Cablegate: Ankara Media Reaction Report

DE RUEHAK #1586/01 2471422
O 031422Z SEP 08




E.O. 12958: N/A

In Today's Papers

President Gul Expected to Visit Yerevan
All papers gave extensive coverage to the developments regarding
President Gul's potential trip to Armenia for the September 6th
soccer match between the Turkish and Armenian national teams.
Mainstream Hurriyet reported the final decision will be reached
after MFA Deputy Undersecretary Unal Cevikoz returns from Yerevan.
"Security, the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute and the genocide claims are
the main issues of concern to Ankara," Hurriyet added. While
columnists from mainstream as well as Islamist leaning dailies
supported Gul to go to a larger extent, Turkish business circles
also gave similar support. Turkey's business group TUSIAD issued a
statement and urged President Gul to use 'this historic
opportunity.' Papers also drew attention to the comments from
Turkish national team coach Fatih Terim, who told a press conference
in Istanbul, "Football is an activity which brings nations closer,
and political problems should be left off the pitch. We are going
there to play football, not to make a war."

Meanwhile, the ruling opposition party AKP leaders asked its
parliamentarians not to travel to Yerevan for the game, papers
reported. Milliyet, Radikal and Hurriyet noted that the decision
was taken in order not to face criticism from opposition parties.

Editorial Commentary on Turkey-Armenia

Cuneyt Ulsever commented in mainstream Hurriyet: "A Caucasus
Platform involving Russia, Georgia and Azerbaijan may now be a
distant dream. However the platform effort itself is very important
to pursue because it creates a dialogue mechanism while minimizing
foreign intervention. Armenia should not be excluded from the
Caucasus Platform. Otherwise the territorial integrity of Armenia
will be at stake too. Turkey should align with Armenia against
Moscow's efforts at direct influence over Yerevan. Also, this would
prevent the declaration of Karabakh's independence in the midst of
all this turmoil. Given all of these facts, President Gul's trip
to Yerevan is even more important."

Cengiz Candar wrote in both the business daily Referans and
liberal-intellectual Radikal: "President Gul's trip to Yerevan will
be a giant step toward the future. I don't think he will, but I
wish during his visit he could go to the 'Genocide Monument' in
Yerevan and pay his respects. Such a gesture would elevate Turkey's
position rapidly before international community. And such a gesture
has nothing to do with recognition of genocide. It only means 'I am
aware of the tragic memories from our common history. I am here to
show my respect to the human agony.' I wish he was able to make
this gesture."

Abdullah Muratoglu wrote in Islamist leaning Yeni Safak: "President
Gul's trip to Yerevan will likely cause a positive impact on this
new phase of bilateral ties. Let's hope that Yerevan will not turn
down Turkey's peace-seeking hand. Had Yerevan acted wisely some 15
years ago, there would be enormous benefits for Armenia. For
instance, we would have Baku-Yerevan-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline, and
the 1915 events could have been limited to an acceptable frame.
Armenia lost all of those chances. In any case Turkey should
continue to do whatever is necessary for peace."

Sami Kohen commented in mainstream Milliyet: "The September 6th
soccer game between Turkey and Armenia is an historic opportunity to
invigorate the weak relationship between Turkey and Armenia. Now,
some circles are criticizing Gul's possible visit to Armenia before
our bilateral problems are solved. However, the only way to resolve
problems is to meet and talk. This visit will serve Azerbaijan's
benefit as well because Turkish diplomacy will support Azeri rights
within the Caucasus' crises. No one should expect any concrete and
sparkling results from this visit. If this gesture can start a new

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process, even that should be considered as success."

Ergun Babahan wrote in mainstream Sabah: "Recent Turkish foreign
policy is based on good relations with all its neighbors. Active
foreign policy has been pursued from Greece to Iran to Syria. The
only exception to this policy is Armenia. Turkey has been unable to
improve relations with Armenia because of Armenia's foreign policy,
the Diaspora's stance and Azerbaijan's uneasiness. The soccer game
is an opportunity to start a new era in Turkey's relationship with
Armenia. President Gul's visit to Armenia will be a good will
gesture and that is why I believe that his visit to Armenia will be
the right decision."

Gungor Mengi wrote in mainstream Vatan: "Regardless of
speculations, President Gul should go to Armenia. Turkey may not
benefit from this visit but if it is cancelled, Turkey will be left
in a bad position which is against its role in the region as a
peacemaker. The only way to end conflicts is to create channels for
discussions. Gul should not waste the opportunity to attend this
football game."

Cuneyt Arcayurek wrote in leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet: "What will
Turkey gain from President Gul visiting Armenia? Will this visit
prove to be a step forward which might cause Armenia to withdraw
forces from Upper Karabakh? PM Erdogan does not expect much from a
visit which is not expected to bring concrete results. Erdogan has
made it clear that he doesn't think like Gul because he prohibited
AKP lawmakers from traveling to Yerevan for the game."

Mustafa Unal wrote in Islamist leaning Zaman: "President Gul's
decision to visit Yerevan overlaps with the AKP policies. PM
Erdogan approves of Gul's effort. Objections might be raised
against Gul visiting Armenia, but the arguments put forth by the
opposition CHP and MHP were far from convincing. Establishing ties
with Armenia is important for the sake of regional stability. The
communication channels between the two countries must be opened in
order to find a resolution to our problems. Turkey has been a good
regional example by favoring solutions on Cyprus. Gul's acceptance
of Sarkhisian's invitation will put Turkey one step ahead in the
international arena."

