Cablegate: Ankara Media Reaction Report
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TAGS: OPRC KMDR TU
SUBJECT: ANKARA MEDIA REACTION REPORT
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 14, 2007
In Today's Papers
New Constitution Draft Finalized, Unveiled Soon
All papers report a new constitution drafted by the ruling AKP
increases the powers of the prime minister while the powers of the
president are cut broadly. The draft removes restrictions on
freedom of religion, the definition of Turkishness, the official
language and mother tongue, and the headscarf. It recognizes
religious and sectarian differences with an eye to secure the rights
of Alevis who have complained they have not been represented in the
Religious Affairs Directorate (Diyanet).
Papers report an 18-member delegation of cabinet ministers, the
ruling AKP lawmakers, and jurists arrived in the northwestern
Sapanca town near Istanbul to assess the new constitution drafted by
a group of academics under the chairmanship of Professor Ergun
Ozbudun. PM Erdogan is expected to join the group over the weekend
and the draft will likely be finalized on Sunday.
Another Explosive-Laden Van Seized in Ankara
Hurriyet, Sabah, Milliyet, Cumhuriyet and Zaman report Ankara had
another bomb scare, only days after a massive car bomb was found in
downtown city: a van carrying 500 kg of TNT, coming from Sweden, was
seized in the capital. Two Swedes and two Turks were detained.
Late Thursday, security authorities announced that, acting on a
tip-off by Bulgarian customs officials, they intercepted a van which
had entered Turkey through the Kapikule border gate with Bulgaria.
Zaman reports the Swedes said the explosives were imported by the
state-owned ordnance factory MKE.
Erdogan to Visit the US Late September
Cumhuriyet, Zaman and Yeni Safak report Prime Minister Erdogan is to
travel to the US on September 24 to participate in the UN General
Assembly meetings New York where he is expected to hold bilateral
talks with various heads of state and government. On September 26,
Erdogan will visit the NYSE and address the Turkish-American
Association (TAA) later the same day. The PM is also expected to
deliver a speech at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) on
September 27, according to papers.
High Court Overturns Acquittal of Kaboglu, Oran
All papers report the Supreme Court of Appeals (Yargitay) on
Thursday overturned an earlier decision by a local court in Ankara
which acquitted two prominent academics last year over a
government-sponsored human rights report criticizing the treatment
of minority groups. The trial process of former Prime Ministry
Human Rights Advisory Board members, professors Ibrahim Kaboglu and
Baskin Oran, was closely followed by the EU as a case of freedom of
expression. Kaboglu and Oran resigned from the board in early 2005
amid heavy criticism.
Although they were charged with "inciting hatred" and "insulting
judicial organs" in the report, the professors were found not guilty
in May 2006, with the court dropping charges due to Justice
Ministry's failure to approve the case.
Oran called the Yargitay decision "a contradiction," especially at a
time when public opinion has been heatedly debating how to create a
civilian constitution. He called on the government to abolish
certain articles of the penal code before drafting a democratic
Burns Addresses Atlantic Council on Turkey
Turkey's prestigious all-news broadcaster NTV reported Friday
morning from Washington that Under Secretary Nicholas Burns said in
a speech he delivered at Atlantic Council that the US is looking
forward to working with President Gul and Prime Minister Erdogan,
"allies and friends of the US." Burns warned Turkey against
entering into energy agreements with Iran, and urged the reopening
of the border with Armenia and a normalization of ties with Yerevan.
Burns noted the US would support a new Cyprus initiative coming
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from the UN; he also reiterated support for Turkey's EU membership.
Burns also called for the abolishment of Turkish Penal Code Article
301 which restricts free speech, and the reopening of Halki Seminary
in Istanbul. NTV also reported Burns would be visiting Turkey next
President Bush's Ramadan Message
Mainstream Milliyet reports, under the headline "Message of
Compassion for Ramadan," President Bush sent his "greetings to
Muslims observing Ramadan in America and around the world."
"America is a land of many faiths, and our society is enriched by
our Muslim citizens. May the holy days of Ramadan remind us all to
seek a culture of compassion and serve others in charity," the
President is quoted as saying.
