Cablegate: Ankara Media Reaction Report
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TAGS: OPRC KMDR TU
SUBJECT: ANKARA MEDIA REACTION REPORT
MONDAY, AUGUST 18, 2008
In Today's Papers
President Ahmadinejad's Visit to Istanbul Creates Controversy
All papers over the weekend gave extensive coverage to Iranian
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's two-day visit to Istanbul last week.
On Saturday, papers carried a story by The Guardian which reports,
"Because of U.S. pressure, Turkey withdrew from a profitable natural
gas agreement with Iran, which humiliated the Iranian president."
In addition, the paper reports, "A Western diplomat told The
Guardian Washington did not object to Ahmadinejad visiting Turkey as
long as no energy agreements would be signed with Tehran." Sunday
papers report President Abdullah Gul denied on Saturday the claims
the United States put pressure on Turkey not to sign an energy deal
with Iran. "Turkey does not do anything just because someone asks
them not to," Gul told reporters, saying "an energy deal was not
signed with Iran because preparations were not completed yet." Gul
noted the energy ministers from both countries would "work to carry
forward a memorandum of understanding signed earlier."
Fatih Cekirge of mainstream Hurriyet writes, "Turkey is afraid of a
new crisis with the U.S. regarding Iran, so Turkey exerted every
effort to avoid a U.S. confrontation with Iran." Hurriyet also
reported President Gul warned Ahmadinejad, "I don't want to see
Tehran become another Baghdad," and urged Iran to take steps to
prevent a war with the U.S. Sami Kohen of mainstream Milliyet
writes, "Turkey has to balance its ties to the West with its ties to
Iran," as "Turkey's and Iran's interests call for an improvement in
ties," but, "Turkey and Iran have many differences." Mainstream
Vatan called attention to the enthusiastic crowds which greeted
Ahmadinejad at Sultanahmet Mosque during Friday prayers in Istanbul
by noting, "Istanbul residents greeted Ahmadinejad by saluting him
with slogans they shouted against the U.S. and Israel." Cumhuriyet
notes the mosque "is a Sunni mosque and Ahmadinejad is a Shiite,
which means it was a political gesture for the Islamic world." Show
TV over the weekend reported the Iranian leader's reception at the
mosque as a "fundamentalist show." In "Silent like a Mute,"
Cumhuriyet columnist Cuneyt Arcayurek slams the ruling AKP
government for allowing Ahmadinejad to put on a political show by
joining Friday prayers at Sultanahmet Mosque in Istanbul while
downplaying his refusal to visit Ataturk's mausoleum. "They first
employed other methods to export Khomeini's regime, but failed.
Ahmadinejad is now sowing the seeds of a new method." Mainstream
Hurriyet pointed out the Imam had to intervene and warn the crowd to
be quiet during the prayers.
Editorial Commentary on Ahmadinejad's Turkey Visit
Mehmet Yilmaz observed in mainstream Hurriyet: President Gul warned
Iraq in 2003 to take measures to prevent a war with the U.S. Now
Gul has delivered the same kind of warning to Ahmadinejad. However,
Gul's advisors and Saddam Hussein believed in 2003 that if the U.S.
was unable to open a northern front from Turkey, the U.S. would not
start a war. When the Turkish Parliament refused permission to
launch a U.S. front against Iraq from Turkish territory in 2003,
Saddam believed that the U.S. would not invade Iraq. I really hope
that Ahmadinejad will not make the same mistake."
Erol Manisali writes in the leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet: "The AKP
displayed its Islamist roots by welcoming President Ahmadinejad in
Istanbul. The AKP also shelved the natural gas agreement with Iran
in an effort to please the U.S. The loser in this scenario,
however, is Turkey. Ahmadinejad's visit took place under the shadow
of U.S. and Israeli pressure against signing an energy agreement.
Ahmadinejad's visit displayed Turkey's ties with the West and
Ankara's contradictory position in the Middle East."
Turkey-Africa Cooperation Summit to Begin Today
Sabah, Turkiye, Hurriyet, Cumhuriyet: The first Turkey-Africa
Cooperation summit starts in Istanbul today with the participation
of heads of state and foreign ministers from approximately 50
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African countries. The three-day summit will also host
representatives from around 20 international organizations such as
the UN, the African Development Bank, and the Arab League. The
purpose of the summit is to seek new ways to improve ties between
Turkey and African nations. Sunday's Hurriyet reported that Human
Rights Watch (HRW) warned Turkey against extending such warm
welcomes to Sudanese President Omar Hassan Al-Bashir, who faces
charges of genocide in the International Criminal Court.
Gul to The Guardian: "The U.S. Must Begin Sharing Power with Other
Hurriyet, Milliyet, Sabah, Radikal, Taraf, Cumhuriyet, Zaman and
others reported Sunday President Abdullah Gul told The Guardian that
from now on, the United States could no longer shape global policies
on his own. "The U.S. must begin sharing power with other
countries," emphasized Gul.
