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 15, 2006


In Today's Papers

Turkey-EU Ties Following EU Leader Summit
All papers: At a summit meeting in Brussels, EU leaders ratified a
December 11 decision by European foreign ministers to suspend talks
with Ankara in eight of 35 policy areas. EU leaders agreed to
discuss the isolation of Turkish Cyprus at an EU meeting on January
22. The next EU term president, Germany's Angela Merkel, told the
Greek Cypriot leader Tassos Papadopoulos that she was determined to
implement a regulation adopted in 2004 for direct trade with the
Turkish Cypriots. Papadopoulos reportedly agreed with Merkel that
Turkish Cypriots could use the Greek Cypriot ports such as Limassol
in the south for their exports. European Commission President Jose
Manuel Barroso told the Italian daily La Stampa that in addition to
the Cyprus issue, Turkey must do more with regard to religious
freedom, free speech, the rights of women and minorities, and the
impact of the military in politics.

Papers report British Prime Minister Tony Blair will stop over in
Ankara on Friday before going on a tour of Middle Eastern countries
including Egypt, Israel and Palestine on Saturday. Blair will meet
his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan at dinner on Friday to
discuss the EU's suspension decision, Cyprus and the Middle East.

Meanwhile Mesrob II, the Armenian Patriarch in Turkey, sought
support for Turkey in a letter he sent to 23 EU leaders. "The EU
reforms have improved the basic rights of Turkish nationals
including religious minorities," Mesrob II said, adding "This
positive process will continue." "Since the 1920s, Turkey has
turned its face to the West," he stressed, urging the EU leaders not
to derail membership talks by imposing one-sided conditions,
"without taking into account Turkey's other commitments."

The economic/political daily Referans claims that the Turkish
Foreign Ministry (MFA) has been working on a new plan concerning
ties with the EU, which envisages cutting dialogue with the European
bloc on some issues, downgrading the level of contacts with EU
representatives and using Turkish veto powers in NATO. The paper
thinks Turkey might cut off dialogue with the EU on energy and
illegal migration issues. The EU desperately needs to diversify its
energy resources to avoid natural gas dependency on Russia. Turkey,
however, might opt for cooperating on energy with Russia, not with
the EU, according to Referans.

Kamuran Ozbir, commenting in the nationalist Ortadogu, urges EU
leaders to show vision: "The Greater Europe project, with the
addition of Bulgaria and Romania to the EU, has proven its success.
Even though the EU has 27 members, most likely four others will
follow -- Croatia, Macedonia, Bosnia and Serbia. That brings the EU
to the borders of Turkey and unfortunately there is no consensus on
that subject. Even the European press is now admitting that Cyprus
is not the genuine issue as far as Turkey-EU negotiations, but it is
only a pretext for excluding Turkey. When the current potential
conflict areas are seriously considered, it is obvious the value
Turkey brings for its position between the Western world and the
Islamic world. If the EU leaders make their decision without
thinking of only Turkey's membership as the issue, but in terms of
establishing a bridge between the two worlds, they will prove to be
global actors with vision. Otherwise the EU will remain within its
confined borders. The upcoming events will demonstrate the quality
of the EU vision."

Turkey-Israel Project of Black Sea-Red Sea Pipeline
Under the headline, "The Project of the Century," Radikal carries an
extensive front-page story reporting that Turkey and Israel have
agreed to establish a pipeline to link the Black Sea to the Red Sea,
carrying Russian and Kazakh oil to Far East markets. The
multi-purpose pipeline will also carry natural gas, electricity and
water, benefiting also Jordan and Palestine. Turkish Energy
Minister Hilmi Guler and the Israeli Infrastructure Minister

ANKARA 00006670 002 OF 003


Binyamin Ben Eliezer agreed in Jerusalem yesterday on an immediate
launch of the project, for which the feasibility work is expected to
last six months. A 550-km pipeline, with a capacity to carry 60-70
million tons of crude annually, will be constructed in early 2007
linking Samsun and Ceyhan. The project to be completed in 2009 is
estimated to cost USD 1- 1.5 billion dollars. Turkey's
Mediterranean port of Ceyhan, a key terminal in the project, will
become an export route for the Russian and Kazakh oil to be
transported through Israel to India, China, Japan and other Far East
countries. Israeli Prime Minister Olmert is expected to visit
Ankara in the coming weeks to discuss the project, and the official
agreement between the Turkish and Israeli governments is to be
signed in mid-2007, says Radikal.

