Cablegate: Turkish Media Reaction
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TAGS: OPRC KMDR TU PREL KPAO
SUBJECT: TURKISH MEDIA REACTION
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 27, 2009
Media Highlights: PM Erdogan on Iran; US Religious Freedom Report
Rattles; PKK Returnees Postponement Update;
Debate over Army "Coup Document"
Erdogan on Iran
PM Erdogan's interview with The Guardian is extensively covered in
today's papers. Mainstream Hurriyet headline reads "PM Erdogan
Supported Iran, Criticized Israel"; Milliyet headline reads
"Ahmedinejad is Our Friend"; Sabah headline says "Erdogan's Reminder
of Lieberman Annoyed Israel"; liberal Radikal "The West Should Look
at Itself, Instead of Iran". Hurriyet notes that, during the
interview, PM Erdogan dismissed rumors that Iran is seeking a
nuclear weapon and stressed that Iran's efforts for nuclear power is
only for energy purposes. With his remarks, Erdogan criticized
Israel and supported Iran, the paper notes. Hurriyet notes that
Erdogan also said "the US policy in this region is not dictated by
Israel." He also reminded that Israeli FM Lieberman had threatened
Gaza in the past to use nuclear weapons against it. Nationalist
Tercuman predicts that Erdogan's harsh criticism of Israel will
trigger a deeper turmoil than the crisis in Davos. As a summary,
The Guardian wrote at the end of the interview that "Friendly toward
a religious theocratic Iran, covetous and increasingly resentful of
a secular but maddeningly dismissive Europe: it seems the perfect
summary of Turkey's east-west dichotomy."
Commentary. In "Erdogan Is not Iran's Defense Lawyer" Milliyet
columnist Semih Idiz agrees with PM Erdogan's effort "to balance the
nukes rhetoric by forcing Israel to be part of NPT." He wrote in
mainstream Milliyet: "Turkey is certainly disturbed about nuclear
armament as expressed by PM Erdogan in many occasions. However, PM
Erdogan is also trying to draw international attention toward
Israeli nuclear arsenal and considers as another factor for regional
tension along with Iran." Mr. Idiz says this approach may be seen
as "Turkey has become Iran's defense lawyer" but the main goal is
"to put the nukes issue in a balanced frame."
US Religious Freedoms Report Rattles
Mainstream and conservative media carry early assessments of the
report but emphasize different aspects. In "Serious Violations,"
mainstream Milliyet claims that the report says Turkey respects
religious freedom but in order to protect the secular state, it puts
limitations on religious groups. Conservative Samanyoluhaber, the
wire service for the Islamic-leaning media in Turkey, headlines in a
lengthy report titled "US Says: Islamic Restrictions in Turkey" that
secularism is an obstacle against religious freedom. Meanwhile,
mainstream Hurriyet in "US Warns Turkey on Secular State" carries
excerpts from the report and also notes that restrictions continued
for Islamist expressions in state institutions and the universities,
as well as the wide prohibition of the Islamic-style headscarf. All
papers note that, according to the report, some Muslims, Christians
and Bahais have been subjected to restrictions and sometimes,
harassment. Additionally, that the report noted that the Turkish
state does not accept conscientious objection to military service,
which is compulsory in Turkey. Media report that the Religions
Freedom Report observes that Islamic sects and communities, which
were banned in the 1920s, were still "active and widespread."
Reports also emphasized that Turkish authorities placed important
restrictions on the administration of the Greek Orthodox churches,
and refrains from recognizing the Ecumenical status of the
Istanbul-based Greek Orthodox Patriarch. All media noted that the
report underlines the fact that "nationalist sentiments in Turkey
sometimes adopt anti-Christian and anti-Semitic tones," and quotes
the members of the Jewish community in Turkey that they saw
anti-Semitic feelings going up after the Israeli operations on Gaza.
More commentary is expected on Wednesday.
Turkey's Search Continues for Return of the PKK (Cumhuriyet)
Under the headline, "Iraq Formula for the Return of the PKK,"
leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet says the AKP government would
continue the returns, but wants it to happen "without problems."
According to a formula discussed with the Iraqis, the PKK members
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who were not involved in crimes against Turkey will be given Iraqi
citizenship and stay in Iraq. An "understanding" was signed with
the Iraqi government and the government in northern Iraq on the
matter. The militants who were not involved in crimes will be
allowed to return to Turkey. Concerning the PKK leadership, talks
will be held with third countries to send the leaders out of Iraq.
