Cablegate: Turkish Refugees in Iraq: Broad Consensus On
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 08 ANKARA 000509
DEPT. FOR PRM, IO, EUR/SE AND NEA/NGA
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PREF PHUM PTER TU IZ
SUBJECT: TURKISH REFUGEES IN IRAQ: BROAD CONSENSUS ON
CONTENT OF AGREEMENT REACHED BETWEEN TURKEY, IRAQ, US AND
REF: A. STATE 5739
B. 03 ANKARA 7213
1. (SBU) After three days of intense, hard-fought
negotiations in Ankara January 20-22 between Turkish,
Iraqi/CPA, US and UNHCR reps on a draft agreement for the
repatriation of Turkish refugees from Iraq, the parties
reached broad consensus on the content of an agreement. A
text reflecting that consensus was negotiated (text at para
3) but was neither signed nor initialed, pending final
approval from the negotiating parties. The UNHCR and Iraqi
reps were prepared to sign the document as is. Turkey asked
for a letter from the Secretary of State pledging the USG's
support for the implementation of the agreement for its
duration before Turkish reps would sign. L and CPA General
Counsel are currently reviewing the text in the context of
the Turkish request. The parties agreed that any required
changes be circulated and agreed by fax, e-mail or diplomatic
correspondence, and that signatures would be done by fax
if/when final approvals are forthcoming.
2. (U) The Turkish side was represented by MFA Deputy
Undersecretary Nabi Sensoy on Jan. 20 and by Director General
for Multilateral Affairs Amb. Daryal Batibay Jan. 21-22, as
well as Deputy DG for Multilateral Affairs Tunc Ugdul and
Multilateral Affairs Deskoff Alp Ay. The Iraqi/CPA
delegation included Minister for Displacement and Migration
Mohammed Jassim Khudayir al-Otbee, Ministry of Displacement
staffer Mohammed Abdulaziz Hussein, CPA Senior Advisor to the
Ministry of Displacement and Migration Jose Lamego and CPA
Deputy Senior Advisor to the Ministry of Displacement and
Migration Jennifer Johnson. The UNHCR was represented by
Assistant High Commissioner for Refugees Kamel Morjane (Jan.
21 only), Europe Director Raymond Hall, Deputy Director of
International Protection Wilbert van Hovell, Turkey Rep
Gesche Karrenbrock, and Deputy Turkey Rep Steve Corliss. The
US delegation included Assistant Secretary for Population,
Refugees and Migration Arthur Dewey, PRM Officer Andy Wyllie
3. (SBU) The negotiated text under consideration reads as
VOLUNTARY REPATRIATION AGREEMENT
The Government of Turkey, the Authorities in Iraq and the
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
(hereinafter referred to as the &the Parties8),
(a) Recognizing that the right of all citizens to leave and
to return to their country is a basic human right enshrined,
inter alia, in Article 13(2) of the 1948 Universal
Declaration of Human Rights and Article 12 of the 1966
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights;
(b) Recalling that the United Nations General Assembly
Resolution 428 (V) of 14 December 1950, which adopted the
Statute of UNHCR, ascribes to the High Commissioner the
function of providing international protection to refugees
and of seeking permanent solutions for the problems of
refugees, inter alia, by promoting and facilitating their
voluntary repatriation and re-integration in their country of
(c) Recognizing that voluntary repatriation, where feasible,
constitutes the preferred durable solution for the problems
of refugees, and that the attainment of this solution
requires that refugees are able to return in conditions of
safety and dignity;
(d) Noting that Conclusions 18 (XXXI) and 40 (XXXVI) of the
Executive Committee of the High Commissioner,s Programme
constitute internationally accepted principles and standards
governing the voluntary repatriation of refugees;
(e) Noting with appreciation the stated willingness of the
Government of Turkey to welcome back, in conditions of safety
and dignity, all Turkish citizens present as refugees in
Iraq, who wish to repatriate to and rebuild their lives in
(f) Agreeing on the closure of the relevant refugee camps in
Iraq and in particular the Makhmour camp by finding
appropriate durable solutions for the Turkish citizens
present as refugees in Iraq who do not avail themselves of
the voluntary return process;
(g) Recognizing the need to define the specific procedures
and modalities for the voluntary repatriation and
reintegration of refugees from Turkey currently in Iraq with
the assistance of UNHCR, as may be supported by other United
Nations agencies and intergovernmental organizations, and
where appropriate and with the consent of the relevant Party,
by non-governmental organizations;
Have agreed as follows:
For the purpose of this Agreement,
1. The term &Authorities in Iraq8 shall, for the purpose of
implementing this Agreement, comprise the Governing Council
of Iraq and its successor(s), noting that the Authorities in
Iraq will fully implement this Agreement in close
coordination with the Coalition Provisional Authority during
2. The term "refugee" shall mean any Turkish citizen, as
defined in the Turkish Law on Nationality, who is living as a
refugee in Iraq.
