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Cablegate: Scenesetter for Codel Warner

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 ANKARA 000467

SIPDIS


SENSITIVE


STATE FOR H (PLEASE PASS TO CODEL WARNER), EUR/SE


E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL OVIP TU
SUBJECT: SCENESETTER FOR CODEL WARNER


Summary
========


1. (SBU) Your visit comes at a critical time in US-Turkey
relations. Over the last two years the US has supported IMF
packages of unprecedented proportions to assist Turkey in
recovering from its worst economic crisis in decades. The
strategic partnership has grown as a result of Turkey's
significant support in the global war on terrorism, including
taking leadership of the International Security Assistance
Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan. In the last six months, the
governing coalition of Bulent Ecevit crumbled and was
replaced in November elections by the first majority
government in over ten years. The new Islam-influenced AK
Party holds almost two-thirds of the seats in Parliament and
has had to settle in quickly to react to EU and Cyprus issues
as well as the growing tension with Iraq. Turkey has
indicated that it will cooperate with the US if a military
operation in Iraq is necessary, but the conditions and limits
of that cooperation are still being negotiated.


Political Scene
===============


2. (SBU) The AK Party, which won a landslide victory on Nov.
3 and controls 362 (of 550) seats in the legislature, assumed
power on Nov 18. It moved quickly to promote Turkey's EU
candidacy by passing a package of long overdue human rights
reforms, and with strong USG support garnered an EU
conditional date of end-2004 for the beginning of formal EU
accession talks. In other areas, AK's inexperience and lack
of expertise is hampering rapid decisions on complex issues.
As a result, AK is perceived as uncertain over: 1) its
commitment to maintaining fiscal discipline during a time of
economic fragility; and 2) whether, and to what extent, to
support USG efforts in Iraq -- while trying to placate an
electorate that is overwhelmingly opposed to war. AK, with
its roots in Islamic politics, is further handicapped by poor
relations with a Kemalist State that is loath to tolerate
most expressions of religiosity, and which sees AK as a
challenge to its dominance and to the status quo. In this
regard, the heavily Kemalist judiciary launched a case to
close AK some 10 days before the last elections. Elements of
the State apparatus are also trying to keep the pressure on
AK and its leader, R. Tayyip Erdogan, currently banned from
elective politics, by continually trying to erect judicial or
administrative roadblocks to Erdogan's return to politics and
assumption of the prime ministership. On Jan. 8, Turkish
General Staff issued a strong warning to AK -- whose poll
numbers have been on the upswing since the elections -- to
abandon policies allegedly at odds with the principles of the
Kemalist Republic.


Cyprus
======


3. (SBU) AK Government has been far ahead of its
predecessors in pushing for a solution on Cyprus -- and
taking "TRNC President" Denktas to task for his approach to
negotiating the draft UN Cyprus settlement plan.
Negotiations to reach a solution in the decades-old Cyprus
dispute continue, against the backdrop of unprecedented,
massive demonstrations in Turkish Cyprus aimed at both
Denktas and the Turkish Establishment that has long nurtured
him. AK leader Erdogan and other AK officials have openly
criticized not only Denktas but, by implication, Turkey's
traditional policy -- which while earning praise from the
public (in Turkey and in northern Cyprus) has helped raise
tensions with elements of the military and its bureaucratic
allies.


4. (SBU) Current UN efforts call for the parties to cut a
deal by February 28, which would allow sufficient time for a
settlement to be incorporated into Cyprus' EU accession
treaty. (The EU at its December summit in Copenhagen agreed
to admit Cyprus; the treaty will be signed in April).
Turkish sensitivities include: 1) the need to maintain
security for Turkish Cypriots (and mainland Turkish
"strategic" interests on the island); and 2) the question of
territorial adjustments and the right of displaced Greek
Cypriots to return to (or seek restitution for) their former
properties. Turkish journalists with connections to the
Establishment have been promoting a quid-pro-quo for Turkey,
arguing that Turkey should tie its level of cooperation with
the US on Iraq to US "support" for Turkish positions
regarding Cyprus -- a linkage we have explicitly rejected.


