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Cablegate: Turks Assert Willingness to Move Forward During

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

101342Z Jun 03



E.O. 12958: N/A

Sensitive but Unclassified -- Protect Accordingly

1. (SBU) Summary: During a June 1-4 visit to Ankara,
President of the Project on Transitional Democracies Bruce
Jackson urged Turkish officials to consider a wider, European
context as it pursues foreign policy over the next 18 months.
GOT interlocutors embraced Jackson's message and seemed
willing to move forward on a host of issues. Although
Jackson suggested that the GOT not dwell only on Iraq and
look to other areas in which to take steps, Turks across the
board were eager to discuss GOT Iraq policy in the run up to
war as largely a reflection of the blame game, still underway
in Ankara, that makes rapid action difficult. End summary.

The Message

2. (SBU) In a June 1-4 visit to Ankara, President of the
Project on Transitional Democracies Bruce Jackson met with a
variety of senior Turkish government officials (including
Justice Minister Cicek, MFA U/S Ziyal, P.M. Erdogan advisor
Davutoglu, and AK vice chairman for foreign affairs Disli),
TGS J-5 Gen. Turgut, and press. Jackson outlined his
organization's vision of a united, democratic Europe --
including western Balkans, Ukraine, and Caucasus -- and
Turkey's key role in completing that vision.

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3. (SBU) Jackson urged Turkish officials to consider the big
picture as key deadlines, such as the December 2004 EU
summit, are approaching. He encouraged them to take concrete
steps quickly both internally and regionally to help
strengthen trans-atlantic ties and to bring Europe together.
As an example, Jackson suggested that Turkey contribute
immediately to a solution in Nagorno-Karabakh. On
Turkey-U.S. relations, Jackson noted that personal
relationships matter and that Turkey should seek to explore
ways -- other than in Iraq -- that it can help build stronger
U.S. ties. Jackson stressed that the important thing will be
to achieve early successes to create momentum that will carry
over into more sensitive issues.

Turks receptive...

4. (SBU) Across the board, GOT officials were eager to
express their willingness to move forward on a variety of
issues. Offering a representative view, Disli began his
meeting with Jackson by asking, "How can we make things
better?" Minister Cicek agreed with Jackson that
U.S.-Turkish cooperation in southeastern Europe is key to
regional stability. He also added, "we are ready to help out
in every way in the Middle East." Noting his appreciation of
USG support for Turkey's EU membership, Davutoglu said that
the GOT shares Jackson's view of the significance of
transatlantic cooperation in the European project. Echoing
Jackson, Davutoglu said that the current institutional
constellations in the western Balkans should be expanded to
the Black Sea region and Caucasus.

5. (SBU) MFA officials also, in large part, embraced
Jackson's message. MFA U/S Ziyal said Turkey will continue
its regional work to move "from survival to quality of life
issues" -- i.e. to eliminate regional security concerns and
to focus on development. In a forward-leaning presentation
to Jackson, MFA DDG for European Affairs Yenel outlined a
clear strategy for the run-up to December 2004. The GOT,
Yenel explained, understands that it must pass all of the
legislation for EU political criteria this year and will work
on implementation next year.

... But Still Defensive on Iraq

6. (SBU) Although Jackson repeatedly attempted to steer
discussions away from Iraq, our interlocutors felt compelled
to defend Turkey's policy prior to and during Operation Iraqi
Freedom. Without prompting from Jackson, Turkish officials
spoke as if from the same talking points:

-- Minister Cicek, Disli, Amb. Ender Arat -- foreign affairs
advisor to Erdogan -- and Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman
Mehmet Dulger cited Turkey's losses in the first Gulf War and
the distribution of political cartoons disparaging F.M. Gul
as factors playing on the minds of M.P.s and thus
contributing to the failure of March 1;

-- Arat further noted that Kurdish opposition groups in N.
Iraq held anti-Turkish demonstrations on March 1;

-- Disli and MFA Deputy U/S Banguoglu claimed that, in any
case, Turkey had contributed more to USG efforts in Iraq than
any other country except the U.K.;

7. (SBU) More informally over dinner at the Ambassador's
residence, our contacts were more willing to point out other,
more substantial factors. Opposition DYP vice chairman
Ensarioglu stated that the AK government's March 1 motion
contrasted with the "policy of the State." Columnist Cuneyt
Ulsever highlighted "military foot-dragging" and also
rejected the polite explanation offered by AK's Reha Denemec,
who had focused on parliamentary procedural and arithmetical
obstacles in the voting process. Seconding Ulsever's point,
AK M.P. Ersonmez Yarbay, a long-time contact, observed in an
aside to us that Denemec was unwilling to air Turkey's dirty
laundry "in front of strangers" -- a point later volunteered
privately by Denemec himself.


8. (SBU) In their meetings with Jackson, Turkish officials of
all stripes clearly indicated a willingness to move forward
but, in many cases, were unable to express in concrete terms
how they will do that. On normalizing relations with
Armenia, for example, our interlocutors recognize the need
for progress but continue to hew to the line that Armenia
must make the first move. We will continue to press our GOT
contacts to move beyond words to concrete policy initiatives.

© Scoop Media

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