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Cablegate: Addressing the Ai Threat in Turkey

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

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ANKARA 005119

SIPDIS

STATE FOR EUR/RUS, OES/STC, EB/TPP/ATP, EB/TPP/BTA
HHS FOR WSTEIGER/PBUDASHEWITZ
ITP/MACKE/THOMAS, CMP/DLP/WETZEL
FAS PASS FSIS AND APHIS
VIENNA PASS APHIS/SLITER
BRUSSELS PASS APHIS/FERNANDEZ

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ETRD EAGR TBIO KSTH
SUBJECT: ADDRESSING THE AI THREAT IN TURKEY

Ref: State 153802

Sensitive but Unclassified. Not for Internet
Distribution.

1. (SBU) Summary. Post delivered referenced talking
points to officials at the Turkish Ministry of
Agriculture and Rural Affairs (MARA). MARA officials
are very concerned that Avian Influenza could spread to
Turkey primarily by wild bird populations migrating from
Russia. Officials welcomed any exchange of information
on the issue however inter-agency relations may inhibit
a coordinated effort by the Turkish government to
address any outbreak. End Summary.

-------------------
Welcomed Initiative
-------------------

2. (SBU) On August 19, AgCounselor delivered talking
points regarding highly pathogenic H5N1 Avian Influenza
(AI) to Deputy Under Secretary for Agriculture and Rural
Affairs, Nebi Celik. DUS/Celik indicated that the
Ministry was trying to follow the AI outbreak in Russia
and Central Asia and were extremely concerned with the
spread of the disease given Turkey's eastern borders.
Celik stated that the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural
Affairs had the primary responsibility for tracking the
disease. Celik was extremely interested in any
information we could provide regarding the outbreak
particularly with the situation in Russia and
Kazakhstan. Celik stated that they would provide
information on any developments in Turkey.

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--------------------------------------------- --
Turkey's Poultry Sector - Varied and Vulnerable
--------------------------------------------- --

3. (U) Turkey's commercial poultry sector is comprised
of several large companies. However, about 40 percent
of Turkey's population still lives in rural areas with
many depending on subsistence farming including some
poultry and egg production. The average farm size in
Turkey is only 8 hectares with each farm invariably
keeping poultry (ducks, chickens, geese, turkeys) for
household consumption. More often than not, the poultry
is being raised in open areas, where they can come into
contact with wild fowl. It is not unusual to see
chickens along the side of the road in rural areas.

----------------------------------------
Banning Live Poultry Imports from Russia
----------------------------------------

4. (U) Turkey does not permit any commercial imports of
poultry meat although imports of breeding stock
including day old chicks are permitted. In August,
Turkey banned all imports of live poultry from Russia.
Imports of live poultry from countries in Central Asia
are not permitted.

------------
GOT Measures
------------

5. (SBU) According to the Celik, the Under Secretary
of Agriculture, Hamit Ogut, is the primary contact for
the AI situation. Celik requested that any information
regarding AI be sent to the Under Secretary with copies
to other members of the Ministry. He noted that the
European Union and Turkey will be doing an joint
emergency exercise in the eastern part of Turkey to
combat a possible outbreak of AI.

6. (SBU) Further discussions with MARA representatives
revealed that Turkish government has an established
emergency action plan (EAP) to deal with AI and perhaps
all types of infectious animal diseases. The EAP is an
internal document and we were unable to obtain a copy.
For AI, MARA, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of
Forestry all share some responsibility for this issue.
Forestry has responsibility for migratory and wild bird
populations while Health focuses on human illness.
According to our contact, instructions have been
provided to health care workers to report any unusual
human illnesses and for the poultry industry to report
any unusual bird illnesses or deaths. In addition,
there be an additional workshop/exercise in Bondurma in
September or October to determine the ability of the
emergency response system.

------------------------------
Some Outstanding Issues Remain
------------------------------

7. (SBU) Despite assurances by Ministry officials that
a system is in place to address any problems, some
issues remain. First, there has been no indication
that the Ministry is providing any information to small
landowners, who maintain small flocks and who are most
likely to come into contact with wild migrating fowl.
Second, relations between the Turkish ministries are not
as good as they should be. MARA officials indicated
that they are the lead agency on the illness without
acknowledging the role of Health or Forestry. It is not
clear how much information is being shared among
ministries.

8. (SBU) During discussions with one MARA official,
post learned that the government has not addressed the
issue of paying for culling of birds. Apparently, no
funds have been allocated either to pay for culling,
disposing of carcasses, or for compensating farmers.

-------------------
Comment: Follow-up
-------------------

9. (SBU) Post will follow up during the next several
weeks with officials from the Ministries of Health and
Forestry as well as the poultry industry for further
information. In addition, we will meet with EU
officials to determine the results of their joint
exercise. End Comment.

MCELDOWNEY

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