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Cablegate: Turkey: Officials Hopeful New Government Will

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PP RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDBU RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA
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DE RUEHAK #1921/01 2080622
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 270622Z JUL 07
FM AMEMBASSY ANKARA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3153
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RHMFIUU/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC//J-3/J-5//
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC
RUEUITH/ODC ANKARA TU//TCH//
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
RUEUITH/TLO ANKARA TU
RUEHAK/TSR ANKARA TU
RUEHAK/USDAO ANKARA TU

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ANKARA 001921

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREL OSCE TU
SUBJECT: TURKEY: OFFICIALS HOPEFUL NEW GOVERNMENT WILL
JUMP-START STALLED EU REFORMS

REF: A. ANKARA 1660
B. ANKARA 0971
C. ANKARA 6593

1.(SBU) Summary and comment. Turkish officials and European
diplomats are optimistic the ruling Justice and Development
Party (AKP) will use its strong electoral mandate to revive
what has so far been a "lost year" for EU reforms. Turkey's
EU Secretariat, which oversees harmonization efforts, will
urge the newly formed government to move speedily on two
dormant issues: the Law on Foundations and Turkish Penal
Code Article 301 (insulting "Turkishness"). Concrete action
on these issues would help Turkey avoid a harshly critical EU
progress report in November, and lead to opening negotiations
on up to three additional chapters during the Portuguese
Presidency. Our European contacts believe opposition parties
will be unsuccessful if they attempt to freeze EU-related
reforms. AKP's ability to mend fences with the opposition
while rebuilding public support for EU accession will
determine whether the new government can jump-start the
stalled process. End summary and comment.

--------------------------------------------- -
EU Reforms Slow During Parliamentary Elections
--------------------------------------------- -

2.(SBU) Incoming Secretariat Political Chief Cem Kahyaoglu
told us July 23 that 2007 thus far has been a "lost year" for
EU reforms in Turkey. Although some technical-level progress
has continued, the GOT achieved nothing on the important
political issues of most interest to the EU, such as easing
restrictions on religious minorities and freedom of speech.
The contentious elections were to blame, rather than one
particular person or party, he said. European opposition to
Turkey's accession, from France and others, made it difficult
for campaigning politicians to take pro-EU positions,
contributing to the slowdown.

----------------------------------
GOT Plans to Make Up For Lost Time
----------------------------------

3.(SBU) Kahyaoglu expected AKP, which captured 46.6% of the
vote, to use its strong mandate to revive the process. The
Secretariat will urge the new government to take immediate

SIPDIS
action on two top priorities: re-passing the Law on
Foundations and amending TPC Article 301. In November 2006,
President Sezer vetoed a progressive new Foundations law that
would have expanded the property rights of Turkey's
minorities (ref C). Kahyaoglu said the Secretariat wants
Parliament to re-pass the bill in the same form. Outgoing
Secretariat Political Chief Ahmet Dogan told us that amending

SIPDIS
Article 301, which continues to damage Turkey's international
standing, would be the single most important way to prevent a
harshly critical annual EU progress report this November.

4.(SBU) Both officials agreed that achieving these results in
the compressed time frame would be difficult. The new
government would need to repeat the time-consuming
legislative process for both Foundations and Article 301
bills, and some vocal opposition from the Republican People's
Party (CHP) and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) is virtually
certain. Still, the AKP's strong position in the new
government, combined with international pressure, makes
near-term reform on these issues likely, according to
Kahyaoglu. Concrete results would help the Portuguese
Presidency to open chapters on Energy, Consumer and Health
Protection, and Trans-European Networks.

-------------------------
Europeans Also Optimistic
-------------------------

5.(SBU) Several EU member-state contacts were relieved by
AKP's victory, which they see as providing an opportunity for
enhanced relations between Ankara and Brussels. A Dutch
diplomat told us the overwhelming popular support for AKP
will provide them the necessary leverage to end a period of
stagnation in reforms. According to a British contact, the
EU wants to see the new Parliament passing or amending four

ANKARA 00001921 002 OF 002


crucial laws before the November progress report: the Law on
Foundations, Article 301, the Ombudsman law, and Law on the
Court of Auditors. These contacts agree that CHP and MHP
maneuvering may slow, but ultimately will not block,
long-awaited reforms on political issues such as Article 301.


6.(SBU) Sema Kilicer, at the EU Commission's Turkey
Delegation, told us AKP no longer has any excuse to delay on
badly needed political reforms. The consensus at the
Commission's Ankara office is that a new, dynamic,
reform-minded Justice Minister is key to reviving a stalled
process. Former Justice Minister Cemil Cicek had been unable
to infuse a liberal-leaning spirit into the MOJ's backward
thinking bureaucracy, Kilicer said. The Commission will be
watching this ministerial appointment closely.

Visit Ankara's Classified Web Site at
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/eur/ankara/

WILSON

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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