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Cablegate: Turkish Media Reaction

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DEPARTMENT FOR INR/R/MR, EUR/SE, EUR/PD, NEA/PD, DRL
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E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OPRC KMDR TU PREL KPAO
SUBJECT: TURKISH MEDIA REACTION
MONDAY, OCTOBER 19, 2009

Media Highlights: PKK Returns to Turkey; Iran Attacks; US-Turkey
Presidents Talk PKK as Well?; Turkey-Azerbaijan Rift Grows;
Turkey-Israel Tensions; Kazakstan President to Visit; President
Gul's Offer to Opposition; Another Penalty for Dogan; H1N1 in
Turkey

PKK Groups to Return to Turkey Monday
Papers report over the weekend and Monday that acting on the PKK's
imprisoned leader Abdullah Ocalan's instructions, three groups of
PKK militants will come to Turkey to surrender. On Monday, two
groups will come from the Kandil Mountains and from the Makhmur Camp
in northern Iraq, and another group will come from Europe. Islamist
and mainstream alike, papers strike a straightforward tone in
reporting "The return of the PKK militants from northern Iraq was
about to begin." Monday's Milliyet says the groups' return would be
a demonstration of "goodwill" in line with the call of Ocalan.
Sunday's Taraf says the first group of the PKK militants to return
would include only militants who did not participate in attacks
against Turkey. The paper expects them to be released in a couple
hours after a brief questioning at the border. Taraf says Monday
that the young Kurds might leave the mountains if Turkish officials
decide to set free the 34 people who surrender. Sunday's Radikal
expects the returns to continue, unless the process is "sabotaged."
All Monday papers report Kurdish party DTP was preparing a "grand
welcome" for the PKK groups at the border, and also preparing to
stage big celebrations in Diyarbakir.

Revolutionary Guard Commanders Killed in Iran Attack
The suicidal attack on Iran's Revolutionary Guards dominates
international news headlines. Media focus on Iran's claims that the
US and Britain were involved in the attack. In "Heavy Blow on
Revolutionary Guards," mainstream Milliyet says "a suicide bomber
killed seven senior commanders and 42 members of the Revolutionary
Guards," adding, "Iranian officials accused foreign enemies of
supporting the attack." Liberal Radikal headlines "Suicide to
Iran's Guards," and observes that " the Revolutionary Guards are hit
badly just before Iran is set to meet for another round of talks on
its nuclear program with several Western countries." Mainstream
Hurriyet writes "Bomb to the Guard," and speculates on "how the
attack will affect critical nuclear talks." In "Attack in Iran,"
leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet notes "the State Department denied
Iran's accusation."

US and Turkish Presidents Talk PKK as Well?
On Sunday, mainstream Hurriyet and other outlets fronted stories on
the phone call between the Turkish and American presidents noting
that "President Gul asked President Obama for his help and more
engagement on the two important pending issues; namely the Minsk
Group for the Nagorno Karabakh and the solution to Cyprus issue.
Mentioning the recent normalization effort with Armenia, President
Gul told Obama that a solution for the Karabakh issue will play a
vital role in future developments so President Obama should be more
engaging in Minsk group's effort." The Hurriyet report also notes
that President Obama said "Your points are well taken and I will
continue to do my best" in return.

PKK Discussion? In a follow up story on Monday, Hurriyet columnist
Fatih Cekirge believes there were more than the two mentioned issues
between Obama and Gul phone call: "The U.S. also gave a tangible
start regarding the dissolving of PKK. The designation of PKK
leadership as part of the Kingpin Act provided a new impetus on
bilateral ties between Washington and Ankara. And with Gul's phone
call, Turkey also wanted to enhance an image as strongly peace
seeking country. There is another important chain in bilateral
ties: PM Erdogan's upcoming visit to the US. Washington wants to
host him as early as possible which indicates that there are some
important messages to come, such as recent tension with Israel, PM
Erdogan's trip to Iraq and Iran. Given the timing of Erdogan's
visit to Iran which will happen right before Washington trip, there
is a strong possibility of Turkey assuming an important role between
the US and Iran."

ANKARA 00001505 002 OF 003

Rift Grows Between Turkey and Azerbaijan
Weekend papers continued reporting the growing rift between Turkey
and Azerbaijan over the Turkey-Armenia rapprochement. Following the
ban of Azeri flags during the soccer game between Turkish and
Armenian national soccer teams, Azerbaijan, in retaliation, removed
all Turkish flags from the monument of Turkish martyrs in Baku.
Mainstream Vatan notes that even though Azeri officials said that
the Turkish flags at the monument violated Azeri laws, Vatan
reminded that the flags have been there for ten years. At the
weekend also, Azeri President Ilham Aliyev signaled an increase on
the natural gas sold to Turkey by saying "Turkey is paying one-third
of the market value for Azerbaijani gas, and this makes no sense."
Today's mainstream Hurriyet headline reads "One Nation is
Separating" and reports that the rapprochement between Turkey and
Armenia damaged the 'Two states, one nation' belief between Turkey
and Azerbaijan. The paper quotes Aliyev as saying "Turkey is
creating problems in the shipment of Shahdeniz gas to Europe,that is
why we are looking for alternative routes and working on a
Georgia-Bulgaria-Romania route for the shipment of gas to Europe."

