Cablegate: Ankara Media Reaction Report
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TAGS: OPRC KMDR TU
SUBJECT: ANKARA MEDIA REACTION REPORT
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 9, 2008
In Today's Papers
Terror Attack Kills 5 in Diyarbakir
All media outlets report that on Wednesday, five policemen were
killed and 19 other people were injured when a police shuttle bus
came under attack by terrorists in the southeastern province of
Diyarbakir. Terrorists attacked the police bus with grenades and
long range rifles. Mainstream Sabah comments the attack was a
"provocation" which came on the eve of Thursday's Counter Terror
High Board meeting where a proposal will be discussed regarding the
declaration of emergency rule in east and southeast Turkey. Papers
note that the attack came as parliament extended the mandate
authorizing the military to carry out cross-border incursions
against PKK targets in northern Iraq. Islamist-oriented Yeni Safak
underlines that the terror continues to rise on the eve of the first
hearing of the 'Ergenekon' case October 20.
Parliament Renews Military Authorization for Operations into
Media outlets report that yesterday the Turkish Parliament approved
a government proposal to extend the military's authority to carry
out cross border operations into northern Iraq by a vote of 511 to
18. The pro-Kurdish DTP and leftist ODP voted against the decree.
Papers note the voting came at a critical time in the struggle
against terror as the PKK carried out a deadly attack on Hakkari's
Aktutun military outpost, killing 17 soldiers and injuring 20 others
over the weekend.
Ahead of yesterday's voting, CHP MP Sukru Elekdag slammed the AKP
government and the local administration in northern Iraq. Elekdag
said the AKP government has a "weakness" in combating terror, adding
the ruling party was acting within the limits drawn by the U.S.
Elekdag called on PM Erdogan to acknowledge that Iraqi Kurdish
Regional Government President Massoud Barzani was "Turkey's enemy,"
and called the Kurdish leader "a chief supporter of terror," who
"should be forced to choose between Turkey and the PKK." Opposition
far right MHP MP Deniz Bolukbasi called on the government to take
concrete steps, such as implementing sanctions, on the
Barzani-headed local administration in northern Iraq.
Papers report Prime Minister Erdogan, commenting on a MHP proposal
to set up a buffer zone along the Iraqi border, said only the
military could make a decision on the matter. On Thursday, the
Counter Terror Board will hold a critical meeting to discuss the
measures to be taken against the PKK, including incursions into
northern Iraq as well as a proposal for the formation of "buffer
zones" between the two neighboring countries.
Leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet reports the DTP cancelled a march
scheduled for Friday from Diyarbakir to Lice to protest the
parliamentary adoption of the decree. The cancellation comes due to
fears of "provocative" attacks following the killing of five
policemen in Diyarbakir.
Editorial Commentary on PKK/Kurdish Problem
Cuneyt Ulsever wrote in mainstream Hurriyet: "Time is running out in
Turkey's efforts to find a concrete Kurdish policy. The Aktutun
attack demonstrates serious political and military weakness. Turkey
must immediately formulate a comprehensive Kurdish policy that
includes all elements, including the Kurds, the Iraqi Kurdish
Regional Government, and the PKK."
Cuneyt Arcayurek wrote in leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet: "The U.S.,
which is the AKP government's strategic partner, said in a statement
about the latest PKK attacks that the U.S. wants 'to see the terror
organization eliminated.' The U.S. makes statements to please the
Turkish public while it conducts open or secret diplomatic maneuvers
to protect the PKK from the Turkish military. The U.S. also
prevents Turkey from destroying the traitors. The U.S. can only
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fool the AKP with their friendship, and no one else."
Sedat Sertoglu wrote in mainstream Aksam: "TGS Chief General Ilker
Basbug said at least one third of the PKK militants in the mountains
are Syrians. According to him, an estimated 1,500 Syrians currently
fight in the ranks of the PKK. I don't understand why PM Erdogan
doesn't talk to his friend, Syria's President Bashar Assad, about
this problem. Turkey complained to Tehran regarding Iranian PKK
fighters even during the days of Ayatollah Khomeini. Turkey should
do the same with Syria in order to work with Damascus to prevent new
militants from joining the PKK."
Poll: Popular Support for AKP Declining
Mainstream Vatan carries the results of a public opinion survey
conducted by the A&G Company according to which undecided voters
constitute the largest group of voters in Turkey (30.8 percent). If
elections were held today, support for the political parties after
the undecided votes are distributed would be as follows: AKP 41.3
percent, CHP 21, MHP 18.6, and DTP 6.6. Support for the AKP one
month ago stood at 48.3 percent, and CHP at 19.7 percent. Vatan
says the fighting between Prime Minister Erdogan and the Dogan Media
Group, the bribery charges that led to the resignation of the AKP
deputy chairman Saban Disli, and irregularities in the
Germany-based, Islamist Deniz Feneri charity have negatively
affected the ruling AKP over the last one month. The poll canvassed
the views of 1834 persons in 27 provinces on October 4-5.
