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Cablegate: Ankara Media Reaction Report

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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 ANKARA 002051

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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, AUGUST 10, 2007

In Today's Papers

Koksal Toptan Elected Parliament Speaker
All papers report Koksal Toptan has been elected Parliament Speaker
in the first round of voting with the backing of 450 MPs.
Nationalist MHP's candidate Tunca Toskay received 74 votes. Toptan,
a moderate conservative, does not have an Islamist past and his wife
does not wear the Muslim headscarf. President Sezer and all party
leaders praised Toptan, welcoming his election as speaker.
Following his election, Toptan said, "I am a deputy of the AKP, but
now I consider all parties and all deputies as my own. My goal is
not to disappoint those who have faith in me."

Debate over the Presidency Continues
Hurriyet, Milliyet, Sabah, Vatan, Radikal, Cumhuriyet, Zaman and
others continue speculation on the uncertainty surrounding who
Turkey's next president will be. CHP leader Deniz Baykal said
Thursday he hoped the compromise displayed in the parliament speaker
election would also be seen in the presidential election. Baykal
said if the presidency is given to a "suitable" candidate, it would
"ease pressure on the economy, lead to softening in domestic
politics and strengthen Turkey in foreign policy issues." Following
the election of the new parliament speaker, Prime Minister Erdogan
held a meeting with former parliament speaker Bulent Arinc and
Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul. Erdogan said after the meeting,
"Democracy does not allow us to ignore the will of the nation. We
are expected to move in line with the preferences of voters."
Mainstream Vatan says Erdogan's remarks are interpreted by some as
support for Gul's candidacy and by others as an indication that he
wants a compromise candidate. Islamist-oriented Zaman thinks
moderate politician Koksal Toptan's election as parliament speaker
is another factor strengthening Gul's chances for becoming
president. Papers expect Erdogan to meet with opposition leaders to
seek consensus in the presidential election. Papers speculate the
presidential voting will take place in the end of August, with the
first round on August 23 and the second and the third rounds on
August 26 and 29.

Iraqi Kurdish MP Opposes Turkey-Iraq MOU on Terror
Sabah, Milliyet, Radikal, Cumhuriyet, Zaman and others report
Mahmoud Osman, a Kurdish member of the Iraqi parliament, told Voice
of Iraq Radio the memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed between
Iraq and Turkey did not represent the views of the regional Kurdish
administration. Osman also said the PKK was not a terrorist
organization, but was actually fighting against the "terrorism of
the Turkish government."

Meanwhile, Cumhuriyet reports the Turkish General Staff (TGS) has
rejected a regional Kurdish administration request, conveyed by the
Maliki delegation in talks in Ankara earlier this week, to open a
new border crossing between Turkey and Iraq near the Habur Gate. The
TGS reportedly rejected the request because of concerns that it
would provide another source of money for Massoud Barzani.

Editorial Commentary on Maliki's Turkey Visit
Ferai Tinc writes in the mainstream daily Hurriyet: "It is almost a
given that Maliki will not be able keep the promises he made in
Ankara. Moreover it is not even certain that he will be able to
keep his Prime Minister seat once the Iraqi parliament reconvenes.
Given the fact that the same Iraqi Kurds support both Maliki and PKK
activities in the area, we cannot expect anything concrete on the
PKK. Energy cooperation between Iraq and Turkey, part of the
discussions in Ankara, becomes the most important tool for future
bilateral relations. The Regional Parliament of Iraqi Kurdistan has
approved the oil law which paves the way for the Kurdistan
administration to gain control over energy resources. Turkey is the
easiest route for foreign firms regarding exploration and
distribution of Iraqi oil. Turkey should use this fact as
efficiently as possible to push Iraqi Kurds to take steps toward
regional stability and security. Otherwise, we will have to fool

ANKARA 00002051 002 OF 003


ourselves with never-ending promises or unrealized memoranda of
understanding."

