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Cablegate: Ankara Media Reaction Report

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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 ANKARA 002569

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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, OCTOBER 17, 2007


In Today's Papers

Hashimi Visits Ankara, Iraq Incursion Motion to Parliament Vote
All papers report the Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi,
visiting Ankara amid rising strains over a possible Turkish military
incursion against the PKK in northern Iraq, said Wednesday Iraq
should be given a chance to prevent the cross-border terrorist
activities. "I got what I wanted from my talks," al-Hashimi said,
"In the first place, the anti-terror memorandum of understanding
signed between Iraq and Turkey should be implemented."
The Turkish Parliament is due later on Wednesday to vote on a motion
on cross-border operations in an open debate. Leftist-nationalist
Cumhuriyet says the visit came when the Iraqi Kurdish leaders Jalal
Talabani and Massoud Barzani requested the Iraqi government to
negotiate related to the crisis with Turkey. Mainstream Milliyet
expects a high-level delegation of Iraqi political and security
officials to visit Turkey tomorrow.

In an AKP group meeting yesterday, Prime Minister Erdogan warned his
ruling party lawmakers from the mainly Kurdish southeast Turkey
against opposing the motion. Cumhuriyet says the AKP administration
is concerned that MPs from east and southeast Turkey might not back
the motion. Erdogan sent strong messages to the US, Iraq, and the
pro-Kurdish DTP in parliament, saying "whatever is necessary will be
done." Under the headline "War Drums," liberal Radikal says the
opposition party leaders are not satisfied with a motion, and want
war against Iraq declared, reporting that Erdogan said "normal rules
do not apply when self-defense is at stake." The main opposition
CHP head Baykal said targeting the PKK alone would not be
sufficient, and "we should force those who protect them to choose
between Turkey and the PKK." The head of the far-right MHP Devlet
Bahceli said "an operation should target Barzani too." Bahceli also
said the motion should include measures for preventing the
establishment of an independent Kurdish state in the region.

Editorial Commentary on Possible Turkish Operations against Iraq
Erdal Safak comments in the mainstream Sabah: "In order for a
possible cross-border operation to succeed, Turkey has to prepare
the Turkish and foreign public for a possible operation; not use
this for domestic politics; use diplomatic channels to form a front
in the supporting countries; determine operation targets properly;
and limit the duration of the operation to avoid occupation
allegations. However, looking at the debates regarding the motion,
one can see that none of these conditions have been fulfilled. On
the contrary, most of them been ignored fully. MHP leader Bahceli's
remark that the target should not only be the PKK but also Barzani
and the Peshmerge is rather worrying. On this issue, Turkey
definitely should pursue a cool-minded strategy, a strategy that
will be supported internationally. Since the first and the main
path for Turkey to follow goes through the Barzani-Talabani front,
especially the Barzani front, Turkey should make Barzani its
interlocutor rather than its target."

Bilal Cetin says in the mainstream Vatan: "Even though the motion
is going to be voted on in the Parliament General Assembly today,
the AKP government is still hoping that there will be no need to use
the motion. The government's hope is that the PKK in Northern Iraq
will be eliminated without a military operation. This has been the
government's stance in the past and it still is today. Even at a
time when the government is running out of patience, it still hopes
that the US, the Iraqi government and the Kurdish leaders in
Northern Iraq will take some action against the PKK. That is why,
the Turkish Government is reiterating that even after the approval
of the motion, they have no intensions for immediate military
operations but want to use the motion as a trump card while they are
continuing diplomacy with Iraq and the US. While the government
considers the operation as a last measure, there is huge pressure on
the government from the public and the opposition parties. Is it
possible to avoid an operation into Northern Iraq even after having
the motion authorized? Of course, it is. If the US and Iraq change

ANKARA 00002569 002 OF 003


their stance, stop sheltering the PKK and arrest a few of the PKK
leaders and return them to Turkey, and coordinate with Turkey
strongly against PKK infiltration through the border, then, it is
possible to avoid the cross-border move. If this coordination is
not established, then Turkey will be left with no choice but to
launch an operation."

