Cablegate: Congressional Study Group On Turkey, Codel Nelson


DE RUEHAK #1372/01 1551355
P 041355Z JUN 07





E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (SBU) Summary. PM Erdogan and FM Gul met May 28 with
Codel Nelson and the Congressional Study Group on Turkey. An
unusually upbeat Erdogan focused on the solid footing of the
US-Turkish strategic relationship and Turkey's efforts to
contribute to regional peace and stability, including in
Afghanistan and Lebanon. A unified, stable Iraq was
essential; it would be disastrous for the region if coalition
forces left without setting a specific timetable. Turkey
also remained between a rock and hard place on the PKK as
civilians and soldiers continued to die. End summary.

2. (U) In an hour long joint meeting May 28, PM Erdogan told
Codel Nelson and the Congressional Study Group on Turkey that
US-Turkish relations are in good shape. Occasional bumps in
the road can be worked through. Parliamentary and
Congressional visits are a key element of the relationship.
Based on common values, they enrich our dialogue and provide
a sound footing to deal with military, political and economic

3. (U) Erdogan commended Senator Lott for having nominated a
Turkish-American from Mississippi to serve on the US Southern
District Court - an important first. He pointed to the large
numbers of Turkish students studying in the US as another
driver in relations. The PM also thanked the Congressional
Study Group on Turkey for meeting the day before with the
"TRNC Ambassador" to Turkey, noting the group's travel two
years ago to northern Cyprus as having created an opening
that others could follow and fostering an atmosphere more
conducive to moving toward a final settlement.

4. (SBU) With respect to our common war on terrorism, the PM
referred to the terrorist PKK's ability to shelter in
northern Iraq, which he described as a source of serious
discomfort to the Turks. The May 22 suicide bombing in a
crowded marketplace in the heart of Ankara could have, he
stressed, had considerably graver consequences. In addition,
Turkey continues to lose many soldiers to mines and IEDs.
While FM Gul and Secretary Rice talked frequently and contact
with the Ambassador was good as well, Turkey would like to
achieve results as soon as possible.

5. (SBU) As this drags on, the Turkish people are slowly
losing confidence in America. If there is a rise in
anti-Americanism, this is its source. Citing a Turkish
proverb, he said, "Friends tell friends the bitter truth."

6. (U) With respect to Iraq, there was room for increased
US-Turkish cooperation. For Turkey, Iraqi territorial
integrity and political unity are key. Should coalition
forces pull out precipitously, it would be a disaster for the
entire region. A timeline for withdrawal might, however,
give Iraqis the sense that they need to take charge.
Unfortunately, substantial ethnic violence continues. The
GOT regularly tells all Iraqis that violence is not the way
out, the PM emphasized, reviewing Turkey's efforts to
convince Sunni leaders to participate in the Iraqi elections.
Failure in Iraq is not an option; the USG must attain its
goals, and it must start to achieve success soon. Otherwise,
as losses increases, so will hopelessness and despair.

7. (U) Regarding Kirkuk's final status, Erdogan stated that
Kirkuk belongs to all Iraqis, not to a specific ethnic
component. It represents a microcosm of what is happening in
the rest of Iraq. Were it to go to one ethnic group, it
would be like a bomb, ready to explode.

8. (U) In Afghanistan, Erdogan focused on Turkish
contributions: the Turks have twice commanded ISAF and
recently assumed control over Kabul central regional command.
They also run a PRT in Wardak province. He cited serious
contributions to rebuilding efforts, including hospitals that
have already cared for over 650,000 patients and schools for
45,000, mostly dedicated to girls' education. Recently,
President Karzai had asked the GOT to open two more girls'
schools in Kandahar, which the GOT would do.

9. (U) Elsewhere in the region, Lebanon's stability was
essential. The GOT had already sent to parliament the
extension of Turkey's participation in UNIFIL, in order to
prevent any gap in Turkey's commitment there. (NB:
Parliament on May 29 approved a one-year extension until
August 31, 2008, but it was a bruising fight, with the
secular CHP opposition accusing the GOT of aligning itself
with Israel.) Turkey, working with the US, could also
contribute to solving the ongoing Arab-Israeli conflict.

10. (U) On Syria, the PM referred to his recent travel with
the Turkish Fenerbahce soccer team to open a new stadium in
Aleppo, which occurred at the same time as Speaker Pelosi and

Representative Lantos were in Damascus to see President Asad.
This was, he said, a useful opening.

11. (U) On the possibility of a congressional Armenian
genocide resolution (AGR), the PM said that he viewed this as
the realm of historians, archaeologists and legal experts.
It was the job of governments and parliaments to move forward
and provide the basis for prosperity. The PM added that he
had proposed a way forward on historical issues to Armenian
President Kocharian but had received no response. It
appeared to him that Armenia had economic reasons for wanting
to engage, judging by the 40,000 plus Armenians living and
working illegally in Turkey, and to whom Turkish authorities
were turning a blind eye.

12. (U) The PM was grateful as well for continued US support
for Turkey's EU aspirations, a process the Arab world
followed closely. Turkey's relations with Israel, combined
with those with the US, provided a solid contribution to
peace in the region. Turkey and the US were also engaged in
a joint fight against trafficking in persons, narcotics and
arms, all key for the region. Efforts to improve peace and
security in the region included economic security in the form
of gas and oil. Here, Turkey was working to help develop a
new project to bring energy from the Caucasus and Central
Asia to western markets. On Kosovo, the PM regretted that
movement had been delayed and hoped it would move forward

13. (U) Senator Nelson, speaking on behalf of his Codel,
thanked the PM for Turkey's leadership on regional security
issues, including in Afghanistan and Iraq. He agreed that
the issue of Kirkuk could not be neglected, and recognized
the challenges Turkey faces with the PKK. The Senator noted
that when he visited Iraq three weeks ago, he told PM Maliki
that the American commitment was not open-ended. He
previewed for Maliki the timeline, with benchmarks, later
passed in the House, on which a continuing American presence
would be based, and made it clear the GOI must seek peace
with Shi'a and Sunni politicians rather than resolve its
issues by military means. Nelson agreed that a divided Iraq
was in no one's interest except perhaps that of the
terrorists. He expressed condolences for the Ankara bombing
and Turkey's recent loss of soldiers in Sirnak province. As
a Senator, one of his more difficult duties was to call
families in Nebraska who had lost soldiers in Iraq; that
number now stood at 50.

14. (U) Congressman Whitfield, on behalf of the Congressional
Study Group on Turkey, acknowledged the host of difficult
issues the PM and FM face daily. Among those issues, he
listed their fight against the PKK, combined with the fact
that the USG has asked them not to enter Iraq; the EU's
decision to admit Cyprus despite the "no" vote on the Annan
plan and the EU's concurrent request that Turkey open its
ports to Greek Cypriot shipping; and the potential impact of
an AGR. He thanked the PM for sending delegations of Turkish
MPs to Washington to help explain Turkish thinking and
sensitivities on the issues and judged their effort as

15. (U) Codel Nelson and the Congressional Study Group on
Turkey have cleared this message.

Visit Ankara's Classified Web Site at


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