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Cablegate: Turkish Media Reaction

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SIPDIS

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JCS PASS J-5/CDR S. WRIGHT

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OPRC KMDR TU PREL KPAO
SUBJECT: TURKISH MEDIA REACTION
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 9, 2009

In Today's Papers

Turkey's Media Mogul Slammed with Record-High Tax Fine
All media outlets report on their front pages that the Ministry of
Finance has issued a "record-breaking" tax evasion fine against the
media giant Dogan Media Group. Dogan Holding is the publisher of
some of the country's leading newspapers such as Hurriyet, Milliyet,
Radikal, Vatan and Posta. The media group also owns three leading
television stations - Kanal D, CNNTurk and Star, along with other
periodicals. Papers owned by Dogan Media Group sharply criticize
the fine. Mainstream Posta headlines, "A Terrible Punishment,"
while mainstream Hurriyet calls it, "The World's Most Unprecedented
Fine." Mainstream Milliyet also headlines, "A Punishment Unlike
Anything the World Has Seen Before." Liberal Radikal headlines,
"Unprecedented Punishment." Meanwhile, pro-government papers carry
less sensational headlines that specifically target the man behind
the Dogan Media Group, media mogul Aydin Dogan. Islamist-oriented
Zaman headlines, "A Record High Penalty for (Aydin) Dogan," and
Islamist-oriented Yeni Safak headlines, "Aydin Dogan Gets a
Record-High Fine." Mainstream pro-government Sabah headlines, "An
Historic fine for Dogan.

Dogan Holding announced the Finance Ministry has fined the Dogan
Media Group 3.75 billion TL (2.52 billion USD) for "tax
irregularities" dating between the years 2005 and 2007. The Dogan
company denied the charges and said they would use all legal means
possible in order to challenge the decision. Nevertheless,
mainstream Sabah reports, "Dogan stock went down twenty percent at
market closing yesterday after the announcement of the fine."
Milliyet and Vatan carried immediate reactions to this decision from
the International Press Institute and the main opposition party CHP.
"Although IPI can make no comment on the substance of the penalty,
events in the early part of this year, which saw Prime Minister
Erdogan wage a war of words against the media, leave in doubt the
intent behind this fine", said IPI Director David Dadge in a press
release. "IPI has a genuine concern that the impetus behind the
original tax investigation was more motivated by political and
personal calculations rather than a genuine desire to carry out a
full and fair investigation of the Dogan media group's financial
circumstances." Opposition party CHP leaders Onur Oymen, Ahmet
Ersin and Akif Hamzacelebi described the fine as "a pressuring
mechanism" against Dogan Media and called the government to "respect
the EU's press freedom criteria" instead of engaging in "efforts to
eliminate non pro-government voices."

Cumhuriyet notes "The magnitude of the fine is such that the entire
market value of Dogan Holding will not cover the cost of the
penalty." Cumhuriyet also notes the Dogan Publishing group received
another tax-related fine last year and has already turned over a
percentage of its shares to the Finance Ministry as 'credit
insurance.'

Meral Tamer noted in mainstream Milliyet: "The Finance Ministry's
decision comes with a clear message. Any media organs are doomed to
be destroyed if they continue to pursue a non pro-government tone.
In addition, Erdogan has proven that he is not afraid to use state
resources to force the country to submit to his power. No business
concern in Turkey is safe anymore. The PM's goal is to force media
baron Aydin Dogan out of the media and to create a media environment
in which no one questions him."

Metin Munir of mainstream Milliyet wrote: "With a few small
exceptions, the outlets owned by Dogan Media are the only press
actors who criticize the government. The Prime Minister wants to
take control over Dogan Media by the time the next elections come
around. This fine is an attempt to silence opposition to the
government in the media. The PM knows that opposition voices in the
parliament pose no threat to him, but he seeks to silence all
opposition voices, including those in the media."

Oray Egin wrote in mainstream Aksam: "This is an indication of

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psychological warfare initiated by the government against opposition
voices. The latest is an effort to hit the last nail into Dogan
Media Group's coffin and take full control over the media. The
government's understanding of the concept of free and democratic
media is a single-voiced media."

Ahmet Altan wrote in Taraf: "According to economists in my
newspaper, Dogan Holding has committed violations. However, Prime
Minister Erdogan is also violating the law by making a selective
punishment without punishing all the others who commit tax fraud."


Seven Turkish Soldiers Killed in Fighting with the PKK
Media outlets report that on Tuesday, six Turkish soldiers were
killed in clashes with the PKK terrorists near Eruh town in the
province of Siirt, and another soldier was killed in fighting near
Cukurca town in the province of Hakkari on the border with Iraq.
Papers comment the attacks came as the ruling AKP government was
working on a plan to resolve Turkey's Kurdish question. Prime
Minister Erdogan told reporters late Tuesday the killings would not
block the Kurdish 'democratic initiative' launched by his
government. Leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet headlines, "The PKK
Listens to No Initiative as Terrorist Attacks Kill More Soldiers."

