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Cablegate: Scenesetter for Codel Royce Visit to Turkey

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: Your CODEL arrives in Ankara at a time when
Iraq and resolution of the PKK/KADEK question remain the
focus of the US-Turkish relationship. Turks are seized with
two Iraq-related issues: whether the U.S. will work out with
the Interim Governing Council the eventual deployment of
Turkish troops to Iraq as part of the Stabilization Force,
and whether the U.S. will move against PKK/KADEK terrorists
in northern Iraq. Senior GOT officials including PM Erdogan,
as well as our contacts with ordinary citizens across the
country, have indicated that concrete progress by the U.S. on
PKK/KADEK will ease Turkish suspicions that the U.S. favors
the Kurds in northern Iraq over our relations with Turkey.
GOT tells us it is committed to finding a comprehensive
solution on Cyprus, but continues to emphasize flaws in the
Annan plan. GOT remains open in principle to improving
relations with Armenia, and has inaugurated Istanbul-Yerevan
civil air flights but refuses to open its border with Armenia
before Armenia recognizes the border. Turkey has issued
positive statements in support of the Middle East Roadmap and
has exchanged a number of high-level visits with Israel
recently, but the Turkish populace sympathizes with the
Palestinians. Turkey cautiously supports USG policy
objectives in Syria and Iran.

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2. (SBU) The governing Justice and Development (AK) Party
came to power with an overwhelming Parliamentary majority in
November 2002 and continues to pass democratic reforms for
their own sake and in pursuit of Turkey's EU candidacy.
However, elements within the Turkish establishment, asserting
emotionally that AK is a radical Islamist party, continue to
oppose AK at every turn. On the economic front, two years of
sound fiscal/monetary policy and structural reforms, the
rapid and successful conclusion of the Iraq war, expected
U.S. financial assistance, and unprecedented IMF support have
combined to bring down inflation and interest rates, restore
modest growth, and create some hope that Turkey can work its
way out from under a high public debt burden. The government
has an opportunity in the coming months to win the economy
some much-needed breathing room, but this will require
committed implementation of IMF-supported reforms as well as
wise conduct of foreign policy. End summary.


3. (SBU) By a comfortable margin -- 358 to 183, with two
abstentions -- the Turkish Parliament on October 7 granted
the GOT broad authority to send troops to Iraq if the GOT
considers conditions favorable. Since the vote, GOT
officials have expressed to us their frustration with public
statements by elements in Iraq and Turkey opposing a
deployment of Turkish troops. The Turks are looking to the
U.S. to silence the critics and build support for a Turkish
deployment. The recent car bomb attack on the Turkish
Embassy in Baghdad has heightened public concerns about the
risks Turkish troops will face in Iraq, but the government
has been undeterred by the event.

4. (U) There has been a concerted effort on the part of the
GOT to shift its Iraq policy away from one centered on
ethnicity (Turkmen and Kurd) and northern Iraq towards a more
central, Baghdad-oriented policy based primarily on
contributing to stability through trade, humanitarian
assistance and commercial opportunities for Turkish
businesses. However, GOT efforts have not found much
traction with the military, the press or the public, which
remain focused on northern Iraq. The Turks have taken a
number of concrete steps in humanitarian assistance and
reconstruction since Secretary Powell's April visit to
Turkey. The World Food Program (WFP) continues to ship
considerable quantities of food through Turkey, and Turkey is
also the world's biggest supplier (in value terms) to WFP.
The GOT also has supported the U.S. military's efforts to
establish a ground line of communications (GLOC) here to
re-supply U.S. forces in Iraq. Turkey recently facilitated a
Turkish company's export of electricity to Iraq, continues to
support fuel barter deals to supply essential energy supplies
to the Iraqi people, and has offered some commercial/aid
deals that Washington and CPA are considering.

