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Cablegate: Turkish Media Reaction

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TAGS: OPRC KMDR TU PREL KPAO
SUBJECT: TURKISH MEDIA REACTION
FRIDAY, JANUARY 8, 2010

Media Highlights: Obama and the Security Flaw Debate; Al-Qaida in
Yemen; Congressman Hastings Visit; Armenian Genocide Paper for
Turkish Student in NY; Romans Relocated; PM Erdogan's 2010 Plan;
Erdogan-General Basbug Meeting; German FM Visits Ankara; Pope
Benedict on Catholic Minority in Turkey; Iran Executes PJAK Leader;
TV Spotlight

US Embassy Ankara - Turkey Media Reaction - January 8, 2010 as
prepared by the Public Affairs Information Office

How the US is Playing

President Obama's Security Upgrade
In "Security Failure Debates Continue in the US," Islamist-oriented
Zaman online highlights "White House says the US administration
failed to understand the intelligence that it already had" and then
reports the new measures Obama laid out to cover security gaps
exposed by the bomb plot. NTVMSNBC online reports "Obama: We'll
Fight the Intelligence Defects," noting "President Obama promises
stronger aviation security after a failed attempt to blow up a US
passenger plane." In "Obama Takes Responsibility For the Airline
Bomb Plot," CNNTurk online says "President Obama took ultimate
responsibility for the security failures that led to the attempted
Christmas Day bombing and ordered reforms aimed at preventing future
attacks."

Al-Qaida in Yemen
Turkish papers continue to comment on Al-Qaida in Yemen as well as
security steps taken by the US saying that "military means might not
work." In "Obama's Impasse" liberal Radikal's Haluk Sahin observes
that the Yemen situation is "a question with no possible answers."
Expressing regret about President Obama's speech which he describes
as "giving up on peaceful messages" the writer says: "There is an
obvious security issue and the main threat, Al-Qaida, has not been
eliminated. President Obama has started giving concessions to the
war lobbies. However the targeted countries are all Muslim nations
and unfortunately at the end of the day these American efforts will
be providing more ground to Al-Qaida presence." Another pundit,
Yasemin Congar notes the potential for global conflict if the US
intervenes in Yemen. In leftist Taraf, she writes: "If there is an
intervention in Yemen, the impact will not be only in Yemen. The
Obama administration will have to put off its goals for the Middle
East, including to persuade Iran for peaceful nuclear energy. In
the end it will turn to a global conflict from Saudi Arabia to Iran
and to others."

Congressman Hastings Visit: "Obama's Right Hand Man Asked About Gays
and the Democratic Initiative" (Aksam)
Mainstream Aksam carries a front-page story covering Congressman
Hastings meetings with NGOs during his visit in Ankara. The report
focuses on his interest in Turkey's stance on anti-discrimination
issues. The reports says: "Guests of the meeting with Hastings at
the DCM residence included Ayse Sucu, Chairperson of the Diyanet
Foundation's Women Branch; Ozturk Turkdogan, Chairman of the Human
Rights Association; Hidayet Turksal, Chairperson of the Ankara
Women's Platform; Yilmaz Ensaroglu of SETA and Baris Sulu,
Coordinator of the Pink Life Organization. Hastings, who is known
with his work against discrimination, asked whether gays are
recruited to do their military service. Sulu responded by saying
that gays are presenting medical reports to avoid military service.
He added that if the military discovered that a recruit was gay then
his family is called in a humiliating tone by saying 'come and get
your daughter.' Hastings asked whether PM Erdogan's wife Emine
continues to wear a headscarf. He added that as a black person he
knew well what discrimination meant since they struggled for 120
years to achieve their rights. Hastings also asked what their
response would be if the U.S. Congress discussed the Armenian
Genocide Resolution. In response, he was referred to the murder of
Hrant Dink, which indicated that there are still some in Turkey who
treat the Armenian community with ill intentions. The Congressman
also asked about democratic initiatives and wondered about the

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reasons for the closure of DTP even though it is this government
that paved the way for a Kurdish television channel."

Turkish Student in NY Asked to Prepare Armenian 'Genocide' Paper
(Milliyet)
Mainstream Milliyet and leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet report a high
school Turkish student in Manhattan was asked in his World History
class to prepare a paper on the "genocide" of Armenians at the hand
of Ottoman-Turkish troops in 1915. The student's family wrote a
letter of objection to the school administration, saying both the
topic and bibliography provided were "biased." The family
reportedly applied to the Turkish Consulate in New York for help.

In the Headlines

Turkish Roma Forced to Relocate
All media outlets report that escalating tensions in Selendi town in
the province of Manisa continued from earlier this week when the
homes, shops and cars of the Roma in the town were torched.
Pro-government papers preferred to down play the situation by saying
"Roma asked to be relocated due to safety reasons." Liberal Radikal
reports Burhan Uckun, the person who allegedly caused the tensions
by violating smoking ban in a coffee house, said the owner of the
coffee house refused to serve him tea and called him a "dirty
gypsy." The quarrel escalated, and resulted in assaults against the
gypsies in the town after which the governor of Manisa, Celalettin
Guvenc, relocated 76 gypsies to another town, Gordes. Mainstream
Hurriyet claims the gypsies decided to leave when police said their
safety could not be guaranteed. Cumhuriyet reports the gypsies have
not been welcomed in Gordes either and town residents rallied for
them to be sent away. The residents of Selendi told papers that for
over 20 years, the gypsies have caused distress in the town. State
Minister Faruk Celik said the riots in Selendi were "a local
incident." Noting the seriousness of hate crimes, mainstream
Hurriyet's columnist Sedat Ergin calls on the government to take
immediate action: "This is an obvious example of a modern-age
deportation. The government should take action to fulfill Turkey's
commitment with OSCE against hate crimes, including a parliamentary
commission that has to be set up to deal with these issues."
Mainstream Milliyet Headlines "74 Gypsies Exiled from Their Town"
while Milliyet columnist Ece Temelkuran warns that this cannot be
considered a singular event and says there is the potential for more
hate crimes against other ethnic groups and people with different
sexual or political orientation.

