Cablegate: Mod's Defense Budget Statement Miffs Tgs

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 ANKARA 003156


E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/08/2029

REF: A. FBIS GMP20040518000178
B. ANKARA 2791

(U) Classified by DCM Robert S. Deutsch. Reasons 1.4 (b) and

1. (C) Summary: MOD Gonul surprised TGS with his statement
to the Greek MOD that Turkey would slash its defense spending
by $10 billion. TGS believes this was in part an attempt by
the government to allocate resources to domestic priorities
at the military's expense. End summary.

2. (U) Minister of Defense Vecdi Gonul told his Greek
counterpart, Spilios Spiliotopoulos, that Turkey had decided
to cut its defense spending by $10 billion when the two met
on the margins of an EU defense ministerial in Brussels May
17, according to press reports that we have confirmed. Gonul
reportedly said that this amount included the three major
procurement programs worth $6 billion that the Defense
Industry Executive Committee decided to cancel three days
earlier (ref b). Turkish newspapers reported that the
reduction would occur over 5 years and that Greece would
respond with a 25% defense spending reduction over the same

3. (C) Turkish General Staff (TGS) J5 Greece/Cyprus Director
RADM Mucahit Sislioglu told polmilcouns June 3 that Gonul's
statement was completely uncoordinated and unexpected. Gonul
participated in the May 14 Executive Committee meeting,
Sislioglu observed; there was no way he could forget that it
was the tenders--not the programs--that were canceled. In
all three cases, the requirements remained and some
procurement action would move forward. Sislioglu feared that
the Greeks would take Gonul's words as a commitment, despite
the limited budgetary role played by the Ministry of National
Defense. (Note: TGS generally negotiates most of the
military's budget directly with the government.) The admiral
opined that Gonul's statement appeared to be an attempt to
limit defense spending as a gesture to the EU, to engender
goodwill with Greece, and to free up resources for domestic
programs. That was the opinion he sent up his chain of
command, he said. Officials at TGS had asked MND Plans and
Principles Director General RADM Serdar Dulger why he had not
stopped the minister from making this commitment, but Dulger
claimed he had not known what Gonul was going to say and that
there was no way to intervene during the meeting, according
to Sislioglu.

4. (U) TGS DCHOD GEN Ilker Basbug contradicted Gonul's
characterization that the canceled tenders constituted a
budget cut in his opening remarks at a May 27-28 symposium on
Turkish security in Istanbul: In order to meet Turkish Armed
Forces transformation goals, "the ratio of the defense budget 2.4% of GNP" and 6.6% of the national budget.
Regarding the decision to "change the models of procurement
for modern tank, attack helicopter and unmanned aerial
vehicle projects," he said, "the mentioned requirements of
the Turkish Armed Forces are still valid."

5. (C) Comment: Even before Gonul's remark, rumors had been
circulating in Ankara that one reason for the May 14 decision
to terminate the tenders on the three major defense programs
was an AK Party plot to slash defense spending. We cannot
imagine CHOD GEN Hilmi Ozkok, a voting member of the
Executive Committee, would have gone along with such a plan.
That said, coming on the heels of the Imam-Hatip controversy
(ref c), Gonul's surprising comment has fed already
deep-seated suspicion within the Turkish military about the
AK's intentions. End comment.

© Scoop Media

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