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Cablegate: Ambassador Edelman's October 25 Visit to Izmir

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

1. (SBU) Summary: Izmir provincial and municipal, business
and academic officials warmly welcomed Ambassador Edelman
during his first official visit to Izmir, October 25.
Focusing on commercial issues, Ambassador encouraged both
the business community and municipal officials to create an
atmosphere conducive to foreign direct investment, including
resolution of legal problems encountered by U.S. firms, to
attract more U.S. investment to Turkey. His speeches to the
Izmir Chamber of Commerce on investment opportunities and to
the Turkish American Association on the 2004 U.S. election
attracted large audiences with a keen interest in U.S.
commercial and political policies in the region. Prior to
the Ambassador's meeting with the governor, approximately 50
members of the Workers' Party staged a brief protest.
Addressing concerns about the status of the U.S. presence in
Izmir, Ambassador stressed that there would be no change in
the level of services offered by the U.S. mission in Izmir.
End Summary.

2. (SBU) Ambassador Edelman, accompanied by the PAO,
economic counselor, FCO, and Izmir liaison officer, focused
on commercial advocacy issues during his first official
visit to Izmir on October 25. He addressed challenges and
prospects for U.S.-Turkish business in meetings with Izmir
business leaders at the Chamber of Commerce, the Chamber of
Industry and at the Aegean Free Zone. Discussing
U.S.-Turkish investment and business opportunities in his
address to the Izmir Chamber of Commerce, Ambassador
expressed confidence that Turkey's full EU membership and
implementation of business-friendly financial reforms would
help attract foreign direct investment and stable financing.
Creating an environment supportive of foreign investment,
including harmonizing domestic standards and resolution of
legal problems encountered by U.S. firms in Turkey, will be
key to increasing U.S. investment in Turkey. Ambassador also
noted that Turkey's choice to play a more active role in the
Broader Middle East initiative would set a powerful regional
example. Chamber of Commerce President Demirtas was
optimistic that Izmir, with its agricultural, textile and
jewelry production and commodity exchange, could prove to be
an optimal site for joint ventures with the U.S.

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Meetings with Governor and Mayor

3. (SBU) Prior to the Ambassador's meeting with Governor
Goksu, a 50-strong worker's party group staged a brief
anti-U.S. protest, quickly subdued by the police. Goksu
noted Izmir's center of international culture and long
history as a gate to the west, and regretted the end of
direct international flights to Izmir following the
bankruptcy of Swissair. Goksu encouraged Ambassador Edelman
to return frequently to Izmir, and hoped that the U.S. would
not diminish its presence in Izmir. Ambassador raised the
closure of the Ovacik mine, owned by Newmont Mining
Corporation, near Izmir in August 2004 and urged him to take
steps to open the mine without delays. Goksu said he was
aware of the contribution of the mine to the Turkish economy.
However, he stressed that public opinion regarding the
reopening of the mine was both negative and positive, and he
preferred that all legal and technical documentation be
completed before making a decision.

4. (SBU) Ambassador raised the problems with the Konak Pier
investments with newly elected Mayor Kocaoglu. Kocaoglu
downplayed the Konak Pier issue, noting that the stores were
in operation, despite the lack of operating licenses.

U.S. Presence in Izmir

5. (SBU) All business and political contacts pressed
Ambassador Edelman to clarify the status of the U.S. presence
in Izmir. Ambassador underlined that while the exact status
of U.S. offices would be determined after consultation with
the U.S. Congress at some point after mid-November 2004,
there would be no change in the level of service provided by
the U.S. in the consular and commercial fields, in public
diplomacy, or in contacts with political and economic
officials. He stressed that diplomats from the U.S. Embassy
in Ankara and the liaison officer from U.S. consulate in
Istanbul would visit Izmir regularly and continue and expand
contacts with local officials.

6. (U) Ambassador's talk at the Turkish American Association
on the U.S. Presidential election was attended by 200 faculty
and students from Izmir universities and members of the
community. As in his lectures the previous week at
universities in Konya and Kayseri, the Ambassador discussed
in context in which the election will be held. He noted that
whereas economic and social themes normally dominsate, this
year Iraq and the global war on terror are the leading issues
for voters. He predicted unusually high turnout, and
provided an overview of current polling and of factors that
may limit the ability of polls to accurately forecast the
result. Ambassador predicted that the outcome of the
elections would not significantly impact U.S.-Turkish
relations, and noted that the Republican and Democratic
candidates share similar goals for the future of Iraq and
both will place priority on the Broader Middle East.

7. (U) Ambassador's visit to Izmir was widely reported by
local and national media. Coverage focused on his speech at
the Chamber of Commerce on U.S.-Turkish commercial and
investment opportunities and the importance of creating an
environment that is friendlier to foreign investors.

Political Party Meetings

8. (SBU) Izmir liaison officer discussed local and regional
politics with CHP and AKP Izmir party leaders October 27.
CHP party head Yuksel, who had recently won reelection to a
4-year term, was engaged in outreach to the agricultural
community, but was confident of continued 60 per cent overall
support for CHP in the Izmir area. Yozgat-origin AKP party
head Aslik was hopeful that AKP would top CHP in the next
local election, based on growing immigration from the east.
Aslik was curious about post-election U.S. policy in Iraq,
and commented that the U.S. should review its policy in the
Middle East.

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