Torrential Rains Kill Dozens
Media outlets report heavy floods hit Turkey's Marmara region,
killing six people in Tekirdag province and one in Istanbul, with
several people missing. Floods carried away thousands of vehicles
into the sea. Papers say torrential rains turned the places near
Istanbul into a disaster zone, causing destruction in Silivri,
Catalca and Golen by flooding hundreds of houses and business
places.

CNN-Turk television reported on Wednesday morning that flash floods
killed eight people in the suburbs of Istanbul. Meteorology
officials said thunderstorms were expected to continue until
Saturday, adding that the rains will be heavier Wednesday.
Islamist-oriented Yeni Safak daily points out that no one was hurt
by torrential rains which continued in Europe for weeks, but
Turkey's "infrastructure" has yielded to a one-night shower.
Leftist Taraf and business daily Referans say the catastrophe had
been a result of the failure of state authorities to pay attention
to meteorology warnings for flash floods.

Karzai Is Winning, But... (NTV)
Media outlets note that the first round of vote counting indicates
Afghan President Hamid Karzai is winning, despite widespread claims
of voter fraud and the invalidation of thousands of votes at
hundreds of polling stations. Islamist-oriented Zaman reports, "As
the controversy over the presidential elections continues, President
Karzai has won the first round of results." Mainstream Milliyet
reports, "As the controversy continues around the presidential
elections, it was announced that 200,000 votes were invalidated due
to fraud." Leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet reports, "The Votes Will
Be Recounted, But Karzai is in the Lead." Liberal Radikal reports
"Karzai Wins In the First Round Counting in the Flawed Elections."
Mainstream NTV reports, "Karzai Is Winning, But..." and the network
notes, "votes from 600 polling stations are being invalidated."

Kunduz Aftermath
Media outlets note the Taliban has responded to the NATO airstrikes
in Kunduz by appealing to the UN and international human rights
groups at the same time they launched a revenge attack on the Kabul
airport. In, "The Taliban Is Taking Refuge under International
Law," mainstream Milliyet asks "Is the Taliban changing its policy?"
as, "The Taliban has requested that international human rights
organizations and the UN investigate the NATO airstrike in Kunduz
against two fuel tankers in which civilians were killed."
Islamist-oriented Yeni Safak reports in "The Taliban Take Revenge on
the Airport," that Taliban Spokesperson Zabiullah Mucahid said the
attack on the Kabul airport "targeted a NATO convoy" following what

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the paper calls, "A NATO airstrike that killed 90 people."
Meanwhile, in a related article, leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet
reminds of the Taliban's terror tactics in, "A Taliban Lesson on the
Way to School," and the paper notes, "The Taliban shot children on
the way to school which killed four and injured six in northwestern
Pakistan."

Obama's Speech to Schoolchildren
Leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet reports in "He Didn't Make Marxist
Propaganda," that "Republicans are accusing President Obama of
espousing Marxist propaganda during his speech to American
schoolchildren this week," but, "Obama's messages are that students
should stay in school, do their homework, work hard, and keep their
hands clean." Mainstream Milliyet jokes in the headline, "U.S.
President Barack Obama's Frightening Speech: Wash Your Hands, Do
Your Homework."

TV News (CNN Turk)

Domestic

- A 14-year old boy is sentenced to three years in prison for
throwing stones at the police during an illegal rally in the
southeastern city of Siirt.

- Health Minister Recep Akdag has warned that Turkey should be
prepared for a rapid spread of swine flu over the coming months.

- International credit rating company JCR says Turkey needs to
strike a new deal with the IMF.

- Industrial output figures show that recovery in Turkey's economy
will be slow, but industrialists are optimistic about the coming
months.

World

- The Czech Republic and Liechtenstein have established diplomatic
relations for the first time since World War II.

- A captain of a Turkish-operated cargo vessel, detained while
trying to deliver fuel to Abkhazia, has been released by the
Georgian court following the intervention of Foreign Minister
Davutoglu.

- An article in the U.S. magazine GQ, which alleges that the Russian
government was behind a series of apartment bombings that led to the
second Chechen war of 1999-2001, will not be distributed in Russia.


- A female Sudanese journalist, jailed for a month after being
convicted of "dressing indecently" by wearing trousers, has been
freed.

- A U.S. drone aircraft fires missiles into Pakistan's North
Waziristan on the Afghan border, killing at least three militants.


SILLIMAN

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