5. (SBU) The Turks also remain very focused on the presence
of PKK/KADEK terrorists in northern Iraq. Parliament
recently passed a "re-integration" law allowing
non-leadership members of the PKK/KADEK to return voluntarily
to Turkey. Results of the law have been disappointing so
far. The Turks are looking to the USG to implement our
commitment to eliminate the PKK/KADEK threat from Iraq.
State's Counter Terrorism Chief Amb. Black was in Ankara
October 2 to discuss PKK/KADEK and agreed with the Turks on a
plan of action using the full range of statecraft tools to
eliminate the PKK/KADEK threat. The Turks also remain
disturbed by what they consider to be Kurdish (vice U.S. or
Iraqi central authority) control of the Iraqi side of the
Turkish-Iraq border and a perceived U.S. favoritism of Kurds
over Turkish interests. The U.S and GOT are attempting to
put behind us hard feelings from a July 4 incident, in which
U.S. forces arrested Turkish troops believed to be working to
foment instability. That event and the Turks' perception
that we mishandled it (although Chief of the General Staff
Ozkok subsequently transferred the two Turkish generals
responsible for Turkish special forces in Iraq short of tour)
are likely to linger in the background of the relationship.


6. (SBU) The AK Government states that it remains committed
to using the Annan III Plan as the basis for finding a
solution on Cyprus, both for domestic political reasons and
its interest in promoting Turkey's EU candidacy. However,
the Turkish establishment's long support for Denktash, his
rejection of the Annan plan, and Denktash supporters in
Ankara retard progress towards a comprehensive solution.
Much will depend on the government's willingness to take on
this issue between now and spring 2004, when Cyprus' EU
membership becomes effective. AK owes nothing politically to
"TRNC" leader Denktash and is thus interested in promoting
transparent and fair parliamentary elections in the North in
December. No matter what the outcome, the elections, which
have become a de facto referendum on a comprehensive
solution, will profoundly affect the likelihood of a
settlement before May.


7. (SBU) The AK government is much less wedded than its
predecessors to Azerbaijan's ruling Aliyev family. However,
continued GOT linkage of normalization of relations with
Armenia to improvements in Nagorno-Karabakh has thwarted
progress. The GOT also maintains that it cannot establish
normal relations until Armenia recognizes its border with
Turkey. GOT and AK party officials tell us they recognize
the potential trade and development benefits to Turkey from
opening the border. However, passage of any Armenian
genocide language, even by only one chamber of Congress, will
set progress back significantly.


8. (SBU) Turkey prides itself on its good relations with both
Israelis and Palestinians. While it supports the
U.S.-sponsored Road Map, Turkey is leery of getting too far
ahead of a Turkish populace that generally sympathizes with
the Palestinian side. On Syria and Iran, Turkey argues that
Turkey: 1) lives in a rough neighborhood and has an interest
in minimizing friction with its neighbors; and 2) shares the
same values and goals in the Middle East as the U.S.
(stability, democracy and prosperity). GOT officials have
recently indicated to us their belief that Syria is currently
engaged in a gradual process of democratization, which they
believe should be encouraged. In this regard, Foreign
Minister Gul delivered a call for democracy and reform in the
Islamic world at the June OIC Summit in Tehran.


9. (SBU) The governing AK Party, which came to power with an
overwhelming Parliamentary majority in November 2002,
continues to pursue democratic and political reform (para
12). Meanwhile, AK's principle challengers -- the opposition
CHP and the xenophobic Genc Party -- have lost momentum. AK
insists its substantial and pathbreaking democratic reform
packages demonstrate it is wedded to democracy and strong
relations with the EU and U.S. However, most people in the
Turkish establishment question AK's sincerity and remain
concerned about its religious roots. There are also
questions about AK's ability to field an experienced and
competent bureaucratic team. Turkey's generals are keen to
protect their status as Guardians of the (Kemalist) Republic
and the version of "secularism" that has prevailed in Turkey.
They, and much of the status quo forces in the State, assert
AK is a challenge to the founding ideology of Ataturk's
Turkey; AK in turn says that its "secular" opponents have
hijacked Ataturk's intentions and are responsible for the
stagnation in Turkey's political, economic, and social

10. (SBU) Both the AK Government and the Turkish General
Staff handled the run-up to Operation Iraqi Freedom badly;
neither showed leadership in the debate about whether Turkey
should participate in a stabilization force for Iraq. Apart
from its Iraq policy, the government has gained better
footing since PM Erdogan took over in March 2003. The PM
demonstrated political leadership and management in
Parliament's Oct. 7 decision to approve the Iraq troop
deployment, and Erdogan consolidated his control of AK at the
party's October 12 convention.