Editorials on Turkey-Azerbaijan

"Aliyev is right, but...": Semih Idiz notes "this is the time to
test Azerbaijan's true friendship." In mainstream Milliyet, he
wrote: "Aliyev's reaction to Turkey and his reprisal attitude will
not bring any solution to the main problem, i.e. Karabakh. He has
to realize the fact that Azerbaijan's close friend Russia is behind
the Karabakh problem."

"Empty Rhetoric": In mainstream Sabah, Mehmet Barlas wonders if the
"two states one nation" rhetoric was an empty one: "Azerbaijan's
reaction does not make any sense." If Turkey's normalization with
Armenia is now a reason to get upset, he writes, then why Baku
hasn't been upset over long-term Russian and Iranian ties with
Armenia.

"Emotional Reaction": Mehmet Yilmaz is worried about Azerbaijan
leadership's emotional reaction. In mainstream Hurriyet he says:
"Emotionalism is not a good method for statesmen. Azerbaijan leader
Aliyev should put emotionalism aside and see the protocol between
turkey and Armenia as an opportunity to provide settlement to the
Karabakh problem."

Israel Continues to React to Anatolian Eagle's Clipped Wings
Mainstream Milliyet cites Israeli daily Haaretz's reporting that
Israeli PM Netanyahu commented that "Turkey cannot be a honest
moderator" when it comes to mediating with Syria. The paper
comments that following the incident in Davos, the cancellation of
Anatolian Eagle exercises and finally the airing of a highly
critical Turkish TV series, the tension between Israel and Turkey is
growing deeper.

In a related story, mainstream Sabah reports that Turkey is
participating in "Bright Star 2009" military exercises in Egypt with
three F-16s and 59 personnel. Egypt, the US, Pakistan, Germany, and
France are participating at the exercises. Even though, Israel is a
member of the exercises, they are not participating in the exercises
this year.

Editorials on Turkey-Israel Tension

"The Israel Crisis" Columnist Nuray Mert draws attention to the
potential ramifications of populism. In mainstream Hurriyet she
writes: "Neither reacting to Israel nor empathy with Palestine
justifies populism. In a Muslim country such populism inevitably
provokes anti-Semitism. And the worst of all, anti-Semitism in this
nature eventually turns into full scale discrimination on
everything."

"Reasons for the Crisis with Israel" Liberal daily Radikal's Ceyda

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Karan however thinks there is a lesson for Israel to take: "Turkey's
new position vis-`-vis Israel can be interpreted as 'I am your true
friend and I should be able to pronounce your mistakes.' Keeping a
blind eye on serious mistakes does not work between real friends."

Nazarbayev to visit Turkey October 21
Prior to his official visit to Turkey on Wednesday, Kazakhstan's
President Nursultan Nazarbayev made remarks to Turkish dailies.
Islamist-oriented Zaman quotes Nazarbayev as supportive of the
"positive developments" between Turkey and Armenia. Nazarbayev
stated that in five years, Azerbaijani oil would dwindle, and that
the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) oil pipeline would need Kazakh oil.
Nazarbayev said Kazakhstan was willing to "contribute more" to the
BTC pipeline.

Main opposition party opening from President Gul
Mainstreams Sabah and Hurriyet report that participating in TRT1's
"Political Opening" program live from the Presidential Palace,
President Gul said "the National Security Council should also
include members of the main opposition party. The most important
issues of Turkey are discussed at the NSC meetings and it will help
the opposition to understand the issues fully." President Gul urged
that political differences should not ruin the atmosphere of working
together for Turkey and said "It is very important. In this
respect, I follow the ongoing tensions in politics with concern."

Dogan Group's broadcasting license may be cancelled
Monday papers report "irregularities" in the transfer of Dogan Media
Group shares to its partner, German media group Axel Springer.
According to existing regulations in Turkey, the Dogan Group had the
right to sell only a 25 percent stake of his shares, but made a
transaction for the sale of 28 companies to Axel Springer. Papers
report Turkey's media watchdog RTUK has given the DG three months to
correct the irregularities with its German partner; otherwise, the
DG's broadcasting license would be cancelled.

'Swine Flu' cases on the rise in Turkey
Media outlets report over 30 "swine flu" cases were seen in Ankara,
seven in Diyarbakir, including six students, and one in Erzurum.
Two schools were closed in Diyarbakir for five days. The first
patch of swine flu vaccines would arrive in Istanbul and Ankara
today, report papers and televisions.


Upcoming events:

Q Today: Mohsen Rezaei, secretary of the Iranian Expediency Council,
will be received by President Gul.
Q Today: Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kohout visits Turkey
Q October 21: Kazakhstan's President Nazarbayev visits Turkey.
Q October 22-23: Turkish Investment Summit in London.
Q October 24: President Gul visits Serbia.
Q October 24-25: Central and Eastern Europe Energy Forum in
Istanbul.

JEFFREY

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