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Cablegate: Ankara Media Reaction Report

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RHMFIUU/USDOCO 6ATAF IZMIR TU
RHMFIUU/39OS INCIRLIK AB TU
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RHMFIUU/AFOSI DET 522 INCIRLIK AB TU
RUEUITH/AFLO ANKARA TU

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 ANKARA 002168

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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
MONDAY, AUGUST 20, 2007


In Today's Papers

Turkish Parliament to Hold First Round of Presidential Election
All papers report the Turkish parliament is to convene Monday at
3.00 PM for the first round of voting for the country's new
president. The first and second rounds of voting require 367
(two-thirds of the 550 MPs) votes to elect the new president whereas
in the third round, a simple majority of 276 votes will suffice.
Since Parliament Speaker Koksal Toptan is not allowed to vote, the
AKP has 340 votes and Gul therefore needs 27 more votes from other
parties or independent lawmakers. Gul is expected to be elected in
the third round of voting, August 28. On the same day, President
Sezer will hand over the presidential post to Gul, and on the next
day, Gul is expected to approve the government list to be submitted
by Prime Minister Erdogan.

In today's voting, there will three tow candidates in addition to
Gul. The nationalist MHP has nominated Sabahattin Cakmakoglu, a
former defense minister now MP from the Kayseri province, and the
left-leaning DSP has nominated its Eskisehir MP Tayfun Icli. Ufak
Uras, the leftist Freedom and Solidarity Party (ODP) chairman, said
he will participate in the parliamentary session but will not vote
for Gul. Muhsin Yazicioglu, leader of the Islamist-nationalist
Grand Unity Party (BBP) said he will cast his vote in favor of Gul.
The main opposition CHP has not nominated any presidential candidate
and declared it will not take part in the vote. Kurdish party DTP
is not expected to support Gul since acting chairman Nurettin
Demirtas said over the weekend after a meeting with the AKP
candidate that the DTP was not satisfied with the messages issued by
Gul with regard to the Kurdish issue.

Editorial Commentary on US-EU Expectations of Turkish Presidential
Election

Washington-based Yasemin Congar writes in the mainstream daily
Milliyet: "The outside world, including the US and the EU are
closely watching the developments in Turkey -- the election
aftermath and presidency process. What they see is a country with a
state mechanism falling behind people's demands, and a top-level
force resistant against progress. The events of both April 27
[military warning] and July 22 [general elections] have made this
conclusion crystal clear, by clearly showing the differences between
the people's will and the pro-status quo front. The old-fashioned
practices of the Turkish state are not meeting the people's
expectations. American officials as well as EU diplomats hope to
see a strong continuity in reforms and efforts toward a civilian
constitution during Abdullah Gul's term as president. They hope
that the AKP government will use its election victory power to
establish political consensus for reforms. Those reforms should be
strong enough so that fears about secularism or nationalism are
marginalized."

Washington-based Ali Aslan writes in the Islamist-oriented daily
Zaman: "Some observers find the US administration's stance on issues
such as the military warning, the elections aftermath and the
presidential election process as extremely cautious and incompetent.
Those observers, including some retired ambassadors, believe that
it is in the US interest to make a strong commitment to the rising
trend toward democracy in Turkey. It seems the problem stems from
the fact the US is not yet very clear on who is the winner of the
Turkish political game. Probably that's the reason for the State
Department to issue technically cautious statements regarding
Abdullah Gul's candidacy. Another reason is that the US does not
want to be seen as interfering Turkey's domestic affairs. Many
Americans I spoke with hope to see the new Turkish president
engaging more in international relations using his skills from his
Foreign Ministry days. When Gul is elected as president, it is also
hoped that he will be more of a rationalist and realist than Sezer
was, especially on some controversial matters, such as inviting
Talabani to Turkey. There are many pending foreign policy issues

ANKARA 00002168 002 OF 003


before Turkey and the US, with Iraq and Iran being the priority. We
should move on these right after the conclusion of presidential
process."

Paper: US-Turkey Special Anti-Terror Envoy Mechanism a "Fiasco"
Liberal Radikal reports on page one that an unidentified security
source said that despite the rise in the PKK attacks, the Turkish
and US envoys for countering the PKK terrorism have not met since
the retirement of the Turkish envoy Edip Baser. Diplomatic sources
say that so far Rafet Akgunay, Baser's replacement, and Ralston have
held only one phone conversation. The Turkish Foreign Ministry
(MFA) has sent Ralston two letters detailing Turkish demands and
complaints to no avail. Washington is disappointed with the
counter-terrorism mechanism, and diplomatic sources believe Joseph
Ralston might also quit. In addition, the report says that Turkey
is not expected to replace its special Iraq envoy Ambassador Oguz
Celikkol when his mandate expires at the end of this year, according
to Radikal.