11. (SBU) In its first eleven months in power, the AK
Government has passed a series of democratization and
political reforms in the context of EU harmonization. Turkey
is garnering praise from the EU, which should decide by Dec.
2004 whether to begin formal accession talks with Turkey.
The reform packages expand freedom of expression including
mother tongue (i.e. Kurdish language) rights, crack down on
torture, and raise the relative authority of elected
civilians vis-a-vis the military. There are questions,
however, about whether the AK government will be able to
implement these reforms rapidly, particularly given the
resistance from those in the judiciary, military and other
elements of the state which are content with the status quo
and suspicious of AK, the EU and the U.S. The AK Government
has also launched an anti-corruption drive that appears far
more comprehensive than any conducted by previous
governments. Nevertheless, many Turks wonder how far AK will
take its anti-corruption effort, including against
allegations of corruption in the military and within AK


12. (SBU) Two years of sound fiscal/monetary policy and
structural reforms, the rapid and successful conclusion of
the Iraq war, expected U.S. financial assistance, and
unprecedented IMF support have combined to bring down
inflation and interest rates, restore modest growth, and
create some hope that Turkey can work its way out from under
a high public debt burden. The GOT has an opportunity,
between now and the end of the year, to build on this
momentum and thus push the economy away from the financial
precipice on which it has been perched for the past three
years. This will require the government, which so far has
implemented the IMF recovery program with muted enthusiasm,
to complete the next IMF review rapidly, proceed with
scheduled privatizations, win a positive EU report in
October, and improve the environment for foreign direct
investment. Failure to take advantage of this opportunity
will not necessarily mean another crisis, but will leave the
economy extremely vulnerable to external or internal shocks
and undermine the potential for prosperity. In late
September, the U.S. and Turkey signed an agreement under
which the USG will provide $8.5 billion on low-interest loans
to support Turkey's economic reform efforts. Money under the
agreement could begin flowing once the GOT cabinet and
President have approved the package.


13. (SBU) Turkey has been a signatory to the Hague Convention
since August 2000. Since that time, we are unaware of any
children being returned to any country without the agreement
of the abducting parent. There are systemic problems: 1)
Courts meet for 10 minutes monthly on an individual case and
do not focus on Hague issues; 2) judges do not understand the
Hague Convention requirement and rule on custody rather than
Hague issues, thereby requiring a lengthy appeal process; 3)
the legal process lasts between 2-3 years total; and 4) the
Ministry of Interior does not provide adequate support to the
unit charged with locating children and parents involved in
abduction cases. The US currently has four applications
pending, each for return of one child to the US. In one case
the child has now been in Turkey over a year and a half due
to the slow court process and the judge used that delay to
rule the child should stay in Turkey. In another case, the
Government of Turkey has been unable to locate a child
abducted to Turkey in October 2002. Due to physical abuse by
the abducting father, the Turkish court ordered the child
returned to the mother immediately. The Interior Ministry
places a low priority on these types of cases and has been
unable to locate the child.


14. (U) Turkey has a lively and colorful media scene.
Reporting often includes absolute fantasy passed as fact.
Despite the large number of newspapers, however, readership
is not as broad and deep as might be expected. Newspapers
are influential in major cities but not far beyond. Most
Turks get their news from television. Except for
government-owned TRT television, all television stations in
Turkey, like the print media, are owned by either individual
businessmen or conglomerates. The press will be interested
in your visit and seek comments at a number of venues.

15. (U) Baghdad minimize considered.


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