Turkey-Northern Iraq Trade Declining
Mainstream Milliyet reports trade between Turkey and northern Iraq,
expected to amount to USD 5 billion, has started to diminish because
of fears over a possible Turkish military operation into the region
against the PKK terrorists. In the spring the supermarkets in
northern Iraq were full of Turkish products, which are gradually
replaced by goods from Jordan, Syria and Europe. Turkish
businessmen in the region say Turkish companies wanted to complete
their contracts and to return to Turkey. Milliyet says economic
ties with the region are weakening due to factors such as the
difficulties regarding shipment of goods to northern Iraq through
Habur border gate, delays in payments made to Turkish businessmen,
and recent terrorist attacks in Kirkuk and Erbil.
7,000 Cholera Cases in Northern Iraq
Islamist-oriented Yeni Safak reports health officials in Iraq said
Thursday that about 7,000 cholera cases were seen in Kirkuk and
Suleymaniye in northern Iraq. The World Health Organization (WHO)
said the disease could spread to surrounding cities and as far as
Baghdad due to the non-hygiene water system in the country. Ten
people have died of the disease.
Editorial Commentary on Iraq, 9/11
Sami Kohen comments in the mainstream daily Milliyet: "The
postponement of the Kirkuk referendum is not a surprising
development. Turkish diplomats have been intensively working toward
the postponement with the US as well as Iraqi groups and Iraq's
neighbors. Despite the official rhetoric which ties the decision to
technical reasons, more political reasons than technical ones are
behind it. With the decision, the potential danger for conflict in
Kirkuk -- which might drag other countries -- has been eliminated.
The Turkish government wants to see consensus reached within the
various ethnic and religious groups before the actual referendum.
If a unifying formula can be reached on the Kirkuk issue, it will be
seen as a potential model for unity all over Iraq. On the other
hand, recent political developments do not provide any signal for
reconciliation among the various groups of Iraq. The Maliki
government is not capable of ruling with full authority. Shiites
and Sunnis are not only fighting with each other, but they are also
having fights internally."
Haluk Ulman writes in the business-political daily Dunya: "As far as
terrorism is concerned, six years after the 9/11 attacks the world
is less secure than it was in 2001. Bin Laden has not been captured
and he remains the leader of al-Qaeda. He even manages to continue
his televised propaganda. President Bush invaded Iraq with the
excuse of ending international terrorism, which worked to the full
advantage of Bin Laden. The Iraq war helped al-Qaeda recruit new
members from all over the Arab world. Thanks to President Bush,
al-Qaeda, unlike before the war, is now actively operating in Iraq.
From the international political perspective, six years after 9/11,
the world is more unstable and is poised for potential dangerous
developments, in the Middle East region in particular. There is a
growing possibility of the regional map changing along with the
division of Iraq. The Afghanistan-Pakistan line is another
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potential danger for the world's future. If the presence of
al-Qaeda in this region cannot be eliminated, the threat will spread
even to the NATO mission in Afghanistan. In sum, six years of the
fight against terrorism does not give a comforting picture at all."
NTV, 7.00 A.M.
- On a four-day tour of east and southeast Turkey, President
Abdullah Gul arrived Thursday in Siirt where he was greeted by a
joyful crowd of locals chanting, "Turkey is proud of you." The
president will be visiting Diyarbakir today, where he will meet
local businessmen and NGO representatives.
- A remote-control landmine planted by the PKK terrorists on the
railway in the southeastern province of Bingol went off, slightly
injuring two drivers and derailing five cars.
- Nobel Prize winning novelist Orhan Pamuk told BBC Radio 3 that
moderate Muslims are more respectful of democracy compared to
staunch secularists in Turkey.
- FOX News television reported a recent decision by Germany to
withhold support for new sanctions against Iran has pushed officials
in Washington to develop potential scenarios for a military attack
- President Ahmadinejad said his government would be able to help
calm Iraq if the US and Britain drop their hostile attitude towards
- The London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies
(IISS) said in a report released Wednesday a resilient al-Qaeda can
still carry out "spectacular" attacks in Western countries even if
not one on the scale of "9/11."