Cablegate: Ankara Media Reaction Report
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SUBJECT: ANKARA MEDIA REACTION REPORT
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 28, 2007
In Today's Papers
Benazir Bhutto Killed, Pakistan in Chaos
All papers report former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was
shot dead yesterday at a political rally. The assassin then blew
himself up, leaving 20 others dead and dozens wounded. Former Prime
Minister Bhutto is revered in the Turkish press today as "the first
female prime minister in a Muslim country."
Papers see the assassination as an attack on democracy and
stability; papers also express fear that the event may set off a new
wave of terrorism in Pakistan. According to speculation, elections
could be postponed and another state of emergency declared.
Mainstream papers underline emphasize that Bhutto was a "brave"
politician who was "prepared for the worst." According to
mainstream Sabah, al-Qaeda leader Mustafa Abu al-Yezid said from
Afghanistan, "we have eliminated America's most valuable asset."
Liberal Radikal notes she was the leading opposition candidate for
the January 8 elections. Mainstream Hurriyet says Bhutto told
President Abdullah Gul during his visit to Pakistan earlier this
month that Pakistan wants to use Turkey's democracy as a model for
their own democracy.
Turkish Reactions to Bhutto's Assassination
All papers report Turkey strongly condemned the killing of former
Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. The Turkish Foreign
Ministry (MFA) said Thursday "Turkey believes the people of Pakistan
will act with calm and will not allow the democratization process to
be destroyed." The Turkish parliament released a declaration signed
by all political parties, including the ruling AKP and opposition
CHP, MHP, DTP, and DSP, condemning the assassination and calling for
those responsible to be brought to justice. President Abdullah Gul
said he was "deeply saddened" by the assassination, stressing there
should be "no more bloodshed." He added, "Pakistan is experiencing
a critical period. What will happen with the elections, how will
they proceed? For us, Pakistan is a brotherly country, we should
help them." Prime Minister Erdogan strongly condemned the
assassination and expressed his condolences to President Musharraf
over the telephone. According to papers, Erdogan told Musharraf he
hoped the attack would not hamper the democratization process in
Editorial Commentary on Assassination of Benazir Bhutto
Okay Gonensin commented in mainstream Vatan (12/28): "By
assassinating Benazir Bhutto, radical Islamists took a significant
step in their quest to dominate Pakistan. Next month's elections
certainly will be postponed and this Muslim country will be dragged
into chaos. Radical Islamists will benefit from this chaotic
atmosphere. When we look at other Muslim countries like Iran,
Palestine, Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan, Algeria, Malaysia and others,
we see the way radical Islam's influence progresses through unstable
countries. This is a very serious situation in Pakistan. So far,
Turkey has managed to stay away from radicalization. That is why
the Western world should acknowledge Turkey's importance for the
Ergun Babahan wrote in mainstream Sabah (12/28): "Pakistan's tribal
infrastructure, inadequate education system, and decrepit human
rights situation formed the perfect atmosphere for violence. This
bloody attack will drag Pakistan onto a darker path. As we closely
follow the developments in Pakistan, I believe that we should
appreciate the virtue of our own democracy."
Turkish Operations against the PKK Continue Inside Turkey
All papers report that military sources say Turkish forces launched
fresh operations against the PKK terrorists in southeastern Turkey
on Thursday. Military sources said thousands of soldiers were sent
to reinforce troops in Sirnak, Hakkari and Tunceli provinces, which
are near the Iraqi border. The Turkish General Staff (TGS) said 11
terrorists were killed this week in clashes on Gabar and Kupeli
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mountains in Sirnak. 18 suspects have been detained in
counter-terror operations in four provinces. Turkish security forces
have initiated operations to capture 80 more terrorists hiding in
the region. The TGS also said four PKK surrendered in Silopi, a
town in the southeastern province of Sirnak.
AKP's Kurdish MPs Want Amnesty for PKK, Economic Support for
Liberal Radikal claims Kurdish lawmakers in the ruling AKP are
abstaining from making open statements about the Kurdish question.
The lawmakers await the results of today's National Security Council
(MGK) meeting, which will discuss plans for getting the PKK to come
down from the mountains. The Kurdish MPs believe the Turkish
military operations alone will not solve the problem; an amnesty law
must be passed in order to convince PKK members to surrender. In
addition, the Kurdish MPs feel that economic, social and cultural
steps must be taken to develop the region.
Ankara Seeking Ways to Invite Talabani to Turkey
Leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet reports the ruling AKP government has
decided to invite Iraqi President Jalal Talabani to Turkey during
the first quarter of 2008. The Turkish government is waiting for a
"suitable time" to extend an invitation to the Iraqi President.
Top Turkish Court Rejects Measures against Pro-Kurdish DTP
All papers report the Constitutional Court rejected the public
prosecutor's demand for precautionary measures against the
pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party (DTP). The prosecutor wanted
the DTP barred from elections, prevented from enrolling new members,
and deprived of Treasury assistance. The court's decision stated
that the conditions for such precautionary measures "have not
materialized." DTP board member Nursel Aydogan said the
Constitutional Court "prevented a legal scandal" by rejecting the
Meanwhile, DTP lawmakers, mayors, and party activists will hold a
news conference in parliament to denounce the jailing of their party
leader Nurettin Demirtas. Demirtas was charged with fraud after
evidence emerged that he falsely claimed he had tuberculosis in
order to avoid military service.
New Years' Celebrations Cancelled in Istanbul
All papers report that the Kadikoy Municipality in Istanbul,
Turkey's largest city, has cancelled New Year's Eve celebrations due
to security concerns. On Wednesday, the greater Istanbul
Municipality cancelled celebrations scheduled for Taksim Square.
NTV, 7.00 A.M.
- Turkey's top administrative court, Danistay, suspended the sale of
petrochemical company Petkim. The court said the suspension would
be lifted if Turkey's privatization board approved the sale of the
company to a consortium including Turcas and Azeri state oil company
- The prosecutor is demanding a 3 1/2 year prison sentence for Mayor
Osman Baydemir. The mayor is charged with preparing invitations in
Kurdish for a culture and arts festival in Diyarbakir.
- On Thursday, the Turkish Parliament adopted the Witness Protection
Law, which protects the identity of witnesses and secures their
protection. All expenses for the protection will be covered by the
- Planned price hikes for natural gas and electricity will increase
Turkey's inflation by 0.5 percent in 2008, Central Bank Governor
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Durmus Yilmaz said on Thursday. The ruling AKP government said
earlier this week the price of electricity will be raised by 15
percent for households and 10 percent for industry.
- Israel will deliver 10 unmanned reconnaissance aircraft called
"Herons" to Turkey.
- Israeli and Palestinian leaders held a summit meeting Thursday in
Jerusalem in order to advance the Middle East peace process.
- The Serbian Parliament has voted to prevent any attempt by Kosovo
to declare independence.
- An opinion poll showed Thursday the popularity of Russia's First
Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has doubled since President
Putin named him his successor two weeks ago.