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Cablegate: Turkey: Scenesetter for Codel Hefley

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





E.O. 12958: N/A


1. (SBU) SUMMARY: We look forward to your upcoming visit. It
comes at a key decision time for Turkey. US-Turkey relations
have been dominated recently by Iraq. Should the Turks
continue delaying a decision to support US military requests
related to Iraq, our close regional, economic, and strategic
cooperation could be in question. Over the last two years
the US has supported Turkish economic reforms and recovery
from its worst economic crisis in decades. Despite the
concentration on Iraq, 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. Over 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, which holds almost two-thirds of
the seats in Parliament, is now facing numerous external
challenges including Turkey's EU candidacy, Cyprus, and Iraq.

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Political-Military Issues

2. (SBU) Iraq: The US and Turkey have been engaged in intense
and detailed discussions about Iraq for the last 11 months,
including the possibility of military operations. The
Turkish public overwhelmingly opposes military action against
Iraq and opening Turkish bases to the US. The GOT is not
enthusiastic about working against that trend. 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. On Feb. 6 the
Turkish Parliament authorized deployment of US forces to
prepare sites for a full US deployment here. We understood
that the Turkish Parliament would consider support for US
troops Feb. 18. That vote has been delayed. Whether there
will be a US-Turkish agreement resulting in Parliamentary
authorization remains an open question.

3. (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. The
Turks met jointly with the KDP, PUK, ITF and the US
Presidential Envoy Zalmay Khalilzad in Ankara at the
beginning of February to discuss visions of a post-Saddam
Iraq. All participants agreed to coordinate future efforts
in this regard.

4. (SBU) 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
relinquished on February 10 .

5. (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. Turkey has relied heavily on US support at NATO
to gain approval for planning for the defense of Turkey in
the event of an attack from Iraq. Approval for such planning
by NATO military authorities was given Feb. 16 after four
weeks of debate in Brussels.

6. (SBU) Arms Sales: A $1.1 billion contract for four Boeing
AEW&C aircraft was signed last June. Since then, contract
effectively has been delayed twice because of GOT
dissatisfaction with USG restrictions on certain technology
transfer as well as other commercial issues. These problems
are working their way to resolution, and we hope for
effectivity by early March. Meanwhile, a $2.0 billion
contract negotiation with Bell-Textron for 50 attack
helicopters has been stalled by price issues.

Political Scene

7. (SBU) The AK Party won a major victory on Nov. 3 and
controls 362 (of 550) seats in the legislature. After
assuming power Nov. 18, AK 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 decisions on complex issues and is
preventing application of the clean government and economic
and democratic reform program it promised. AK, with its
roots in Islamic politics, is further handicapped by poor
relations with traditional State institutions that are loath
to tolerate most expressions of religiosity, and which see AK
as a challenge to the status quo. In this regard, the
judiciary launched a case to close AK some 10 days before the
last elections. 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 secularist principles of the Kemalist
Republic. The political ban against AK leader R. Tayyip
Erdogan will run its course by late February. He has already
announced his candidacy for Parliament in the special March 9
election in Siirt province, but his candidacy may still be
challenged by the election board or judiciary. If Erdogan is
allowed to stand, and wins, the way will be cleared for his
assumption of the prime ministership.


8. (SBU) AK Government has been far ahead of its predecessors
in pushing for a solution on Cyprus -- and has pressed "TRNC
President" Denktas to negotiate on 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 Denktas and by implication Turkey's
traditional policy. However, while working toward an
agreement, Turkey has yet to obtain a package it deems

9. (SBU) Current UN efforts call for the parties to complete
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); 2) the question of
territorial adjustments and the right of displaced Greek
Cypriots to return to (or seek restitution for) their former
properties; and 3) the equal status of Turkish Cyprus within
the new partner state.

Economic Issues

10. (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 month 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. Expectations of a large
U.S. bilateral assistance package in the context of an Iraq
operation have propped up markets despite disappointment with
the government's policies.

11. (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 for the government
justify cooperation in the face of widespread public
opposition to an operation.

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