Cablegate: Ankara Media Reaction Report
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TAGS: OPRC KMDR TU
SUBJECT: ANKARA MEDIA REACTION REPORT
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 30, 2007
In Today's Papers
Turkish National Day Marked by anti-Terror Protests
All papers report that on Monday, Turkey has celebrated Republic Day
with the highest civilian participation in recent years, with tens
of thousands gathering to show that "the country's unity cannot be
undermined." Ceremonies were held across Turkey to mark the 84th
anniversary of the founding of the Turkish Republic. Demonstrators,
carrying Turkish flags and the pictures of Turkish soldiers killed
in fighting with the PKK, condemned the terror attacks. Papers note
that this year's Republic Day celebrations had "higher spirits" than
in the past, partly due to a sense that the integrity of the country
is threatened by terrorism. More than 400,000 people visited the
mausoleum of Ataturk, modern Turkey's founder, in Ankara on Monday.
In the mainly Kurdish southeastern part of Turkey, too, people
protested terror and called for peace, with a crowd in Yuksekova,
along the border with Iraq, releasing doves of peace.
Buyukanit: Wait for Erdogan-Bush Meeting before Iraq Incursion
All papers reported over the weekend that the Turkish General Staff
(TGS) chief General Yasar Buyukanit told reporters at a reception on
Saturday that the TGS would wait for the outcome of Prime Minister
Erdogan's November 5 meeting with President Bush in Washington
before making a decision on a cross-border incursion into Northern
Iraq. "We expect contributions from all the actors, mainly Iraq and
the United States. However, we need to wait for the prime
minister's meeting with President Bush. It will be a very important
meeting," Buyukanit emphasized. "There has only been talk so far,
but this time we are at the stage of doing something," said the TGS
chief, stressing the Turkish military would launch a cross-border
operation into Northern Iraq "when it is tasked to do so." Monday
papers also report Buyukanit said in his message marking the
Republic Day that the military is determined to "hurt" the PKK
terrorists who "hurt the nation" in recent terror attacks "much
stronger than they could ever imagine."
Papers: Rice to Visit Turkey November 2
Hurriyet, Milliyet, Sabah, Radikal, Cumhuriyet, Zaman and others
report Secretary Rice will come to Ankara on November 2 to meet
President Gul, Prime Minister Erdogan and Foreign Minister Babacan,
and will move on to Istanbul to participate in the Iraq Neighbors'
Ministerial meetings November 3. Papers expect the Turkish leaders
to give Rice the message that Turkey's patience over the PKK terror
was wearing out. Liberal Radikal expects Rice to convey a special
message to President Gul from President Bush. "A tough week in
relations with the United States," says a page one headline in
Radikal, reporting that following the Rice visit, Erdogan will meet
President Bush on November 5 as Turkey looks for concrete US action
against the PKK terrorists. "It's not clear what Rice will bring,
but any plan that will not stop the PKK will cause more strains,"
says the paper.
Operations against the PKK Continue in Gabar and Cudi Mountains
All weekend and today's papers report that Turkish Military has been
conducting operations in Hakkari, Tunceli and Sirnak as well as at
the mountains of Cudi, Gabar, Kato and Kupeli. When Turkish troops
spotted the arrival of nearly 100 PKK terrorists at Cudi Mountain
the other night through the thermal goggles, Turkish commandoes
started an intensive search in the mountains while helicopters
bombed the region. Borders were also kept under tight control to
prevent trapped PKK terrorists' attempt to escape into Northern
Iraq. Mainstream Sabah reports that the number of terrorists who
were killed in Tunceli has reached 17. Meanwhile, 4 soldiers lost
their lives in the latest operations.
Meshoud Barzani: "PKK Violence Should Stop"
Milliyet columnist Hasan Cemal interviewed Kurdish Regional leader
Barzani in Northern Iraq. Barzani was quoted as saying "I am
Turkey's friend. Kurds and Turks are brothers and they should
remain so. Kurds are not a threat for Turkey's security and our
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common interest is to live together in peace. PKK terrorist
organization should stop violence otherwise they will find not only
Turkey, but all the Kurdish nation against itself. "
Editorial Commentary on Turkey-Iraq/PKK
Murat Yetkin commented in the liberal-intellectual daily Radikal
(10/30): "Turkey has started waiting for concrete action from the
US ever since Secretary Rice's phone call to PM Erdogan on October
21 and developments afterwards. American sources say that
Washington has been working hard to be able to say something
concrete either during Secretary Rice's Ankara visit or during the
Iraqi Neighbors' Ministerial in Istanbul. Ankara is very clear not
to tolerate any time-gaining formula, such as a special envoy for
anti-terrorism mechanism. This time Ankara expects a real concrete,
tangible step. What defers the US from taking such a step? The
answer to this question is Barzani, but given the US status in Iraq,
this is not a convincing argument. Moreover, statements from US
military in the north of Iraq, such as General Benjamin Mixon, are
putting Washington in a very difficult situation vis-`-vis Ankara.
General Mixon recently said that they were not given any order to
take action against PKK. Ankara prefers to remain cool about
Barzani's statements as well. It patiently waits for Washington to
keep its promises. A high level Turkish official described Barzani
as the 'Frankenstein of the US' yet added that it is impossible to
believe that Barzani will not listen to what President Bush would
say to him. The visit of Secretary Rice will be tough. Tension
will increase if she proposes a plan to stop Turkey's action instead
of stopping the PKK. If this happens, the only remaining
expectation will be the Erdogan -Bush meeting on November 5."
Erdal Safak observed in the mainstream daily Sabah (10/30): "Turkey
gave two weeks to the US for not carrying out a cross border
operation. One week is already over, and the second week will cover
both Secretary Rice's visit to Turkey and PM Erdogan's trip to
Washington. Turkey has finished a military build up at the border,
and from now on, there is no point of returning back to doing
nothing. The US has two options: either it will end the PKK
shelters in Northern Iraq, or it will let Turkish army to finish the
job. This is not a war between Turks and the Kurds, its goal is to
end terrorism. Of course the US has another option, which is to
carry out a joint operation with Turkey. In fact, this is the best
possible option for Washington considering the NATO partnership as
well as bilateral strategic partnership. Washington has to
understand that this is the time to make the choice. The US either
takes action based on the spirit of strategic partnership or faces
losing Turkey's friendship for a very long time."
- Israel's Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has reportedly apologized to
his Turkish counterpart Erdogan when the two met in London on
Tuesday, acknowledging for the first time that Israeli warplanes may
have violated Turkey's air space during a raid on Syria last month.
- Prime Minister Erdogan, accompanied by some cabinet ministers,
paid a visit to the soldiers injured in recent PKK attacks.
- A 5.1-magnitude earthquake was reported Monday in the Aegean
province of Denizli. Around 300 houses in three villages were
damaged in the earthquake.
- The government plans to launch a project for the restructuring of
the Turkish judiciary in line with international legal standards.
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- Greek Cypriot Foreign Minister Erato Kozakou Markoullis has
cancelled her trip to Britain in reaction to the strategic
cooperation agreement signed between Ankara and London.
- The Foreign Ministers of Syria and Iran said at a joint news
conference in Damascus they were ready to cooperate for solving the
"terror crisis" between Turkey and Iraq.
- Authorities in Azerbaijan recently uncovered a radical Islamic
terror plot against the US Embassy in Baku, prompting the mission to
close its doors to the public Monday.
- A survey conducted by Intune research center shows 56 percent of
Spanish people support Turkey's EU accession, and that 77.4 support
EU's expansion with new members.