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Cablegate: Turkish Fm Gul Reaffirms Importance of Bilateral

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Tim W Hayes 03/02/2007 03:48:57 PM From DB/Inbox: Tim W Hayes

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TAGS: PREL PGOV MARR MOPS TU IZ AR
SUBJECT: TURKISH FM GUL REAFFIRMS IMPORTANCE OF BILATERAL
PARTNERSHIP TO CODEL DICKS

1. SUMMARY: Turkish FM Gul told a congressional delegation
that the US/Turkey relationship has weathered many storms but
that a US congressional Armenian genocide resolution
threatens to undermine cooperation on our shared goals for
Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, NATO and more. US failure in Iraq
will be Turkey's failure, Gul said. He urged delay of the
referendum on Kirkuk; expressed support for the President's
new Iraq strategy; and offered the Iraq Neighbors' process as
a forum to coordinate support. Gul welcomed Ralston's
appointment as PKK envoy but expressed impatience with the
lack of tangible results. He and DG Ocak urged the group to
consider all of the facts and the potential ramifications
before approving an Armenian genocide resolution, a request
echoed separately by Turkish MPs. Rep. Dicks welcomed the
offer of a historical commission and any additional steps
Turkey could take towards Armenia. Rep. Rothman pledged to
press for more action by the Iraqi Kurds against the PKK.
Rep. Murphy urged Turkey to provide additional troops to
Afghanistan. END SUMMARY.

2. Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul, in a February 20
discussion with a 6-member congressional delegation led by
Representative Norm Dicks (D-WA), enumerated Turkey's
cooperation with the US both in the past and the present. He
cited Turkey's role as the eastern bulwark against the Soviet
Union during the Cold War; support for reconciliation
efforts, logistical support and training for Iraq; leadership
of ISAF multiple times, opening a PRT and constructing
schools and hospitals in Afghanistan; contribution of troops
to peacekeeping efforts in the Balkans and Lebanon; support
for the international position against a nuclear Iran; and
contributions to GWOT. However, he said, a US congressional
resolution on an Armenian genocide threatens to damage our
cooperation in these areas.

GENOCIDE RESOLUTION -- A PERIPHERAL ISSUE WITH GREAT IMPACT

3. Gul expressed frustration that arguments continue over an
event that took place almost 100 years ago. Calling the 1915
forced relocation of Armenians from Turkey a "tragedy," he
questioned the use of the term "genocide" to describe an
action taken against a population revolting against its
government during wartime. Use of the term makes citizens
here very unhappy, especially when they recall the 3 million
Turks killed in Balkan violence during and before WWI. The
government will be unable to explain it if the measure passes.

4. FM Gul outlined Turkey's yet-unanswered offer to Armenia
to establish a joint historical commission to study the
issue. In response to a comment by Rep. Rothman (D-NJ), Gul
stated that the commission is open to third parties,
including historians from California.

5. Vefahan Ocak, new MFA Director General (DG) for Americas
Affairs, noted that two delegation members are sponsors of
the latest draft resolution. Asking rhetorically what other
country in the region shares such a wide-ranging dialogue and
agenda with the US, he warned that the genocide issue --
peripheral in comparison to our shared concerns -- threatens
to derail bilateral cooperation on our core agenda. Turkey's
offer to jointly examine history is genuine, he said. There
is no ulterior motive. He urged the delegation to study the
offer and to evaluate Armenia's objections, which, he
claimed, have no intrinsic value. Rep. Dicks offered to
explain Turkey's offer to others in Congress but urged that
Turkey take any additional steps possible to reach out to the
Armenians.

IRAQ -- YOUR FAILURE IS OUR FAILURE

6. In response to a question by Rep. Frelinghuysen (R-NJ)
about the consequences of a US troop withdrawal from Iraq,
Gul said that a US failure will be Turkey's failure. US
forces should not withdraw immediately and leave a vacuum
behind. Everything must be done to preserve that country's
territorial integrity and unity. Towards that end, Turkey
supports President Bush' strategy to secure Baghdad. Without
stability or normal life in the capital, he said, one cannot
be optimistic about the country. The constitutional
committee should also complete its work on possible changes
to that document; issues related to energy and federalization
need to be addressed; Kirkuk must be avoided as an issue that
could spread conflict; and the referendum should be
postponed; former army officers who are not terrorists should
be reintegrated; the government and Prime Minister should act
more consciously as authorities for all of Iraq; Kurds and
Shiites should not follow maximalist policies that keep
Sunnis out; and Iraqi army training, while not successful to
date, should continue. The US cannot be expected to stay in
Iraq forever, he said. Iraqis must take responsibility for
themselves.

