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Cablegate: Civair Officials On Safety, Security Issues

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

Sensitive but Unclassified. Please Handle Accordingly.

Ref: (A) Ankara 3970 (B) State 181043 (C) Ankara 3676
(D) Ankara 3736

1. (U) This cable contains action requests in paras 12
and 13.

2. (SBU) Summary: Turkish Civil Aviation officials
told us that stringent security measures required by
DHS/TSA continue to impose a burden on passengers and
security staff. Screening with explosive trace
detection (ETD) equipment lent by TSA has been very
time-consuming. The officials asked whether and when
DHS/TSA would modify these measures, whether additional
EDT equipment training could be provided, and whether
the 90-day loan of ETD equipment could be extended. We
also discussed safety oversight, border control for
transit passengers, North Cyprus flights and upcoming
multilateral meetings. End Summary.

3. (U) Econoff and Econ Specialist discussed civil
aviation security, safety oversight, border control for
transit passengers, establishing air links between the
U.S. and Northern Cyprus and other issues with Topa
Toker, Director General, and other Directorate General
for Civil Aviation (DGCA) officials on September 14.

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TSA's Security Amendment


4. (SBU) Toker and Erdal Ugur, branch director of
DGCA's Security Department, stated that compliance with
DHS' June Emergency Amendment/Security Directive
(EA/SD) continued to impose a heavy burden on staff and
passengers (reftels), and that Istanbul Ataturk Airport
was losing some transit passengers to other hubs. Ugur
reported that use of TSA-provided electronic trace
detection (ETD) equipment, including the requirement to
open bags and conduct an item-by-item screening, is
much more time-consuming than a simple physical search
of baggage. He said that up to four ETDs ordered by
DHMI could be deployed to Istanbul. DCGA officials
made several requests pertaining to TSA: 1) extending
the period of the equipment loan, set to expire in
early October; 2) additional TSA training in the use of
the equipment; 3) reduction in the 100 percent
passenger and screening requirements in the EA/SD, and
a change in the requirement that each item in baggage
be screened by ETD.

5. (SBU) Note: The Turkish National Police, rather
than DGCA, has been our primary interlocutor on the
EA/SD. Toker seemed ill-informed on the EA/SD
requirements and the deployment and use of ETD
equipment. End Note.

6. (U) Toker told us that the National Civil Aviation
Security Council decided that Gozen, the private
security contractor at Istanbul Airport, could continue
to operate on the basis of its existing license.
Note: In conjunction with the implementation of the
DHS EA/SD, we had been told earlier that Gozen might
have to apply for a new license, possibly disrupting
the passenger and baggage screening process (Ref A).
End Note.

Safety Oversight

7. (SBU) In the aftermath of several lethal Turkish
rail accidents in July and August, the Turkish press
ran a series of articles questioning the GOT's
oversight of transportation safety generally, including
in civil aviation. Noting this press coverage, Econoff
asked Toker about long-delayed legislation aimed at
strengthening DGCA's ability to oversee civil aviation
by providing the organization with more autonomy and
more resources to retain experienced staff. Toker said
that DGCA and the Transport Ministry have submitted
draft legislation on this to the Prime Ministry, and
the Minister hopes to see it enacted into law by the
end of 2004. The legislation calls for DGCA to use
contract personnel in many of its functions and would
provide better salaries. However, Toker implied that
the law would not go far enough in improving
remuneration and that DGCA's autonomy would be limited.
No Progress on Transit Passengers

8. (SBU) Econoff raised the continuing gap in border
controls created by Turkey's failure to require
international passengers to clear passport control at
the initial port of entry (usually Istanbul Ataturk
Airport). Erdal Ugur, head of DGCA's Security
Department, responded that the GOT had decided to
implement such a system, but that new infrastructure
was required and would not likely be in place until
sometime in 2005. The State Airports Authority (DHMI)
and International Terminal Management (Turkish acronym
TAV, the private company operating the airport) are
responsible for implementation.

Northern Cyprus

9. (SBU) Econoff briefed DGCA officials on USG thinking
on establishing air services between Northern Cyprus
and the United States (ref B). Yalcin responded that
even incremental progress on this issue was welcome,
and that an American Airlines codeshare for a Turkish
Airlines flight to Ercan Airport would have great
symbolic impact.

Pilot Licensing

10. (U) Haydar Yalcin, DGCA Head of Department for
Safety, stated that DGCA would like to recognize U.S.
pilot licenses in Turkey, and that he had discussed
this with FAA officials earlier this year. Yalcin
believes that a bilateral agreement might be necessary
to effect this, and understood that FAA and the
Department were considering such an agreement. He
requested a status report on this issue.

Multilateral Meetings

11. (U) Toker told us that he and Yalcin would
represent the GOT at the ICAO General Assembly in late
September. The Turkish delegation will also include
officials from DHMI, the Turkish military and the
Foreign Affairs Ministry. Econoff told Toker that
Secretary Mineta and Administrator Blakey were planning

to meet him in the context of a September 27 dinner
with the Coordinating Committee of the European Civil
Aviation Conference (ECAC), of which Toker is a member.
Yalcin suggested that the upcoming ECAC meeting would
provide another venue for bilateral dialog.

Comment and Action Requests
12. (SBU) The GOT has cooperated closely with us in
implementing the EA/SD, at some cost to passengers,
airlines and GOT authorities. The best way to ensure
continued cooperation is to provide the GOT with as
much information and advance notice as possible of
changes in security requirements, including whether and
when the EA/SD might be amended and whether an
extension to the ETD loan is possible. Embassy
requests information which can be shared with the GOT
on both issues, as well as whether further training in
the use of ETD could be made available.

13. (U) Embassy would also appreciate information on
pilot licenses as requested by DGCA.

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