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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
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 19, 2007


In Today's Papers

Gul Visits Turkish Cyprus on First Trip Abroad as President
All papers report Turkey's new President Abdullah Gul traveled to
Turkish Cyprus yesterday on his first official visit abroad. The
President's wife Hayrunnisa Gul accompanied him but stayed in the
background because of the heated controversy over the Muslim
headscarf she wears. She did not participate in the Ramadan "Iftar"
dinner held in honor of the President. In Lefkosa (Nicosia), no
military ceremony was held to welcome President Gul. Turkish
military commanders only attended the official reception for Gul at
the presidential palace. Hurriyet says the military applied a
"headscarf protocol" to avoid contacts with Gul's wife.

Gul told a joint news conference after meeting with Turkish Cyprus
leader Mehmet Ali Talat, "There are two realities on Cyprus, two
democracies, two states, two languages, two religions.... By
approving a previous referendum, the Turkish Cypriots showed their
sincerity in desiring a lasting solution." He repeated Turkey's
call for the EU to honor its promise to lift the international
restrictions on the north of the divided island. "Peace will one
day prevail in Cyprus. Turkey, Greece and Cyprus may establish a
major center of cooperation in the eastern Mediterranean," said Gul.


Meanwhile, the south of the divided capital of Nicosia condemned
Gul's trip to the north. "Mr Gul's blatant act to pay his first
visit as president to the territory of the Cyprus Republic which
today is part of the EU and is under the illegal military occupation
of Turkey constitutes a blow against the international legal order,"
the Cypriot Foreign Ministry said in a statement. "It shows
provocative contempt to an EU member state."

Nicholas Burns Visits Turkey
All papers report State Department Undersecretary Nicholas Burns
told the press Tuesday after meeting with Patriarch Bartholomew I in
Istanbul that it was the "right time" for strengthening ties with
Turkey. Burns added Turkey was a friend of the US and that any step
taken by Turkey toward peace would be appreciated by the US. Burns
emphasized that the US acted together with Turkey regarding the
terrorist organization PKK. He also noted that the US supported
Turkey's EU membership bid. "We are on the side of the Turkish
people. We support the Turkish government and its efforts against
the terrorist PKK organization. We do not support the PKK," said
Burns. Burns also said the US was supporting the bid for the
reopening of Halki Orthodox Seminary in Istanbul, adding, however,
that this question was to be resolved between Turkey and the
Patriarchate. Burns noted Turkey can help make its own case with
the European Union by reopening the Halki Seminary. After his call
on the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate, Burns visited the Suleymaniye
Mosque.

Mainstream Vatan expects Burns to express US concerns over the
natural gas deal signed between Turkey and Iran and ask Ankara to
end cooperation with Tehran. Burns will also specify whether Turkey
is expected to continue to play the role of "facilitator" in the
region or to undertake a more active role by joining the
multinational forces in Iraq and the Middle East. Burns is also
expected to repeat US recommendations for upholding freedom of
expression, protecting the rights of religious minorities and
strengthening women's rights.

Papers expect the Turkish side to ask for elimination of the PKK
presence in northern Iraq and urge the US to press the Iraqi
government to sign the anti-terror deal with Turkey agreed on during
the August visit of Iraqi Prime Minister al-Maliki to Ankara. Turks
will request details about the US investigation probing the alleged
transfer of US-origin weapons to PKK terrorists. Turks will also
ask for US support for Turkish Cyprus, the breakaway statelet in the
north of the divided island, which Burns is expected to call on in

ANKARA 00002372 002 OF 003


the coming months.

Burns will be in Ankara on Wednesday for talks with President Gul
and Prime Minister Erdogan, as well as with senior diplomats at the
Turkish Foreign Ministry, including U/S Ertugrul Apakan. They will
mainly discuss Iran and a possible operation against the PKK in
northern Iraq, papers report.

Editorial Commentary on Burns' Turkey Visit
Cengiz Candar in the business daily Referans writes, "the visit by
the U/S will demonstrate that American support for Turkey has two
conditions: Turkey should cooperate on the Iraq issue and Turkey
should avoid energy cooperation with Iran. These are potential
problems between the US and Turkey, but it seems that the government
of Turkey does not have a strategy for Iran or Iraq."

