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Cablegate: Ankara Media Reaction Report

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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 ANKARA 006688

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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
MONDAY, DECEMBER 18, 2006


In Today's Papers

Retired Turkish General on the Suleymaniye 'Hooding' Incident
Hurriyet, Milliyet, Vatan, Sabah, Radikal, Cumhuriyet, Zaman and
others report retired general Koksal Karabay, the former head of
Turkish General Staff (TGS) Operations Unit, told a roundtable
meeting with journalists on Haberturk TV that the Turkish team
commander, "Major Aydin E.," ordered his men not to shoot at
Americans during a confrontation which resulted in the arrest and
"hooding" of an 11-member Turkish special operations team in the
northern Iraqi city of Suleymaniye in July 2003. Major Aydin E.
reportedly told Karabay that "some 400 US troops were approaching,
but they seemed so inexperienced that we could have killed at least
60 or 70 of them if fighting had broken out." Karabay claimed
Kurdish leaders knew about the operation, and President Talabani's
son was heading the peshmerge unit involved in the raid on the
Turkish team, whom, according to Karabay, were taking medicine and
food to the Turkmen in the region.

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Blair Reiterates Turkey Support on Cyprus, EU
All papers report that over the weekend, British Prime Minister Tony
Blair said after a joint press conference with his Turkish
counterpart PM Erdogan in Ankara that the Turkish proposal to open
one port and airport to Greek Cyprus was "positive." Blair added
the additional protocol was important but the bloc should not
hesitate to lift the isolation of Turkish Cypriots. If there are no
legal obstacles, Blair said, Britain could launch direct flights to
Turkish Cyprus. Blair noted EU negotiations with Turkey on the
remaining 27 chapters would continue. Turkish papers also report
Greek Cyprus leader Papadopoulos as saying that Blair just wanted to
please his Turkish counterpart, "They have been trying to do so for
three years but to no avail."

Editorial Commentary on Iraq
Semih Idiz, writing in mainstream Milliyet, comments on the ISG
Report: "The gist of the ISG report is to find a way to get out of
the Iraqi quagmire after establishing a certain degree of stability.
This approach is very much supported by the US public, which is not
good news for the opponents of the report. It is believed that this
is the very reason for the recent election success of Democrats. In
American politics, no politician can afford to ignore public
opinion. We should remember that the US withdrew from Vietnam due
to the pressure of public opinion. The ISG report is also a
manifestation of 'another US betrayal against Kurds.' Ironically
enough, the architect of this report is James Baker -Kurds remember
him from the days of the first Gulf War when US encouraged them in
the beginning and abandoned afterwards. President Bush, feeling
obliged to defend his Iraq policy, says that this is just a report
and he does not have to take this report seriously. Yet it is for
sure that he cannot ignore the basic recommendations in the report.
President Bush's mission is now to find a way to exit Iraq. And
such an exit inevitably requires a change of balance in Iraq. Iraqi
Kurds, naturally are unhappy about this development."

Commenting on the Report in mass appeal Vatan, Rusen Cakir discusses
the possibility of dialogue with Syria and Iran: "The
recommendation to open dialogue with Iran and Syria has become one
of the most controversial topics in the ISG report on Iraq.
President Bush is unlikely to accept it - at least not publicly.
Secretary Rice already made some comments to invalidate this

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argument. Nevertheless it is still not possible to claim that the
ISG suggestion on Iran and Syria is definitely out of question.
From now on, no one in the US administration can place both as
members in the axis of evil. Moreover, the appointment of Robert
Gates as the new Defense Secretary can be interpreted as an
indication of Washington's desire to reestablish diplomatic ties
with Iran. Robert Gates chaired the Iran Working Group's efforts
two and a half years ago. Even at that time, the Iran Working Group
report was advising the US to work on establishing dialogue with
Iran on issues related to regional security. If Robert Gates

ANKARA 00006688 002 OF 003


reintroduces his approach on Iran, he will undoubtedly get support
from Democrats. Democrat Senator Bill Nelson has just visited Syria
and met with Syrian leader Assad. More senators, including a
Republican are planning to visit Damascus soon. If and when we see
American senators in Tehran, we can certainly believe that many
things are on the way to changing."

