Cablegate: Tip in Turkey: Media Attention, October 7-14, 2004

Published: Fri 15 Oct 2004 12:39 PM
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
E.O. 12958: N/A
1. (U) In response to G/TIP inquiries about anti-TIP public
information campaigns, post provides as examples the
following TIP press reports. Text of articles originally
published in Turkish is provided through unofficial local
FSN translation.
2. (U) Published October 14, 2004 by the Anatolian News
TITLE: Smuggling Operation in Edirne
BEGIN TEXT: Jandarma stopped a car license plate 59 LC
306 in the high security military zone of Saricaali
Village of Ipsala, Edirne. Driver Tamer T. and six
Iraqis he tried to take illegally to Greece were
captured. The foreigners were sent to the Edirne
Passport and Foreigners Division of the Turkish
National Police for deportation. Tamer T. remains in
3. (U) Published October 14, 2004 by the Turkish language
Cumhuriyet News:
BEGIN TEXT: 157 illegal immigrants were captured in the
last two days in Edirne. They told the Jandarma that
they wanted to go to European countries. END TEXT.
4. (U) Published October 14, 2004 by the Turkish language
Yeni Safak News:
BEGIN TEXT: Jandarma searched a truck in Siran,
Gumushane, and discovered 62 foreign illegal
immigrants, including 5 Afghanis, 44 Pakistanis and 13
Bengalis. The driver reportedly fled. The foreigners
will be deported after they see a judge. Meanwhile,
three Turks and 18 illegal immigrants were captured in
Kusadasi, Aydin. END TEXT.
5. (U) Published October 14, 2004 by Frontline:
Turkey's new aspiration
Turkey reforms a 78-year-old penal code and shelves a
controversial move to reimpose a ban on adultery in a
bid to enter the European Union.
RACING against time, the Turkish Parliament met in an
emergency session on September 26 to approve a new
penal code for the country. The urgency of the action
betrayed Turkey's keenness to join the European Union
because the European Commission is due to present a
report in early October on whether talks can begin on
Turkey's bid for E.U. membership.
The penal reform bill was the last in a series of
reforms Turkey has undertaken in recent years to comply
with the various criteria for E.U. membership. The
changes in law are designed essentially to bring the
country in line with the human rights laws in Europe.
The reform of the 78-year-old criminal code is a clear
pointer to the kind of changes that are being sought
within Turkey. The new law prescribes tougher penalties
for perpetrators of torture. Torture in police stations
and prisons would attract a 12-year jail term. The
citizen's privacy is to be protected by restricting the
interception of telephone calls and gathering of
personal information. The police are liable for
punishment if they enter homes without compelling
reasons. Corruption in government is to be handled more
firmly. The statute of limitations for major corruption
cases, particularly those involving government and
business, is to be abolished.
For the first time, major crimes such as genocide,
crimes against humanity and trafficking in people and
human organs find a mention in the Turkish penal code.
All laws will have to be in accordance with the
international agreements that Turkey has entered into.
A notable aspect of this extensive overhaul of
legislation is that it seeks to improve the situation
of women in Turkey. Discrimination on religious, ethnic
and sexual grounds is made a crime.
Specifically, punishments for assaults on women have
been made stiffer. Rape within marriage has been
recognised as a crime and there would be no leniency
for rapists who marry their victims.
The new legislation stipulates life sentence for those
indulging in "honour" killings of women accused of
dishonouring the family through illicit affairs.
Provocation will no longer be a defence in "honour"
killings. The societal code of "honour" had once been
part of the Turkish legal code and attacks on women
were regarded as attacks on the family or as creating
social disorder. Henceforth these are to be legally
treated as attacks on individuals.
THE new penal code came near to being still-born. Its
eventual passage came in dramatic circumstances, and
required an emergency session of the Turkish
Parliament. The government's earlier proposal of a
clause criminalising adultery had brought the entire
package of reforms under threat. The move to
reintroduce the ban on adultery, which had been
repealed in 1998, and make it punishable with either a
fine or imprisonment provoked a wave of protest both
within Turkey and across Europe.
Faced with the E.U.'s ultimatum to choose "either
adultery or Europe" as the Turkish daily Cumhurriet
described it, Turkey's leadership backed down. Voting
on the penal code was suspended and the government
withdrew the entire bill from Parliament after it
became evident that a group of deputies of hardline
Islamic orientation, including members from the ruling
Justice and Development Party (Adalet ve Kalkinma
Partisi or AKP) were planning to press forward with the
clause to criminalise adultery.