Erdogan's 2010 Plan (Milliyet)
Mainstream Milliyet reports that the government is preparing to pass
critical constitutional reforms on 'democratic opening' and
'judicial issues' without seeking the support of the opposition.
Three hundred and sixty-seven parliamentary votes are needed for
approval of a constitutional amendment in the parliament. If the
votes is between 330 and 367, a general referendum is held on the
amendment within 120 days. AKP, which has 337 seats in the
parliament, submitted a proposal for holding a referendum within 45
days. Milliyet notes that the AKP plans to pass reforms to advance
the democratic opening, make changes in the structure of the High
Board of Judges and Prosecutors, make changes in regulations related
to the banning of political parties and to make the decisions of the
High Military Council subject to judicial review.

Military Headquarters Decisions (Hurriyet)
Today's papers report that the regular weekly meeting between PM
Erdogan and Chief of General Staff General Basbug for the first time
occurred in the General Staff HQs with the participation of Interior
Minister Besir Atalay and Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin. The
meeting lasted for two hours forty minutes. A written statement
issued by the General Staff yesterday evening said domestic security
and other issues were discussed in the meeting. Mainstream Hurriyet
lists the decisions that emerged from the meeting as follows: State
institutions will be more sensitive to each other, the picture of
conflict between the institutions will be eradicated, relations

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between the police and the gendarmerie will be enhanced and
cooperation will be established, institutions will establish healthy
information sharing and common action should be taken to counter
terrorism.

In a related story, all TV Channels announced as flash news this
morning that the TGS cancelled its regular weekly press briefing and
said that briefings will be held when necessary.

German FM Vows to Back Turkey's EU Bid
Today's papers highlight visiting German Foreign Minister Guido
Westerwelle's promise to Turkey and quote him assuring Turkey that
"I'm not speaking as a tourist with short pants but as a minister on
behalf of the German government." Commenting on German Chancellor
Merkel's resistance to Turkey's EU bid, Westerwelle said "what has
been agreed between the EU and Turkey is still valid. The German
government will fulfill its commitments. You have my word on it."
Islamist-oriented Zaman says that the stance of the German FM and
his contacts in Ankara were more constructive than expected.
Following his meeting with Westerwelle, FM Davutoglu announced that
the two countries were going to implement a mechanism for strategic
dialog. Hurriyet says the support extended by Westerwelle to Turkey
was historical.

Pope: Turkey Must Recognize the Status of its Catholic Minority (NTV
website)
Hurriyet, CNN-Turk and NTV websites report that on Thursday Pope
Benedict XVI called on Turkey to recognize the legal status of its
Catholic minority. Under the headline, "Pope seeks more freedom for
Catholics in Turkey," the Hurriyet website says unlike Turkey's
other non-Muslim minorities, such as Orthodox Greeks and Jews, the
Catholic Church is not formally registered in Turkey, which makes it
difficult for the Catholics and Protestants to practice their
religion.

Iran Executes PJAK Leader (CNN Turk website)
CNN Turk website reports Fesih Yasemini, a PKK/PJAK leader
imprisoned in the city of Mako, was executed Wednesday. An Iranian
Revolutionary Court sentenced Yasemini and five other PJAK members
to death for "perpetrating bomb attacks, homicide, abduction, drug
trafficking and terror." Other PJAK leaders, Ihsan Setahiyan and
Hasan Hikmet Demir, have been executed over the past months, reports
CNN Turk.

TV Spotlight (CNN Turk)

Turkey's government bond rating was raised to BA2 from BA3 at
Moody's Investors Service, and the outlook was changed from positive
to stable.

The conference of Turkish ambassadors in Ankara ends today. Foreign
Minister Davutoglu and other participants will continue talks in the
city of Mardin over the weekend.

Addressing the ambassadors, Prime Minister Erdogan said Turkey's
interest in Gaza was an expression of "humanism and concern for
others."

MHP leader Devlet Bahceli said developments in Turkey would push for
early elections in the autumn of 2010.

State Minister for Bulgarians Abroad, Bozhidar Dimitrov, apologized
for "compensation claims" from Turkey after being harshly warned by
his Prime Minister Boyko Borisov.

Foreign Minister Davutoglu said Turkey presented a note of protest
to Norway after reports about that a Turkish woman died in Oslo when
she was denied swift medical attention and her son faced police
brutality.

Tobacco producers first increased prices in the face of new taxes

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levied, but then curbed the prices. This will result in a decrease
in tax revenues for the government.

At least 140 people have been killed in south Sudan as aid agencies
warn of new civil strife.
SILLIMAN

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