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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
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 5, 2007


In Today's Papers

AKP Seeks Opposition Support on Oct.21 Referendum Change
All papers report the ruling AKP will amend a text on constitutional
reforms to be submitted to referendum October 21 to avoid any
challenge to the status of President Abdullah Gul. The AKP said a
clause in the referendum text that stipulates Turkey's 11th
president, a position currently held by Gul, must be elected through
direct popular vote would be removed. The new wording would say
that all presidents after Gul will be elected by popular vote.

AKP had talks with opposition CHP and MHP with regard to the
possibility of changing the clause. On Thursday, MHP leader Bahceli
said various comments regarding the possible consequences of a "yes"
vote for the constitutional package made it clear that the vote will
cause political tension. Parliament must move swiftly to prevent
this, Bahceli said, pledging full support for the withdrawal of the
clause from the constitutional amendment package. CHP, meanwhile,
said the referendum process must be stopped, rather than having the
text changed. The amendments to be submitted to the referendum
would also cut the president's term to five years from seven,
renewable by another five, and the parliament's term to four from
five years.

PKK Condemnation Added to Armenian Genocide Resolution
Radikal, Cumhuriyet, Zaman and others report that US Congress
members have added a clause condemning PKK terror to the Armenian
genocide resolution as a "mitigating factor." Leftist-nationalist
Cumhuriyet reports the Congress would raise the resolution for
debate October 10. Papers report that Democrat lawmaker Steny Hoyer
has said following the adoption of the resolution in the Foreign
Relations Committee, it would be adopted by the Congress before
November 22.

Kurdish DTP Complains of Double Standard on Immunity
Hurriyet, Sabah, Radikal, Cumhuriyet, Zaman and others report
Kurdish party DTP lawmaker Hasip Kaplan said at a news conference he
held in the parliament that a court ruling to continue the trials of
three DTP deputies was illegal. The court ruled that court cases
launched against DTP deputies Aysel Tugluk, Sebahat Tuncel and Ayla
Akat Ata before they were elected would reportedly continue even
though the MPs have parliamentary immunity. Kaplan criticized the
judiciary's "discriminatory" approach, and said that when summoned,
the lawmakers would not go to the prosecutor.

Business daily Referans reports Hasip Kaplan recalled that Prime
Minister Erdogan had invited Hamas to Ankara despite the fact that
it is on the EU and US terror lists. "Having saluted Hamas
officials in Ankara, the Prime Minister cannot press me to name the
PKK a terror organization," Kaplan said. He said the DTP views the
PKK as an "armed political illegal organization." Kaplan accused
the media, the military and the government of engaging in a
systematic attack against the DTP.

US Inspectors Investigating the Missing US Weapons
Yeni Safak, Zaman, Star: Responding to Turkey's continuing
complaints, the US sent a delegation to Turkey last week under the
lead of retired General Claude Kicklighter, Inspector General of the
Department of Defence. The delegation had meetings with the Foreign
Ministry, Turkish National Police and the General Staff. Turkish
officials told the US delegation that the missing US weapons from
Iraq continue to enter Turkey and are being used by the PKK
terrorists and that the US should take necessary steps to stop it.
Turkish authorities warned the US delegation that 811 US-made
weapons, including 14 M-16s were confiscated in Turkey in the first
nine months of the year. Yeni Safak adds that PM Erdogan had
already presented President Bush with a "Blue File" last year
containing information on the missing weapons, and is planning to
present the second file on the same issue during his upcoming visit
to the US in November.

ANKARA 00002487 002 OF 003

FM Babacan Plans to Travel to Iraq
Liberal Radikal and Islamist-oriented Zaman report that FM Ali
Babacan, to encourage the attendance at the Iraq's Neighbors Meeting
in Istanbul on November 2-3, is starting a Middle East tour this
weekend. It is expected that Babacan will pay a visit to Iraq as
well. Papers highlight that Babacan will be the first top level
Turkish official to visit Baghdad since the US occupation of Iraq in
March 2003.

