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Cablegate: Turkey: Ankara Conference Discusses How To

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PP RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHLN
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DE RUEHAK #0285/01 0460910
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 150910Z FEB 08
FM AMEMBASSY ANKARA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5236
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/EUCOM POLAD VAIHINGEN GE
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC//J-3/J-5//
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC
RUEUITH/ODC ANKARA TU//TCH//
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
RUEUITH/TLO ANKARA TU
RUEHAK/TSR ANKARA TU
RUEHAK/USDAO ANKARA TU

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ANKARA 000285

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREL OSCE TU
SUBJECT: TURKEY: ANKARA CONFERENCE DISCUSSES HOW TO
RESOLVE THE KURDISH ISSUE

REF: 07 ANKARA 2731

1.(SBU) Summary and comment: Over 800 academics,
journalists, human rights NGOs, and Kurdish politicians
discussed nonviolent solutions to Turkey's Kurdish problem
February 9-10 at the Turkish Peace Assembly's Ankara
conference, "Democratization and the Kurdish Issue in the New
Constitutional Process." Speakers unanimously urged more
dialogue, and argued that the new Turkish constitution now
being considered should devolve authority to local
administrations and recognize cultural "sub-identities" such
as Kurdish, Greek, and Armenian. The diversity of speakers
expressing previously taboo viewpoints in a fairly open
atmosphere was the conference's most striking aspect; similar
remarks previously have led to arrests and convictions for
"inciting terrorism" or "contravening the indivisibility of
the state." While the conference produced constructive
proposals, the absence of participants from the ruling
Justice and Development Party (AKP) and main opposition
parties diminished the conference's impact. End summary and
comment.

--------------------------------------------
"Kurdish Issue" Conference Draws Large Crowd
--------------------------------------------
2. (SBU) Academics, journalists, NGO representatives and
Kurdish politicians gathered in Ankara February 9-10 to
discuss how the Kurdish issue might be addressed in the new
constitution AKP is drafting. The Turkish Peace Assembly
(TPA), a 2007-founded civil society group focused on
peacefully solving the Kurdish issue, brought together
speakers from across the country to discuss regional
administration, cultural rights and identities, women's
issues and nonviolence means of dispute settlement. In
opening remarks, former Hacetepe University Professor Cengiz
Gulec reminded the audience that freedom of expression means
the ability to oppose government or majority ideas without
being accused of threatening the indivisible unity of the
state. His message was underscored, coincidentally, by a
200,000-person strong secularist protest, occurring nearby,
of those opposed to lifting the headscarf ban at
universities.

--------------------------------------------- -----
Recommendations: Strengthen Local Administrations,
Reduce Militarism, and Redefine Citizenship
--------------------------------------------- -----
3. (SBU) One panel proposed giving additional authority to
local administrations to bring the country together instead
of fueling separatism. Istanbul University Professor Oktay
Uygun told the audience that Turkey's strong central
government has failed to solve the Kurdish problem. He
suggested following the French system, with the central
government retaining essential national functions such as
defense and monetary policy and local parliaments exercising
control over issues such as culture, education, and health.
Uygun emphasized that such a model would not be possible
until guns are silenced. Former pro-Kurdish DEP MP Hatip
Dicle suggested dividing up Turkey into 20-25 autonomous
regions that could wave the national flag and a regional flag.

4. (SBU) Another panel asserted Turkey should respect
different cultural identities. Ankara University Professor
Baskin Oran, delivering the same argument that led to his
trial and conviction of inciting hatred and denigrating
"Turkishness" (reftel), maintained that Turkey could not
solve its Kurdish problem until it recognizes a
territorial-based Turkish "supra-identity" and cultural
"sub-identities," such as Kurd, Armenian, and Greek.
Abdullah Demirbas, fired as Diyarbakir Sur mayor and being
tried for using Kurdish in municipal services, argued it is
impossible to run a well-operating government in the
Southeast without using Kurdish. Many of his former
constituents are now unable to use public services such as
health care because they do not understand Turkish.

5. (SBU) Several speakers called for an end to armed
conflict. "Vatan" columnist Rusen Cakir said the first step
is for the PKK to lay down weapons unconditionally. Cakir
warned the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society party (DTP) that it

ANKARA 00000285 002 OF 002


must distance itself from the PKK. If it fails to do so,
growing Islamic forces close to AKP and controlled by Turkish
Hizbullah and Fethullah Gulen would continue to diminish the
Kurds' political power. DTP Mardin MP Emine Ayna responded
that the first step to a peaceful environment is for the
Turkish military to end its operations. Ayna added the media
contributes to instability by portraying the DTP negatively.

6. (SBU) The TPA released a communique following the
conference recommending the AKP's new constitution abolish
the military's role in politics; strengthen local
administrations; protect citizen's basic economic, social,
and cultural rights; and redefine Turkish citizenship to
prevent discrimination because of ethnic, religious, sexual,
or political backgrounds.

Visit Ankara's Classified Web Site at
http://www.intelink.sgov.gov/wiki/Portal:Turk ey

WILSON

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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