Editorial Commentary on Conflict in the Caucasus, 'the New AKP,'
Erdal Safak wrote in mainstream Sabah: "Neo-Con Robert Kagan says
'people who thought the world was reconciled after the end of the
Cold War were very much mistaken.' A new struggle between the
democracies, led by the U.S. and the EU, and the authoritarian
regimes, led by Russia and China, will begin. The result of this
struggle will determine global stability in the 21st century. The
U.S. and its European allies won the first Cold War. I wonder who
will win the 2nd Cold War, which was triggered by Russian
intervention into South Ossetia and the U.S. missile shield
initiative in Europe."
Semih Idiz questioned in mainstream Milliyet: "The Russian invasion
of Georgia definitely activated "common threat" alarms in Europe
against Russia. The missile shield agreement signed between the
U.S. and Poland is the expression of the need to take necessary
measures against Russia. The question is, what will Ankara do if
NATO takes a harsher stance against Russia? Will Turkey manage to
stand next to NATO under any conditions? Or, will Turkey's relations
with Russia push Turkey farther away from the alliance? Under these
conditions, Turkey must find a solution so it does not suddenly find
itself outside all of its alliances."
Ismail Kucukkaya writes in tabloid Aksam: "Turkey met the new AKP
the day the Constitutional Court ruled against closing the party.
The AKP's cadres, rhetoric and vision today are totally different
from the political movement we saw in late 2001. Erdogan is the
only leader now and the AKP is a coalition comprised of diverse
views, including strong elements which give the party its Islamic
tone. It's possible that national overtures may dominate the
orchestration that harmonizes all those diverse approaches. Such
overtures would be conducted by Erdogan. The AKP's transformation
will change the opposition as well. The CHP's Kemal Kilicdaroglu
shows [by his corruption claims against the AKP's Saban Disli] how
to conduct an effective opposition. An opposition will grow when
opposition leaders pursue corruption claims against the ruling party
in a country like Turkey; that is the way to harm those who hold the
Ali H. Aslan emphasizes in Islamist-oriented Zaman: "In Washington,
there's an unprecedented and intense effort to understand Turkey.
This is true not only for the existing administration, but for the
presidential hopefuls as well. For instance, a reliable source of
mine said John McCain told his close friends, 'We must understand
Turkey correctly.' I'm sure Senator Obama, too, has advisors
suggesting the same. Turkey must continue, on the one hand, to
inform its Western allies in a way to leave no room to suspicion
regarding Ankara's intentions. On the other hand, Turkey must
continue its policy of getting along with all its neighbors in its
region. Turkey, also, must not take into account the chattering
voices coming from the West."
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Turkey Denies Blocking U.S. Hospital Ships from Entering the Black
Hurriyet, Milliyet, Radikal, Cumhuriyet and others reported Saturday
McClatchy news agency's report claiming Turkey declined to allow two
American hospital ships destined for Georgia to enter the Black Sea
through the Straits because the two ships' tonnage exceeds the
limits set by the 1936 Montreaux Convention. Mainstream Sabah
reported Sunday the Turkish Foreign Ministry (MFA) denied the U.S.
had made a formal request for the ships' passage. Unidentified U.S.
sources told Sabah Washington had not even made an official request
from Turkey to that end.
Turkish Military Hits PKK Target in northern Iraq
Sabah, Milliyet, Hurriyet, Bugun, Yeni Safak and others: The
Turkish General Staff (TGS) posted a statement on its web site said
that "a cave in the Avasin-Basyan region in northern Iraq was bombed
by Turkish jets on August 16. The cave was used by the PKK members
as shelter before they staged attacks in Turkey."
Meanwhile, mainstreams Hurriyet and Vatan report that during their
regular checks, security forces seized 40 kg of "Anfo" type
explosives on Tunceli-Erzincan highway. Hurriyet notes that this
type of explosive consists of ammonium nitrate and fuel-oil, which
is why it is called "Anfo."
- On Sunday, Tuzla shipyard workers staged protests in Istanbul to
protest the death of three colleagues in a lifeboat test accident
- Opposition CHP deputy group chief Kemal Kilicdaroglu said the AKP
vice-chairman Saban Disli failed to make a convincing explanation in
response to accusations he took USD 1 million in bribes in a real
- A prosecutor has demanded life without parole for the suspect who
raped and killed Italian artist and peace activist Pippa Bacca in
Gebze near Istanbul earlier this year.
- Russia said its regular forces will begin withdrawing from the
Georgian territories on Monday.
- "Russia shows signs of returning to its authoritarian past,"
Defense Secretary Robert Gates said, adding its invasion of Georgia
would require the U.S. to re-evaluate the strategic relationship
between the superpowers.
- Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf is under mounting pressure
to resign as the ruling coalition said it would present the
impeachment charges to the parliament as soon as Tuesday.