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Cablegate: Scenesetter for Congressman Wexler's Visit


DE RUEHAK #1247/01 2361537
O 241537Z AUG 09




E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (SBU) Summary: You will find Turks increasingly focused
on Erdogan's still inchoate "Democratic Initiative," which
seeks to address the social and economic factors contributing
to many Turkish Kurds' sense of alienation from their
government and modern Turkey. The initiative's opponents
fear it will lead to the weakening of the Turkish state and
potentially Turkey's disintegration. We are quietly
registering our support for the initiative. You will want to
remind your interlocutors that Turkey confronts several
challenges beyond the terrorist PKK. The EU reform agenda is
languishing and Cyprus is looming larger as an obstacle to
Turkey's European vocation. Progress on the normalization of
relations with Armenia has stalled. Caution your
interlocutors not to weaken Turkey's commitment to Nabucco,
which remains important to reducing Europe's energy
dependence on an undependable Russia. End Summary

Welcome Back to Turkey

2. (SBU) Your Turkish interlocutors know you, trust your
commitment to a strong U.S.-Turkey relationship and will
listen carefully to your analysis. You will find President
Gul, the government and AK Party leaders focused on Prime
Minister Erdogan's "Democratic Initiative," his still very
much amorphous bid to overcome the alienation, cultural
backwardness and economic deprivation that have, for decades,
impelled some Turkish Kurds to support and sometimes join the
terrorist Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

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3. (SBU) You will want to encourage the initiative, in
principle, as the kind of comprehensive approach that offers
the best chance of success against the very adaptable PKK,
which continues to survive and fight despite the Turkish
military's decades-long effort to eradicate it. You should
also reiterate our commitment to continued assistance against
the PKK. Reassure your interlocutors that our encouragement
will remain low-profile.

4. (SBU) Both CHP and MHP continue to criticize the
initiative harshly. The former's opposition may be more of
an effort to find political advantage; the stridently
nationalist MHP, however, fears a steep slippery slope that
undermines the state's primary function as the guarantor of
national unity and could lead to the disintegration of
Turkey. Remind CHP Chairman Baykal that the United States
has never wavered in its commitment to Turkey's integrity and
national unity. Note, however, our belief that the final
disposition of the PKK would remove a distraction that has
long inhibited Turkey's realization of its potential as the
most powerful agent of the Western agenda in its region.

5. (SBU) The initiative has raised hopes and expectations,
including our own. We eagerly await the government's
unveiling of its details, promised for October. We, the
markets and investors will pay particular attention to the
government's plans to fund the initiative. If, as is hinted,
the initiative seeks to invest more budgetary resources in
southeastern development projects, it should do so without
undermining the markets' hopes that this Turkish government
has not entirely abandoned its commitment to fiscal probity.

Save Some of that Bandwidth for Other Issues

6. (SBU) Though the government's focus on the Democratic
Initiative, while it is being developed and marketed to the
Turkish public is understandable, Turkey still confronts a
range of serious challenges beyond the PKK. Reviewing that
agenda with FM Davutoglu will be a useful reminder to him
that Turkey's friends view the remaining months of this year
as critical to its European vocation and important to its
regional aspirations.

7. (SBU) Erdogan's early dash on Turkey's EU reform agenda
slowed to a crawl over the past few years. We were
encouraged by his appointment of Egemen Bagis as Minister for
EU Accession in January. Bagis is working hard to catalyze
progress on constitutional and other legislative reforms. A
settlement on Cyprus this year remains key to keeping
Turkey's accession talks on track. Reopening Halki seminary
could help improve the atmosphere with the EU and is the
right thing to do.

8. (SBU) The number one threat to U.S.-Turkish bilateral
relations is if the USG or Congress were to endorse a
resolution labeling the World War I Armenian tragedy a
genocide. Turkey's best defense against a resolution would
be to normalize relations with Armenia as soon as possible.
9. (SBU) You may want to remind your interlocutors of our
long-standing commitment to Turkey as an energy corridor to
Europe. The Nabucco project is important to reducing
Europe's dependence on an ultimately undependable Russia. We
hope Turkey will honor its commitment to Nabucco's

10. (SBU) Compliment Davutoglu on his successful co-hosting
of the Friends of Democratic Pakistan (FoDP) Senior Officials
meeting August 24 and ministerial August 25, both in
Istanbul. The FoDP aims to galvanize international support
for Pakistan as it faces critical economic and security
challenges. You may want to seek his assessment of the
meetings' successes. You should know that we are beginning
to work even more closely with Turkey on Afghanistan.

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