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Cablegate: Turkish Media Reaction

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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 ANKARA 001262

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR INR/R/MR, EUR/SE, EUR/PD, NEA/PD, DRL
JCS PASS J-5/CDR S. WRIGHT

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OPRC KMDR TU PREL KPAO
SUBJECT: TURKISH MEDIA REACTION
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 26, 2009

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In Today's Papers

Basbug: Government Must Take Economic, Social Measures To Beat
Terror
Media outlets report the Chief of the military General Staff (TGS)
General Ilker Basbug said in a statement posted on the TGS webpage
that Turkey was a "unitary state," and that Turkish was the official
language of the country. The message was posted on the occasion of
August 30 Victory Day. Basbug made it clear that Turkish military
would not engage in any activity that might lead to direct or
indirect contact with the terrorist PKK or its supporters. Papers
note the statement came after the criticism raised by the opposition
on the latest National Security Council (MGK) declaration which
backed the government's "democratization package" that aims to
address the Kurdish question.

In response to the criticism that came from the opposition and the
media that the MGK declaration was a "tacit approval of holding
contacts with the Kurdish DTP," Basbug said TSK would not accept
"those who enjoy the privileges of the democratic system" (i.e., the
pro-Kurdish DTP) showing tolerance to the terrorists who target
innocent civilians." Basbug stressed the Turkish military was "a
side" when it came to the defense of the nation state and its
unitary structure. "While the army continues its fight against the
terrorist organization, it is important for the government to take
measures in economic, social and cultural areas in order to
eradicate terrorism," said Basbug. On the "democratization package"
of the government, Basbug said the right to freely discuss issues
should not contain elements that could jeopardize the existence of
the state, or drive Turkey toward separation.

Reactions to Basbug's Statement
Papers report the ruling AKP deputy group chief Bekir Bozbag said
Basbug's message was "positive." Bozbag commented that the
constitution has its "red lines" concerning the extent of possible
reforms. Bozbag noted the TGS Chief's message was directed both
toward the government and the opposition. Opposition CHP deputy
group chief Kemal Anadol said that in his message concerning the
Kurdish initiative, General Basbug emphasized important points, but
expressed regret that such sensitivity was not seen at the MGK
meeting. MHP deputy group chairman Mehmet Sandir said Basbug's
remarks on the Kurdish initiative were positive. Sandir said, "He
declared what is obvious. With this statement, the government's
Kurdish initiative is over -- insistence on its continuation would
be tantamount to separatism." Kurdish party DTP deputy group
chairmen Gulten Kisanak and Selahattin Demirtas issued a statement
in reaction to the statements of Basbug and the AKP's Bekir Bozdag.
The DTP statement said Basbug and Bozbag's remarks show that the
'Kurdish initiative' is "not anything outside the official
rhetoric."

Editorial Commentary on the TGS Statement/Kurdish Issue

Mustafa Unal wrote in Islamist-oriented/intellectual Zaman:
Opposition parties CHP and MHP exerted extra efforts to pull the
military into the field of debates over the government's Kurdish
initiative. They successfully provoked the military and forced them
to speak. Chief of General Staff General Basbug, as a custom, was
going to talk during the "Victory week", anyway. Bahceli and Baykal
were definitely aware of the timing. General Basbug, in order to
respond the accusations by CHP, MHP and DTP, adjust the timing of
his speech to an earlier time. Usually these speeches are not
limited with the great Victory but usually cover the issues on the
regime, secularism and other sensitive issues. This time, all his
messages were referring to the government's Kurdish initiative.
Both opposition parties CHP and MHP were satisfied with General
Basbug's messages and they said that the Turkish General Staff (TGS)
was objecting the government's opening. AKP deputy Bozdag, however,
said "Basbug declared that the opening is a state policy." Who is
right? As a matter of fact, Basbug's words on the constitution's
unchangeable principles, are not any different than the words of the

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architects of the initiative, President Gul and Prime Minister
Erdogan. They all say "single state, single nation, single flag and
single homeland." Even though the military is not completely out of
it but, the democratic opening is mainly an issue for the politics.
Maybe it is not possible for the CHP and the MHP to pursue politics
without the military, but this is not possible in the democracies.
They have to be contented with the speech only."