7. Partition is not an option, said Gul in response to Rep.
Kaptur's (D-OH) suggestion that a "soft partition" might
provide a solution to the instability. Iraq is not like the
former USSR. There are no natural borders between the ethnic
groups. If Iraq was divided into three states, Iran would
influence the Shia area and become a real threat to the Gulf
region. Many government and religious leaders came from
Iran, which already has influence in Baghdad. The Sunnis,
however, would be the most dangerous element. The wealthy,
educated Sunnis would leave, stated Gul, and the terrorists
would stay, giving al Quaeda a true fundamentalist state.
Civil war would continue and -- willingly or not --
neighboring countries would get involved.

JOIN FORCES WITH IRAQ'S NEIGHBORS

8. Gul touted the Iraqi Neighbors' process, established at
Turkey's initiative, as a tool which the US could employ to
foster greater regional support for Iraq's security and
democratic development and to unite the regional countries on
other issues. The group has already agreed on a joint
mechanism to counter terrorism, he said. In response to Rep.
Carney's (D-PA) question about what the US should do to
stabilize the region, Gul said that US engagement is critical
and recommended the use of "soft power" to spread the values
of democracy, a free-market economy, and human rights. Rep.
Rothman applauded the Neighbors' effort and urged that
regional leaders -- who may be more effective than the US to
get Iraq to move forward on constitutional reforms -- use
this forum to press for action.

PKK - THE WEDGE BETWEEN FRIENDS

9. The PKK terrorist group is creating problems between the
US and Turkey, said Gul. Responding to PKK attacks consumes
Turkey's military resources. The Foreign Minister said it is
unimaginable that the PKK finds safehaven in the friendly
country of Iraq that the US supports and that Turkey cannot
do anything about it. Turkey has its own military and can
act, but does not want to cause more problems in Iraq. It
hopes the US will help. Gul welcomed the efforts of Gen
(ret) Ralston but said some think he was appointed to
"satisfy Turkey and buy time." Turkey expects a tangible
result at the end, said Gul, and urged Congress to press the
administration for action.

TURKEY A LEADER IN AFGHANISTAN

10. Turkey has increased its troop levels in Afghanistan to
nearly 1000, said Gul. He noted Turkey's two past ISAF
commands, its ongoing shared leadership of ISAF Kabul Central
with Italy and France, the establishment of a PRT in Wardak,
and its pledge of $100 million in assistance. This
assistance helped to build and manage hospitals where 650,000
Afghanis have been treated and to open 44 schools around the
country where 35,000 children are being educated.

11. Rep. Murphy (D-PA) thanked Turkey for its contribution of
peacekeeping troops in the Balkans and elsewhere. Expressing
concern about an expected Taliban spring offensive, Murphy
asked if Turkey could contribute additional troops to
Afghanistan. Gul stated that Turkey's recent increase of
troops to 1000 was done at US request and said that the
battle in Afghanistan cannot be won by military means alone.
He urged the international community to increase efforts to
reach out to the Afghan population, to include alternative
crop development as part of the counter-narcotics program.
Foreign forces cannot stay in Afghanistan forever, said Gul.
We must strengthen the Afghans academically, socially and
economically.

POSITIVE ENERGY STORY

12. Gul called bilateral energy cooperation a good news
story, noting the US role in the construction of the
Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline. Rep. Kaptur welcomed Gul's
explanation of Turkey's energy pipeline projects. Kaptur
noted her interest in developing port-to-port cooperation
with other countries such as Turkey.

TURKISH MPs ON IRAQ AND ARMENIA

13. At a dinner in their honor, Codel members heard from AKP
and opposition CHP members of parliament that they would not
like to see a precipitous U.S. withdrawal from Iraq that
would lead to the country's division on ethnic and sectarian
lines. Several Turkish MPs expressed support for the
conclusions in the Iraqi Study Group report and noted that
Turkey has provided training to Iraqi politicians and
encouraged Sunni participation in the political process.
They noted the sensitivity of Kirkuk as a potentially
explosive microcosm of Iraq,s problems, and said Turkey
expects more U.S. support against PKK terrorism from northern
Iraq. Reps Rothman and Kaptur urged Turkey to take a more
active role with Iraq,s neighbors, including at the
parliamentary level, to foster regional stability, and they
urged more Turkish-US parliamentary dialogue, including, for
example, via DVC.

14. Turkish MPs asked how congressional passage of an
Armenian genocide resolution would serve US interests, given
the damage it would cause to US-Turkish relations. They
claimed that government and opposition parties are working
together to address Turkish-Armenian relations and both back
the Turkish offer to establish a joint historical commission
whose conclusions they would accept. Turkey needs more time
and US support for this process, not a genocide resolution,
they stated. Rep Rothman said it would be helpful if Turkey
could show more leadership to improve relations with Armenia.

15. Codel Dicks did not have an opportunity to clear this
message.

Visit Ankara's Classified Web Site at
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/eur/ankara/

WILSON

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