Some figures among the PKK leadership, however, might want to
continue politics by joining the Kurdish political parties in Turkey
or Iraq, says Cumhuriyet.
Meanwhile, papers also report a statement from DTP leader Ahmet Turk
as promising more sensitivity with upcoming returnees. The DTP
leader Ahmet Turk, speaking at a press conference on Monday, said
his party will act more sensitively when it comes to the return of
groups affiliated with the PKK.
Turkish Armed Forces Initiates New Investigation for Alleged
Mainstream Sabah reports that the Turkish General Staff (TGS)
initiated a new investigation on Monday after certain news stories
in Turkish media speculated about an original document on the fight
against fundamentalism. The news stories argued that the signature
on the relevant document was real. Mainstream Hurriyet headline
reads "The Investigation Initiated at 13.30 on Monday" and reports
that the TGS finds the timing of the recent release of an alleged
military document suspicious and meaningful. The TGS also says it
still has doubts over the authenticity of the document. Sabah
headline says "The Prosecutor is After Colonel Cicek and Five
Privates"; liberal Radikal quotes PM Erdogan as saying regarding the
document "I hope that the allegations are not true. Turkish
Republic could not digest such things. I will discuss the issue
with TGS Chief General Basbug at our regular weekly briefing."
Leftist Taraf gives extensive front-page coverage to the words of
Deputy Prime Minister B|lent Aring that is was time to take action
against the members of the military junta plotting a coup against
the government. Mainstream Milliyet quotes MHP deputy chair Oktay
Vural as saying on the issue "If there is a power to end the AKP
government,that will be either us or the people at the elections. I
want the truth, is this issue being used by the AKP government to
change the agenda, and divert everyone's attention from their
democratic opening fiasco?!"
Commentary. The alleged coup document of the army dominates the
columns for Turkish pundits. Islamist leaning and conservative
writers call for the Chief of General Staff's "retirement or
resignation" while moderate writers mostly express trust that the
top rank command "will do whatever necessary to punish the
Islamist oriented Yeni Safak writers, Tamer Korkmaz and Ali
Bayramoglu hold chief of general staff responsible for this, and
mainstream Sabah's Nazli Ilicak joins their approach by saying: "At
this point what will happen to General Basbug is very important. He
seems to have two options; retirement or resignation."
In "Basbug Will Do Whatever Necessary" columnist Fikret Bila
expresses trust in General Basbug and army's loyalty to democracy.
In mainstream Milliyet he states: "Given General Basbug's earlier
statements as he was repeatedly pledging loyalty to democracy and
rule of law, he will undoubtedly go till the bitter end and find out
who is behind this document and what is all this about."
In "Worth Thinking Results for the Army" columnist Sedat Ergin notes
that there are credible facts to believe the document is genuine.
Given this fact, he calls the army to focus on its military duties
only. In mainstream Hurriyet he suggests: "It is not pleasant to
see that there are still out-of-democracy advocates within the
Turkish General Staff and the army is incapable of preventing them
from arranging coup plans." However Mr. Ergin remains hopeful
because of General Basbug's approach "to investigate the issue till
the bitter end."
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Q October 27: A delegation of the Turkish Parliament's foreign
affairs committee visits Azerbaijan.
Q October 27: Chief EU negotiator Egemen Bagis visits Finland.
Q October 27: Turkey-EU joint parliamentary commission holds a
Q November 8: CHP leader Deniz Baykal will go to Iraq to meet Iraqi
Q December 7: Prime Minister Erdogan will visit the US, according to
widespread press and TV reports
TV News (NTV)
Q Municipalities in Ankara, Istanbul and Izmir are disinfecting
schools and means of public transportation to contain the swine flu
Q The Health Ministry says 1095 swine flu cases have been reported
in Turkey since May 15.
Q A group of relatives of martyred soldiers has filed a legal
complaint against the PM and Interior Minister for launching the
democratic initiative that led to the return of 34 PKK militants to
Q Turkish Tourism Research Association says the sale of property to
foreigners declined by 38 percent in August in comparison to the
same month of the previous year.
Q A regulation for the sale of genetically modified food is
published in the Official Gazette.
Q President Gul visits Serbia on an official visit for the first
time in 23 years.
Q 14 American soldiers were killed when a helicopter crashed and two
others collided in south of Afghanistan.
Q The trial of Radovan Karadzic is adjourned for a day by a UN court
after the former Bosnian Serb leader refused to attend the opening.