Turkey-US High Level Defense Group Meets 'Secretly'
Sabah reported on Sunday that the Turkey-US High Level Defense Group
meeting was held "secretly" in Ankara earlier last week, with the
Turkish delegation headed by deputy chief of the General Staff Ergin
Saygun, and the US delegation by "Pentagon's Number 4," Peter
Rodman. At the meeting US officials tried to convince Turks that
Russia was a potential threat for Turkey with its energy policies,
and that Iran's nuclear program was a threat for stability in Turkey
and in the region. US officials also tried to ease Turkish concerns
about the establishment of American military bases in Black Sea
countries such as Romania, underlining that the US would not make
any move against Turkey's interests in the Black Sea. The Turkish
side conveyed to the US its expectations for concrete action against
the PKK. Sabah says US officials rejected the suggestions of the
Iraq Study Group for establishing contacts with Iran and Syria.

Turkey Discards Eurofighter from Jetfighter Bid
Hurriyet, Milliyet, Sabah, Radikal, Cumhuriyet, Yeni Safak and
others report that Ankara dropped from the list Eurofighter, sending
a "USD 10 billion message" to the European Union. Defense minister
Vecdi Gonul blamed the Greek Cypriots for the exclusion of
Eurofighter, because its consortium members Italy, Britain, Germany,
and Spain had failed to remove Greek Cypriot obstacles to Turkey
joining the European Defense Agency (EDA.) Papers say Turkey was
now planning to buy "USD 10 billion worth of F-35s".

Iraqi Kurdish Administration Opens Representation in Bern
Milliyet reports that the northern Iraqi Kurdish administration has
opened a representation office, with "all the requirements of an
embassy," in Bern, at a ceremony joined by several European
ambassadors as well as the US Embassy Charge d'Affaires. Kurds'
"Switzerland Consul-General" Fevzi Kaddur hoisted a Kurdish flag
during the ceremony, saying "Kurdistan had been partitioned by the
imperialist powers in Lausanne. I hope that one day, my people will
get over this division and live freely on their land." The regional
Kurdish government in northern Iraq has representation in 14
countries.


TV News:
(NTV, 7.00 A.M.)

Domestic News

- Yasar Yakis, the head of the parliamentary commission for EU
harmonization, said the opening of Turkish ports to the Greek
Cypriots would not amount to recognition of the Greek Cypriot state.


- Turkey's main Kurdish party DTP leaders and members continue their
march to Ankara in an effort for seeing an end to the fighting in
southeast Turkey.

- Ahmet Ertegun, the co-founder of Atlantic Records, will be laid to
rest in Istanbul today.

- Turkish Foreign Ministry (MFA) Spokesman Namik Tan has been
appointed Turkish ambassador to Israel. President Sezer's chief
advisor, Sermet Atacanli, will be appointed to Japan and Derya
Kanbay to Iraq.

International News


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- Greek Cypriot Foreign Minister George Lillikas vowed not to allow
the EU to open new negotiating chapters with Turkey as long as
Turkey continues to block Greek Cypriot membership to international
organizations.

- British Prime Minister Tony Blair paid a surprise visit to Iraq
for a meeting with Prime Minister al-Maliki.

- President Talabani criticized Turkey for hosting a meeting of
Iraqi Sunni groups, saying that Ankara backed a meeting of groups
supporting violence in Iraq.

- Iranian Foreign Minister Manuchehr Mottaki lashed out at the UN
Security Council for doing nothing about Israel's nuclear arsenal.


- The rival Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas reached a tentative
cease-fire to end days of bloody fighting in the Gaza strip.

- The European Parliament wants to extend funds to Turkish Cyprus to
support the restoration of Greek Orthodox churches in the north.


Visit Ankara's Classified Web Site at

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

WILSON

© Scoop Media

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