Mehmet Y. Yilmaz comments in the mainstream Hurriyet: "The number
three of the US State Department lined up at passport control and
walked out of the international terminal carrying his suitcase just
like any ordinary passenger. The reason Burns acted like an
ordinary person despite being one of the most influential names in
American diplomacy is very simple: Nicholas Burns is not used to
using VIP lounges. Putting on airs and graces if you occupy a higher
rank is entirely from the eastern culture. Eastern politicians
immediately consider themselves above the ordinary people and look
for privileged treatment. And it is ironic that in Turkey even
children of politicians use the VIP while an important figure of US
State Department did not even think of using it."

Patriarch Mutafyan in the US
Leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet reports that the Patriarch of
Armenians in Turkey, Mesrob Mutafyan, will participate in a Ramadan
"Iftar" dinner held at the US Congress today and will deliver a
speech at Washington's Georgetown University on Thursday. Harut
Sassounian, publisher of The California Courier, criticized Mutafyan
in an editorial for not backing the Armenian genocide thesis. The
editorial quotes American Armenians' Archbishop Barsamian as saying
Mutafyan's remarks that Turks and Armenians lived together for
centuries under the Ottoman Empire as words coming from "a prisoner
of conscience of the Turkish government." Sassounian also claimed
Mutafyan's visit, which came shortly before the debate over the
Armenian Genocide Resolution in the US Congress and Patriarch
Karekin's visit to the US, was organized by the Fettullah Gulen
community.

'Autumn Operation' against the PKK
Sabah and Cumhuriyet report that some 10,000 Turkish troops launched
a sweeping operation against PKK militants in the southeastern
provinces of Sirnak, Siirt and Hakkari. The operation, joined by
village guards, aims at preventing terrorists' retreat to their
shelters in the winter, say papers.

A Message to the US from PM Erdogan Regarding the PKK
All papers: Prior to his trip to the US, PM Erdogan gave a message
on terrorism at a ceremony held at the Police Academy. Erdogan was
quoted as saying "several countries are reluctant to adopt necessary
measures to combat global terror. There should be global
cooperation against terrorism. Declaring some organizations
terrorist would not be enough; effective struggle against them is
required. The fire that burns us now may fall on your house as
well."

Important Messages from Hillary Clinton
Mainstream Hurriyet carried what it characterized as "important
messages" from Hillary Clinton on its front page. During a
reception in Washington, Clinton reportedly told Hurriyet's
editor-in-chief Ertugrul Ozkok that if she was elected President,
she would tell people that 'the cowboy period is over.... People do
not respect the US anymore. If I become president, I will end the
war in Iraq, because it jeopardized not only the US, but also

ANKARA 00002372 003 OF 003


Turkey, Israel and Jordan. I will travel the world and make efforts
to mend broken ties.'

TV Highlights

NTV

Domestic News

- Turkey's draft new constitution was submitted Tuesday to Prime
Minister Erdogan, who is to make final decisions regarding several
critical issues, including whether to continue the Muslim headscarf
ban.

- Huseyin Bektasoglu, the pro-Kurdish DTP provincial head in
Erzincan, has been sentenced to three years for referring to
Abdullah Ocalan as "Mr." and making propaganda for the terrorist
organization. His lawyers have appealed the ruling.

- Visiting British Energy Minister Malcolm Wicks said in Istanbul
that he valued the Turkey-Iran energy agreement, stressing Turkey
would become an important energy corridor.

International News

- Belgium's Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday that fugitive Turkish
leftist terrorist Fehriye Erdal can be tried in Belgium for crimes
she is accused of committing in Turkey. Erdal was sought by Turkey
for her alleged part in the murder of prominent businessman Ozdemir
Sabanci and two other people in January 1996. She was arrested in
Belgium in 1999 and sentenced to four years in jail, but Belgium
refused to extradite her because she could have faced the death
penalty in Turkey. However, she escaped before her conviction and
remains on the run. Her case will proceed in absentia if she is not
caught.

- The Federal Reserve cut interest rates for the first time in four
years, seeking to prevent a housing slump and turbulent markets from
triggering recession. The rate cut will eventually lead to lower
borrowing costs for consumers and businesses.

- Greek PM Karamanlis unveiled his new cabinet yesterday with most
of the top posts remaining unchanged, including Foreign Minister
Dora Bakoyannis and Defense Minister Evangelos Meimarakis.

WILSON

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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