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Cablegate: Turkish Media Reaction

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TAGS: OPRC KMDR TU PREL KPAO
SUBJECT: TURKISH MEDIA REACTION
MONDAY, AUGUST 31, 2009

In Today's Papers

Victory Day Celebrated All Over Turkey
All papers: The 87th anniversary of the August 30 Victory Day was
celebrated throughout Turkey. Both top government officials and
Turkish Armed Forces senior staff attended events. The Turkish
General Staff (TGS) organized this year's celebrations under the
theme "Powerful Army, Powerful Turkey." The celebrations began with
a visit to Anitkabir, the mausoleum of Ataturk by Chief of General
Staff General Ilker Basbug and his delegation. A parade was later
held in Ankara and observed by President Gul, Parliament Speaker
Sahin, PM Erdogan, opposition CHP leader Baykal and other state
officials at the Ataturk Cultural Center. Basbug also hosted an
evening reception marking the 1922 victory. Basbug called for
integrity and unity in his remarks at the reception that brought
governing and opposition parties together. Mainstream Milliyet
reports that during the reception PM Erdogan signaled that he wanted
to discuss government's Kurdish opening with CHP leader Baykal.
Earlier Deputy PM Bulent Arinc said they were ready to kiss the hand
of CHP leader Deniz Baykal if this would help solve the problems.

Four Martyrs in Hakkari
All papers: Mainstream Hurriyet reports that a statement was posted
on the TGS web site yesterday saying that four soldiers including a
non-commissioned officer were killed Sunday in a clash with PKK
terrorists in the southern province of Hakkari. Mainstream Milliyet
says that PKK terrorists attacked the soldiers - who were on their
way to an operation - with hand grenades in Semdinli. Liberal
Radikal notes that Prime Minister Erdogan described the attack as an
attempt to hamper Turkey's recent Kurdish opening and said that the
attack will not undermine our determination. MHP leader Bahceli
said "terrorism was encouraged. Attacks will continue." CHP leader
Baykal said "those who say that 'nothing happens even if PKK does
not lay down arms' should think again. In a related story, Sabah
reported that the TGS website announced that security forces
discovered a two-story cave where PKK's ammunition was hidden in a
rural section of Sirnak's Beytussebap district. An anti-aircraft
missile was among the weapons and ammunition found.

Erdogan: Kurdish 'Democratic Move' Will Be Completed Regardless Of
Cost
Media outlets report Prime Minister Erdogan said on Sunday his
government's Kurdish initiative ("democratic move") would be
completed "regardless of its cost." Erdogan noted that NGOs,
academics, media, universities, foundations and associations were
extending support to the project. The PM said Turkey's economy and
democracy would be stronger when the project was completed.

In "Critical Week Regarding the Kurdish Initiative,"
leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet reports that Interior Minister Besir
Atalay will hold a press conference Monday to explain the
"democratic move" process and what will follow next.

Papers report that on September 1, 'World Peace Day,' some one
million people are expected to turn up in a mass rally in the
southeastern city of Diyarbakir to acknowledge the government's
recent efforts to resolve the Kurdish issue. "The rally in
Diyarbakir will be the voice of peace from our people," said DTP
leader Ahmet Turk over the weekend. Papers also expect the rally
may coincide with an announcement by Abdullah Ocalan, the imprisoned
leader of the outlawed PKK, of his 'roadmap' to peace.

Editorial Debate on Kurdish Initiative

Omer Taspinar wrote in mainstream Sabah: "It is disappointing to see
Turkey constantly driven by conspiracy theories. Regarding the
latest Kurdish initiative, politicians are now telling the public
that this is an American plan by citing a meeting at Atlantic
Council as proof. How hard it is to figure out that there are
numerous NGOs in the U.S. and regardless of their political tendency
they are not the voice of administration?"

ANKARA 00001288 002 OF 003

Tamer Korkmaz wrote in Islamist oriented Yeni Safak: "There is no
basis to claim that the government is adapting a plan designed by
the U.S. and other foreign powers. First of all, the government
managed to free itself from U.S. influence over the last three
years. This is a period in which the U.S. lost the war in Iraq and
Turkey on the other hand gained more clout and power in the region.
Thus this is the very time for Ankara to move ahead on a Kurdish
initiative action plan and implement it independently."