Political-Military Issues
=========================


5. (SBU) Iraq: The US and Turkey are engaged in intense and
detailed discussions about Iraq, including possible military
operations. The Turkish public is overwhelmingly opposed to
a military operation against Iraq and the AK Party Government
is trying to balance its desire to build on Turkey's
strategic relationship with the US and maintain public
support. Turks fear that an Iraq war would have a serious
negative economic impact on them and could lead to increased
instability next door and in Turkey's restive southeast. We
are confident that at the end of the day, Turkey will support
us, but we and the Turkish government have considerable work
to do to re-assure the Turkish public that their interests
will be looked after.


6. (SBU) Operation Northern Watch: Turkey continues to
support Operation Northern Watch (the northern no-fly zone)
based out of Incirlik, which was again renewed for six months
on Christmas Day. The Turks also have good relations with
the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, and had a visit from
Kurdistan Democratic Party leader Masoud Barzani the first
week of January which helped put what had become a tense and
unhappy relationship back on a more cooperative footing. The
Turks are strong supporters of the Iraqi Turkmen Front, and
have recently begun meeting for the first time with Iraqi
opposition groups other than the KDP, PUK, and the ITF.


7. (U) Global War on Terrorism: Immediately after 9/11,
Turkey opened its infrastructure to the US military for the
GWOT and supported the invocation of Article V at NATO.
Turkey has granted clearance to over 8000 US sorties in
support of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) in and through
Turkey. The GOT has also offered special operations forces
and aerial refuelers for Operation Enduring Freedom. But
chief among the GOT's contribution was its agreement to take
over leadership of the International Security Assistance
Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan in June 2002, which it will
relinquish in February.


8. (SBU) NATO: Ankara was supportive of the US agenda at the
NATO Prague Summit in November, including our push for NATO
expansion and improved capabilities. Turkey's primary
concern is keeping the three NATO commands currently located
in Turkey after the command structure review is conducted in
Brussels which seeks to streamline (and thus cut) the number
of commands. In an effort to obtain international legitimacy
and public support for a potential military operation in
Iraq, the GOT, with US assistance, is attempting to pave the
way for NATO support should Turkey come under attack from
Iraq.


Economic Issues
===============


9. (SBU) Economic Crisis: Although nearly two years of
IMF-backed economic reform have laid the foundation for
greater financial stability and growth, Turkey's enormous
public debt burden and structural weaknesses keep the economy
fragile. The key during 2003 is to maintain market
confidence, so investors will continue to lend the government
the massive amounts it needs to avoid a debt default.
Markets initially greeted the AK election victory, and AK's
commitment to further economic reform, with a rally. So far,
however, the government's performance has been disappointing.
Rather than pursue reform, the government has adopted
populist spending policies and moved to dismantle some key
reforms. Strong international and market pressure over the
past few weeks have forced the government to respond,
including with announcements of new fiscal and privatization
measures, but it is still not clear whether the government
will implement the full reform program.


10. (SBU) Trade Relationship: In January 2002, President Bush
and then-Prime Minister Ecevit committed to enhance the
bilateral economic relationship. One pillar of that
initiative is superb cooperation on building an East-West
energy corridor to bring Caspian oil and gas through Turkey
to the West. The U.S. administration has also submitted
Qualifying Industrial Zone (QIZ) legislation to the Congress.
Turkish expectations about US economic support remain high,
particularly in the context of a possible Iraq operation.
They are looking to the U.S. to provide substantial financial
support to offset expected losses and keep the overall
economy afloat, and to offer new trade initiatives to boost
exports and offset possible job losses. In the Turkish view,
both types of assistance are essential if the government is
to overcome widespread public opposition to an operation.
PEARSON

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