The issue continued to create a massive stir in Turkey
for many weeks before the E.U. deadline. Prime Minister
Recep Tayyip Erdogan travelled to Brussels for a
meeting with the E.U.'s Enlargement Commissioner
Guenter Verheugen in the third week of September. "No
item which is not already included in the draft of the
Turkish criminal code will be included and I mean by
that the issue of adultery," Erdogan clarified in
Brussels. From the E.U.'s part, Commissioner Verheugen
declared that there were no hurdles to beginning talks
on Turkey's membership, thus indicating the drift of
his forthcoming report on Turkey. "We have been able to
find solutions to the remaining outstanding problems,"
Verheugen said, and added that "there are no further
conditions which Turkey must fulfil".
It is unclear why the adultery issue was raised in the
first place. It is more of a mystery given that Erdogan
and Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul have assiduously
worked to further the cause of Turkey's E.U.
membership. Many important reforms have been initiated
over the past 18 months in the attempt to fulfil the
political, economic and legal criteria for E.U.
membership. These include a ban on the death penalty,
changes to the courts, the Constitution and the civil
code, the treatment of minorities and the military's
role in government. The Turkish military highcommand
constitutes an independent centre of decision-making
and the E.U. has been insisting on a much greater
political control over the military.
The timing of the adultery controversy, just when
Turkey was on the point of getting an E.U. approval,
has puzzled many observers. Turkey has been granted
E.U.'s candidate-member status since 1999. Turkish
newspapers speculating on the issue highlighted the
Prime Minister's dilemma in an almost entirely Muslim
country which looks to a future in Europe. Cumhurriet
said that Erdogan was attempting to consolidate the
conservative support base of the Justice Party.
According to the daily Posta, the Prime Minister would
have to perform a difficult balancing act to retain the
support of hardline Muslim groups after backing down on
the adultery issue.
THE AKP was started just three years ago. The party's
roots are Islamic and it came to power in November 2002
amidst fears that Erdogan, its founder, intended to
impose an Islamisation programme on the country.
Erdogan himself could not be a candidate in that
election because of a 1999 conviction on charges of
attempting to undermine the foundations of the Turkish
Republic. Since that time, the AKP can be said to have
learnt much from the experience of another Turkish
Islamic party, Refah, which was in power for a year
under Necmettin Erbakan, who was forced by the military
to resign in 1997.
The military remains a powerful factor in Turkish
politics. It has seized power on three occasions since
the 1960s in order to uphold the secular Kemalist
state. The military regards itself as the guarantor of
the secular republic founded early in the 20th century
by Kemal Ataturk. It exercises power through the
National Security Council (MGK), which includes the
President, the Prime Minister and five senior Generals.
The AKP enjoys a big majority in Turkey's Parliament.
Its extraordinary performance was for the most part a
result of the economic crisis of 2001, which affected
even the middle classes for the first time, and was in
keeping with the revival of Islamic parties in the
country stemming from the economic crises of the mid-
1990s. It was a time when the affirmation of religious
values accompanied the general disillusionment with the
corruption and bankruptcy of the old system.
Erdogan is viewed as belonging to that generation of
politicians that has moved a long way from its Islamic
roots. Deposed Prime Minister Erbakan was once his
mentor, but the 1990s had a moderating influence on
Erdogan when Turkey entered the era of the free market.
Abdullah Gul, a close associate of Erdogan, describes
the AKP as a "conservative and democratic party".
Erdogan himself has declared that the reforms being
undertaken by the AKP are necessary not only for
entering the E.U. but also for Turkey's own
The AKP fared very well in local elections in March
this year, taking nearly 43 per cent of the votes.
Moreover, it was the only party to have registered a
sizable presence across the country. However, it
continues to face opposition from the secular
establishment, namely, the military, the judiciary and
the bureaucracy. The party's plans to reform the higher
education system, for instance, faces stiff opposition
from the Council for Higher Education.
The party now has a stronger and wider mandate across
the country, thus effectively becoming the
representative of the country's Anatolian majority,
which accounts for 90 per cent of the country's
population. The conservatives, with their roots in
Anatolia, have become bolder in recent years and wear
religious symbols like the headscarf. On the other
hand, a ban dating back to the founding of the modern
Turkish state prohibits state employees from wearing
the headscarf or turban. In fact, some women leaders of
the AKP could not contest the elections because they
cover their heads. The party's core voters are expected
to put more pressure on Erdogan on the headscarf issue.
The Prime Minister will face more vigorous pressure on
the issue from militant Islamic groups like the Milli
Gorus, as had happened during the recent debate over
the adultery issue.
