Cablegate: Turkish Media Reaction
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TAGS: OPRC KMDR TU PREL KPAO
SUBJECT: TURKISH MEDIA REACTION
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 17, 2009
In Today's Papers
Erdogan-Assad Meet in Istanbul
Media outlets report that on Wednesday's meeting between Prime
Minister Erdogan and visiting Syrian Head of State, Bashar Assad,
came together in Istanbul. All media report that Turkey and Syria
have agreed to remove visa requirements between the two countries;
tractor-trailers will be exempt from taxes, and a council of
ministers meeting will be held once a year under the leadership of
Turkish and Syrian prime ministers. Media also report that Foreign
Minister Davutoglu on Thursday will bring together the Iraqi and
Syrian foreign ministers in an effort to help relieve the tensions
between the two countries over bombings in Baghdad earlier this
month that Iraq claims was instigated by Syria. The meeting will be
held with the participation of Turkish, Syrian, Iraqi and Arab
League representatives. Mainstream Hurriyet says Turkey will
suggest the establishment of a three-side border security mechanism.
The meeting will correspond with Thursday's Turkey-Iraq Strategic
Cooperation Council meeting on economic integration.
Atalay: Cross Border Extensions and New Letters for the Turkish
Media outlets report that following a meeting on Wednesday with
Parliament Speaker Mehmet Ali Sahin, Interior Minister Besir Atalay
told the press that the Council of Ministers would be discussing
renewing the motion authorizing the Turkish military to carry out
cross-border incursions into northern Iraq -- but has yet to do so.
Atalay stressed that not renewing the extension has never been
discussed by the government. In denying widespread media
speculation that the government would not seek an extension as part
of its democratic initiative on Kurdish issues, Besir said that "the
press is creating scenarios, we haven't finalized any of the efforts
contained in the democratic initiative and (this issue) wasn't on
the agenda. When the time comes, we will evaluate at the Council."
Atalay also rejected Wednesday's media reports that there were plans
to add new letters, Q, W and X, to the Turkish alphabet. The
opposition has harshly criticized the alleged move. Hakki Suha
Okay, deputy parliamentary group leader of the CHP, told reporters,
"According to our Constitution and existing laws, it's impossible to
include such letters in the alphabet." MHP's Oktay Vural said, "This
is betrayal, and an attempt to erode Turkish."
Cicek: PKK Militants Won't be Penalized If They Surrender
Mainstream Milliyet reports deputy PM Cemil Cicek has signaled that
the PKK terrorists in Kandil Mountains would be given no penalties
if they surrender to Turkish security forces. "At least 1,500 of
the 4,500 militants in the mountains are not Turkish nationals. A
great majority of the rest are fit to take advantage of article 221
of the Penal Code if they return to Turkey," said Cicek. Cicek
noted militants who have not committed any murders are released in
line with article 221. Cicek added most of the PKK militants have
not committed any crimes, except for participation in a terror
Baykal Reluctant to Discuss Turkey's 'Kurdish Initiative' with
Islamist-oriented Zaman reports that in October, CHP leader Deniz
Baykal is expected to pay a visit to Iraq and meet with President
Talabani. Talabani wants to tell Baykal his views about the Turkish
government's Kurdish "democratic initiative," but the CHP is
reluctant to discuss the issue, saying that the Kurdish question is
Turkey's "internal problem." Baykal will reportedly not go to Iraq
if Iraqi officials do not accept to not raise this sensitive issue,
according to Zaman.
Editorial Commentary on Kurdish Initiative
Okay Gonensin wrote in mainstream Vatan: "Serious mind confusion
continues as far as the government's initiative is concerned. The
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government seemed determined about the idea even though content was
never made to public. The later content is revealed, the worse the
mind confusion will be. The only success story for this initiative
requires if the ruling AKP can formulate this as an effort for most
progressive rights for all citizens of Turkey."
Murat Yetkin wrote in liberal Radikal: "The government is working on
two parallel levels by focusing on democratic steps to take while
not avoiding fight against PKK at the same time. Turkey, in this
regard, is waiting for even more cooperation from the U.S. regarding
efforts to eliminate PKK presence in northern Iraq. Interior
Minister Atalay was denying some reports in the press that Turkey
will not seek for renewal of cross border operation mandate as well
as denying plans regarding some more letters to be added in Turkish
alphabet. On the other hand, there will be some other tangible
steps about the democratic process may be coming out from PM Erdogan
after his trip to the U.S."
Babacan Announces Medium-Term Economic Program
Media outlets report State Minister Ali Babacan has announced the
ruling government's medium-term economic program in Ankara,
emphasizing that from now on, talks with the IMF will proceed based
on this program. Babacan said Turkey doesn't need the fund's cash
and hasn't included it in fiscal projections. The program made
public by Babacan projects 6 percent contraction in 2009, and 3.5
percent growth in 2010. Turkey's economy contracted 7 percent in
the second quarter of the year after slumping 14.3 percent in the
first three months. The 2009 budget deficit is expected to stand at
TL 66 billion by the year's end. Unemployment is estimated as 14.8
percent, and no tax hikes were foreseen.
According to Islamist-oriented Zaman, the program indicates that the
government will proceed without seeking a new deal with the IMF.