3. The term "returnee" shall mean any refugee as defined in
paragraph 2 of this Article, who has voluntarily returned to
Turkey pursuant to this Agreement.
Establishment of a Voluntary Repatriation Commission
A Voluntary Repatriation Commission is hereby established by
Composition of the Commission
1. The Commission shall comprise three members; each of the
Parties shall designate a member. The delegation of Iraq will
include a representative of the Coalition Provisional
Authority throughout the duration of the Authority,s mandate.
2. Any Member of the Commission may be accompanied to its
meetings by advisers.
3. Where a Member is unable to attend to any business of the
Commission, that Member shall designate a substitute.
Role and Function of the Commission
The Commission shall consider and agree upon by consensus or
advise the Parties on such matters or measures as may be
necessary for the implementation of this agreement.
Meetings of the Commission
1. Meetings of the Commission may be convened whenever
necessary and at such venue as may be agreed upon.
2. The Commission shall adopt its own Rules of Procedure.
Ad Hoc Arrangements/Liaison Officers
The Parties shall designate Liaison Officers at their
respective diplomatic Missions or, in the case of UNHCR,
offices in Ankara, Baghdad and Geneva with powers to deal
with unforeseen operational issues on an ad hoc basis.
Liaison Officers will also be designated by the Coalition
Provisional Authority throughout the duration of its mandate.
Voluntary Character of Repatriation
1. The Parties hereby reaffirm that the repatriation of
refugees relevant to Turkey shall only take place at their
freely expressed wish based on their full knowledge of
2. The Authorities in Iraq shall ensure that the refugees can
reach and express their decision without coercion,
intimidation or threats from any persons who might be opposed
to repatriation. Any measures which may be necessary in this
regard shall be taken in close consultation with UNHCR and in
conformity with relevant standards of law.
Freedom of Choice of Destination
1. The Government of Turkey agrees that the returnees shall
be free in principle to return to, and settle in, their
former places of residence or any other places of their
choice within Turkey. Exceptions to choice of settlement can
be based on compelling reasons of security or administrative
requirements in the interest of the individual concerned,
such as the availability of public services, in which cases
he/she shall be duly notified prior to return.
2. Returnees will be entitled to assistance, as required,
and their rights shall be respected in the framework of the
Turkish law. Returnees shall benefit from the &Return to
Villages and Rehabilitation Program8 to facilitate their
Return in Safety and with Dignity
1. The Parties agree that the voluntary repatriation of
refugees under this Agreement shall take place only when
there exist conditions conducive to their return in safety
and with dignity to places of final destination.
2. Whereas the Authorities in Iraq shall retain
responsibility for the safety and security of the
repatriating refugees while on the territory of Iraq,
including in camps, transit facilities and during convoy
movements en route to the designated border crossing points,
the Government of Turkey shall be responsible for the safety
and security of the returnees once within the territory of
Assurances upon Return
1. The Government of Turkey shall issue, in print as well as,
when appropriate, through broadcast media, public messages to
welcome and to encourage Turkish citizens present as refugees
in Iraq to voluntarily repatriate in safety and dignity, and
with the full enjoyment of their rights as citizens of the
Republic of Turkey.
2. Refugees shall be notified, prior to return, whether or
not they are subject to any pending criminal investigations,
charges, or convictions in absentia with regard to any
violation of Turkish laws. Any violation regarding the
illegal exit from the country, shall be considered under the
statute of limitation as stipulated in Article 102 of the
Turkish Penal Code.
3. Refugees shall have full access to all legal remedies
provided in accordance with Turkish law.
4. The Government of Turkey shall defer the commencement of
military service by returnees for a period of 6 months upon
their repatriation from Iraq.
5. The Government of Turkey shall ensure that returnees have
access to land for settlement and use, in accordance with the
relevant national laws.
6. The Government of Turkey shall facilitate, to the extent
possible, the recovery and/or restitution to the returnees of
land or other immovable or movable property which they left
behind. Property records shall be freely accessible and
available to all returnees. The rights and benefits of this
paragraph will also be applicable to the legal inheritors.
Juridical Status and Equivalency
The Government of Turkey shall accord legal recognition to
births, marriages and deaths based on documentation certified
by the recognized Iraqi authority or provided by UNHCR, and
to adoptions, divorces and other changes of legal status as
may be compatible with Turkish law. The Government of Turkey
shall recognize to the extent feasible under existing
regulations the equivalency of academic and vocational
skills, diplomas and certificates obtained by the refugees
while in Iraq.