6. (U) Published October 14, 2004 by the United Nations:
BEGIN TEXT. The twenty-fifth anniversary of the
adoption of the Committee on the Elimination of
Discrimination against Women was observed at the United
Nations Headquarters on 13 October at an event attended
by a number of persons involved in the issue over the
In a statement to mark the anniversary, the committee,
which elaborated the convention notes that, twenty-five
years earlier, no countries in the world has achieved
full equality for women both in law and in practice.
Actual implementation of its principles remains
inconsistent with commitments, and reservations by
States Parties to key parts of the Convention continue
to undermine its effectiveness.
"Discriminatory laws are still on the statute books of
many States parties" ,according to the committee. Many
women continue to have unequal legal status with regard
to marriage, divorce, property inheritance and access
to economic resources. For example, some countries
maintain discriminatory laws governing ownership and
inheritance of land, or access to loans and credits.
Discrimination against women also persists in some
nationality laws, preventing women from passing on
their nationality to their children.
"The co-existence of multiple legal systems, with
customary and religious laws governing personal status
and private life and prevailing over positive law and
even constitutional provisions of equality, remains a
source of great concern", the Committee statement
The scourge of trafficking of women and girls and the
persistence or escalation of violence against women has
been noted with concern by the Committee when
monitoring the implementation of the Convention in both
developed and developing countries.
"Although violence against women -- a form of
discrimination that seriously inhibits women's ability
to enjoy rights and freedoms on a basis of equality
with men -- is now widely recognized as a public
concern, it remains pervasive in all societies and is
aggravated in situations of conflict and other forms of
social upheaval such as economic and political crises",
the Committee adds.
The Convention calls for the elimination of
discrimination against women in political and public
life, yet women remain underrepresented, or even
absent, from legislative or executive bodies in many
countries. The persistence of traditions and customs
which discriminate against women and continuing
stereotypical attitudes towards the role of women and
men in society are major impediments to equality and
women's enjoyment of human rights. Such social and
cultural factors take various forms in different
countries and societies, including acceptance of
polygamy, forced or early marriage, maltreatment of
widows, denial of equal education or employment
opportunities and lack of access to reproductive health
care for women and girls.
The Convention, which advocates equality between women
and men, was adopted by the United Nations General
Assembly in 1979 and is one of the most highly ratified
international human rights conventions. Yet a
significant number of the 178 States parties continue
to hold reservations to key articles of the Convention.
Although the number of reservations to the Convention
remains a concern, some 20 States parties -- among them
France, Iceland, Lesotho and Mauritius -- have
withdrawn their reservations to the treaty in full or
in part since the Fourth World Conference on Women in
1995. Even those States expressing reservations are
brought within the monitoring system of the treaty, and
their commitment to promoting equality for women is
subject to international scrutiny.
The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination
against Women, which examines reports from State
parties on their implementation of the Convention,
recently took action on the first individual complaint
and concluded its first inquiry under the Optional
Protocol. (The Optional Protocol, which came into
force in 2000, enables individual women or groups of
women to submit claims of violations of rights
protected under the Convention to the Committee. It
also allows the Committee to initiate inquiries into
situations of grave or systematic violations of women's
Many States parties have taken concrete steps to
promote equality and eliminate discrimination against
women, including recently:
-- Bangladesh has amended its Constitution to increase
the number of reserved seats for women in the national
parliament from 30 to 45;
-- legal reform in Latvia now prohibits discrimination
against women in the area of employment;
-- a new national ministry in Angola has been created
for the promotion and development of women;
-- in Kyrgyzstan, gender studies centres in higher
educational institutions have been opened;
-- in Ethiopia, there are now educational scholarship
programmes for girls and at least 30 per cent of the
total number of university seats are allocated to
female students; and
-- in Argentina, two women judges have been appointed
to the Supreme Court of Justice.
Among those who were to take part in today's
commemorative event were Deputy Secretary-General
Louise Frechette and present and past Committee
chairpersons and members Feride Acar (Turkey); Dame
Sylvia Rose Cartwright, the first female High Court
Judge and the current Governor-General in New Zealand,
Ivanka Corti (Italy); Salma Khan (Bangladesh); Aida
Gonzalez Martinez (Mexico); and Charlotte Abaka
NOTE: (Please address) Renata Sivacolundhu, UN
Department of Public Information, tel.: +1 212 963
2932, fax: +1 212 963 1186, e-mail: For the full text of the
Committee's statement, visit For more information
on the Convention including States parties,
reservations, and concluding comments of the Committee,
visit END TEXT.