Mehmet Barlas wrote in mainstream Sabah: "Once again, General
Basbug directed the politics. If the opposition parties had said
the same things as Basbug, the government would be very angry but
just because the direction came from the military, the same
government said "our opinions match, besides, our constitution has
already determined all these red lines." There is this general
belief in Turkey that the civilians cannot determine the important
issues of the politics. Now, following the TGS statement, the
spokespersons of the opposition parties can be listened."

Sami Kohen wrote in mainstream Milliyet: "Turkey should not miss
the opportunity now to resolve the Kurdish issue. This issue
created serious problems for Turkey in foreign politics, especially
in the relationship with its allies and neighbors, for years. If
the issue is resolved through this democratic move, Turkey will be
revived in this arena also and moreover, a solution will open the
doors for Turkey as a regional power."

Can Atakli wrote in mainstream Vatan: "With yesterday's statement,
the TGS gave the message that other than the red lines, they will
not object to the Kurdish initiative. If the government pays
attention to this kindness and evaluates the opening within this
framework, the tensions in the country will decrease and the
military will be saved from unfair accusations. "

Murat Yetkin wrote in liberal Radikal: "If the Kurdish initiative,
which is referred as 'the state project' by the interior minister
Besir Atalay, is controlled by President Gul above the level of the
political parties, it will ease the tension of PM Erdogan. The
government, should accept the fact that at this point, their
interlocutor is the CHP because this is the natural way of politics.
Therefore, Erdogan should soon change his methods before the public
starts thinking that the solution will not be reached again."

DTP To Announce Ocalan's 'Roadmap' September 1
Media outlets report that on September 1 World Peace Day, Kurdish
party DTP will hold a rally in Diyarbakir, to which one million
people are expected to join. DTP's Diyarbakir provincial head Firat
Anli said that on the same day, the DTP plans to make public a
"roadmap" outlined by the PKK's imprisoned leader Abdullah Ocalan
for the resolution of the Kurdish question.

U.S. To Deport PKK's Parlak (Hurriyet)
Mainstream Hurriyet reports the Federal Appeals Court in Cincinnati
approved the "deportation" of Ibrahim Parlak, a Turk suspected of
being a PKK member, who has resided in the U.S. since 1991. Parlak
allegedly did not declare his ties with the PKK during his Green
Card application in 1993. He was convicted of being involved in the
killing of two Turkish soldiers, and a served prison sentence in
Turkey. Senator Carl Levin and Representative Fred Upton have
submitted a bill for Parlak to be given Green Card, according to
Hurriyet.

Friends of Pakistan Meeting
Media hail yesterday's meeting in Istanbul of the Friends of A
Democratic Pakistan as establishing a "Marshall Plan" for the
country. Mainstream Sabah headlines, "Support to Pakistan Will
Continue." Islamist-oriented Yeni Safak headlines, "A Marshall Plan
for Pakistan," and the paper reports, "The historic summit sought to
provide support to the rebuilding of Pakistan after it has been
ravaged by its war on terror." Leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet
reports in "A Marshal Plan for Pakistan," that, "The Makaland
Project seeks to rebuild (Pakistan) in order to re-establish

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stability after two million people were displaced by clashes with
the Taliban."

Islamist-oriented Zaman reports Foreign Minister Davutoglu gave a
harsh response to a question that Ankara's support to Islamabad
depends on negotiations with the U.S. on Iraq, saying such comments
were "extremely irrational," and that there was no need for a third
country in order to improve ties with Pakistan. Leftist Taraf
reports Holbrooke said in response to a question that every country
would decide on its own regarding sending combat troops to
Afghanistan. Mainstream Aksam reports Holbrooke said he spoke with
President Karzai about the Taliban's young recruits at the age of
13-14. "If he's reelected," said Holbrooke, "Karzai said he would
place among his priorities a general amnesty for young Taliban
militants."