Haluk Ulman writes in the business and political daily Dunya:
"Turkey tried to create a mechanism against the PKK with Maliki
although he desperately is in need of Barzani. Despite all the
efforts prior to the Maliki visit with regard to creating a joint
action plan against the PKK, the meeting ended with no results as
the MOU is just a cosmetic document. The wording of the MOU is not
strong enough to placate Ankara because there is nothing concrete
besides the ambiguous rhetoric that 'every effort will be exerted on
the PKK.' That details are to be worked out by commissions means
nothing. In short, Maliki cannot make a promise to fight jointly
against the PKK. Barzani, as his sole supporter, would not let him
go ahead with an action plan against PKK. Washington does not want
a cross-border operation either -- the recent Washington Post
article [by Novak] was obviously a creative story to prevent a
possible Turkish military action in the north of Iraq. Now the real
question is why the Turkish government is putting all the effort
into such meetings with no obvious results, if this is not only a
public relations effort."

Kurdish DTP Continues Peace Messages
Hurriyet, Milliyet, Sabah, Radikal, Cumhuriyet, Zaman and others
report Turkey's main Kurdish party DTP leader Ahmet Turk reiterated
the party's commitment to peace, by saying "We have extended a hand
in peace, and we don't have a gun in the other hand. We have always
advocated dialogue, and we are honest in our calls that we are ready
for sacrifices for peace and democracy." Nationalist MHP leader
Devlet Bahceli had said earlier this week the MHP would not turn
down any hand reaching out, but would never allow "the other hand to
be shooting at Turkish soldiers."

Turkey-Greek Cyprus Oil Exploration Dispute
All papers report Turkish Foreign Ministry (MFA) Spokesman Levent
Bilman told a press briefing yesterday Turkey's views on the Greek
Cypriot administration's efforts to license offshore oil and natural
gas exploration on the seabed around Cyprus is a contravention of
the international law, had been conveyed to all international
organizations, including the UN. Bilman stressed it was imperative
that a lasting solution be reached which would let the Turkish and
Greek Cypriots jointly utilize resources of the island.

Water Crisis in Ankara
Hurriyet, Milliyet, Sabah, Radikal, Cumhuriyet, Zaman, Yeni Safak
and others. Ankara, the Turkish capital city of four million, is
enduring severe water shortages because of a drought. Papers say
people are helpless over the water crisis -- operations are being
delayed in hospitals and doctors are warning of epidemic outbreaks.
Foreign embassies are struggling to cope with the water crisis,
reports Cumhuriyet, and quote foreign diplomats' amazement that
water is scarce in cities in a country surrounded by seas on three
sides. Radikal says Ankara Mayor Melih Gokcek has ignored countless
proposals from authorities to secure the capital city's water
supplies over the years. Papers also report Turkey's religious
affairs directorate Diyanet will arrange prayers for rain in Ankara
mosques on Friday.

TV Highlights
NTV, 7.00 A.M.

Domestic News

- About 11,500 Turkish Airlines' (THY) staff voted Thursday in favor
of striking for more pay. Now the union can declare a strike, but
must do so six days in advance of the strike beginning. In
addition, the government can postpone strikes at strategic
companies, including THY, for 60 days. The government had earlier
warned of the negative consequences of a strike at the peak of the
tourist season; and workers could face the danger of being laid off.

ANKARA 00002051 003 OF 003


- Turkish Foreign Ministry (MFA) Spokesman Levent Bilman said two
draft resolutions introduced in the US Congress were "routine" Greek
lobbying efforts, and that they are not expected to pass. The
resolutions call for Turkish troops' to withdraw from the divided
island. Bilman said Turkey keeps troops in Cyprus according to its
legitimate rights stemming from international treaties.

- Turkey's banking board, BDDK, has vetoed the bid of Greek
Alphabank to acquire a 50 percent stake of Turkish Abank.
Reportedly, it has been discovered that the PKK has accounts in
Alphabank's southern Cyprus branches.

- On August 15, collective bargaining talks on civil service pay
hikes will be kicked off between the government and labor unions.

International News

- Iran yesterday announced full support of visiting Prime Minister
Nuri al-Maliki and said US troops must leave Iraq immediately.

- Georgia has called for an emergency meeting of the UN Security
Council to condemn a missile attack by Russian jetfighters on
Georgian territory.

- Christian Democrats in the Netherlands are searching for ways to
close down mosques in which they believe radical imams preach hate.


- A group of Muslim protesters in India attacked Teslime Nesrin, the
exiled Bangladeshi author and feminist, at a book launch in
Haydarabad.


MCELDOWNEY

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