Greece Grants Asylum to a PKK Member
Mainstream Hurriyet reports in a flashy front page story that Greece
granted asylum and residence privileges to PKK member Ahmet Gulabi
Dere, who is listed on Interpol's Red Bulletin. Questioning the
integrity and sincerity of European Union regarding the fight
against PKK terrorism, Hurriyet reports some details such as "Ahmet
Gulabi Dere acts as PKK's foreign relations representative and
travels to European countries, attends meetings at the Council of
Europe and European Parliament by using his travel document issued
Despite the Interpol bulletin, Gulabi Dere also resides in Greece as
a resident political asylee. The residence permit was first issued
until 2005 and later extended to 2010. Turkey made a series of
demarches to have him extradited but Greece denied the extradiction,
Hurriyet adds. Ahmet G. Dere has various PKK-related pending court
cases in Turkey.
Hurriyet also listed some of the PKK members freely living in Europe
despite Ankara's efforts, adding "There are many Gulabi Dere cases
in Europe which is strong proof that Europe is not helping Turkey in
its fight against the PKK, and moreover Europeans are protecting
those PKK members."
President Gul Reaffirms EU Commitment
All papers report President Gul's stated that Turkey's EU process
does not stand in the way of its fight against terror. He said, "EU
membership is a state strategy for Turkey, and successfully
completing the process is a top priority." Emphasizing the
importance of clinging to democracy during anti-terrorism campaigns,
Gul said, "We will fight attacks perpetrated with weapons through
weapons, but we will never lose our faith in democracy because it is
democracy that isolates terrorists."
The Turkish President also asked EU countries to show more support
for Turkey in its fight against the PKK. Finnish President Halonen
said the issue would be "a key subject during the talks between
Turkey and the EU." Reiterating Turkey's commitment to reform
process, President Gul noted, "Our membership process is marked by
deep-rooted reforms, and it will continue. This is the
transformation process of Turkey."
Collective Efforts Fail to Contain Global Economic Crisis
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Media outlets report on the continuing economic crisis as it spreads
from the U.S. and Europe to Asia, despite the efforts of several
countries to cut interest rates. CNN Turk reports, "The U.S. rescue
measures are not enough to stop the crisis in the U.S. economy."
Islamist-oriented Zaman reports, "The U.S. Federal Reserve's
interest rate cut is not enough to extinguish the raging fires in
the markets," as "increasing volatility in U.S. and European markets
spreads to Asia." Leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet carries the
headline, "Markets are Paralyzed," as "joint interest rate cuts are
not working." Mainstream Milliyet asks, "How Far Will This Go?" as
"The U.S. package and the EU measures fail to contain the crisis."
Mainstream Sabah reports, "The World Unites to Fight the Global
Economic Crisis," as "seven major central banks slashed interest
rates in a joint effort to curb the global financial crisis."
Mainstream Vatan writes, "A Red Alert for the Global Crisis: Central
Banks Cut Interest Rates and the UK Launches a $870 Billion Rescue
Package," but "such measures are failing to bring a halt to the
panic." Conservative-nationalist Turkiye reports, "Volatility in
the World Markets Continues," despite a number of countries'
Papers report that in Turkey, the Lira weakened to 1.42 against the
Dollar. Interest rates jumped to 21 percent, and the stock exchange
index dropped 2.5 percent. Economic-political daily Referans says
"Turkish industrial output figures turned out to be the worst in 31
months, which is an indication that unemployment might rise." Prime
Minister Erdogan said yesterday the fluctuations were temporary, and
Turkey was "doing fine" compared to other countries stricken by the
meltdown. Mainstream papers say markets do not share the PM's
confidence, and note that the weakening of the Lira and the fall of
the stock market were indicators of a looming crisis. Mainstream
Sabah says the AKP government would tighten its belt while drafting
the 2009 budget, and state-owned banks would curb interest rates.
Editorial Commentary on Global Financial Crisis
Cengiz Candar wrote in liberal-intellectual Radikal: "Even though
the new American administration will have to deal with the worst
economic crisis since 1929, there is still room for optimism.
Barack Obama will likely be the new U.S. president and the U.S.
system will be reformed, which is enough to lead to a call for
optimism. But when it comes to Turkey, it is still not clear
whether Turkey's leaders are really aware of the global economic
crisis, and more importantly whether they have a vision for
- Constitutional Court President Hasim Kilic said the court's
justification regarding the case for banning the AKP would be ready
- On Wednesday, Prime Minister Erdogan met former British Prime
Minister Tony Blair in Ankara.
- U.S.Defense Secretary Robert Gates has urged his counterparts from
southeast Europe to send more troops to Afghanistan.
- Iran urges Iraq to reject a proposed U.S.-Iraqi security deal,
calling the agreement a "disgrace."
- The UN General Assembly approves Serbia's request to ask a UN
court if Kosovo's secession was legal.