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Cablegate: Mission Turkey Public Diplomacy Strategy for Fy-07

DE RUEHAK #6118/01 2991349
P 261349Z OCT 06





E.O 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: Mission Turkey Public Diplomacy Strategy for FY-07

Sensitive But Unclassified

1. (U) Summary: Public Diplomacy is a critically important
component of our diplomatic efforts in Turkey. In this cable, I
describe our current public diplomacy environment, offer our
strategy for FY-2007, and provide a list of top program priorities
under this strategy for enhanced support and funding. End summary.


2. (U) Introduction: The German Marshall Fund's 2006 Transatlantic
Trends poll starkly outlined the challenges U.S. public diplomacy
currently faces in Turkey. When asked, "How desirable is it that
the United States exert strong leadership in world affairs," 69
percent of Turks polled said it was undesirable, with 56 percent
saying "very undesirable" and only 14 percent desiring such a U.S.
role. Eighty-one percent of Turks said they disapproved of
President Bush's handling of international policies. When asked to
rate their feelings of various countries on a scale of 0 to 100, the
Turkish respondents only gave the United States a 20 (down eight
points from the previous year).

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3. (SBU) And yet, Turks consider the United States to be a
critical country for their own nation's priorities. We are expected
to "solve" Turkey's PKK, Cyprus and EU problems, and there is broad
recognition that our role on Iraq, Iran, the Middle East, every
security and other issues is essential for advancing Turkish
interests. Over 116,000 Turks visited the United States in 2005, and
each year Turkey sends more students to American universities and
colleges than any other European country. Comments about Turkey by
almost any American - officials, journalists, academics, etc. -
receive immediate coverage in the Turkish media. Turks care about
the United States - but they also are suspicious of our objectives
and fear how American policies might affect their own nation.

General Environment

4. (SBU) Today's Turkey interacts with the world in ways which
would have been politically taboo even five years ago. Economic,
political, and social reforms have strengthened Turkey's links with
other nations. The Turkish government and military have
participated in international efforts in Afghanistan and the
Balkans, and the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan
won legislative approval in September 2006 to contribute Turkish
forces to the strengthened UNIFIL operation in Lebanon.

5. (SBU) But the vociferous domestic debate over the UNIFIL
decision, and over the accession process for possible admission to
the EU, demonstrate that many Turks remain concerned over their
enhanced interaction with the outside world. The Turkish public
tends to be conservative, and their deep patriotism is sometimes
mixed with hints of xenophobic nationalism and deep skepticism over
other nations' "real intentions" towards Turkey. Opponents of
Turkish engagement often cite Ataturk's "Peace at home, peace
abroad" motto to justify isolationist policies, while launching
legal attacks on authors or journalists who "impugn" Turkey, Turkish
institutions, or "Turkishness." They also play on the popular
Turkish mistrust of other countries, expressed in the saying, "The
only friend of a Turk is another Turk." Opposition political groups
increasingly use the "American hammer" to attack government
initiatives, arguing that "doing what American wants" is
antithetically opposed to Turkey's own goals. This negative
environment is exacerbated by the start of the Turkish "election
year" for selection of the new president and parliament in 2007.

6. (SBU) Nevertheless, the Turkish-American relationship remains
important for both nations. When we look at our own foreign policy
priorities - in the Middle East, Europe, and Central Asia - Turkey
often appears as a nearly indispensable partner because of where it
is and what it is. We need Turkey on our side when we address our
immediate and long-term objectives concerning Iraq, Iran, Syria, the
Broader Middle East, and energy independence capacity in Eurasia.
Turkey's status as a secular democracy with a Muslim-majority
population also makes it an important nation for the United States.
The July 5, 2006 "Shared Vision and Structured Dialogue to Advance
the Turkish-American Strategic Partnership" provided a new basis for
further cooperation, which was enhanced by the October 2, 2006
meeting between President Bush and Prime Minister Erdogan. The
appointment of General Joseph Ralston as the Special Envoy for
Countering the PKK terrorist organization received a cautiously
positive response from the Turkish government and public, but also
added to expectations for prompt and effective measures against the
PKK. American public diplomacy in Turkey thus faces significant
challenges - but these are accompanied by real opportunities for

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advancing our objectives and interests.

Strategic Goals

7. (U) a. FOREIGN POLICY GOAL: Turkey supports US policies on
major issues of mutual concern (e.g., the Global War on Terrorism,
Iraq, Iran, BMENA, develop of alternative energy supply routes in
region). RELATED PUBLIC DIPLOMACY GOAL: Key audiences receive
accurate, effective and frequent advocacy of USG policies and

b. FOREIGN POLICY GOAL: Maintain or strengthen commitment of Turkey
to partnership with US and key Western institutions (NATO, EU).
RELATED PUBLIC DIPLOMACY GOAL: Strengthen Turkish understanding of
US values and society, in ways which enable discussion of key issues
relevant to Turkey, and strengthen US-Turkish partnership through
cultural programs, exchanges, and English-language programs.

c. FOREIGN POLICY GOAL: Increase understanding of US policies and
values, and support for US-Turkey relationship, among specific
segments of Turkish society. RELATED PUBLIC DIPLOMACY GOAL:
Increase contact with youth audience (over 65 percent of Turkey's
population is less than 35 years old), religious leaders and
opinion-leaders, and population in southeast Turkey, while
strengthening relationship with alumni of USG exchange programs and
American universities.