Business daily Referans, however, stresses that the success of the
program depended on making a new deal with the IMF. A commentary in
Referans says that the government hardly could reach the target of
3.5 percent growth in 2010 without IMF funds. Mainstream Aksam
reports Babacan as saying that talks with the IMF were advancing
smoothly and that the parties were "close to a deal."
Zaman Interviews Professor Phillips
In an unusual twist, Islamist-oriented Zaman and Today's Zaman both
carry a full-page interview with Professor David Phillips, the
author of the Atlantic Council's "Confidence Building Between Turks
and Iraqi Kurds" report. In addition to his views on the Turkish
government's Kurdish initiative, Phillips commented extensively on
Armenia-Turkish rapprochement noting that "compromise between the
Turks and Armenians will be a long process which requires lots of
contacts." Phillips said that "Turks and Armenians will come
together when the border is opened, and it will deepen mutual
understandings. This, however, doesn't mean that Armenians will
abandon their claims of 'genocide.'" In addition, he noted that
"the Minsk process is expected to be finalized with an agreement
which will return the majority of territories affected by war to
Azerbaijan. There is, however, no connection between a settlement
between Turkey and Armenia and Azerbaijani lands. I believe the
normalization of Turkey-Armenia relations will support a great
extent the talks on Nagorno Karabakh."
Barroso Will Be a Balancing Factor for Turkey (Sabah)
All papers report on the European Parliament's election of Jose
Manuel Barroso for a second five year term as president of the
European Commission. Mainstream Hurriyet headlines, "EU: Continue
with Barroso," and reports, "Jose Manuel Barroso got the EU top job
with the support of 382 votes to 219 against, from among the 718
lawmakers." Mainstream Sabah writes, "Barroso Will Be A Balancing
Factor for Turkey," as saying, "Barroso will balance Christian
Democrats who are divided against Turkey's membership."
Islamist-oriented Zaman headlines, "Barroso Who Supported Turkey is
At It for Five More Years," reporting, "Despite French leader
Sarkozy and German leader Merkel, EU Commission chief who didn't
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hesitate to support Turkey's accession, is elected again."
Meanwhile, leftist Taraf writes in, "The Left Couldn't Defeat
Barroso," that, "the European Parliament gave Barroso, who takes
nationalism and racism as threat, one more term presidency despite
the opposition of liberal and socialist groups."
Leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet reports, "European Right Wins One
Editorial Comment on Iran and 5+1; Turkey's Potential Patriot
Semih Idiz wrote in mainstream Milliyet: "The restart of nuclear
talks with Iran gives hope for establishing regional stability and
at the same time, rises Turkey's profile to interact. Given
post-election events in Iran, the Mullah regime feels more pressured
more than ever before both coming from outside and inside. Turkey
on the other hand is presenting an inspiration to Iran with its
secular and democratic structure. The days of Iran were exporting
its ideology in the 80s are well over. And also countries in the
region, not only Western powers, are very displeased by the ongoing
instability caused by Iran. All of these factors are leading Iran
to work for reconciliation and being more stable."
Hadi Uluengin wrote in mainstream Hurriyet: "The debate over missile
purchase should be on the need for open and free discussion.
Turkish armament needs and upgrade of military systems, including
purchase of Patriots or others, should be an extensive discussion by
civilians not by military. In addition to that, Turkey has to focus
on its urgent need for professional army as well."
Fehmi Koru wrote in Islamist oriented Yeni Safak: "It will be a
mistake to present our border neighbor Iran as a direct threat to
Turkey. Turkey and Iran are having a good cooperation and dialogue
while Ankara is already working on Tehran regarding to address
nuclear issues. Purchasing missiles and treating Iran as a threat
to Turkey only helps for disqualifying all possible peaceful ways to
deal with the problems."
TV News (CNN Turk) Domestic
Q The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), in
a letter to Foreign Minister Davutoglu, expressed concern for the
heavy tax fine imposed on the Dogan Media Group (DMG).
Q On Thursday, Prime Minister Erdogan will host an Iftar
fast-breaking dinner for the chief editors of newspapers and TV
Q Pro-Kurdish DTP MP Hamit Geylani describes army chief General
Ilker Basbug, CHP leader Deniz Baykal and MHP leader Devlet Bahceli
as "three menaces" for Turkey and denounces their opposition to the
ruling government's Kurdish democratic move.
Q Six al-Qaeda members are arrested for involvement in bomb attacks
in Istanbul in November 2003.
Q The foreign ministers of Turkey, Iraq and Syria and Arab League
Secretary General Amr Moussa are expected to meet in Istanbul to
discuss the tensions between Baghdad and Damascus over bomb attacks
in Iraq earlier this month.
Q President Gul will visit Saudi Arabia from September 20-24.
Q Prime Minister Erdogan will visit the US from September 21-26 to
join UN General Assembly meetings in New York and the G-20 summit in
Q Iran builds a wall at "strategic points" along its border with
Turkey to prevent smugglings and the infiltrations of PJAK
Q Afghan President Hamid Karzai reportedly secured over 54 percent
of the votes in last month's presidential election.
Q European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso has won a second
term of office in a vote at the European Parliament.
Q The Obama administration sets objectives for countering al-Qaeda
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in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Q Al-Qaeda has called on the Taliban to kidnap more foreign
civilians in Afghanistan so they can be used in prisoner swap deals.