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Cablegate: Turkey: All Eyes On President Gul

VZCZCXRO2217
OO RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHAK #2223 2401519
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 281519Z AUG 07
FM AMEMBASSY ANKARA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3569
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC//J-3/J-5// PRIORITY
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEUITH/ODC ANKARA TU PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEUITH/TLO ANKARA TU PRIORITY
RUEHAK/USDAO ANKARA TU PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L ANKARA 002223

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/27/2017
TAGS: PGOV PREL TU
SUBJECT: TURKEY: ALL EYES ON PRESIDENT GUL

REF: A. ANKARA 2213
B. ANKARA 2194 AND PREVIOUS

Classified By: PolCouns Janice G Weiner, reasons 1.4 (b), (d)

1. (C) Summary and comment: The Turkish parliament elected
FM Abdullah Gul as Turkey's 11th President on August 28 with
339 votes. Gul was sworn in at 6 pm local. All but the
Republican People's Party (CHP) attended the voting; CHP
continued its boycott of both the vote and the swearing in.
The Turkish General Staff (TGS) did not attend the swearing
in. Gul's ascendancy to the presidency -- Ataturk's seat in
Cankaya -- remains a difficult pill to swallow for the
military and staunch secularists. Buyukanit's uncompromising
August 27 statement (ref A) underscored what everyone already
knew: all critical eyes will be on Gul, who will enjoy no
honeymoon. His presidency means enormous responsibility for
Gul personally and substantial opportunity for Turkey: if he
performs impartially and well, his continued focus on foreign
policy and outreach to world leaders could play to Turkey's
-- and our -- advantage. How it plays will depend on how
both Gul and PM Erdogan's soon-to-be-formed new government
deal with the inevitable scrunity by the secular opposition
and institutions strongly backed by the military. End
summary and comment.

2. (SBU) The Turkish parliament on August 28 elected FM
Abdullah Gul Turkey's 11th President in the third and
decisive round of presidential voting. A simple majority of
the 550-member parliament was needed to elect the new
president. Gul garnered 339 of the 448 votes cast -- those
of his own Justice and Development Party (AKP). The 20
pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party (DTP) MPs attended and,
for the third time, cast blank votes. The Nationalist Action
Party (MHP) and Democratic Left Party (DSP) deputies all
showed, each voting for their own party's candidate. MHP
made good on its pledge not to obstruct the process, despite
having been excoriated in the ultranationalist press for
enabling Gul's election. Immediately after the Speaker
announced the election results, PM Erdogan publicly thanked,
in the name of democracy, all political parties who
participated.

3. (C) CHP continued its head-in-the-sand approach,
boycotting both the parliamentary session and Gul's swearing
in. CHP vice chair Mustafa Ozyurek has stated publicly that
CHP will respect the office of the President, though CHP will
scrutinize Gul's actions as President to ensure the country
does not start to edge away from secular democracy.

4. (SBU) Following the election, Parliament Speaker Toptan
delivered the document confirming Gul's election as President
to the FM at his Residence. The swearing in took place at
parliament at 6 pm local time. Neither outgoing president
Sezer's wife Semra, nor Gul's wife Hayrunisa (whose headscarf
secularists see as the symbol of creeping Islam) were
present. Representatives of the TGS did not attend, though
they have attended previous presidential swearing in
ceremonies. A ceremonial military honor guard, consisting of
all Turkish military services, gave Gul full honors just
before he entered parliament to take the oath of office.
Immediately after the oath taking, the new President --
clearly moved -- delivered an initial speech in which he
pledged to work tirelessly and impartially for all Turks.
"My door will be open to everyone," he closed.

5. (C) All eyes will be on President Gul as he shoulders
enormous responsibility. He must separate from his political
past and, as Turkey's President, act above politics. Yet he
will be a key political actor -- a role from which Sezer
largely demurred. How Gul defines his relationship with his
former AKP colleagues will be key. Recent surveys show that
Turks believe Gul -- a former PM and FM, who speaks fluent
English and calls many world leaders his friends -- is well
qualified for the job. Therein lies great opportunity for
Turkey as a regional actor, and for US interests in the
region.

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

WILSON

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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