Cablegate: Ankara Media Reaction Report
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SUBJECT: ANKARA MEDIA REACTION REPORT
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 18, 2007
In Today's Papers
Reaction to Turkish Air Raids Continues
All papers report on a TGS statement claiming the targets of
Sunday's air operations in northern Iraq were selected "after it was
established that they were definitely not civilian residential
areas." General Aydogan Babaoglu, who commanded the operation, told
mainstream Sabah that the warplanes did not strike civilians and
that reports to the contrary are "ill-intentioned."
Papers report that the Iraqi Parliament condemned Turkish operations
in northern Iraq.
Iraq summoned the Turkish Ambassador in Baghdad to protest the
operation. Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani strongly criticized the
Turkish attacks and US support for the air raids, saying the US
should "check its morals," while it "defends the sovereignty of Iraq
and the Kurdish region, which is under the Americans'
responsibilities." The Kurdish region's Prime Minister, Nechirvan
Barzani, said the Turkish operations constituted a "hostile act"
which "violated Iraq's sovereignty." Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar
Zebari said one woman was killed and four other civilians were
injured in the Turkish operations, and urged Ankara to coordinate
future cross-border strikes with Iraq to minimize civilian
Mainstream Hurriyet and Sabah, liberal Radikal and Islamist-oriented
Zaman say Turkey's diplomacy regarding the PKK in northern Iraq, was
successful. The United States and Russia issued messages of
support, while the European Union made a call for restraint. The US
said it was informed of the raids in advance, but did not give
consent. Papers quote Pentagon Spokesman Bryan Whitman, "the US
continues to assist with providing information to the Turkish
government that will help them deal with the situation in northern
Iraq," however, Whitman declined to say whether US intelligence
provided specific targets to the Turks. European Enlargement
Commissioner Olli Rehn's spokeswoman Kristina Nagy said "the EU
understands that Turkey has to protect its citizens," stressing,
however, that excessive force should not be used in future
operations. Russia's ambassador to Turkey reportedly announced that
Russia supports Turkey's fight against terror.
Editorial Commentary on Turkish Raids on Northern Iraq
Mainstream daily Milliyet carried this op-ed: (12/18): "The main
result of yesterday's operation is Turkey's psychological supremacy.
Because of this surprise military operation, the PKK's operational
capabilities were seriously damaged. It is also important to note
that this operation was carried out in coordination with the US. It
is no secret that some of the intelligence used in this operation
was provided by the US. Given this development, Turkish-American
military relations have entered into a period of normalization.
This operation itself should be considered a tangible result of the
most recent Bush-Erdogan summit. Even the EU expressed support for
Turkey's right to defend itself. All of this shows that the Turkish
government pursued the right approach on the PKK issue. The
international community is showing its understanding of the issue,
which gives the Turkish government a unique opportunity to find
creative solutions. We hope that the AKP government finds ways to
initiate a comprehensive solution in a peaceful manner, including
legislation for militants to return home."
Okay Gonensin commented in mainstream daily Vatan (12/18): "Military
success deserves appreciation, but civilian politicians must
complete the equation with political success. Given the current
picture, politicians should take steps to minimize the influence of
the PKK and provide an open atmosphere in which to discuss the
Kurdish problem. If the DTP distances itself from the PKK, its
contributions to these discussions can still be useful. Another
useful tool to build mutual confidence is to establish relations
with the northern Iraqi administration. The PKK realizes that they
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are no longer secure in northern Iraq. Especially at this stage,
Turkey's political steps are more important than ever before."
Ertugrul Ozkok commented in mainstream daily Hurriyet (12/18): "The
operation served everyone's benefit and came after Turkey won the
hearts and minds of the international public concerning the PKK.
Turkey also managed to persuade the US, who has also gained hearts
and minds in Turkey. Turkey's government, military, and civilians
unanimously agree that it is time to find humanitarian solutions to
the Kurdish issue. Regardless of what you call it, whether
'amnesty' or 'bringing militants back home,' Turkey should
unconditionally embrace everyone who chooses to stay away from
Pro-Kurdish Party Leader Detained on His Return Home
All papers report Nurettin Demirtas, the leader of the pro-Kurdish
DTP, was apprehended by police at Ankara's Esenboga Airport Monday
evening. Demirtas' return to Ankara followed weeks of speculation
that the DTP leader considered remaining in Europe in order to avoid
prosecution for fraud in Turkey. His arrest comes after prosecutors
brought charges that he falsified a medical report in order to avoid
compulsory military service. Prosecutors are seeking a two to
five-year prison sentence for the DTP leader, who maintains his
innocence. DTP party group Chief Ahmet Turk criticized the
detention, saying that Demirtas was not trying to escape prosecution
and that Demirtas should have been taken to the prosecutor's office
before he was taken into custody by police. Demirtas already served
10 years in prison for being a member of the outlawed PKK. He was
elected the leader of the DTP two months ago, replacing the more
moderate Ahmet Turk.
Stabbed Priest Franchini Recovering in Izmir
All papers report that the Roman Catholic priest who was stabbed on
Sunday, Adriano Franchini, said he feels fine and the attack should
"not be exaggerated" or connected to other attacks. Franchini's
wounds were not life-threatening. The priest, who leads the Church
of the Virgin Mary in Ephesus, was attacked by 19-year-old Ramazan
Bay after Sunday's mass at Saint Antoine Church in Izmir.
Mainstream Hurriyet says the assault on Franchini was the fourth
against Christian clerics in Turkey over the last four years.
- A boat carrying illegal migrants sank near the Aegean tourist town
of Bodrum on Monday. So far, eight bodies have been recovered.
- The Turkish General Staff (TGS) said in a statement that Greece
was violating the Lausanne Treaty of 1923 and the Paris Treaty of
1947 by arming Rhodes and twelve other Aegean islands "before the
eyes of the whole world."
- Eighteen armored vehicles to be handed over to the "Olive Group"
Security Company in Baghdad were seized by Turkish officials at the
Habur border gate. The vehicles will be sent back to Britain.
- State Minister Mehmet Simsek said the Turkish Central Bank
headquarters will be moved to Istanbul from Ankara.
- A key international donors' conference aimed at stabilizing the
Palestinian economy opened in Paris Monday. French President Sarkozy
opened the conference by calling for the establishment of an
independent Palestinian state by the end of 2008. Foreign Minister
Ali Babacan said Turkey will contribute USD 150 million to
Palestine's development program over the next three years.
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- Russia began to deliver nuclear fuel to Iran's first nuclear power
station on Monday.
- Vladimir Putin has agreed to become Russia's prime minister, a
development which comes at the request of his chosen successor,
- Nechirvan Barzani, Prime Minister of the regional Kurdish
government in northern Iraq, said the Kurdish Regional Authroity
will accept a six-month postponement of the referendum on the future
of the oil-rich city of Kirkuk.