7. (U) Published October 7, 2004 by the Reuters:
TITLE: EU Commission says 'yes, but' to Turkey talks
BEGIN TEXT: The European Commission gave a green light
yesterday for Turkey to open membership negotiations
with the EU, a watershed decision after 40 years of on-
again, off-again talks.
But the recommendation by the 30-member EU executive
carried several conditions, including the possibility
of suspending talks if Ankara backtracks on democracy
and human rights.
"The Commission's response today is yes. That is to
say, its response as regards compliance with the
criteria is positive, and it recommends opening
negotiations," Commission President Romano Prodi told
the European Parliament.
"However, it is a qualified yes that is accompanied by
a large number of recommendations on following up and
monitoring the situation in Turkey, and some specific
recommendations on the conduct of negotiations."
A strong Europe had nothing to fear from Turkish
accession, he said.
The start of talks was conditional on Turkey bringing
into force outstanding legal reforms, notably of the
penal code and the code of criminal procedure, which
are in the works.
Accession talks would be "an open-ended process whose
outcome cannot be guaranteed beforehand", the
Commission said. It proposed no start date, leaving
final decisions on whether and when to EU leaders at a
December 17 summit.
In Ankara, Mehmet Dulger, head of the parliamentary
foreign affairs commission, said: "We're very pleased,
we were expecting it. Justice has been done. We hope
the rest will come."
The prospect of Turkish membership, giving the EU
borders with Syria, Iraq and Iran, is controversial
across Europe. Public opinion is divided on whether to
accept a large, poor and mainly Muslim nation of 70
million with a patchy record on human rights into what
has been a "Christian Club" up to now.
Dutch Foreign Minister Ben Bot, whose country is
president of the 25-nation bloc, said he expected talks
to start in the second half of 2005.
The EU executive said Turkey had made substantial
progress in political reforms but must improve
implementation, notably in the fight against torture,
and expand freedom of expression and religion, and
rights for women, trade unions and minorities.
"The Commission will recommend the suspension of the
negotiations in the case of a serious and persistent
breach of the principles of liberty, democracy, respect
for human rights and fundamental freedoms on which the
Union is based," it said. EU ministers would then
decide by qualified majority.
Enlargement Commissioner Guenter Verheugen told
parliament the recommendation was adopted by a very
wide consensus. Commission sources said only two
members voiced misgivings Dutchman Frits Bolkestein and
France's Pascal Lamy.
Speaking to Reuters on the eve of his outgoing
executive's last major decision, Prodi played down the
novelty of introducing such an explicit "emergency
brake", saying it had been implicit in earlier
enlargement talks, notably with the 10 ex-communist
east European countries that joined in May.
The Commission made clear Turkey could not join the EU
before 2015 at the earliest, saying the EU would have
to agree its budget for the period from 2014 before
concluding the talks.
Turkey's accession would be "different from previous
enlargements", it said, because of the combined impact
of Turkey's population, size, geographical location,
economic, security and military potential.
It recommended that the EU consider permanent
safeguards on free movement of workers from Turkey with
long transition periods and "specific arrangements"
before Ankara benefits fully from EU farm subsidies.
Accession - key points of study
Accession of Turkey to the European Union would be
challenging both for the EU and Turkey. If well
managed, it would offer important opportunities for
Ankara's accession would be different from previous EU
enlargements because of Turkey's population, size,
geographical location and its economic, security and
military potential.
Turkey would be an important model of a country with a
majority Muslim population adhering to such fundamental
principles as liberty, democracy, respect for human
rights and fundamental freedoms and the rule of law.
The economic impact of Turkish accession would be
positive but relatively small as its economic
integration is already well advanced. Turkish gross
domestic product is expected to grow faster than the EU
Turkey to qualify for EU funds over a long period. A
number of regions In present member states could lose
Integration of Turkey into the EU's internal market
will be beneficial.
Agriculture, accounting for half of Turkey's territory
and one-third of its workforce, will be eligible for
special support. Turkish accession would help secure
better energy supply routes for the EU. A planned
pipeline route carrying oil from huge reserves around
the Caspian Sea runs to the Turkish Mediterranean port
of Ceyhan.
EU's external borders to become longer, needing
significant investment. Managing migration, asylum,
fighting organised crime, terrorism, human trafficking,
drugs and arms smuggling to be eased by closer
Budgetary impact of accession can only be assessed
Turkey's membership would significantly affect
allocation of seats in European Parliament. Turkey to
have important voice in EU decision-making given its
population share (now 70 million).
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