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Cablegate: Ankara Media Reaction Report

Published: Thu 8 Sep 2005 03:41 PM
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 ANKARA 005244
SIPDIS
DEPARTMENT FOR INR/R/MR, EUR/SE, EUR/PD, NEA/PD, DRL
JCS PASS J-5/CDR S. WRIGHT
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OPRC KMDR TU
SUBJECT: ANKARA MEDIA REACTION REPORT
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 8, 2005
THIS REPORT PRESENTS THE TURKISH PRESS SUMMARY UNDER THREE
THEMES:
HEADLINES
BRIEFING
EDITORIAL OPINION
--------------------------------------------- --
HEADLINES
MASS APPEAL
US Embassy: No Chemical Weapons Used in Tal Afar - Hurriyet
MFA: Civilians in Tal Afar Must be Protected - Turkiye
US Commanders Due in Ankara - Turkiye
Popular Support for Turkey's EU Membership Drops - Milliyet
Germany's Fischer: Rejecting Turkey Would be Historic
Mistake - Milliyet
Talabani: Saddam Hussein Has Confessed to His Crimes - Sabah
Voters Protest Alleged Fraud in Egypt Elections - Sabah
Washington Post: Charges against Pamuk `Outrageous' - Aksam
Cousin of Arafat Killed in House Raid - Aksam
OPINION MAKERS
US Generals Due in Ankara to Discuss PKK - Cumhuriyet
Residents Flee Tal Afar Under US Siege - Zaman
22 Percent of EU Citizens Support Turkey in EU - Cumhuriyet
Greece Bans Racist Anti-Turkey Festival - Cumhuriyet
Friedman: Bush, Cheney Only Inflict Pain - Yeni Safak
US Rejects Iran's Hurricane Aid Offer - Zaman
European Parliament to Monitor Pamuk Case - Radikal
Mubarak `Extends' Mandate in `Democratic' Way - Yeni Safak
Arafat Killing Shakes Palestine - Zaman
BRIEFING
US Denies Using Chemical Weapons in Tal Afar: The US
Embassy in Ankara defended US-led military operations in the
northern Iraqi city of Tal Afar, saying in a written
statement to the press that `significant distortions and
inaccuracies' about the operations had appeared in the
Turkish media. The Embassy stressed that the operations are
aimed at removing the terrorists and foreign fighters who
are using Tal Afar as a base for attacks. `These operations
are in no way targeted at any ethnic group,' the statement
said. It also underlined that coalition forces do not
possess, and have not used, chemical weapons. "Hurriyet"
also reports that Iraqi Turkmen Democrat Party Deputy
Chairman Kasim Omer has once again accused coalition forces
of using chemical weapons in Tal Afar. `Chemical weapons
were definitely used,' Omer asserted, `and what started out
as a massacre on September 3 has now turned into a
genocide.' `The death toll so far is up to 213,' he added.
Omer called on the international community to take immediate
action to halt the `genocide.' Turkish Foreign Ministry
(MFA) Spokesman Namik Tan warned the US on the need to
distinguish between civilians and insurgents during the
operation. `We have sent a strong message to the US,
expressing our sensitivity about Tal Afar,' Tan said in his
weekly press conference. Tan added that Turkey was prepared
to send humanitarian aid to Tal Afar, and to help resolve
the city's infrastructure problems over the longer term.
"Sabah" reports that US Charge d'Affaires Nancy McEldowney,
following her meeting with MFA Undersecretary Aloi Tuygan,
rejected claims that coalition forces had used chemical
weapons in Tal Afar.
Abizaid, Jones Due in Ankara: General James Jones,
Commander of US Forces in Europe (EUCOM), and General Lance
Smith, Deputy Commander of US Central Command (CENTCOM) are
expected to arrive for an official visit in Ankara on
Thursday, papers report. Top-level Turkish commanders will
brief the US generals at the Turkish General Staff (TGS) on
Friday morning in advance of a meeting with Chief of the
turkish General Staff, General Hilmi Ozkok. The American
generals will also visit the Center of Excellence for
Defense Against Terrorism to sign a cooperation agreement
before leaving Ankara later in the day on Friday.