Iraqi Sunni Groups Secret Meeting in Istanbul
Cumhuriyet and Yeni Safak reported that a conference to support the
Iraqi people was held in Istanbul this week. Representatives of
Iraqi Sunni groups attended the meeting, which started three days
ago in Istanbul. Papers speculate that the meeting might spark some
trouble for Turkey's Iraq policy since some radical Sunni groups
reportedly participated at the meeting. Initially, the meeting was
planned for the same time as Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki's visit to
Turkey. However, Maliki rejected the plan and threatened to cancel
his trip to Ankara if the meeting coincided with his visit.
Therefore, the meeting was held one month after his mid-November
visit.

Writing in the mass appeal Vatan, Rusen Cakir warns of the dangers
in seeking a sectarian-based solution for Iraq: "In the US there are
two different views prevailing on the Iraq issue. One group tends
to believe that civil war is Iraq's own business, suggesting that US
forces should only focus on operations against Al Qaeda elements and
training Iraqi forces. The other group suggests that the US should
take a side in the civil war and favor the Shiites. But there is
also a fear within this group of creating an Iraqi Shiite state
which would benefit Iran. There is no pro-Sunni group in the US, at
least not one speaking out. Thus some Arab nations, including Saudi
Arabia are forcing Washington to make a choice. For that very
reason, it would be wrong to characterize Turkey as a Sunni Muslim
country, as it was in the ISG report. If Turkey finds itself in the
midst of a sectarian debate, Ankara will gain nothing but will be
thrown into a boiling pot. Fortunately, there is still some hope
for finding the right approach. Former Democrat administration
figures like Madeleine Albright stood up and warned the
administration not to shape a policy based on sectarian lines.
Let's wait and see how President Bush shapes the new Iraq policy and
how it will play in the Democratic-led Congress. The fact of the
matter is that there are very few names as wise as Albright."

Early Election Debates
Hurriyet, Milliyet, Yeni Safak, Cumhuriyet and others: Debates over
election timing are high on Turkey's agenda. The opposition parties
and the President are pressuring for early elections, and AKP
officials reject these calls sharply. Speaking to NTV, Justice
Minister Cemil Cicek said that early elections will only be a waste
of time. AKP Deputy Group Leader Salih Kapusuz, in an attempt to
respond to all critics, said yesterday that in a time when Turkey
needs economic and political stability it is not right to try to
stir things up by talking about early parliamentary and presidential
election. Kapusuz added that President Sezer forgot the fact that
the parliament that elected him was overthrown by the people. The
opposition parties continued their criticism of AKP and pressured
for early elections. Yesterday, CHP Deputy group leader Kemal
Anadol, expressing support for President Sezer, said that no one has
the right to determine the next seven years of the country, adding
that the next president will be a people's leader not the AKP's.
ANAVATAN leader Erkan Mumcu, in a written statement late on
Wednesday, said that "parliament should first discuss the
presidential election system before early general elections. The
president should directly be elected through a popular vote in two

ANKARA 00006670 003 OF 003


rounds."

TV Highlights
NTV (6 a.m.)

Domestic News

- Some 250,000 public servants, members of the labor union KESK,
launched a nationwide one-day go-slow strike at hospitals,
tollbooths, schools and tax offices. A couple of thousand state
employees staged protests in Ankara demanding pay hikes and better
living conditions. Traffic on the Bosporus Bridge was jammed for
hours yesterday because of a slowing down of work by employees at
the tollbooths.

- The Turkish Parliament has overridden the veto of President Sezer,
approving a controversial land protection bill that is seen as a
regulation favoring US food giant Cargill operating in the province
of Bursa.

- Turkey and Jordan will participate in search and rescue exercises
to be held in Israel on December 17-21.

- The Turkish Parliament has approved a bill banning the
development, production and stocking of chemical weapons.

- A draft bill allowing foreign doctors to work in Turkish hospitals
has sparked heated debates between the Justice Ministry and Health
Ministry.

International News

- The Economist speculates the Turkish military might intervene in
northern Iraq in spring. Last July, Prime Minister Erdogan had
asked President Bush for support to contain "hawkish" Turkish
generals.

- Iranians will go to the polls Friday for local council elections
that are expected to be a first test of support for hardline
President Ahmedinejad.

- Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniya reached the Gaza strip
late Thursday after Israel closed a border crossing to block his
return from a money-raising tour of Arab states.

- The FBI said in a bulletin the "blind sheik" who inspired the
World Trade Center bombing has been hospitalized, raising fears of
new attacks if he dies in US custody.

- On Thursday, South Korea's Ban Ki-Moon took the oath of office as
the next secretary-general of the UN, promising to restore the
organization's tarnished reputation and push for peace in the Midle
East and Darfur.

Visit Ankara's Classified Web Site at

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

WILSON

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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