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Cablegate: Turkish First Army Commander On Us/Turkey

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

C O N F I D E N T I A L ISTANBUL 000295

SIPDIS


E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/26/2014
TAGS: PREL PGOV CY TU
SUBJECT: TURKISH FIRST ARMY COMMANDER ON US/TURKEY
RELATIONS, CYPRUS, GME


Classified By: Consul General David Arnett for Reasons 1.5(b&d)


1. (u) Summary: During the course of a February 26 courtesy
call by the Ambassador, First Army Commander General
Buyukanit offered his views on U.S.-Turkish
military-to-military relations, the ongoing Cyprus
negotiations, and the Greater Middle East. End Summary.


Mil-Mil Relations
-----------------
2. (c) Buyukanit noted that the March 1, 2003, vote in the
Turkish Parliament had been a major setback to relations. As
the then-Deputy Chairman of the Turkish General Staff (TGS),
he recalled having worked around the clock for several days
in the lead-up to the vote. As a result, Buyukanit took it
personally when Deputy Defense Secretary Wolfowitz later
"criticized" the Turkish military in a CNN Turk interview for
not demonstrating sufficient leadership. Buyukanit defended
the TGS, but concluded that he saw the whole incident as a
"black spot" on his career. The Ambassador reassured the
General that we understand there were many factors which
contributed to the parliamentary vote and that Wolfowitz
remains one of Turkey's strongest supporters.


3. (c) The Ambassador added that much of the damage to the
relationship has already been repaired with renewed contacts
and a resumption of the High-Level Planning Group (HLPG)
meetings. Buyukanit expressed his satisfaction with the
resumption of the HLPG meetings and suggested that such
meetings adopt the broad, "strategic" focus that
characterized the bilateral exchanges in the 1980s. The
Ambassador agreed and noted that the November HLPG had
included such a discussion on Iraq. Following up on these
talks with other discussions between regular HLPG meetings
would also be important to maintaining a healthy dialogue.
The upcoming visit of DOD Jim Townsend to Turkey would be one
such useful opportunity. The June NATO Summit in Istanbul
would be yet another opportunity for high-level discussions.


Cyprus
------

4. (c) Initially reluctant to comment on the ongoing
negotiations in Cyprus (an issue on which he had spent
"years" and had "hundreds" of meetings), Buyukanit did note
that he sees the island as "strategically" important only as
it relates to Turkey's EU membership. "What will happen if
(there is a solution and) Turkey does not join the EU?," he
asked. As for the ongoing talks, Buyukanit urged caution to
ensure that "today's solutions not become tomorrow's
problems." With a few "necessary modifications" (nfi), the
plan could work. Moreover, Buyukanit added, "I know" that
when UNSYG Annan sits down to "fill in the blanks" on the
plan, that it is "really the U.S. and the U.K." that will be
calling the shots. The Ambassador expressed confidence that
Turkey will eventually be an EU member and that a durable
Cyprus settlement can be found. The U.S. has a role, the
Ambassador admitted, but it would be UNSYG Annan who makes
the final decisions on the details of unresolved elements of
the plan.


Greater Middle East
-------------------

5. (c) The Ambassador sketched the background and thinking
that underlies a new USG focus and commitment to support
democratic and economic reform in the Greater Middle East
(GME). Buyukanit agreed that Turkey would be one of the
prime beneficiaries of greater stability and democracy in
this region. Disavowing the much-discussed notion that
Turkey can be a "model," Buyukanit argued that if the U.S.
succeeds there, Iraq itself could be the model for Saudi
Arabia, Syria, and other countries in the region. Buyukanit
singled out the Israeli-Palestinian dispute as particularly
intractable and commented that the U.S. would have a critical
role to play here and in the whole region.
ARNETT

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