Editorial Commentary: US Turkey Policy, Iraq
Haluk Ulman observes in the business daily Dunya: "Analyzing
Turkish-American relations requires acknowledging the fact that
there is no single US entity to refer to. The White House, the
Congress with two branches, Pentagon, think-tanks, lobbies and media
-- they are all the US and don't necessarily have the same or even
similar views on Turkey. Congress and the White House both agree on
the geo-strategic importance of Turkey and do not want to lose
Turkey. The methodology is of course not the same for the different
parties. Republicans and the White House want Turkey to accept the
autonomous status of Iraqi Kurds and engage in close dialogue with
them. It is a bare fact that Ankara, on the other hand, is
sympathetic neither to dialogue with the Northern Iraqi Kurds nor to
the establishment of American military bases in Northern Iraq.
Republicans and Democrats also differ on policy priority on the
future of Turkish-American ties. The Bush administration's foreign
policy was founded on the conflict of civilizations, i.e. the
conflict of religious ideology. Turkey should position itself as
moderate Islamic country to reduce this conflict according to their
argument. Democrats however do not prioritize religion, and focus
on human rights and freedoms instead. Rights of ethnic and
religious minorities are a priority issue for Democrats. Thus when
they think about Turkey they focus on issues like the Armenian
genocide resolution, Christian properties and the opening of a
seminary. In the near future an Armenian Genocide Resolution is on
the way. The Bush administration is too weak to prevent it. The
Jewish lobby is not supportive of Turkey any longer. The future of
bilateral ties is not very bright."

Sami Kohen writes in the mainstream daily Milliyet: "The US Senate
passed a resolution suggesting a federal system for Iraq which
surprisingly had a unifying impact on Iraqi groups. Putting
militant Kurds aside, the majority of Sunnis and Shiites spoke in a
single voice saying they are against the division of the country.
The Senate decision which was revised and explained by Senator
Biden, does not reflect the official US policy for Iraq. In any
case, the common perception about the resolution is that this is the
beginning of a process to divide Iraq into three, based on ethnic
and sectarian lines. A federal system is also a provision within
the Iraqi Constitution. I think the main question is how to form a
federal system that would ensure territorial integrity and national
unity. There are successful examples of federal systems around the
world, as Senator Biden suggested. But there are examples of
failure as well, such as Yugoslavia and Belgium which is on the
verge of division. Ankara believes that the best solution for Iraq
is to let Iraqis decide how to be ruled. Turkey also wants the
Iraqi federal system to attach fundamental authority to the central
administration. Otherwise it will pave the way for eventual
disintegration which means division in the end."

TV Highlights --NTV, 7.00 A.M.
Domestic News

- French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner is due to visit Ankara on
Friday for talks with President Gul, Prime Minister Erdogan and
Foreign Minister Babacan. Before coming to Turkey, Kouchner will
meet EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn in Paris to review the
Turkish file.

- Parliament's human rights commission headed by Prof. Zafer Uskul

ANKARA 00002487 003 OF 003


will visit the relatives of 12 people killed last week in a minivan
in the southeastern province of Sirnak.

- The Court of Appeals has upheld the 18-year prison sentence given
to the murderer of Catholic priest Andrea Santoro in the Black Sea
city of Trabzon in February 2006. The murderer, who was 17 years
old when he killed the priest, will be released from jail after 8.5
years when he turns 26.

- Turkey's elite business forum TUSIAD pointed to the risks stemming
from delays in Turkey's EU accession bid, and called for more
reforms.

International News

- The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday cholera has
jumped the border from Iraq to Iran, highlighting the need for
neighboring countries to boost their defenses against the deadly
disease which has struck over 3,000 people in Iraq.

- President Jalal Talabani told the Washington Post Iraq is buying
100 million dollars of light military equipment for its police from
China because the US cannot provide the material.

- Britain's Special Cyprus Representative Joan Ryan said after
meeting Turkish and Greek Cypriot leaders Talat and Papadopoulos
that the Cyprus question would become the focus of attention after
the Greek Cypriot elections in February.
- Kirkuk is to hold a census on November 15 in preparation for a
referendum that will determine the future of the city.

WILSON

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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