Kadri Gursel wrote in mainstream Milliyet: "We have seen nothing but
political rhetoric so far on the Kurdish or democratic initiative.
It is interesting to see remarks from government officials as they
claim to be taking a big risk even though there is no plan put
forward publicly. If things go as they have so far we can expect
two outcomes: the government will not take any concrete action and
will blame the military for preventing it or it will call for an
early election."

Ankara Wants Damascus to Allow Return of Syrian-Origin PKK Militants
(Taraf)
Sunday's Taraf reports that Ankara is pressing Damascus to clear the
way for the return of Syrian PKK militants to Syria. Ankara also
wants Damascus to grant Syrian nationality to 75,000 Kurds who have
no identity papers. In doing so, Ankara believes that the
settlement of the nationality problem in Syria would encourage 2,000
PKK militants of Syrian origin to lay down their weapons. Taraf
expects Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu to discuss the issue during
his visit to Damascus on Monday.

FM Shoots Down Turkey Missile Shield Claims
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu paid an official visit to
the Slovenian capital of Ljubljana on Saturday and responded to a
reporter's question regarding media claims that the Obama
administration could install a missile defense shield in Turkey.
Davutoglu said, "The news report is not accurate and we have not
received such a demand from the USA or NATO." Meanwhile, columnist
Ismail Kuccukaya of Aksam writes, "Prime Minister Erdogan is
expected to go to Washington soon to discuss missile shield plans
with U.S. officials." In a related story, NTV reports that, "After
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called Davutoglu, he decided to
travel to Baghdad and Damascus today in order to assist with
resolving border disputes between the two countries." Also, CNN
Turk reports Davutoglu will travel to Egypt September 1-3, and some
reports indicate Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal will be in Cairo at the
same time.
Aksam Claims the U.S. Will Move Troops through Incirlik
Mainstream Aksam claims that they have obtained a document from the
Incirlik Base 39th Air Wing Command indicating that 100,000 US
troops will begin transiting Incirlik from Iraq to the U.S. by the
end of December 2009. The paper reports the base is "on the alert"
as the Pentagon "is preparing to complete the exit of U.S. troops
from Iraq by the end of the year," and, "100,000 of the 142,000 US
troops in Iraq will be transported through Incirlik." They will go
back to the U.S. after a ten-day stay in Incirlik, Aksam notes.
Aksam says that there was "busy activity" to make preparations for
meeting the logistical needs of the U.S. soldiers. The capacity of
the base has been expanded to prepare the ground for the huge
operation. Aksam says that the first dispatch of U.S. troops from
Incirlik to the US was expected before Christmas.

US Offered Bribe to Scotland on the Lockerbie Bomber (Cumhuriyet)

"The US Administration offered a bribe to
Scottish authorities in order not to release the Lockerbie bomber,"
wrote leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet. The U.S. offered to finance
house arrest for Megrahi but Scotland did not accept it. Meanwhile
a BBC survey indicates that more than half of the Scottish people
consider Megrahi's release a bad decision, the paper added.

TV News (CNN Turk) Domestic

ANKARA 00001288 003 OF 003

- MHP's Mehmet Sandir warns that an ethnic approach to Turkey's
problems would pave the way for the division of the country.

- Alevi groups have staged protests in Istanbul to protest
compulsory religious instruction in elementary and secondary
schools.

- 'Turkey Party' leader Abdullatif Sener says that Turkey's Kurdish
initiative has coincided with a time when American troops were
leaving Iraq.

- A police officer is arrested in Gaziantep for firing his gun in
the air and killing a 41-year old street vendor.

- The Revenue Administration has launched a tax investigation
against liquor producers and exporters.

- This year, Turkish grain production is expected to increase by 4
million tons.

World

- About 1,000 homes have been evacuated as a wildfire rages in the
mountains above Los Angeles.

- Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas starts a five-day visit to
Arab and European countries.

- Israel bombs a tunnel in Gaza allegedly used to smuggle
Palestinian terrorists from Gaza into Israel.

- Following a bitter defeat in elections, Japanese Prime Minister
Taro Aso has announced his resignation as head of the party that has
governed Japan for decades.

JEFFREY

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