Talabani Awaits Approval to Visit Turkey: The Government in
Baghdad is awaiting approval from Ankara for an Iraqi
request to send President Talabani on an official visit to
Turkey, "Zaman" reports. Iraqi officials said that Ankara
has not yet responded to the request, but stressed that the
request has not been rejected by the Turkish side. The
Iraqis reportedly recognize that Turkey may not agree to
such a visit in the face of the ongoing debate about Kirkuk
and northern Iraq, "Zaman" claims.
Erdogan to Visit US: Prime Minister Erdogan is to represent
Turkey at the UN summit meeting of heads of state in New
York September 14-16, "Yeni Safak" reports. Foreign
Minister Gul will join Erdogan in New York, and will also
attend the UNGA meetings on September 17-23 and 26-28,
according to the report.
Draft Anti-Terror Bill: Turkey's draft anti-terror law
includes US-style measures against terrorists, according to
today's "Aksam." Monetary awards will be offered to
individuals who cooperate in capturing terrorists. State
officials will participate in meetings of terrorists with
their lawyers, and heavy penalties will be applied for those
who spread terrorist propaganda and support terrorists. The
bill will deal a blow to supporters of the PKK and Chechen
terrorists, "Aksam" claims. Several dailies voiced concern
that Turkey's bid to expand freedoms will suffer a setback
if the new draft is approved.
Ocalan Supporters Attack Police in Hakkari: Papers report
that some 5,000 PKK supporters staged a protest
demonstration in Yuksekova in the southeastern province of
Hakkari following a press statement by the local leader of
pro-Kurdish DEHAP calling for an end to the imprisonment of
Abdullah Ocalan. Riot police used tear gas and opened fire
in the air to disperse the crowd, which attacked the police
with stones and sticks. In Antalya, 20,000 people attended
a funeral ceremony for a soldier killed earlier this week by
a landmine believed to have been laid by the PKK.
European Support for Turkey's EU Membership Declines: An
opinion survey conducted by the German Marshall Fund in
France, Germany, Britain, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland,
Portugal, Spain, Slovakia, and Turkey showed that overall
European popular support for Turkey's EU membership has
fallen to 22 percent, a decrease of 8 points compared to
last year. 29 percent of Europeans surveyed say they oppose
Turkey's membership, while 42 percent are undecided on the
issue. 29 percent believe that Turkey's poor economy will
be an obstacle to its EU membership, while 62 percent
disagreed. According to the survey, 35 percent said that
Turkey, a country with a Muslim majority, does not belong to
Europe, while 59 percent rejected this idea.
Israeli Representations in Turkish Missions in Islamic
Countries: "Cumhuriyet" reports that the Turkish Foreign
Ministry (MFA) has not denied press reports claiming that
Israel plans to open a representation in the Turkish embassy
in Pakistan. However, the Israeli and Pakistani embassies
in Ankara have rejected the reports, denying there is any
effort to open Israeli interest sections in Muslim
countries.
EU Committee to Monitor Trial of Pamuk: The European
Parliament will set up a committee to monitor the trial of
Orhan Pamuk, the prominent Turkish novelist. Pamuk is
accused of denigrating Turkey and the Turkish people when he
claimed in an interview with a Swiss journalist earlier this
year that 1 million Armenians and 30,000 Kurds were killed
by Turks. If convicted, Pamuk will face from 6 months to 3
years in prison. The trial is set to begin in Istanbul
December 16. Meanwhile, papers carry a Washington Post (WP)
editorial describing the prosecution of Pamuk as
`outrageous,' and calling on the Turkish government to drop
the charges. The WP said the prosecution had been the wrong
signal for Turkey to be sending as the EU debates its
admission to the bloc, adding that the timing of the
charges, coming as European ministers meet in Wales to
discuss Turkey's membership, is `suspicious.'
Turkey 94th in UNDP Human Development Index: According to
the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) 15th annual
Human Development Index, Turkey still faces challenges in
human development, and ranks 94th among 177 countries, a
decline from last year's ranking of 88. Turkey's GDP per
capita is 6,772 USD, making it 75th on the list. Turkey
comes in 19th among 103 developing countries with regard to
poverty indicators. It ranks 76th among 140 countries with
4.4% of parliamentary seats held by women, 30% of
professional and technical jobs taken by women, and 6% of
administrative and managerial posts occupied by women. The
report said that Turkey's position seemed to decline this
year due to the fact that more updated data were used
globally in the calculation of various indicators. `When
using comparable data, the recalculated Human Development
Index value and rank for Turkey for the 2004 Index would
have been 96 (compared to 94 in the 2005 report). This
implies that the Index rank for Turkey would actually have
improved by two positions, due primarily to an increase in
per capita GDP.'