To the extent children of refugees who are born in Iraq do
not automatically possess Turkish citizenship, the Government
of Turkey shall ensure that it be granted within a reasonable
UNHCR's Supervisory Role
UNHCR's leading role in promoting, facilitating and
coordinating voluntary repatriation of refugees as well as
the monitoring of returnees in order to ensure that
repatriation is voluntary and carried out in conditions of
safety and dignity shall be fully respected by the other
UNHCR Access to Refugees and Returnees
1. In order to be able to effectively carry out its
international protection and assistance functions, UNHCR
shall be granted free and unhindered access in Iraq to all
refugees, and in Turkey to all returnees, wherever they may
be located. Likewise, all refugees and returnees shall be
granted free and unhindered access to UNHCR.
2. The Government of Turkey shall, in particular, extend full
cooperation to UNHCR to allow UNHCR to monitor the treatment
of returning refugees in accordance with humanitarian and
human rights standards, including the implementation of the
commitments contained in this Agreement.
3. In order to enable UNHCR to carry out its monitoring
functions in accordance with paragraph 1 and 2, the
Government of Turkey shall inform UNHCR about every case of
arrest, detention and legal proceedings involving returnees
and grant UNHCR free access to returnees under arrest or in
detention, in accordance with procedures under Turkish law.
4. The access provided to UNHCR under paragraph 1 shall, as
appropriate, extend to inter-governmental organizations with
which UNHCR may enter into agreements for the implementation
of one or more components of the repatriation operation
contemplated under this Agreement. The same applies for
non-governmental organizations with the consent of the
Information and Sensitization Campaign
1. UNHCR shall, in cooperation with the other Parties,
organize a campaign to provide the refugees with objective
and accurate information relevant to their repatriation to
and reintegration in Turkey so that the refugees shall be
able to make the decision to repatriate in full knowledge of
the facts. For this purpose, UNHCR shall be given free and
unhindered access to areas from which the refugees originate,
as well as, in accordance with Article 14, to any returnees
living in the same areas.
2. The Parties shall, as appropriate, facilitate visits to
Turkey and Iraq for the purposes of providing objective and
transparent information, answering questions, communicating
conditions of and upon repatriation, and inviting and
welcoming the refugees back to Turkey.
3. The Government of Turkey shall take all necessary
measures, with a view to creating conditions conducive to the
reintegration of returnees in safety and dignity.
Registration, Re-admission and Documentation
1. Pursuant to its mandated responsibility to ensure the
voluntary character of the decision to return, UNHCR shall,
in consultation with the other Parties, devise the most
appropriate means for the interview and registration by UNHCR
of those refugees who wish to repatriate.
2. UNHCR shall share all relevant registration data,
including the intended place of return, with the Government
of Turkey so as to enable where needed the establishment of
proper reception and assistance arrangements.
3. The Parties acknowledge the importance of organizing an
efficient voluntary repatriation process. To this end, the
Government of Turkey shall respond within four weeks with
respect to each group not exceeding 250 returnees, including
the required notification under Article 10 (2).
4. Duly completed UNHCR Voluntary Repatriation Forms (VRFs),
the content of which shall be mutually agreed upon by the
Parties, shall be recognized as valid identity documents in
Iraq and Turkey and as travel documents for the purpose of
the refugees' return to their final destinations in Turkey.
5. For the purpose of receiving and identifying the
returnees, an interview will be conducted at the border by
the relevant Turkish authorities.
6. The Government of Turkey shall ensure that returnees
receive, in a timely manner, identity documents normally
accorded to Turkish citizens.
Preservation of Family Unity
1. In accordance with the principle of family unity, UNHCR,
in cooperation with the other Parties, shall make every
effort to avoid the involuntary separation of families.
Where such efforts fail, a mechanism shall be established for
their reunification in Turkey.
2. In order to preserve the unity of the family, non-Turkish
spouses and/or children of repatriating refugees shall be
allowed to enter and remain in Turkey and receive an
appropriate legal status. The principle established herein
shall also apply to non-Turkish spouses as well as children
of deceased Turkish refugees who may wish to enter and remain
in Turkey to preserve family links.
Special Measures for Vulnerable Groups
The Parties shall take special measures to ensure that
vulnerable groups receive adequate protection, assistance and
care throughout the repatriation and reintegration process.
This is particularly relevant for single women, minors, the
elderly and the handicapped.
