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Cablegate: Development in Turkey's Southeast

VZCZCXRO2743
RR RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDBU RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA
RUEHLN RUEHLZ RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHAK #6541/01 3341446
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 301446Z NOV 06
FM AMEMBASSY ANKARA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0125
INFO RUEHIT/AMCONSUL ISTANBUL 1716
RUEHDA/AMCONSUL ADANA 1380
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC
RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ANKARA 006541

SIPDIS

TREASURY FOR JONATHAN ROSE

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID SOCI PHUM PGOV ECON TU
SUBJECT: DEVELOPMENT IN TURKEY'S SOUTHEAST

REF: ADANA 00244

ANKARA 00006541 001.2 OF 002


1. (U) Summary. On November 22, TESEV, the Turkish Economic and
Social Studies Foundation, a leading Turkish NGO, and the UNDP
released a joint study identifying a series of short-term policies
to address socio-economic problems in Southeast Turkey. The study
offered few new insights as to development approaches, but did
provide interesting comparisons between Turkey's Southeastern
provinces and other similarly impoverished world regions based on
the UNDP's Human Development Index. Calling for "immediate
government intervention" to ameliorate the extreme poverty and
unemployment in Turkey's Southeast, the study's authors advised the
report's recommendations be implemented "at once and
simultaneously." Citing an estimated $1.7 billion price tag for
implementation of social policy programs alone, the study ignores
altogether the GOT's limited ability to intervene financially. In
general, the facts on the ground suggest that development in
Southeast Turkey may be better served by the government providing
better security and then getting out of the way to let the private
sector do its job. End Summary.


-------------------
TESEV/UNDP FINDINGS
-------------------

2. (U) The study states that all measurable indicators point to
Eastern and Southeastern Anatolia as the two least developed regions
in Turkey. Provinces in those areas continuously rank lowest on
socio-economic development among Turkey's eighty-one provinces. Per
capita public investment and per capita GDP in the provinces are
about one third of the national average. Although the region has
ten percent of the national population, it contributes only six
percent of the GDP. The study also notes that about sixty percent
of the population in these provinces lives below the poverty line.

3. (U) Noting Turkey's obligation under the EU ascension process to
reduce regional inequalities, the study compared the region's
twenty-one provinces with various countries according to the UNDP's
Human Development Index Values for Provinces (HDI). Bayburt, for
example, with the highest HDI score among the twenty-one provinces,
corresponds to Mongolia and Bolivia in terms of rank and
development. Most noeworthy is the fact the average HDI score for
all the provinces corresponds to Morocco, ranked 124th of 177
countries on HDI. The study indicates that ten percent of Turkey's
population currently lives with an HDI-ranking roughly the same as
Morocco's. Perhaps more telling, the study points to per capita
income levels in Eastern Anatolian provinces, which range between
seven and sixteen percent of the European Union average, as
representing the greatest gap between EU candidate and member
countries.

-------------------------------
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR DEVELOPMENT
-------------------------------

4. (U) The study identifies agriculture, animal husbandry, private
enterprise, community-driven development, border trade, and tourism
as areas of immediate focus for development. Acknowledging the
unfeasibility of a uniform agricultural policy, the study recommends
development and implementation of rural development projects devoted
to enhancing local capacity. Notably, the study recommends ending
the government's regional investment scheme--which the IMF has also
opposed--as costly and ineffective. The study proposes public
investment focused on infrastructure improvements and argues that
enhancing the physical appearance of the region's cities through
"community-driven development campaigns"--activities such as
repairing and painting government house, city halls and
schools--would attract a more highly trained and qualified workforce
to the provinces in the short-term. Characterizing trade with
bordering countries as crucial for the region, the study proposes
the construction of "Border Trade Centers" to facilitate trade.
Based on the approximately 34,000 Iranians tourists who traveled to
the provinces in 2001, despite minimal hotel facilities, the study
encourages further public investment in tourism to attract
additional visitors.

5. (U) Education and health care measures were also key areas cited,
and specific recommendations included providing hot school lunches,
subsidizing school transportation costs, and providing free
textbooks. Given that only a small percentage of the region's
population is employed in the formal sector, the study argues direct
income transfers will be one of the most effective instruments of
social policy. The study advocates for the elimination of barriers
to qualifying for the government's "green card" insurance program,
and also calls for free primary healthcare services. The study
estimated the cost of implementing the social policy measures

ANKARA 00006541 002.2 OF 002


alone--free books, free lunches, etc.--to be $1.7 billion.

--------------------------
REACTION AND REALITY CHECK
--------------------------

6. (U) Representatives of several political parties, including the
CHP, AKP, and DYP, reacted to the study's recommendations while
attending a recent panel discussion. The panel's moderator,
economist Guven Sak, critical of the study's failure to prioritize,
pointed out the impossibility of pursuing all angles at once. AKP
representative and panelist Dengir Mir Mehmet Firat defended his
party's record in the SE, citing efforts to bring more authority to
local government, to increase the number of teachers, and to
discourage government doctors from making transfer requests. He
also portrayed the SE problem as one caught up in the relationship
of the individual to the state and challenged the priority of
"Father State" over the realization of individual rights. DYP
representative and panelist Binhan Oguz agreed that focus on
religious and winter tourism could be a major area of development
for the region. Panelist Mehmet Keciciler of Anavatan described the
citizens of the Southeast as loyal, even as they claimed Kurdish
descent and spoke Kurdish. Calling for the elimination of the
"village guard" and the lifting of restrictions on freedom of
speech, including on the Kurdish language, he also asked why Turkey
remained afraid to broadcast in Kurdish, instead leaving satellite
broadcasts to the PKK. CHP representative deputy and Algan
Hacaloglu described a newfound political will to implement the
report's findings.

7. (U) During a Q & A session, CHP Vice Chairman Onur Oymen noted
the conspicuous absence from the study of any discussion of
terrorist activities in the region. Kudbettin Arzu of the
Diyarbakir Chamber of Commerce found significant the report's
recommendation for free or reduced utilities to create a culture of
responsible bill-paying citizens.

-------
COMMENT
-------

8. (SBU) No one disputes the need for development of Turkey's most
impoverished provinces. While the study usefully highlights the
shocking disparities between the Southeast and Western Turkey, and
advocates urgent focus on these issues, the question is how to go
about addressing the region's problems in the most efficient and
cost-effective manner if the region is to achieve long-erm
development success. Far from shedding nw light on development
approaches, the study ecycles old ideas in abstraction from anothe
underlying cause of the poverty and underdevelopment in the region,
namely the PKK-related security problem. While this may be an
understandable effort to avoid potential controversy, it also avoids
the question of the chicken-egg relationship between security and
growth. There is also no discussion of how the recommended programs
would be funded, given current constraints on the Government budget,
particularly the investment budget. The Government's track record
with earlier large-scale infrastructure projects in the Southeast,
such as the Southeast Anatolia Project (GAP), gets mixed reviews
from development experts. Successes on the ground in Southeast
cities like Gaziantep (reftel) suggest that creating stable
conditions for small to medium sized businesses to grow and create
jobs might be a more reasonable objective than massive
government-funded public investments. End comment.

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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