Lavrov and Babacan's 'Diplomatic Duel'
Media outlets report Foreign Minister Ali Babacan met Tuesday with
his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Istanbul. In a joint news
briefing following the talks, Babacan stressed stability and
security in the Caucasus was "vitally important" to all countries of
the region. He said both Turkey and Russia agreed that the Caucasus
Platform initiative was aimed at boosting trust among regional
countries. Mainstream Milliyet reports, "Lavrov denied secret
missile sales to Iran," and "called for an international police
force to secure peace in the Caucasus." Meanwhile, mainstream Sabah
notes Babacan responded to a question about Turkey and Russia's
disagreement regarding Georgia's territorial integrity by saying,
"Sometimes allies have different ideas on some topics." Liberal
Radikal writes, "Turkey and Russia Say they are Friends, Despite
Disagreements about the Territorial Integrity of Georgia."
Leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet is more negative in, "For the Second
Time, Russia Rejects Turkey's Caucasus Platform," and draws
attention to Russia's demands, regarding who sits at the table, are
met. Leftist Taraf carries the headline, "Diplomatic Duel," and
notes "Lavrov implied Turkey may be sending weapons to Georgia," but
"Babacan denied Turkey's involvement in arms shipments to Georgia."
In addition, the paper notes, "Babacan defended Georgia's
territorial integrity," while Lavrov "defended Russia's recognition
of the breakaway republics."

Babacan also said the results of the first six months of the year
show Russia is Turkey's leading foreign trade partner, particularly
in energy. "We have a multi-faceted partnership. Over the past
months of this year, the trade turnover between our countries

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amounted to 20 billion dollars; bilateral cooperation must be
further developed," Babacan emphasized. Islamist-oriented Zaman
reports Babacan stated the customs crisis between the two countries
would be resolved by the "spirit of flexibility and cooperation"
Russia was expected to demonstrate. Lavrov said Russia wishes to
continue trade and stressed that discrimination against Turkey was
out of the question. On possible cuts in the supply of Russian
natural gas to Turkey, Lavrov stressed that so far Russia never
violated its energy deals with other countries. Economic-political
Referans, however, believes Russia will not seek urgent solutions to
the existing problems regarding customs. Turkish trucks have been
stranded on the Russian border since the beginning of the conflict
between Russia and Georgia.

Gul and Bush Discuss Regional Developments
Mainstream Milliyet reports President Bush and President Gul talked
on the phone yesterday about the Caucasus Initiative, the Kirkuk
problem and the ensuing talks in Cyprus. Mainstream Sabah notes
"Gul requested support for the Caucasus Proposal in order to ensure
long term security in the Caucasus," but Bush "had reservations"
about the proposal because, "Bush finds Russian occupation of
Abkhazia and South Ossetia unacceptable." Meanwhile, mainstream
Hurriyet writes Bush and Gul merely "discussed their views regarding
regional developments."

Saban Disli Resigns from his Post in AKP
All papers report that AKP Deputy Chairman and Sakarya deputy Saban
Disli resigned from all of his posts in the party. Earlier the main
opposition party CHP documented that Disli took a $1 million bribe
to settle a land issue with the state offices in Silivri.
Mainstream Milliyet reports that the AKP central executive board
convened this week and many members of the board said that the
document could harm the party even if Disli were innocent.
Reportedly, PM Erdogan told Disli to choose between trade and
politics. Disli resigned from his posts as the deputy chairman of
the party and member of the executive board. However, he will
continue to be an AKP parliamentarian. Liberal Radikal reports that
Disli said that he resigned from his posts "to prevent further
damage to the AKP because of the CHP's groundless claims." The CHP
claimed that Disli's resignation from party leadership is not
satisfactory, and he should be tried in a court of law. Mainstream
Vatan notes that this is the first time that an executive member
resigned from the AKP because of bribery allegations.

New Round of Talks in Cyprus
Mainstream Milliyet reports "Talat and Christofias will meet to draw
up the road map to the September 11th discussions," where "The
Turkish side wants guarantees that a new Cyprus Republic must be
established where the Turkish and Greek sides have equal political
status." Mainstream Sabah reports "Christofias has partially
accepted the Turkish demand for political equality," but "the
dispute lies in who is the guarantor of the island," as, "The
Turkish side wants Ankara as the guarantor, but the Greek side wants
the EU as the guarantor." Islamist-oriented Yeni Safak draws
attention to the role of the U.N. in observing these talks.

Editorial Commentary on Cyprus

Halit Kakinc argued in mainstream Aksam: "Greek Cypriot leader
Christofias addressed his people in a speech, saying, 'Get used to
the idea of a Turkish president in Cyprus. We will not continue
governing the Turks forever; we will share the administration in a
rotating presidency.' Christofias was also tough on a bishop who
opposes peace efforts: 'This is not a religious state -- it's not
the church that is that is determining state policies in Cyprus, but
my party which received 53 percent of the vote.' It will be
difficult, but we might have a settlement this time since we have
pro-solution politicians on both sides in Cyprus."

TV News:

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CNN Turk

Domestic News

- The Turkish General Staff (TGS) said in a statement on its webpage
the Turkish and Russian naval commanders met aboard a Turkish
frigate in the Black Sea to discuss the recent developments in the

- Batman's Kurdish mayor Huseyin Kalkan has been sentenced to a
one-year prison term on charges he spread PKK propaganda on the
Copenhagen-based Roj TV.

- One soldier is killed in skirmish with the PKK terrorists in the
Black Sea province of Giresun. Two others were killed in Bingol.

International News

- The Iranian chief of staff said the Iranian air forces would hold
a wide-scale exercise "to display the ability and strength of those
defending Iran's sky."

- Iraqi PM Nuri al-Maliki said a draft security deal between
Washington and Baghdad on the status of U.S. forces in Iraq will be
submitted to parliament within 10 days.

- A mosque frequented by Turks was attacked in the town of Obernai
near Strasbourg in France.


© Scoop Media

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