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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
03ANKARA7641 2003-12-12 15:21:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Ankara
Cable title:  

TURKEY: CENTER-RIGHT MOTHERLAND PARTY STRUGGLING

Tags:   PREL PGOV TU 
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This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
					  C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 ANKARA 007641 

SIPDIS


E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/10/2013
TAGS: PREL PGOV TU
SUBJECT: TURKEY: CENTER-RIGHT MOTHERLAND PARTY STRUGGLING
TO STAY AFLOAT

(U) Classified by Political Counselor John Kunstadter.
Reason: 1.5 (b,d).




1. (C) Summary: Unable to regain political momentum or solve
ANAP's deepening financial difficulties, colorless chairman
Ozdemir resigned days before the party's Dec. 13-14 general
convention. Former M.P. Nesrin Nas is likely to emerge as
the next ANAP leader. However, her ability to boost ANAP's
chances going in March 2004 local elections is undermined by
her ties to corrupt former P.M. and ANAP chairman Mesut
Yilmaz. The latter faces a parliamentary high court
corruption charge but nevertheless is planning a political
comeback, according to our contacts. End summary.




--------------------------


Sinking Ship


--------------------------






2. (C) At its general convention Dec. 13-14, Motherland Party
(ANAP) will elect a new general chairman to replace Ali Talip
Ozdemir, who announced is stepping down after only one,
lackluster year. For months political insiders, e.g., former
senior ANAP official and minister Vehbi Dincerler, have
bemoaned Ozdemir's lack of the vision and charisma needed to
be an effective party leader. With ANAP polling in the
single digits (one poll from Nov. shows support at 3%),
Ozdemir, our contacts say, decided to step aside to avoid
further humiliation in local elections scheduled for March


2004.




3. (C) Former state minister and current ANAP vice chairman
Mehmet Kececiler told us Dec. 5 that, in addition, Ozdemir
lacked the fund-raising acumen needed to rescue the party
from near-bankruptcy. Kececiler claimed that Ozdemir had
been relying on funds from his father-in-law, a wealthy
businessman who owns several Antalya resorts, to support the
party's activities but that these funds had run dry.
Moreover, Kececiler added, Ozdemir could not raise money from
the businessmen who had formerly supported ANAP during the
Turgut Ozal period. Vehbi Dincerler told poloffs Dec. 9 the
party's financial situation is so dire that party executives
are considering selling some of ANAP's property, including
its offices in Istanbul. However, rejecting press
speculation that ANAP plans to sell off its centrally located
Ankara headquarters, Dincerler said this would amount to
closing the party.




--------------------------


Who's Next?


--------------------------






4. (C) As the sole candidate for chairman, former ANAP M.P.
Nesrin Nas, whose photograph has peppered the walls of ANAP
headquarters well before the party congress, is set to emerge
as Ozdemir's successor. In a Dec. 8 meeting with poloff, Nas
admitted that some key ANAP board members still hope to
derail her candidacy but that she expects to be elected at
the party convention. She hopes to inject "new leadership
and new ideas" into a party that she says is likely to do
poorly next March. Nas claimed that ANAP is still strong in
the Black Sea region and Istanbul. At the same time, she
said, her goal is to stem the losses to no more than half of
600 elected municipalities that the party currently holds,
mostly in those two regions. While indicating that she is
not totally adverse to cooperating in the local elections
with ANAP's center-right rival True Path Party (DYP), she
criticized DYP chairman Mehmet Agar for his "negative image"
and said DYP would need unspecified "new ideas" before such
cooperation could take place.




5. (C) In describing her vision for ANAP, Nas adopted the
language and policies often evinced by Ozdemir, suggesting
that, if elected, Nas will represent a change of style versus
substance. Nas offered vague support for USG Iraq policy,
saying "the U.S. must succeed in Iraq; there is no
alternative for Turkey." Like many of the ruling AK Party's
opponents, Nas praised Erdogan's government for pursuing
EU-related political reform but questioned the GOT's ultimate
intentions.




6. (C) Nas said she hoped to be Turkey's first "positive"
role model for women in politics, an implicit criticism of
former P.M. and DYP Chairman Tansu Ciller. However, our AK
contacts say the women have more in common than Nas is
willing to suggest. For example, like Ciller, Nas appears
charming to many westerners because she speaks English and is
able to converse in a seemingly intelligent way on the
economy. Some, like Dincerler and a long-standing Embassy
contact active in women's issues and center-right politics,
have noted to us in recent days that Nas is shallow, out of
touch with the majority of the population in Anatolia (Ciller
enjoyed a frisson of popularity in the heartland), and
suspiciously wealthy.




--------------------------


Yilmaz Stalking Horse?


--------------------------






7. (C) Our ANAP contacts -- including Kececiler, Dincerler,
and long-time ANAP activist and Embassy contact Ali Turktas
-- tell us Nas has long been associated with former ANAP
leader Yilmaz, who, along with several former Ministers, is
about to be examined by a parliamentary high court (Yuce
Divan) for corruption. Nas would only say to us that Yilmaz
"does not oppose" her candidacy; in the past she has told us
more openly that she favors his comeback. Dincerler, who
Dec. 10 resigned his position as advisor to the ANAP
chairman, told us Nas' emergence probably means Yilmaz is
planning an eventual comeback, which Dincerler claimed would
destroy the party. Dincerler admitted that he privately
hopes Nas becomes ANAP chairman, performs poorly, and is
forced out so that the Yilmaz faction within the party will
be discredited further. While acknowledging that Nas is
likely paving the way for Yilmaz' return, Kececiler pointed
out that Yilmaz will do nothing to pursue his comeback while
the corruption investigation continues.




--------------------------


Comment


--------------------------






8. (C) Given its corrupt baggage, poor polling numbers, and
apparent reluctance to cooperate with other center-right
parties heading into the March elections, ANAP has poor
prospects for revival as a credible national force. Nesrin
Nas is glib and skilled at barbarian handling of westerners,
and too clever by half. Although she has her son at
university in the U.S., as an ally of Yilmaz she is moving in
the political and business milieu tainted by the German and
Russian lobbies. Our contacts at Parliament say Yilmaz is
unlikely to emerge from the corruption investigation
unscathed, making it unlikely that he will be able to creep
back easily onto the political scene. End comment.
EDELMAN