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Cablegate: Akp Istanbul Congress: "Muezzinoglu Reloaded"

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

UNCLAS ISTANBUL 000894

SIPDIS


SENSITIVE


E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV ECON TK
SUBJECT: AKP ISTANBUL CONGRESS: "MUEZZINOGLU RELOADED"


1. (U) Justice and Development (AK) Party Chairman and Prime
Minister Tayyip Erdogan headlined the June 22 AK Istanbul
Congress. There were no surprises (in fact, no challengers
at all) in the reelection of Istanbul Chairman Mehmet
Muezzinoglu, and Erdogan's unscripted speech focused on
predictably populist themes that would resonate with the
10,000 party faithful and luminaries in the audience:


- Education: promised free textbooks and private-school
vouchers for 10,000 students;
- Energy: promised new dams and cheaper electricity;
- Foreign Policy: promised to push forward with EU membership;
- Party Ideology: reaffirmed that AKP is a conservative
democratic party that is open to all (i.e., headscarved or
not) and committed to Ataturk's secularist principles.


2. (U) Erdogan also made news by remarking that he would soon
reveal estimates on the staggering extent of corruption in
Turkey. He warned the labor unions not to make unreasonable
demands and cautioned all of his supporters not to expect the
economic situation to improve immediately (i.e, give us at
least 3 years). In an indirect reference to Young Party (GP)
Chairman Cem Uzan's verbal attacks and subsequent legal
charges against him, Erdogan said that he was content to let
the courts handle the issue. Following his speech, Erdogan
welcomed a few dozen new members into the party, most of whom
had defected from local positions in the Motherland Party
(ANAP), including Bahcelievler Mayor Saffet Bulut.


3. (SBU) Comment: Erdogan's speech was a further
demonstration of his political talent, charismatic appeal,
and keen understanding of his constituents. Clearly his
die-hard Istanbul supporters are willing to give him and his
government time to make their mark, but it remains to be seen
whether the wider AK support base will be as patient.
ARNETT

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