`Bomber' Armenians Granted US Citizenship: Viken Hovsepyan
and Vikan Vasken Yakubyan, two Armenians who were convicted
and served jail time in the US for the bombing of the
Turkish Consulate in Philadelphia in 1985, have been granted
US citizenship, Turkish papers report. A US local appeals
court rejected objections to the citizenship decision, and
approved the Armenians' US citizenship in light of their
`good behavior' since 1992.
EDITORIAL OPINION:
a) Iraq/CENTCOM-EUCOM Visit to Ankara
b) Hurricane Katrina
c) The Egyptian Election
"Two Visitors from the US"
Murat Yetkin wrote in the liberal-intellectual "Radikal"
(9/8): "The visit of the two US generals to Ankara was
arranged to discuss the fight against the outlawed PKK
organization in Iraq. When the Turkish General Staff first
mentioned the visit back on July 19, the names of EUCOM
Commander General Jones and CENTCOM Commander General
Abizaid were specified as the heads of the US delegation. .
Before the start of Iraq war, EUCOM and CENTCOM had
disagreements about Turkey. The two institutions had
different priorities: EUCOM wanted to keep Turkey as part of
the European system, while CENTCOM was preoccupied with
toppling Saddam Hussein. While Turkey focused on the risk
that a Kurdish entity could be established in Northern Iraq,
CENTCOM did not want to lose the support of the Kurds, its
only real ally in Iraq. So CENTCOM was not inclined to pay
much attention to Turkey's concerns. . The complicated
structure of the US military command is the main reason that
the visit has been delayed until today. General Jones and
General Abizaid report directly to the Secretary of Defense.
Despite the agreement reached between the two sides back in
June, General Abizaid is not coming to Turkey, but rather
sending his deputy, General Lance Smith. Abizaid is
currently preoccupied with critical operations in Tal Afar
and other parts of Iraq. General Smith probably discussed
the PKK issue with Barzani and Iraqi President Talabani
before coming to Turkey, and he will brief the Turkish
generals about this issue. . It is very important for
Ankara to have visits by high-level representatives of EUCOM
and CENTCOM at the same time. Such occasions always bring
important consequences."
"The American Dream"
Ali Sirmen commented in the leftist-nationalist
"Cumhuriyet": "Certain wars or disasters in the past have
created strong bonds among the American people and enhanced
solidarity in the US. WW II and the events of 9/11 are good
examples of this. But there have been polarizing events as
well, such as the Vietnam war, which damaged American
solidarity and forced many people to question the political
values of the country. Hurricane Katrina is another example
of this kind of reaction. The hurricane damaged the
`American Dream' and has left an ugly picture marred by
racism. The US witnessed the biggest shock in its history
on September 11. But the Bush Administration managed to
manipulate that disaster to strengthen solidarity in the
country. Unfortunately, this time the solidarity of the
American people has taken a big hit. Just like Vietnam,
which affected the whole country - not only those who were
involved in the war -- the facts that have surfaced with
hurricane Katrina will affect all Americans. There is no
doubt that President Bush will take the biggest share of the
damage."
"Congratulations"
Sami Kohen commented in the mass appeal "Milliyet" (9/8):
"The Egyptian election signifies the demise of a political
monopoly in that country. Unlike Egypt's last four
elections, Mubarak allowed a multi-candidate system this
time. He competed against 9 other candidates. Mubarak's
move provides an important step toward the democratization
of Egypt. There are various reasons why Mubarak took this
initiative, including US pressures and Egypt's own internal
political dynamic. Regardless of the motives behind it, the
initiative by Mubarak deserves to be encouraged. There
might still be some problems along the way, but democracy is
not achieved overnight. It is a long process. Egypt has
embarked on that road, which is, at least for now, the most
important thing."
MCELDOWNEY
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