Public Diplomacy Environment

8. (SBU) a. There is currently deep skepticism/suspicion of US
policies and goals in Turkey, related to current issues of top
priority in the country.

b. This negative environment is exacerbated by the start of the
Turkish "election year" for selection of the new president and
parliament, accompanied by a rise in xenophobic nationalist views
and actions (especially from the opposition) which affect
perceptions of the US, NATO, and EU.

c. Turkey-specific issues concerning secularism and Islamization
affect mission efforts to reach out to traditional leaders and

Key Audiences

9. (U) a. Leaders in government, Parliament, media, academia,
NGOs, culture, and business.

b. Rising/future leaders in those sectors: the new generation.

c. Specific target audiences for particular emphasis: Youth,
religious, southeast Turkey, alumni.

Program Priorities

10. (U) Given this environment, we propose a three-part public
diplomacy strategy for FY-07: (a) programs to effectively
communicate policy issues and priorities through a "context and
consult" approach; (b) activities to address social and domestic
issues of concern through the perspective of the American
experience; and (c) initiatives that strengthen mission relations
with specific audiences of importance.

11. (SBU) POLICY PROGRAMS: Policy advocacy remains a top priority
for this post. In the current Turkish environment, the automatic
tendency of our contacts is to immediately focus on American
policies in negative and critical ways. Our most effective policy
programs respond to this environment by accurately presenting our
positions and honestly addressing policy disagreements, while
maintaining that we can sometimes have differing ideas and still be
close and effective partners. In these programs, we also work with
our target audiences to look at issues of importance more broadly
("context") and seek the views of our target audiences as to how
these issues can best be addressed ("consult"). This approach
forces our contacts to seriously think about the issue, and give us
their views (rather than simply jumping on the United States for
anything we might be doing). It also enables us to draw from their
own points when they support our policies, while noting reasons why
we might differ.

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of social, cultural, and political issues of importance to Turkey's
internal situation, which also can affect Turkish-American
relations. Domestic sensitivities (and suspicion of foreign
meddling) make it hard to discuss these topics by directly
addressing Turkey's own issues. However, we are able to implement
programs that look at how the United States has dealt with the same
issues. Our representatives focus solely on the American experience
- when asked what they would tell Turkey to do, we recommend that
they respond, "That's for you Turks to decide. I can tell you what
we did in America, and talk about my nation's challenges and
achievements." Their talks invariably lead into discussions in
which our Turkish participants discuss their own perceptions of the
topic, as it relates to Turkey, while increasing their understanding
of our own society and political system.

13. (U) SPECIFIC PRIORITY AUDIENCES: In addition to the general
public diplomacy objectives outlined above, post's FY-07 priorities
in Turkey will include programs specifically aimed at the following
important audience groups: Turkish youth (over 70 percent of the
population is under the age of 35); religious leaders and
opinion-makers; alumni of USG exchange programs and American
universities; and leaders (current and future) in southeast Turkey.
The southeast region of Turkey is distinct and important in terms of
its population, its relative lack of development, and its intimate
involvement in issues related to Turkey's running conflict with the
PKK terrorist organization. This makes it a key audience for our
public diplomacy strategy in Turkey.

Communication Tools

14. (U) a. Direct outreach by Embassy and USG officials (via media
and direct contact), speaker programs, and transmission of texts via
Internet and web site on policy issues, using "consult and context"

b. Use of non-USG speakers, exchanges, and materials to increase
understanding of US society and values on issues of concern - e.g.,
freedom of speech/expression, relationship between secularism and
religion in US, US approaches for dealing with domestic violence,
the role of the judiciary in America, minority relations in America,
and cultural and linguistic diversity in the United States.

c. Continued critical importance of exchanges (especially Fulbright,
International Visitors, and high school exchanges), cultural
programs, and English-language programs to achieve our goals of
increasing Turkish understanding of US values and society,
strengthening the US-Turkish partnership, and improving our outreach
to Turkish youth.

Programs and Initiatives

15. (U) The following are Mission Turkey's top priorities for
enhanced or new funding in FY-07. All of them were included in
post's submission under the pilot country initiative, with the
exception of the final item -- that is based on the
subsequently-announced Global Cultural Initiative:

a. English-language programs: Increase funding for English Language
Fellows, to fund 14 fellows annually in Turkey; continue and expand
funding for ACCESS micro scholarships; provide funding to expand
summer camp program.
b. Rapid Translation Capability: Provide funding to increase post's
capability for quick and accurate translation of texts, transcripts,
and publications.
c. Youth exchanges: Maintain current funding for Fulbright program;
increase funding for high school exchanges and International Visitor
Leadership programs aimed at young (under 30) leaders/future
d. Religious audience: Funding for focused exchanges (including
academic exchanges) involving religious leaders and opinion leaders,
(including possible relationship to Hartford Theological Seminary
program with Turkey).
e. Sports: Funding to bring US basketball players to Turkey (with
particular focus on programs for girls in southeast Turkey), and to
create American Corners-type educational collections for placement
in youth centers and basketball programs throughout Turkey.
f. Alumni: Funding to establish new LES (local employee) position
to coordinate USG exchange alumni outreach efforts, and to identify
effective ways for Mission to reach out to the thousands of Turkish
graduates of American universities.
g. Southeast Turkey: New Public Diplomacy Foreign Service Officer
position for consulate in Adana (which currently has no PD

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h. Global Cultural Initiative: Funding for following GCI programs:
(1) a Kennedy Center program focusing on public-private partnerships
that support culture in America, featuring a two-person team from
the Kennedy Center: one manager who can talk about methods for
developing private sector support for culture and one private sector
representative who can discuss the benefits private companies and
individuals gain from supporting cultural programs and organizations
in the United States. (2) An AFI exchanges project focusing on
women in film in America and Turkey, with American and Turkish film
professionals showing their films. Discussing their experiences, and
developing direct links. (3)A National Endowment for the Arts
literary exchange focusing on works by and/or for youth, including
translations, author DVCs and exchanges, and "Big Read" type events
in both nations to increase awareness of these works.


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