Armenian Genocide Resolution
All papers report Prime Minister Erdogan yesterday warned the US on
the Armenian genocide resolution, telling his ruling AKP lawmakers
that "the enemies of Turkey will never recover. Whatever damage
Turkey suffers, its opponents will suffer ten-fold." Mainstream
Sabah says this "apparent reference" was directed against the US,
France, and Armenia. Opposition CHP leader Deniz Baykal voiced
concern that if the resolution passes in the US, other countries
might copy it.

On Tuesday, President Abdullah Gul held a meeting with Foreign
Minister Ali Babacan, Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Ertugrul
Apakan and Turkish Ambassador to Washington Nabi Sensoy to discuss a
plan of action in case of passage of the resolution. Papers claim
that if the bill passes, Ankara considers measures such as
restricting US plane take-offs from Incirlik Airbase, stopping the
purchase from the US of 30 F-35 jetfighters worth USD 100 billion,
ceasing the maintenance of American vessels at Tasucu port on the
Mediterranean, and developing ties with Iran.

Meanwhile, Sensoy told the press Prime Minister Erdogan would go
ahead with his visit to Washington on November 5. Sensoy, summoned
to Turkey after last week's approval of the resolution, said he will
return to his office in Washington after the consultations in
Ankara.

Syria's Assad in Ankara
All papers report the visiting Syrian Head of State Bashar Assad and
President Abdullah Gul will hold a meeting today to be followed by a
joint press conference. Gul will later host a luncheon in honor of
Assad in which Prime Minister Erdogan will also participate. Assad
will also meet Parliament Speaker Koksal Toptan and address the
Turkish Parliament later in the day. Prime Minister Erdogan will
host a dinner in honor of Assad this evening. On Thursday, Assad
will move on to Istanbul and meet Turkish business leaders before
leaving Turkey on October 19.

Kazakh Group Bid for Petkim Vetoed, Armenian Links Suspected
All papers report Turkey's Privatization Administration has decided
to sell the state-owned oil refiner Petkim to a consortium of Azeri
energy firm Socar, Turkey's Turcas and Saudi-based Injaz Projects,
the second highest bidder in the privatization tender. The highest
bidder, a Kazakhstan-based consortium, Transcentral Asia
Petrochemical Holding, was vetoed by the Privatization
Administration because of its ties with Armenian lobby groups,
according to several papers. Milliyet says the cancellation came
due to the Kazakh group's failure to resolve its financial problems.
The group had presented the highest bid with USD 2.05 billion.

TV Highlights
NTV

Domestic News

- The Diyarbakir prosecutor has filed a suit against Mayor Osman
Baydemir, asking for 4.5 years of prison sentence for instigating
hatred when he said last month "Diyarbakir is a fortress and it
cannot be conquered."

- Three members of the "Kurd-Der" association have been given
one-year prison sentences each for attempting to march from
Diyarbakir to Habur border gate to protest against a possible
cross-border operation into northern Iraq.

ANKARA 00002569 003 OF 003

- The Turkish Parliament Tuesday held a meeting chaired by a female
speaker, opposition CHP lawmaker Guldal Mumcu, for the first time in
34 years.

- The strike of some 25,000 workers of fixed-line operator Turk
Telekom strikes a blow at telecommunication services and domestic
and international flights.

International News

- On Tuesday, Russia's lower house of parliament called on Turkey
not to launch a cross-border offensive against PKK terrorists in
northern Iraq.

- UNHCR chief Antonio Guterres warned against "any development that
might lead to meaningful displacements of population in the northern
governorate, or Kurdistan, saying "I sincerely wish that this motion
[for Turkish cross border incursion] will never be applied."

- Armenian diaspora in Europe criticizes European Parliament
rapporteur Ria Oomen-Rujiten for her reluctance to mention genocide
claims in her report about Turkey.
WILSON

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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