Cablegate: Ankara Media Reaction Report
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TAGS: OPRC KMDR TU
SUBJECT: ANKARA MEDIA REACTION REPORT
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 2, 2008
In Today's Papers
Economic Indicators Raise Cause for Concern
All papers report sharp changes in the latest import and
unemployment figures. Since November 2007, exports have dropped 22
percent; in addition, the Turkish Employment Agency announced that
the number of people applying for jobs nation-wide increased 134
percent in October over the previous month. Liberal Radikal carries
a front-page story with the headline, "The Prime Minister Does Not
Like To Hear Pessimistic News, But Here Is the Reality," and the
article reports the auto industry, which is a cornerstone of the
Turkish economy, reported a 38 percent drop in auto exports.
Radikal notes "The decrease in exports has dealt a blow to the
farming sector," while, "The prime minister is warning the media
against pessimistic reports, but the facts speak for themselves."
Finance Minister Unakitan told press he was optimistic, however,
when he talked to reporters at an economic affairs seminar and said,
"Turkey is not going to suffer much from the global financial
crisis, thanks to the current fiscal discipline."
Parcel Bomb Explodes in AKP Building in Istanbul
All papers report that at least ten people were injured on Monday
after a bomb exploded at the entrance of the ruling AKP's Istanbul
headquarters. Papers report that security officers were x-raying a
cargo parcel when it exploded. Medical teams rushed to the scene
and transported the injured to nearby hospitals. Following the
attack, Istanbul Police Chief Cerrah, Istanbul Governor Guler and
Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality Mayor Topbas visited the site and
received a briefing about the explosion. Mayor Guler told
journalists that four out of ten wounded four are policemen.
War Alarms Are Ringing In India, Pakistan (Sabah)
Media draw attention to the increasing tensions between India and
Pakistan after last week's terror attacks in Mumbai.
Islamist-oriented Zaman reports, "India officially sent a letter of
protest to Pakistan that criticized Pakistan for not doing enough to
combat terrorism on its own soil." Liberal Radikal reports, "Alarm
bells are ringing as India sends a protest note to Pakistan," while
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice "travels to New Delhi in an
effort to calm the tensions." Leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet
reports, "As India summoned the Pakistani Ambassador to the Foreign
Ministry, it was learned that a militant revealed the plans (for the
Mumbai attack) when he was detained in February, but the information
was not taken seriously." Mainstream Sabah reports in "War Alarms,"
that Pakistani Prime Minister Yusuf Riza Gilani "called an emergency
session of the National Security Council," and Pakistani troops "are
to be deployed to the border with India" in case "relations sour
into clashes with India forces." Meanwhile, Sabah reports
Condoleeza Rice "is on her way to the massacre region," in order to,
"show solidarity with the Indian people." In a related story, CNN
Turk reports in "American Intelligence Warned India," that, "twice,
American intelligence sent warnings to India concerning a possible
attack on Mumbai from the sea.
Report Highlights Two Scenarios for Turkey
Islamist-oriented Zaman reports the Western European Union and the
Europe Security and Defense Assembly released a report on terrorist
activities on the border between Turkey and Iraq. The report,
prepared by British lawmaker Robert Walter, will be ratified
Wednesday during the Assembly's meeting in Paris. According to the
report, the PKK actively opposes social and political reforms in
east and southeast Turkey. The report also claims that the ruling
AKP's victory in mostly Kurdish areas during the July 2007 elections
proves that the majority of Kurds do not want to split from Turkey.
The report also claims that Turkey's main pro-Kurdish party DTP is
under the PKK's influence. The report calls on EU countries to
support Turkey and the Iraqi Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) in
northern Iraq in fighting against the PKK. The report also states
Turkey must be urged to not use disproportional force while
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combating PKK terror.
The report predicts two "scenarios" for Turkey. In the "optimistic"
scenario, the ruling AKP will enact reforms in Turkey that include
giving cultural rights for Kurds, which is expected to weaken the
PKK. In the "pessimistic" scenario, the negative approach of major
EU countries toward Turkey's EU membership strengthens
"neo-nationalist" trends in the country, which will lead Kurdish
voters to lose trust in the AKP and vote for candidates who are
close to the PKK in the forthcoming municipality elections in March.
