Cablegate: Ankara Media Reaction Report
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TAGS: OPRC KMDR TU
SUBJECT: ANKARA MEDIA REACTION REPORT
MONDAY, DECEMBER 22, 2008
In Today's Papers
Iraq's Sunni Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi Visits Ankara
Weekend papers report Iraq's Sunni Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi
met Saturday with President Gul in Ankara, and later with Prime
Minister Erdogan in Istanbul.
The Sunday editions of Islamist-oriented Zaman and mainstream
Milliyet report that Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi expressed
the Iraqi Kurdish Regional Government's (KRG) readiness to cooperate
against the PKK, and said 'President Talabani asked me to convey a
strong message in this regard.' Hashemi also said, "Turkey and Iraq
have common interests and Iraq wants to develop bilateral relations
in every field." Today's edition of Cumhuriyet reports that during
the Hashemi-Gul meeting, Hashemi indicated the Iraqi parliament is
inclined to declare the PKK 'an illegal outlaw organization' rather
than declare it a 'terrorist organization.' The Iraqi parliament,
according to Cumhuriyet, expects this decision will prevent the PKK
from carrying out its activities through NGOs, political parties and
media organizations. The paper notes the Iraqi parliament will soon
adopt decision, and the KRG will follow suit; this process, at the
same time, will constitute the first step towards the disarmament of
the PKK. Once all these stages are implemented, the paper notes
Iraqi leaders expect that an extradition process for PKK militants
can be established.
CHP Changes Their Party Platform
All papers cover the CHP's weekend convention and highlight CHP
leader Baykal's criticism of PM Erdogan. Baykal was quoted as
saying "a considerable component of the Turkish media is under the
control of the Prime Minister. There are two media groups outside PM
Erdogan's control, and he has called for boycotts against the Dogan
Group and has called for the closure of the Cukurova Group - these
actions are worse than those of (former Argentine leader) Peron."
Among the decisions made during the convention are new, more liberal
approaches to many issues. The party seeks to abolish the Higher
Board of Eduction (YOK), lift parliamentary immunity for deputies,
encourage more freedoms for women, eliminate social pressure on
women, and raise the legal marrying age for girls to 18.
Columnist Murat Yetkin of Radikal comments on the CHP's new party
platform: "The CHP's party platform was approved with any debate or
even any brain-storming sessions. The CHP reformed platform seems
likely to return to the social democrat rhetoric instead of its
current nationalistic tone."
Turkey's EU Litmus Test
Liberal daily Radikal carries a front-page story entitled "The EU
Warns Turkey About 2009," and reports EU Commissioner for
Enlargement Olli Rehn's said he "Expects to see significant reform
process in 2009" and he called the new year "a litmus test for
Turkey" regarding its desire to implement the reforms necessary for
accession to the EU. "Turkey wasted 2008 by not implementing
necessary reforms and has put its energy toward domestic debates. I
hope 2009 will be focused on reforms and steps toward a
comprehensive solution to the Cyprus problem" Commissioner Rehn
Editorial Opinion on U.S.-Turkey Relations Under Obama
Omer Taspinar wrote in mainstream Sabah: "Turkey is worried that
Obama will be pressured by the Armenian Diaspora to use the word
"genocide" when he refers to 1915 incidents. If Turkey panics and
uses threatening language against the Obama Administration to
prevent this word, this might back-fire. At this time, the Armenian
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apology campaign is a very good opportunity for Turkey. Moreover,
it will strengthen Obama's hand against the Armenian lobby and he'll
be able to say, 'let us not damage these very important developments
in Turkey.' From Turkey's perspective, real patriotism means the
continuation of this campaign."
Ali Aslan wrote in Islamist-oriented Zaman: "Ankara should take
steps to eliminate some potential problems with the new Obama
administration. Democrats are traditionally more sensitive on
democracy and human rights issues, so we should act accordingly
instead of complaining about it. Resolving the Kurdish issue might
be a good start. Reforms on the EU process will also eliminate
potential democracy and human rights issues with Washington."
President Gul's Statement on his Ancestors
All papers: Responding to CHP deputy Canan Aritman's comments
regarding the ethnic background of his ancestors, President Gul
issued a written statement saying that he comes from a Muslim and
Ahmet Hakan wrote in mainstream Hurriyet: "Gul's approach, which
emphasizes details about family roots, only fuels racism. If
someone calls you 'Armenian,' your response should show that you
don't take this as an insult. It's more appropriate to say, 'What
if I am an Armenian' or 'what is wrong if I am a Jew?'
U.S. Troop Levels to Increase in Afghanistan
Media outlets report that the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of
Staff Admiral Mike Mullen has indicated U.S. troop levels in
Afghanistan could reach 20,000-30,000. Liberal Radikal reports,
"Afghanistan Will Be Filled with American Forces." Islamist-oriented
Yeni Safak reports in "They Will Be Defeated like the Soviets," that
Taliban Spokesman Yusuf Ahmedi responded to news of the increased
troop level by promising, "We will fight the American soldiers in
the same way we fought the Soviet soldiers," who, the paper notes,
"withdrew after their failed ten-year occupation of Afghanistan."
Mainstream Sabah reports, "It appears that this increase in
Afghanistan troop levels is a step to implement the Obama
administration's approach to the conflict in Afghanistan."
Mainstream Milliyet reports, "This is the first time a top U.S.
military official has called for such a large increase in troop
levels in Afghanistan."
Pharmacists Take to the Streets
Sabah, Milliyet, Hurriyet, Radikal, Cumhuriyet and others: Today's
papers report that approximately thirty thousand people met in
Ankara to attend a rally arranged by the "Association of Turkish
Pharmacists" and 51 Chambers of pharmacists to protest government's
health policies and changes in the law envisaging payment of medical
examination through pharmacists.
Turkey to Purchase Attack Helicopters from Russia
Mainstream Vatan reports that Turkey decided to buy attack
helicopters from Russia after its request to buy Cobra and Super
Cobra helicopters from the U.S .was turned down. Turkey will
purchase 32 Mi-28 attack helicopters from Russia to use them until
Turkey and Italy will co-produce A-129 helicopters.
Investigation against Author-Film Director Can Dundar
Saturday's Milliyet reported that the Ankara Prosecutor's office has
initiated an investigation against Can Dundar in connection with his
documentary film "Mustafa." There were three complaints against
Dundar. Two of the complaints said that Dundar was damaging the
image of "Ataturk", the founder of modern Turkey, by showing him as
a womanizer, heavy drinker, and heavy smoker. The other complaint
said that calling "Ataturk" as "Mustafa" reflected lack of respect.
Visa Applicant Asked about Ties to Fethullah Gulen
Mainstream Vatan carried a front-page story in Sunday's paper which
reported that a Vatan employee from their IT department was asked
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during his visa interview by the U.S. consular officer if he/she had
any intention of making contact with Fethullah Gulen during his
planned travel to the U.S. According to the applicant, the visa
was denied when the applicant said he/she had no intention to meet
- DTP deputy Osman Ozcelik stirs tensions by giving support to
Armenian genocide claims in a speech in parliament.
- Alevis in Adana rally to draw attention to their problems in the
30th anniversary of Alevi slaughter in Maras.
- CHP deputy Kemal Kilicdaroglu rejected the allegations that he
would run for the post of Istanbul Mayor.
- President Gul issued a message to celebrate the start of
- Clashes between youth and police continue in Greece.
- U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mullen said that Washington
could send up to 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan over the next six
- Lebanon assigns its first Ambassador to Syria. This is considered
as the latest step toward normalizing relations.