Designated Border Crossing Points
The Parties shall agree on border crossing points for
organized voluntary repatriation movements.
Immigration, Customs and Health Formalities
1. To ensure the expeditious return of refugees and their
belongings, the Authorities in Iraq and the Government of
Turkey shall expedite their respective immigration, customs
and health formalities carried out at border crossing points.
2. Refugees shall be entitled to bring with them, free from
import duties, their personal effects. Refugee families shall
be entitled to bring with them, free from import duties,
their household effects. Other items will be governed by
Turkish law and regulations.
3. In view of health regulations, livestock shall not be
allowed to enter into Turkey.
Movement and Security of UNHCR Staff and Resources
1. The Authorities in Iraq and the Government of Turkey
shall facilitate the movement of staff and personnel of UNHCR
and of its approved implementing partners, as well as
vehicles, relief goods and equipment used in the operation
into, within and out of Iraq and Turkey. In particular, they
shall authorize UNHCR to issue two-way cross-border travel
authorizations, the format of which shall be mutually agreed
upon by the Parties and UNHCR, to such staff and personnel
for the duration of the repatriation operation.
2. UNHCR shall duly inform the other parties of their staff
involved in the operation at any one time, and notify them of
changes as appropriate.
3. The Authorities in Iraq and the Government of Turkey shall
take all feasible steps with a view to protecting the
security and safety of UNHCR staff and all other personnel
engaged in the repatriation operation provided for under this
Agreement. Security measures shall not compromise the
principle of free and unhindered access to refugees and
returnees, respectively, including the confidential nature of
UNHCR,s monitoring contacts with them, as well as the purely
humanitarian and non-political nature of UNHCR,s operations
or the perception thereof.
The Government of Turkey shall facilitate the sustainable
economic and social re-integration of repatriating refugees
through the implementation of the &Return to Villages and
Rehabilitation Program8 and other assistance measures as
Relief Goods, Materials and Equipment
1. The High Commissioner shall use his best endeavours to
obtain the resources required from the international
community to carry out the repatriation operation and, if
necessary, to provide re-integration support in addition to
the re-integration programme of the Government of Turkey.
2. The Authorities in Iraq and the Government of Turkey shall
exempt from the relevant taxes, duties and levies all relief
goods, materials, equipment and means of transport destined
for use in the repatriation and reintegration operation. They
shall expedite the clearance and handling of such resources.
Entrance of means of transport into Turkey will be within the
framework of the provisional import regime of Turkey.
3. The Authorities in Iraq and the Government of Turkey
hereby authorize UNHCR to use UN communications equipment,
frequencies and networks and shall, whenever operational
requirements make this necessary, facilitate the allocation
of other frequencies. The relevant written authorizations for
equipment, frequencies and cross-border networks shall be
issued to UNHCR.
UNHCR Field Offices
UNHCR may, whenever required for the purpose of a more
effective discharge of its responsibilities under this
Agreement, establish Field Offices at locations to be agreed
with the Party concerned.
Continued Validity of other Agreements
This Agreement shall not affect the validity of any existing
agreements, arrangements or mechanisms of cooperation between
the Parties. To the extent necessary or applicable, such
agreements, arrangements or mechanisms may be relied upon and
applied as if they formed part of this Agreement to assist in
the pursuit of the objectives of this Agreement, namely the
voluntary repatriation and reintegration of refugees.
Resolution of Disputes
Any question arising out of the interpretation or application
of this Agreement, or for which no provision is expressly
made herein, shall be resolved amicably through consultations
between the Parties.
Entry into Force
This Agreement shall enter into force upon approval by the
Parties in accordance with their respective procedures, and
notification thereof through diplomatic channels.
This Agreement may be amended by mutual agreement in writing
between the Parties.
Towards the end of the duration of this Agreement, the
Parties will evaluate progress achieved and work for setting,
by consensus, a timeframe for achieving durable solutions for
the Turkish citizens remaining in Iraq as refugees, and thus
also allowing for the closure of the relevant camps in Iraq,
and in particular the Makhmour camp.
This Agreement shall remain in force for one year unless
extended by mutual agreement between the Parties.
In witness thereof, the authorized representatives of the
Parties have hereby signed this Agreement.
DONE at , this day of . 2004, in three originals, in the
English language, which will be the authoritative version for
For the Government of Turkey
Mr. Daryal Batibay
Director General for Multilateral Political Affairs
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
For the Authorities in Iraq
Mr. Mohammed Jassim Khudayir
Minister of Displacement and Migration
For the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
Mr. Raymond Hall
Director of the Regional Bureau for Europe
End negotiated text.
4. (U) Assistant Secretary Dewey has cleared this message.