Cablegate: Ankara Media Reaction Report
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SUBJECT: ANKARA MEDIA REACTION REPORT
MONDAY, OCTOBER 22, 2007
Turkey Outraged at PKK's Killing of 12 Soldiers
All papers report the Turkish General Staff (TGS) announced that 12
soldiers were killed, 16 were wounded and eight were missing after
clashes with PKK terrorists in Hakkari province on the border with
Iraq. Some 250 PKK members crossed into Turkey from northern Iraq
and attacked an infantry brigade in Daglica region of Hakkari
province in the early hours of October 21. In a statement posted on
its website the Turkish General Staff reported that 32 terrorists
were killed in the ensuing pursuit.
Emergency talks were held on Sunday night to plot Turkey's response
to the attack. After the talks - which included President Abdullah
Gul, Prime Minister Erdogan, the head of the Turkish General Staff
(TGS) Yasar Buyukanit and other top security officials - a statement
released from the president's office said, "Turkey respects the
territorial integrity of Iraq. Turkey, however, will not shy away
from paying whatever price is necessary to protect its rights, its
indivisible unity and its citizens."
President Abdullah Gul told the press before the emergency summit
that Turkey did not have designs on Iraq's territory. "However, if
Iraq keeps harboring terrorists, Turkey has the right to destroy
this threat. Turkey's fully determined in this matter; the
parliament has already authorized actions to be taken if necessary."
Defense Minister Vecdi Gonul told the press in Kiev after talks with
Defense Secretary Robert Gates that Turkey was planning a
cross-border incursion, but "not urgently." "We'd like to do these
things with the Americans," added Gonul.
Prime Minister Erdogan said after the summit meeting that Secretary
Rice had asked Turkey not to take action against the PKK terrorists,
and give the US "a few days."
Opposition CHP leader Deniz Baykal said a "covert war" was waged
against Turkey and called for a cross-border incursion. MHP leader
Devlet Bahceli said the government should not delay further the
launch of cross-border operations against the PKK, and that Turkish
authorities also should consider measures such as a declaration of
emergency rule in the region. Erdogan responded to Bahceli, "Not
emotions but common sense should prevail in the struggle against
terrorism. We cannot declare a state of emergency just because some
people demand it."
Iraq's government said on Sunday it was taking important steps to
end the "terrorist actions" of the PKK. Prime Minister Nuri
al-Maliki's office said in a statement Iraq condemned the PKK. In a
joint news conference with Kurdistan regional president Massoud
Barzani, President Jalal Talabani refused a demand to hand the PKK
elements over to Turkey, calling it "a dream that will never come
true." Talabani statement that "we will not even hand over a
Kurdish cat, let alone a man" was termed provocative by the Turkish
press. Talabani renewed calls for the PKK to end violence. In an
interview with private television channel Kanal D late Sunday night,
Talabani said they could not arrest PKK leaders hiding in the
mountains, "out of Iraq's range of authority." He said Turkish
soldiers have not crossed the Iraqi border yet, and noted they asked
Turkey to work in cooperation with the Iraqi government. Kurdish
regional government leader Massoud Barzani said Turkey should offer
the PKK peace, and that the PKK could be called terrorist if they
reject the offer. "We are not going to be caught up in the PKK and
Turkish war, but if the Kurdistan region is targeted, we are going
to defend ourselves," Barzani told reporters after meeting with
Papers report President Bush on Sunday condemned as "unacceptable"
attacks by the PKK and said they must stop. "President Bush
strongly condemns the violent attacks in Hakkari province and
extends his condolences to the families who lost loved ones and to
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all the people of Turkey," White House National Security Council
spokesman Gordon Johndroe said in a statement. Papers also report
Ambassador Ross Wilson's statement that he is "committed to working
with Turkey and Turkish authorities to eliminate the PKK terrorist
threat to the people of Turkey."
"Turkey is outraged, our patience comes to an end," say papers on
Monday, reporting that in several provinces tens of thousands took
to the streets Sunday to condemn the attack on Turkish soldiers.
Mainstream Hurriyet says in a page one headline, "We are behind you.
The Turkish people rally tightly behind their army and parliament."
"Enough already!" says a Cumhuriyet banner headline, denouncing the
"treacherous" ambush that has killed 12 soldiers. Under the
headline "All of Turkey protests," liberal Radikal reports
spontaneous protest rallies across Turkey.
