This article is a joint product of Rusorient and SouthFront: Analysis & Intelligence; Thanks to Carpatho-Russian for the help with the English text.
From December 14 to December 20, 2015, Ankara’s actions in Iraq and the renewed negotiations on bringing Turkey into the EU were the main themes for reporting by the Turkish mass media.
On December 14 there was a signal event for Turkey: negotiations on the entry of Turkey into the European Union were renewed. The parties opened the 17th negotiation point, associated with economic and financial policy. The Yeni Şafak newspaper suggested in its rhetoric that the EU is a more important partner for Turkey than Russia is. The Cumhuriyet publication, to the contrary, tried to find the Turkish leadership guilty of short-sightedness, and calls the EU actions a “bribe” with which to trick Turkey. The opinion of the Turkish mass media was divided in this matter.
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmed Davutoglu gave an interview to the AHaber TV channel in which he commented on events in Iraq. The pro-government Sabah quotes words of the prime minister where he speaks about the special position of Turkey: “No country is in a situation such as we are”. The Akşam newspaper emphasizes that the Turkish leadership’s actions are not at all aggressive, and that their purpose is to train Kurdish volunteers to fight against IS.
On December 15 the US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter arrived on a visit to Turkey, the purpose of which was to obtain information on the conduct of international coalition operations against IS. The visit was reported by Milliyet, Sabah, Hürriyet, Bugün, and other newspapers. In their estimations solidarity with NATO partners is discernible, and some other publications are continuing the anti-Russian hysteria.
Prime Minister of Turkey Ahmed Davutoglu completed a visit to Bulgaria, during which he met his colleague Boiko Borisov. According to reports from Hürriyet, Davutoglu commented on the migration crisis and noted the effective cooperation between the two countries on this matter. The Sabah newspaper quoted Davutoglu’s words that Bulgaria is the bridge between Europe and Turkey. Turkish mass media gave positive evaluations of this visit, in connection with the recently activated dialogue between Turkey and the EU.
It has become known about Israel’s friendly statement to Turkey, which mentions the aspiration of both countries to reliable and stable relations. However Hürriyet and Cumhuriyet focused attention on Erdogan’s recent statement in which he speaks about the demands of Turkey on Israel.
On December 16 the Ambassador of Turkey in Qatar, Ahmet Demirok, declared that Turkey plans to create a military base in Qatar. It is reported that the necessary agreement was signed between the two countries in 2014, in which in addition to the Turkish base there are plans to create also a Qatar military base on the territory of Turkey. The Vatan newspaper emphasizes the broadening cooperation of the states on various questions; moreover, Ankara and Doha together express discontent in connection with the presence of Russian military in Syria. The Turkish press has taken a positive view of news, basing this on the spreading influence of Turkey in the region.
On December 16, 2015 in Zurich, Switzerland, agreements were signed between the Turkish and Israeli sides, and a memorandum of normalization of relations between the countries was also signed. In its article, Cumhuriyet as if condemns the Turkish leadership which has begun to look for new links after losing its relations with Russia and not getting expected NATO support. Vatan writes to the contrary that Israel needs Turkey, and not the other way around.
On December 17, 2015 Prime Minister of Turkey Ahmed Davutoglu held a bilateral meeting within the EU summit in Brussels with Prime Minister of Greece Alexis Tsipras. Milliyet in its article gives special attention to the friendly aspect of the relations between the countries, emphasizing a number of joint matters, including the refugee crisis on which the leaderships of both countries are working. In turn, Akşam pays attention to the negotiation process of the entry of Turkey to the European Union, in which Greece and Bulgaria are playing an important role.
The press is widely reporting the telephone conversation of Vice President of the United States Joe Biden with Prime Minister of Iraq Haider Al-Abadi. During this, Biden spoke about the necessity of Turkey withdrawing its forces from Iraq. Many Turkish mass media outlets treated the news with a dose of irony, emphasizing the delayed nature of the American statement. The Cumhuriyet newspaper calls it “shocking”. In addition, US President Barak Obama spoke to his colleague Recep Tayyip Erdogan about this (the necessity of withdrawing troops from Iraq), but explicitly, during a telephone conversation on December 18. The mass media are not directly criticizing the demand of the USA, but are presenting it in different ways.
An important event was the meeting of the Ministers of Defense of Turkey, Azerbaijan, and Georgia, in which the parties discussed prospects for developing defensive cooperation in a tripartite format, questions of regional security, and measures to further ensure stability and economic development. The Sabah newspaper notes that the partnership in the defensive area of these three states can serve as an example for all countries interested in similar cooperation. The mass media focus attention on the aspirations of Turkey to become stronger in the Caucasian region by creating such cooperation, in which Turkey by all means would be the leader.
On December 18, 2015, NATO countries announced after their meeting the decision to support Turkey in strengthening its antiaircraft defense on the border with Syria. As the Sabah newspaper reports, the assistance plan was adopted because of the increasing situation of instability in the region. In turn, Milliyet, Yeni Şafak, and Vatan newspapers note that the purpose of these measures is to avoid a repeat of the incident with the Russian Su-24. The Turkish press in its articles supports all initiatives of the western partners directed to strengthening the security of Turkey.
In sum, it must be noted that in connection with aggravation of the international situation and the alleged emergence of an “external threat” which the country’s leadership tries to convince the people of, a national development and increase of militaristic moods is observed in Turkish society .
The press of Turkey, including the opposition mass media, takes pro-governmental positions on most questions. In their articles, the publications try in every possible way to excuse the Turkish authorities and present their actions as forced on them. All this influences Erdogan’s improving ratings. Nevertheless, opposed positions in the press can be observed concerning integration of the European Union with Turkey, cooperation of Moscow and Ankara, and the rapprochement of Turkey with Israel and Qatar.