In this scenario, the PKK will be able to step up their attacks in
major cities, prompting a declaration of emergency rule. The report
says the EU and the U.S. can prevent the pessimistic scenario by
Editorial Commentary on Turkish Political Debates & Local Elections
Fehmi Koru wrote in Islamist oriented Yeni Safak: "Hope for change
is still the ruling AKP's most compelling strategy. Turkey must
settle its domestic issues and the government should be capable of
implementing a policy of change so Turkey can settle its domestic
issues. This is very important because Turkey has become a more
important regional player, particularly in the light of Obama's
victory, the withdrawal agreement between the U.S. and Iraq, and new
economic balances after the global crisis."
Ergun Babahan wrote in mainstream Sabah: "Candidates for the
upcoming local elections must have vision. Turkey is about to
undergo local elections, and candidates are slowly being identified.
Those candidates who genuinely seek to perform public service are
separated from the other candidates. I think it's sufficed to say
that it is necessary for candidates to behave with sensitivity to
the tensions that are going on in our country. It is possible that
quality leadership in the local municipalities can spread to the
national leadership level."
Ihsan Dagi wrote in Islamist-oriented Zaman: "If the AKP adopts a
'conservative democrat' approach, they can resolve the Kurdish
question, but only by recognizing Kurdish identity instead of
playing the 'Islam card.' In Turkey, Kurdish language and history
must be recognized; Kurdish culture research centers must be
established; and private Kurdish television broadcasts must be
allowed. There is no difference between homogenizing 'Islamist
politics' and homogenizing 'national politics' -- both approaches
reject 'Kurdish identity.' We cannot resolve the Kurdish problem
via the rhetoric of 'the Islamic brotherhood.' Afghanistan is an
interesting example of this. When the Taliban tried to melt the
Pashtuns, Tajiks, Uzbeks and Hazaras into a common Muslim nation,
the result was a primitive and totalitarian Taliban regime."
President-elect Obama's New Cabinet
Islamist-oriented Zaman reports, "Obama Announces Gates Will Stay at
the Pentagon and Clinton is entrusted with Foreign Policy." Liberal
Radikal reports, "Obama's Clintonian VIP Team Is Complete."
Columnist Murat Yetkin of Radikal writes, "Despite the polarized
election atmosphere, the core of Barack Obama's cabinet is
remarkably above partisan tendencies," and "The key figures are very
familiar with Turkey and that includes the new American Ambassador
to Turkey." Mainstream Sabah focuses on the gender balance is the
cabinet in, "Three Women are appointed to the New Cabinet."
Editorial Commentary on the Obama Cabinet
Murat Yetkin wrote in liberal-intellectual Radikal: "Despite the
polarized election atmosphere, the core of Barack Obama's cabinet is
remarkably above partisan tendencies. This indicates that
Washington is still in a state of war. However the composition of
Obama's cabinet also shows that there will be a change in rhetoric.
From Turkey's perspective, Obama's cabinet looks much better than
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the Bush administration. The key figures are all very familiar with
Turkey, and that includes the new American Ambassador in Ankara as
Editorial Commentary on Relations Between Turkey and Armenia
Cuneyt Arcayurek wrote in leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet: "In his
meetings with Foreign Minister Ali Babacan, Armenian Foreign
Minister Edward Nalbandyan said Armenia would recognize the
independence of Nagorno Karabakh. However, international law, as
outlined in both UN and OSCE resolutions, declare that Nagorno
Karabakh is Azerbaijani territory. Babacan has not remarked on this
issue, and we haven't seen anything in the media either. President
Abdullah Gul's football diplomacy efforts are seen as a diplomatic
success in the Western world. Armenia, however, has not taken a
single step toward resolving issues that are important for Turkey."
Higher Education Board Decree for Non-Muslims
Papers report the Higher Education Board (YOK) issued a decree to
all university rectors which calls on rectors to show respect for
Jewish and Christian religious holidays. The decree asked that both
academic staff and students be granted leave during their respective
- Adana Mayor Aytac Durak resigned from AKP, saying it was
"insulting" that AKP party delegates would determine nominees for
the upcoming municipality elections. Rumors indicate that Prime
Minister Erdogan was reluctant to support Durak's candidacy in Adana
in the upcoming elections.
- In Kocaeli, three people were killed and five were injured in an
explosion at the municipality building during repair work on the
building's natural gas system. The explosion occurred when
bulldozers accidentally hit a natural gas pipe.
- A prosecutor demands up to 31 years in jail for six children who
threw stones at the police during illegal protests in Adana on
- Iran test-fires a newly-designed air-to-air heat-seeking missile
with a range of 40 km.
- The Muslim religious holiday of Feast of Sacrifice is declared
official holiday in Spain.
- The UN's drug and crime agency in Afghanistan says half of the
prisoners in the country have not faced trial.