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Cablegate: Ankara Media Reaction Report

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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
FRIDAY, JULY 6, 2007


In Today's Papers

Constitutional Court Rules Referendum on Election of President by
Popular Vote
All papers report the Constitutional Court rejected appeals from
both the main opposition party CHP and President Sezer to annul the
constitutional reforms on a legal technicality, paving the way for a
referendum probably on October 21. Analysts say the Constitutional
Court unexpectedly backed the AKP government's plans to hold a
referendum on constitutional reforms. The constitutional changes
include election of the president for two five-year consecutive
terms by popular vote, reduction of the parliamentary election
period from five years to four, and stipulation that a quorum of 184
lawmakers would be enough to elect a president.

If Turkish voters do back the reforms in the referendum, they will
have a chance to elect their president directly in 2014, after
Sezer's successor, due to be chosen by parliament this summer, has
served a seven-year term. If the parliament fails to elect a new
president after July 22 this year, general elections will be held
again. In that case, constitutional changes will apply to the
presidential election to be held seven years later.

Prime Minister Erdogan hailed yesterday's court ruling but said he
would not comment before seeing a detailed justification from the
court.

Russian-Kazakh Partnership Buys Turkish Oil Refiner
All papers report a 51 percent stake in the state-owned
petrochemicals company Petkim was sold for USD 2.05 billion to the
Russian-Kazakh partnership Trans-Central Asia Petrochemical Holding
joint venture. Mainstream papers question who is behind the
consortium, with several of them reporting that Trans-Central Asia
was a consortium of a Russian bank owned by an Armenian businessman
and of a Kazakh oil company controlled by the US Transmeridian
company, and that the leading partners of the consortium were a
Jewish and an Armenian businessmen. Leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet
says there are Arab and Russian companies and an Armenian
businessman behind the consortium. The Islamist-oriented papers
Yeni Safak and Zaman note that according to the stock values as of
Wednesday evening, Petkim's total shares were worth USD 1.42 billon,
and that the level of the bid showed confidence in Turkey's economy
despite the upcoming elections.

In June 2003, an 88.86 percent share in the company had been
auctioned off to the Uzan family for USD 605 million in a deal which
was cancelled two months later after the Uzans failed to meet the
requirements. A second tender was held in August 2003 for the block
sale of Petkim. That sale failed due to lack of investor interest.


Terrorists Killed in Turkey; Germany Detains PKK Members
Papers report Turkish soldiers killed five PKK terrorists, including
two women, as they tried to plant a roadside bomb in the eastern
province of Tunceli on Wednesday evening. A village guard was also
killed in the fighting.

Hurriyet, Milliyet, Sabah, Radikal, Cumhuriyet, Zaman and others
report German police have detained 22 PKK members and an
unidentified leader of the organization in security operations in
five states for alleged arson attacks against Turkish businesses
across the country.

Poll on Presidential Election, Voters' Preferences
Islamist-oriented Zaman carries an opinion survey which shows that
60.7 percent of Turkish voters think the AKP government's stance on
presidential elections was correct while only 21.7 percent think the
main opposition party CHP was sincere in its desire for a
compromise. With regard to voters' preferences, 83.1 percent of
respondents said political party leaders' traits matter for them

ANKARA 00001727 002 OF 003


when casting votes. The survey shows expectations of the new
government include increased economic welfare, elimination of
terrorism, lowering of unemployment, and improvement of human rights
and freedoms. The number of undecided voters has decreased to 16.4
percent, down from a recent percentage of 20.6. About 10 percent of
those surveyed say they will not vote in the July 22 elections.

Editorial Commentary on Hamas, Turkish Incursion into Iraq
Ferai Tinc observes in the mainstream Hurriyet: "While the
international community is exerting efforts to support Fatah, Hamas
is giving the message that the stability of Palestine is in their
hands. Hamas is giving the message that they are the owner of the
region, through the released journalist who was shown on TV a few
days ago with explosives tied on his body. The British government
conveying their appreciation to Hamas, and the UN and the EU
applauding Hamas for the Johnston release, indicate that there will
be interesting developments in the near future."

Mehmet Tezkan writes in the mainstream Vatan: "Prime Minister
Erdogan is on one TV channel; Foreign Minister Gul is on another
channel, shouting and saying that 'if the military say that we need
to enter Iraq tomorrow, we will enter tomorrow.' Listening to these
statements one could easily think that the Turkish military will
launch a cross-border operation tomorrow or the day after into
Northern Iraq. But, the fact is, there is no such plan. Both,
Erdogan and Gul are giving messages aimed at domestic politics.
They are trying to get [nationalist party] MHP supporters' votes,
and trying to block the strengthening MHP's path. AKP government
knows very well that it is almost impossible to launch an operation
into Northern Iraq if the US doesn't give a green light. Never mind
an extended operation but, even a limited operation is difficult to
launch without the green-light from the US. So, every single remark
on a cross-border operation by the leaders is aimed to get more
votes in the July 22 elections and these remarks do not reflect the
facts."

TV Highlights
NTV, 7.00 A.M.

Domestic News

- Yasemin Kinik, a 19-year old woman who was 1.5 month pregnant,
was killed by her father for "staining the family honor" when she
divorced her husband and returned home to the southeastern city of
Sanliurfa.

- The annual ministerial conference of the "Least Developed
Countries" will be held in Istanbul on July 9-10.

- Environmentalist organizations claim 500,000 trees have been cut
down in the Mediterranean town of Belek near Antalya to construct
golf resorts.

- The Istanbul Stock Exchange (IMKB) reached a record high on
Thursday with the benchmark index hitting 49,777 points by the end
of the initial trading session.

International News

- Russian First Deputy Minister Sergei Ivanov said Moscow could
deploy missile units in the Kaliningrad exclave near Poland if
Washington goes ahead with its missile defense plans in Central
Europe.

- Iraqi Parliament has failed to start debate on a key oil despite
Prime Minister al-Maliki's efforts to bridge divides among his
Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish coalition members and push the
long-delayed bill.

- Amnesty International said in a statement, "Torture, ill-treatment

ANKARA 00001727 003 OF 003


and killings continue to be met with persistent impunity for the
security forces in Turkey."

- Australia's Defense Minister Brendan Nelson admitted oil is one of
the reasons for its presence in Iraq.

WILSON

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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