Cablegate: Scenesetter for Codel Cox 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 the GOT is seized with the issues of security
and counterterrorism. GOT leaders and security forces
have reacted responsibly to the November terrorist
attacks in Istanbul, though some politicians and
commentators have tried to score political points by
blaming the attacks on the ruling Justice and Development
(AK) Party or the U.S. Our GOT contacts across the board
emphasize that concrete U.S. action against the terrorist
PKK/KADEK in northern Iraq will ease Turkish suspicions that
the U.S. favors the Iraqi Kurds over Turkey in the region.
Turkey cautiously supports USG policy objectives in Syria
and Iran.

2. (SBU) AK, led by PM Erdogan, came to power with an
overwhelming Parliamentary majority in November 2002 and
continues to pass democratic reforms in support of Turkey's
EU candidacy. However, elements within the Turkish
establishment, asserting 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, 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
and create some hope that Turkey can work its way out from
under a high public debt burden. However, the Government has
been reluctant to implement the structural reforms that are
essential if the economy is to achieve the sustained growth
needed to bring prosperity and reduce the risk of renewed
financial crisis. 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
End summary.

Istanbul Attacks

3. (SBU) The GOT has generally responded in a balanced manner
to the November terrorist bombings that killed more than 50
people and wounded 750 in Istanbul. Some members of the
opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) have tried to blame
the AK Party, arguing that AK's Islamist roots compel it to be
soft on terrorism. PM Erdogan drew criticism from secular
when he rejected the term "Islamic terrorism" in connection
the attacks; under pressure, he later labeled the attacks
"fundamentalist terror." A number of press commentators have
the U.S., arguing that the Istanbul attacks were a side
effect of
the war in Iraq. Some have gone further, claiming that the
CIA or
Mossad were behind the attacks. However, the statements of
GOT officials have been responsible and the police appear to
conducting the investigation in a professional manner.


4. (SBU) The Turks also remain very focused on the presence
of PKK/KADEK terrorists in northern Iraq. Parliament
recently passed
a "Reintegration Law" offering reduced sentences to
PKK/KADEK combatants who turn themselves in. However, the
law has
persuaded few PKK/KADEK militants to come down from the
and surrender. GOT officials have publicly and privately
the USG to follow through on its commitment to eliminate the
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
against the
terrorist organization. The Turks also remain disturbed by
what they
consider to be Kurdish (vice U.S. or Iraqi central authority)
of the Iraqi side of the Turkey-Iraq border, and they accuse
the U.S.
of favoring Iraqi Kurdish interests over Turkish interests in
the region.
GOT Justice Minister Cicek met in Washington Dec. 2 with Amb.
DOD A/S Wolfowitz, and DOS U/S Grossman, and later issued a
declaring that Turkey and the U.S. were prepared to cooperate
against terrorism.

Middle East

5. (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.

6. (SBU) The U.S. Mission in Turkey is a designated post for
processing visa applications of Iranian nationals. The
Government does not require Iranians to have visas in order to
enter Turkey, though Embassy has recommended that the
start requiring them.

Terrorist Financing

7. (U) Turkey's efforts to combat terrorist financing have
hampered by inadequate laws, insufficient training, and
limited cooperation among agencies. Both the EU and
State/DOJ are planning programs to address these problems;
however, without top-level GOT support, we can expect only
limited results. In particular, the GOT needs to pass laws
that will: 1) criminalize the financing of terrorism; 2)
resolve jurisdictional disputes between courts; 3) make it
easier to seize terrorists' assets; 4) improve the
functioning of MASAK (the Turkish financial intelligence
analysis unit); and 5) strengthen the Suspicious Transaction
reporting regime.

Domestic Political Scene

8. (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
9). 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, elements of the
military and State bureaucracy 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

Political Reform Process

9. (SBU) In its first year in power, the AK Government has
a series of democratization and human rights reforms in the
of EU harmonization. Turkey is garnering praise from the EU,
should decide by Dec. 2004 whether to begin formal accession
with Turkey. The reform packages include legislation
designed to
expand freedom of expression and religion, protect the rights
detainees, crack down on torture, and raise the relative
of elected civilians vis-a-vis the military. There are
however, about whether the AK government will be able to
these reforms rapidly, particularly given the resistance from
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
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
in the military and within AK itself.

The Economy

10. (SBU) Two years of sound fiscal/monetary policy, the
rapid and
successful conclusion of the Iraq war, expected U.S.
assistance, and unprecedented IMF support have combined to
down inflation and interest rates, restore modest growth, and
some hope that Turkey can work its way out from under a high
debt burden. The GOT has an opportunity in the coming months
build on this momentum and thus push the economy away from
financial precipice on which it has been perched for the past
years. This will require the government, which so far has
implemented the IMF recovery program with muted enthusiasm,
accelerate reforms, proceed with scheduled privatizations,
and improve
the environment for foreign direct investment. Failure to
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
the U.S. and Turkey signed an agreement under which the USG
provide $8.5 billion on low-interest loans to support
Turkey's economic
reform efforts. However, the Government has delayed
because of criticism over accepting the political
(related to cooperation on Iraq) in the agreement.
Turkish Media

11. (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.

© Scoop Media

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