Holbrooke on NTV
Media note Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan
Richard Holbrooke spoke with NTV last night regarding the NATO
operations in Afghanistan; most note Holbrooke refused to compare
Turkey's current Kurdish Initiative to the situation in the former
Yugoslavia prior to its breakup. Mainstream Haberturk reports,
"Holbrooke: Turkey Cannot Be A Second Yugoslavia," and the article
notes, "Holbrooke, the architect of the plan to bring peace to
Bosnia-Herzegovina by dividing it up into independent states," said,
"Turkey does not compare to Yugoslavia." The paper notes that
Turkish opposition CHP Leader Deniz Baykal recently criticized the
government's plan to address Turkey's Kurdish issue by saying
"Turkey could turn into a former Yugoslavia." Mainstream Hurriyet
carries the front page headline, "There Is No Comparison Between
Turkey and Yugoslavia," and the article notes U.S diplomat Richard
Holbrooke said at a meeting at the Ciragan Palace in Istanbul,
"Former Yugoslavia was founded when the Treaty of Versailles was
signed following World War I. Too many diverse peoples were put in
one place (in Yugoslavia). Turkey is a great country founded by the
great leader Ataturk. There are no similarities."
A Documented Torture Confession from The CIA (Haberturk)
Mainstream Hurriyet headlines, "A Super Prosecutor for The CIA," and
the paper calls U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder's newly appointed
special prosecutor John Durham, "a super prosecutor."
Islamist-oriented Yeni Safak reports, "The CIA Torture Report Is
Published Censored," as "The administration has begun a debate on
the treatment of terror suspects," and "Dick Cheney reacted to the
report." Liberal Radikal notes, "Obama Bludgeons the CIA," as
"Cheney charges Obama with putting the country at risk."
Islamist-oriented Zaman reports, "The Investigation Into the CIA
Angers Cheney." Leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet headlines, "An
Independent Prosecutor Investigates The CIA," and the article notes,
"Attorney General Eric Holder has announced an investigation into
whether the treatment of terror suspects violated laws," as "the
report indicates interrogators threatened to kill children," of some
suspects.

TV News (CNN Turk)

Domestic

- On Wednesday, President Gul and Prime Minister Erdogan will hold
separate meetings with Robert Wexler, visiting co-chair of the U.S.
Senate Turkey Friendship Group.

- Culture Minister Ertugrul Gunay said there were no plans to pardon
the PKK's imprisoned leader Abdullah Ocalan.

- Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan expressed concern about the
gapping budget deficit, and warned that Turkey needs to "tighten its
belt."

- Batman governor Ahmet Turhan has recruited Kurdish-speaking
bodyguards to boost dialogue with local people in the province of
Batman.

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- The Health Ministry has decided to close down a special smoking
section which was opened at Istanbul's Ataturk Airport.

- Istanbul Municipality is restoring the 178-year old St. Dimitrios
Church in Silivri district so that it can be converted into a
mosque.

World

- Iraq and Syria recalled their ambassadors in a diplomatic crisis
sparked by Iraqi accusations that Damascus is sheltering insurgents
who carried out last week's truck bombings in Baghdad that killed
101 people.

- Taliban commander Waliur Rehman said the leader of the Pakistani
Taliban, Baitullah Mehsud, has died of injuries sustained in a U.S.
missile strike earlier this month.

- Eight people are killed in a huge blast in the Afghan city of
Kandahar. The blast is caused by five car bombs strung together.

- President Obama nominates Ben Bernanke for a second four-year term
as the head of the Federal Reserve.

- South Korea attempts to complete its first space launch today, a
week after aborting the mission minutes before liftoff because a
technical malfunction.

JEFFREY

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