Cablegate: Got Symposium: "Restructuring the Civil Service"

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

(U) Classified by Acting Political Counselor Nicholas S.
Kass. Reason: 1.5(b)(d).

1. (U) Summary: Prime Minister Abdullah Gul opened a two-day
symposium Feb. 22-23 to support civil service reform.
Turkish academics and union leaders participated on panels
reviewing the cultural, economic and legal barriers to
revising the Turkish civil service and suggested possible
changes, but did not offer action programs. End summary.

2. (U) Gul opened the symposium by noting it "was not
possible to administer a country efficiently with a classic
understanding of a civil servant." Gul stated that his
government was exerting serious initiatives on public
management reform; a bill on the issue would be submitted to
Parliament. Academics offered analyses of new approaches,
privatization, flexible employment, wages, career planning
and social impact. Each session, except for one presented by
labor leaders on social issues was attended by a capacity
audience at the Ankara Hilton ballroom.

-- European Institute of Public Administration human resource
specialist Sean Fitzpatrick gave the keynote speech. Drawing
upon thirty years of experience as an Irish civil servant,
Fitzpatrick focused on the demand today for civil service
management to get things done in comparison to the "old style
bureaucracy" which emphasized inputs rather than results and
explained that accountability is an important issue for tax
paying publics today.

-- Professor Umit Bergman stressed that reforming the Turkish
civil service to make it compatible with European Union
practices is an important issue as the EU considers Turkey's
candidacy. He commented that it is a given there will be
social costs to pay for civil service reform, especially as
Turkish society will have to decrease its dependence on the
country's extensive social services.

-- Istanbul Teknik University Associate Professor Kadriye
Bakirci noted that reform of the civil service is expected to
cause an increase in unemployment as well as political
dissatisfaction. The speaker observed that Turkey's
increasing population growth is already causing higher levels
of unemployment, making reform especially important.

3. (U) Attendance at the trade union segment, the last
session on Sunday afternoon, was sparse. At the conclusion
of each union leader's presentation, a group would clap
enthusiastically and then leave the auditorium, until at the
end of the union program, only one-quarter of the seats in
the ballroom remained occupied, compared to the full house
attendance of the previous sessions. It was during the labor
union session that one of the speakers urged the attendees to
not support Turkey's involvement with a possible war with
Iraq, and accused the US of working against Turkey's
interests by initiating a war, as well as being responsible
for IMF-imposed reforms. After applauding the speaker
loudly, his constituent group walked out en masse as well.


4. (SBU) For all the activity, presenters avoided discussing
specific, comprehensive civil service reform programs or
cost/benefit analyses -- in effect, talking about talking
about reform. The EU is planning to revive an initiative to
assist the GOT with civil service reform as part of Turkey's
EU accession bid.

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