Cablegate: November Attacks Have Not Stopped Reforms, But

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

161510Z Dec 03





E.O. 12958: N/A

Classified by Polcouns John Kunstadter; reasons 1.5 b and d.

1. (U) Summary: Members of Parliament, the bureaucracy and
NGO community agree the GOT will continue its EU-related
reform process despite the November terrorist attacks in
Istanbul, but they fear that further attacks could undermine
Turkey's EU candidacy. Human rights observers say police and
GOT officials have generally handled the attacks and
investigation responsibly. End Summary.

GOT Will Continue Reforms

2. (U) A range of Embassy contacts in the Parliament,
bureaucracy, and NGO community agree that the November
terrorist attacks in Istanbul will not cause the GOT to halt
its EU-related human rights reform process. Like others with
whom we spoke, AK MP Faruk Bayrak views the attacks as just
the latest among numerous obstacles Turkey faces in its quest
for European acceptance. Bayrak, a member of the
parliamentary Human Rights Committee, compared Turkey's EU
candidacy to a heavily loaded truck ascending a steep hill in
the rain: "These attacks add weight to the truck, but they
will not stop it." Asligul Ugdul, political affairs director
of the Secretariat General for EU Affairs -- one of the GOT
offices most closely involved with reform legislation --
vowed that the GOT will redouble its efforts to implement
human rights reforms in the wake of the attacks.

Official Reaction Balanced

3. (SBU) Human rights observers agree the GOT has generally
responded in a balanced manner to the attacks, though some
members of the opposition CHP tried to blame the ruling AK
Party, arguing that AK's Islamist roots compel it to be soft
on terrorism. The statements of high-level GOT
representatives have been responsible, and military officials
have refrained from making political statements relating to
the attacks or the investigation. There have been very few
complaints against the police regarding the investigation,
though Yilmaz Ensaroglu, chairman of the Islam-oriented human
rights organization Mazlum-Der, claimed to us that police are
regularly detaining children younger than 15 for
interrogation. Husnu Ondul, chairman of the Human Rights
Association, told us he sees no evidence that the security
forces are exploiting public anger over the attacks by
ignoring recent reforms related to police detention and

Further Attacks Could Harm EU Prospects

4. (U) Still, our contacts express a weary, plaintive
frustration that Turkey will be unfairly judged by Western
Europeans fearful of their large, Muslim neighbor. "Of
course, our opponents (in Europe) will use this against us,"
said Ugdul. "But it's not fair -- isn't there terrorism in
Europe?" There has been significant public resentment over
the canceling of several high-profile international events
planned to take place in Turkey -- including professional
soccer matches, a European Urology Congress, and the Balkans
Gymnastics Championship. Ugdul said the EU has even canceled
several bilateral working-level meetings scheduled for
Ankara. Our human rights contacts agree the problem is
manageable and will prove temporary -- provided there are no
further attacks. "If there are more attacks, then Europe
could continue to isolate Turkey," Ondul said. "If that
happens, Turkey might give up on the EU and human rights
reform." For Hakan Tasci, AK MP and Human Rights Committee
member, it's all a matter of perception. If terrorists
continue to stage attacks in Turkey, Europeans will view
Turkey as belonging to a backwards, dangerous part of the
world. "If Europe looks at Turkey and sees the Middle East,
it will not take Turkey in the EU. If it looks at Turkey and
sees a Western country, then it will," he said.

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