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Cablegate: Diyarbakir Poll Shows Kurdish Issue Turkey's Biggest

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 ADANA 000199

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

NOT FOR INTERNET DISTRIBUTION

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM ECON SY IZ ADANA
SUBJECT: DIYARBAKIR POLL SHOWS KURDISH ISSUE TURKEY'S BIGGEST
PROBLEM

1. (SBU) Summary: A recent Dicle University poll found that the
Diyarbakir's residents had mixed feelings about their
government's lack of follow-up after PM Erdogan's August 12
speech promising the use of democratic methods to solve the
"Kurdish issue." The poll confirmed that almost 90 percent of
residents agreed with the PM that there is a "Kurdish issue,"
and that a majority of residents saw it as Turkey's largest
issue. Poll respondents indicated no single solution to the
problem, but nearly one-third of respondents agreed that it
would be very important to allow free use of the Kurdish
language and unfettered expression of the Kurdish identity. In
spite of a high degree of ambivalence among respondents about
party affiliation, most still indicated support for DEHAP (in
the process of transitioning to the Democratic Society Movement)
and less than one-fourth support the AK party, although almost
half the respondents indicated that they would give their
support to the AK Party if it solved the Kurdish issue. End
Summary.

Diyarbakir Poll: Kurdish Issue Biggest Problem for Turkey
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2. (SBU) There has been no follow-up by the GOT to Prime
Minister Tayyip Erdogan's August 12 speech in Diyarbakir wherein
he mentioned the existence of a "Kurdish issue," and promised to
use democratic methods to solve it. AMCON Adana conoffs called
on Dicle University associate professor Mazhar Bagli on October
25 to discuss a recent poll attributed to him in earlier October
press reporting. His poll, conducted in Diyarbakir, provides a
snapshot view on local reaction to Erdogan's speech . According
to an article by Bagli, "the study aimed to measure reactions to
PM Erdogan's speech about the Kurdish issue and to his policies
and to find out how the Kurdish issue is defined and what kind
of solutions are proposed." The study was conducted on 876
respondents, 569 males and 307 females, in the city of
Diyarbakir in August 2005. Pollsters approached at random
people of different age groups, income levels, educational
background, genders and professions. Pollsters asked 23
questions, some open-ended.

3. (SBU) Results of the poll showed that 89.4 percent agreed
there is a "Kurdish problem" in Turkey, while 59.4 percent
perceived the Kurdish issue as Turkey's primary problem; 20.9
percent said Turkey's primary problem was democratization, and
13.7 percent said it was the economy. When asked in an
open-ended question how to define the Kurdish issue, 43 percent
of respondents considered it an ethnic issue, 25.7 percent saw
it as a political issue, while 12.4 percent called it an issue
of democracy. The study also showed that 52.5 percent of
respondents said there was no solution to the Kurdish problem
through Erdogan's approach, while 30.7 percent said there was
such a solution; 16.4 percent said they had no idea regarding
the question, and 0.3 percent gave no answer. When asked how
they interpreted Erdogan's meeting with the intelligentsia, 30.1
percent of respondents replied that it was an effort to deceive
the public and an equal number, 30.1 percent, replied that it
was meaningless if nothing concrete followed. Approximately 23
percent of respondents said that the PM's meeting was an
indication that the PM wanted to solve the issue, and 11.9
percent saw it as a turning point in Turkey's political life.

Support for DEHAP Remains Strong
--------------------------------------------- ----

4. (SBU) Interestingly, when asked for which party they would
cast their vote if elections were held today, 52.6 percent said
DEHAP; 23.4 percent said AKP; 2.6 percent said CHP; 2.4 percent
said DYP; and other parties received less than 2 percent of
respondents' support. A total of 12.2 percent of respondents
either answered "none" or were undecided. When asked if they
would give their vote to the AK Party if it solved the Kurdish
issue, 46.8 percent said yes, while 39.7 percent said no, and
13.5 percent had no idea. Finally, when asked the open-ended
question of what they would do if they were authorized or had
been given the authority to solve the Kurdish issue, almost
one-third of respondents (32 percent) replied that they would
allow free use of the Kurdish language and would recognize
Kurds' ethnic identity.

5. (SBU) Comment: Methodology for the Dicle University study was
solid and more scientific than what was indicated in recent
press reports about the poll. In order to develop a more
systematic baseline for understanding southeast Turkish public
opinion, it might be useful for INR to consider funding
follow-up, expanded polling which reaches beyond the immediate
Diyarbakir area. Professor Bagli was open to such an idea, and
said that he had conducted polling for two EU countries in the
past. End Comment.

REID

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