Turkey-Iran Natural Gas Cooperation
Sabah, Milliyet, Hurriyet, Cumhuriyet, Radikal, Vatan, Bugun and
others: Papers report that Energy Minister Hilmi Guler met with his
Iranian counterpart Perviz Fettah and Iran's acting oil minister
Gholam Hussein Nozari at the weekend to finalize an agreement with
Tehran on natural gas cooperation. Mainstream Milliyet and
leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet say that Turkey agreed to increase
the cooperation on natural gas with Iran despite the objections from
the United States. Nozari said, with this agreement, Turkey will
allow Iran to use its territory to transfer Iranian gas to Europe
and in return, Iran will let Turkmenistan gas flow to Turkey via an
Iranian pipeline. Milliyet reports that this agreement also enables
Turkey to import six billion Kwh of electricity from Iran.

Turkey to Produce Unmanned Helicopters
The Islamist-oriented Yeni Safak reports Turkish military is to kick
off production of "unmanned helicopters" which have a 15 km range
and fly at an altitude of 10,000 feet, transmitting audio and video
footage between 500-1,000 feet. The entirely Turkish-made
"Malazgirt" helicopters will be able to take off vertically and land
in all kinds of terrain. The Turkish Aerospace Industry (TAI) has
also been working on the production of unmanned aircraft which can
fly up to 30,000 feet, according to the paper.

Halacoglu: Kurds Have Turkmen, Armenian Roots
Liberal Radikal reports Turkish History Association Chairman
Professor Yusuf Halacoglu told a symposium in Kayseri over the
weekend that the Kurds in Turkey were of Turkmen descent and that
Kurdish Alevis were of Armenian descent, basing his claim on the
Ottoman deeds in the 16th century. "About 30 percent of those who
deem themselves Kurd actually have Turkmen origins, and those who
are known as Kurdish Alevis in Tunceli and Sivas have converted from
their Armenian-Christian roots," said Halacoglu. Kurdish party DTP
and Alevi organizations in Turkey strongly reacted to Halacoglu's
remarks, saying such "racist" statements would be harmful to
domestic peace.

Atlas Air Hijacking
All papers: The two hijackers who had attempted to hijack an Atlas
air plane traveling from Lefkosa to Istanbul on Saturday, wanted to
go to Iran to join the Al-Qaeda terrorist organization in
Afghanistan, reports mainstream Hurriyet. Mainstream papers Sabah
and Milliyet report that during his interrogation, the Palestinian
origin hijacker [some outlets report he was Egyptian] Mommen
Abdulaziz Talikh said that he had received training in al-Qaeda
camps and was jailed together in Saudi Arabia with a terrorist -
code name Ahmet - who was one of the organizers of 9/11 terrorist
attack. Turkish hijacker Mehmet Resat Ozlu who was working as a
waiter in a hotel in Northern Cyprus, met with Talikh about a year
ago and for the last month they had shared a house, adds Milliyet.


ANKARA 00002168 003 OF 003


TV News:
(NTV, 6 A.M.)
Domestic News

- The ongoing repair and support of the bridges and viaducts in
Istanbul, an earthquake-prone city of over 10 million, will be
completed in 2010.

- One PKK terrorist has been killed in security operations in
Hakkari. PKK terrorists killed a gendarme in the province of
Osmaniye.

- A pro-PKK group of 20 masked militants set to fire two commuter
buses in the Gazi neighborhood in Istanbul.

- Forty people were killed in traffic accidents across Turkey on
Sunday.

International News

- Senior military commanders have told the British government that
Britain can achieve "nothing more" in southeast Iraq, and that the
5,500 British troops still deployed there should be withdrawn
without delay.

- The OSCE said on Sunday Kazakhstan's parliamentary election was an
improvement on previous votes but still failed to meet international
standards.

- A spokeswoman for President Bush said White House Press Secretary
Tony Snow plans to leave his job before the end of the Bush
administration in January 2009 because of financial concerns.

- Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez denied rumors circulating on the
Internet that Fidel Castro had died.

MCELDOWNEY

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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