Editorial Commentary on Iraq/PKK
Gungor Mengi commented in the mainstream Vatan (10/22): "These days
are filled with colossal sadness and fury. Things can become very
destructive unless this sentiment is controlled properly. It is
certainly unacceptable to be attacked heinously, but it is also
wrong to lose common sense in reaction. PKK wants to drag Turkey
into northern Iraq and become part of the quagmire. Therefore, we
have to make the right decision. Are we going to continue ignoring
Barzani, or are we going to find ways for cooperation with him? The
local Iraqi administration in the north is obviously making politics
about PKK, but the overall goals of the PKK and the northern Iraqi
administration are not necessarily parallel to each other. The
local administration does not want to be a subject of Turkey's
military operation or experience an embargo by Turkey. It is
expected that PKK will orchestrate even more violent attacks to get
Turkey to run out of patience. This is a provocative act to drag
Turkey in there. We have to be very careful. In fact, since the US
is responsible for this ongoing bloody and treacherous game we
better listen to what Washington has in mind about what to do.
Thus, the upcoming meeting between PM Erdogan and President Bush is
Semih Idiz wrote in the mainstream Milliyet (10/22): "It is very
important that PM Erdogan made a call to PKK members to lay down
arms and suggested they should try politics. Given the
circumstances of violent attacks and fury, the PM's statement is an
indication of political courage. The fact of the matter is that
when we think about the deep roots of the problem, political, social
and economic steps are really needed. We should not consider such
steps as bowing to the terrorist PKK. The UK set a good example on
this. The IRA issue was resolved through such steps. All of this
does not mean that Turkey has to underplay the security aspect of
terrorism, but the fight against terror cannot be limited to that
only. The struggle has other aspects as well."
People Vote "Yes" in the Referendum for Constitutional Amendment
All papers report that even though the referendum was overshadowed
by the terrorist attack in Hakkari, voter turnout was still 67
percent. Sixty-nine percent of the electors said 'yes" while 31
percent said "no". The amendment package allows the election of
future presidents by popular vote; foresees that general elections
are held every four years instead of five; the presidential term is
lowered from the current seven years to five; the president can
stand for re-election for a second term; and a quorum of one-third
of the total number of MPs is required to open a parliamentary
debate. PM Erdogan held a press conference after the results were
announced and said that the referendum will contribute to the
stability of the country.
US Troops Killed A Turkish Truck Driver
Hurriyet, Bugun, Posta: A Turkish truck diver from Kilis, 24 year
old Muhammet Gani Ikidisli, was transporting goods to a US base in
northern Iraq. On October 10, while driving from Dohuk to Mosul in
a US convoy, his truck broke down. While he was trying to repair
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his truck, a few US soldiers from the convoy who were annoyed with
the situation came next to the driver, shot him and continued
driving. Mr. Ikidisli was taken to the hospital in Dohok by Iraqi
people, but died in the hospital a few days after the incident.
Hurriyet says that the driver's father brought his son's body to
Diyarbakir for an autopsy and buried him in their hometown, Kilis.
- Prime Minister Erdogan said after consultations with colleagues
that he would not change his plans to travel to Britain, and will
depart after the Council of Ministers meeting Monday. Erdogan said
he will deliver a lecture at Oxford University on Monday evening,
and meet with the British and Israeli prime ministers on Tuesday.
- Turkish Ambassador to the US, Nabi Sensoy, returned to the US on
Sunday. "I hope that the time I spent in Turkey has been a serious
message showing our strong reaction. I will now continue working to
further the Turkey-US ties," Said Sensoy.
- The strike of Turk Telekom workers has been marred by reports of
alleged sabotage by the workers.
- French President Sarkozy said no new chapters of Turkey's
accession talks with the EU will be opened before the bloc makes a
decision about the appointment of a group of wise men to study
Europe's long-term future and borders.
- Iran's Foreign Ministry said Ali Larijani, who resigned as the
country's top nuclear negotiator, would attend talks on Tuesday in
Rome alongside Iran's new top negotiator, Saeed Jalili, and the EU's
foreign policy chief.
- The exit poll results show the right wing Swiss People's Party and
the Greens as the main winners in Swiss elections.