Cablegate: Ankara Media Reaction Report
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SUBJECT: ANKARA MEDIA REACTION REPORT
THURSDAY, AUGUST 16, 2007
In Today's Papers
Erdogan Defends Gul's Presidential Candidacy
All papers report Prime Minister Erdogan told the press after a
party meeting Wednesday he believed Turkey would complete the
presidential election due next week with "democratic maturity," in
an effort to dismiss fears of a clash with the secular elite. In
his first public comments since Gul announced his candidacy, Erdogan
also said he fully supported the FM's bid to become head of state,
quashing speculation that he had not wanted Gul to run. In remarks
seen by the papers as a response to earlier comments from Chief of
Staff General Buyukanit that the president should be "loyal to the
principles of the republic - not just in words but in essence,"
Erdogan said Gul is what he says he is. On the issue of Gul's wife
wearing a headscarf, Erdogan said the wife of Ataturk also wore a
headscarf. Papers took exception to the remark, pointing out that
Ataturk's wife did not wear the headscarf of political Islam, but
sometimes wore a traditional Turkish head covering. The PM also
underlined Gul's candidacy was welcomed both at home and outside
Turkey. "In telephone conversations, we have heard that political
leaders outside Turkey are pleased with regard to Gul's candidacy.
It strengthens Turkey's position among the world countries. We may
have the opportunity to carry out more active work in the EU
process," said Erdogan.
Gul Tours NGOs, Labor Unions to Garner Support
All papers report that on Wednesday, Abdullah Gul paid visits to the
Turkish Confederation of Employers' Unions (TISK), the Confederation
of Revolutionary Trade Unions (DISK), and the Turkish Union of
Chambers (TOBB) in an effort to seek support for his presidential
bid. TOBB president Rifat Hisarciklioglu said Gul was a good
candidate for the presidency, adding that for the sake of democracy
everybody should respect the preferences of the parliament. Gul
told reporters after his round of talks that his headscarf-wearing
wife will not be a problem. Gul said wearing the headscarf was his
wife's personal choice which should be respected within the
framework of individual rights. "It is me who is running for
president, not my wife" said Gul. Gul was pleased with his round of
talks with civil society organizations, papers report.
Editorial Commentary on Gul as New President
Hasan Cemal writes in the mainstream daily Milliyet: "Gul may be not
the one for all. Some may like him, some may not. Some may think
that he is not suitable for the presidency. Yet the course of
democracy goes through respect for different views and tolerating
others. In democracies, any kind of thinking is welcomed as long as
the rules are respected. It is not right to make an argument about
the legitimacy of Gul's candidacy. Everything is moving along
according to constitutional principles; therefore, there is no room
for a debate over legitimacy. The ruling AKP, by garnering the vast
majority of the votes, certainly has the right to bring its
candidate up to the presidential palace. This is not pushing the
limits. If you ask me, the military's warning on April 27 was
pushing the limits. Turkey needs no tension, no conflict. We have
to interpret the results of the July 22 election in the right
context. We should feel relief and go for stability."
Soli Ozel writes in the mainstream daily Sabah: "When Gul announced
his candidacy for the first time some four months ago, Turkey went
through a crisis period. Today we have come back to exactly where
we were. Nevertheless the four-month period, even though tension
filled, has brought some positive lessons. First of all, by
announcing Gul once again for the presidency, the ruling AKP
declared that it will not take 'unwritten rules of the regime' into
consideration. In other words, the headscarf will not be an
obstacle, and Turkey will have to live with the new situation. This
stance of the AKP does not necessarily constitute defiance of the
army but it is a step toward political normalization. Given his
past record, Gul will certainly be an active president. Turkey has
a challenging period ahead due to international issues. Gul, with
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his foreign ministry experience, will be able to engage in
international relations more than before. Turkey is heading toward
a new era, and if it is managed properly, Turkey will create a
unique model in world politics."
Erdogan to Submit His Cabinet List to Sezer Today
All papers report Prime Minister Erdogan is expected to submit the
new cabinet list to President Sezer on Thursday. The total number
of ministers in the cabinet will increase from 22 to 24. Papers
claim that some ministries such The Ministry for Culture and Tourism
will be divided into two. Zaman says a new ministry for water,
metals and Southeastern Anatolia Project (GAP) will be set up.
Radikal expects a new ministry in charge of EU negotiations.
Hurriyet thinks there will be two new ministries - one for water and
one for motorways. Vatan says that as a gesture, Gul will be placed
in the new cabinet list as Deputy PM and Foreign Minister so that he
can officially retain the posts until he assumes the role of
president. If Sezer vetoes any of the ministers, Erdogan will
resubmit his list to the new president expected to be elected in the
third round of voting in parliament on August 28.
Glocks Seized at Habur Border Gate
Mainstream Sabah reports that five Glock guns were seized at the
Habur Border Gate, the crossing point between Iraq and Turkey. In a
written statement, the Sirnak Governor's Office stated that the
Glocks were seized in a Turkish truck, entering Turkey from Iraq.
PKK Bomber Arrested in Istanbul
Sabah, Milliyet, Vatan and others: Papers report that a PKK member
named Nimet Turkan was arrested in Istanbul yesterday while he was
delivering 8 kg of A-4 plastic explosives and one kg of TNT powder
explosives he brought from Diyarbakir to PKK bombers in Istanbul.
Mainstream Milliyet reported that the suspect claimed that the PKK
forced him to deliver the explosives to Istanbul with a threat that
they would kill his eight children otherwise.
- PM Erdogan will join a ceremony today to be hosted by President
Sezer in which the state meritorious service award will be presented
to businessman Jak Kamhi.
- Having stepped down from his party chairmanship after the major
defeat in the July 22 elections, DP leader Mehmet Agar announced he
was still chairman of the party and urged party officials to hold an
- Five forest fires broke out in the western province of Manisa in
the last four days. The blazes threaten the city of Izmir.
- The Turkish Red Crescent has sent 16 trucks of humanitarian aid
comprising food, water, tents, and medicine worth 1 billion Turkish
Lira to Iraq.
- A spokesman for the Greek Cypriot government said President
Papadopoulos was ready for talks with Turkish Cyprus leader Talat.
- Turkish Cyprus "Foreign Minister" Turgay Avci said Turkish
Cypriots and Turkey will make no concessions in the controversy with
Greek Cypriots over oil exploration in the eastern Mediterranean.
- Hizbullah leader Nasrallah warned Israel against launching another
war on Lebanon, saying any attack "will be faced with a colossal
surprise likely to change the fate of the war and the region."
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- Police in the Netherlands have received a flood of complaints
against a call to ban the Koran made by MP Geert Wilders, leader of
the anti-immigration party PVV.