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Cablegate: Sakarya: Working Class Province in Turkey's

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PP RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHLN
RUEHLZ RUEHNP RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHIT #0598 3361505
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 011505Z DEC 08
FM AMCONSUL ISTANBUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8631
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUFOADA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RUEKJCS/DIA WASHDC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHDC

UNCLAS ISTANBUL 000598

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL TU
SUBJECT: SAKARYA: WORKING CLASS PROVINCE IN TURKEY'S
HEARTLAND FACING EOONOMIC AND POLITICAL CHANGE

1. (SBU) Summary and Comment: Sakarya, a working class
province about 100 kilometers east of Istanbul, shows some
negative impacts from the global financial crisis, despite
contrary claims from local leaders. The Consul General
visited a sizable Goodyear Tire Factory -- a positive example
of U.S. direct investment -- yet the factory was operating at
reduced capacity due to the drop in global demand. Both the
local governor and deputy mayor downplayed the negative
impacts of the global crisis on the province; citing the
region's positive assets. Sakarya Mayor Aziz Duran, dodged
his meeting with the Consul General, rather implausibly
claiming that he was both sick and out of town, possibly
demonstrating that some local officials in this nationalistic
and religiously conservative district see close contact with
the U.S. as a political liability. Duran appears to be
fighting for his political life, facing the possibility that
the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) will not pick
him as the party's candidate in next year's local elections.
End Summary and Comment

2. (SBU) Sakarya Governor Huseyin Atak spoke generically
about his province to our Consul General during her courtesy
call on November 26, avoiding meaningful conversation. Atak
was not concerned with the global economic crisis, instead
focusing his efforts on earthquake preparedness -- in
response to the 1999 Izmit earthquake which wreaked havoc in
the region.

3. (SBU) Sakarya Mayor Aziz Duran dodged his
previously-confirmed meeting with the CG, with his office
first claiming that he had been called to Ankara and then
attributing his absence to illness. Duran,s stand-in --
Deputy Mayor Rodvan Ozum --told us the working-class province
of Sakarya would feel few ill effects of the global crisis.
Ozum stated the local unemployment rate is lower than that of
the rest of Turkey and the local banking sector is not
feeling a strong impact from the global credit crunch. Ozum
said Duran is proud of rebuilding the city from the 1999
earthquake creating a strong economic base along with an
environmentally friendly city.

4. (SBU) Ozum told us he is unsure the ruling Justice and
Development Party (AKP) will resubmit Duran's name as the
party's mayoral candidate for Sakarya for local elections
next March. Internal AKP polling is assessing the popularity
of Duran, according to Ozum, who stated candidates are chosen
between a balance of local popularity and the inner decisions
of the national party. Comment: Open discussion that the AKP
is considering changing its mayoral candidate in a safe AKP
province where Duran easily won re-election in 2004 with 38
percent of the vote -- over twice the votes of the second
place DYP candidate -- is quite curious since the incumbent
appears to be a strong candidate. This uncertainty may have
contributed to Duran,s unwillingness to meet with us. End
Comment.


5. (SBU) Members of the Adapazari Chamber of Commerce and
Industry told us Sakarya's economic situation is strong, yet
the global economic crisis will adversely hit the region.
Erol Ozturk, President of the Chamber, said Sakarya,s
exports are valued at over 5 billon USD, thus part of
Sakarya's economic success is directly linked to
globalization. One positive example of foreign direct
investment in Sakarya is the GoodYear factory in Sakarya that
employs over 700 workers. In a tour of the factory, the
Consul General saw state-of-the-art industrial methods of
constructing tires for export to EU counties. The factory,
however, was only operating at about fifty percent capacity
compared to the previous year due to the economic situation.
Plant officials also admitted the plant will be closed for
ten days in late November and early December to reduce excess
inventory.
WIENER

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