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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
03THEHAGUE2636
2003-10-16 11:57:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy The Hague
Cable title:  

DUTCH PRIME MINISTER VISITS TURKEY

Tags:   PREL  EU  TK  NL 
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						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 THE HAGUE 002636 

SIPDIS

EUR/SCC WESTON

E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/14/2013
TAGS: PREL EU TK NL
SUBJECT: DUTCH PRIME MINISTER VISITS TURKEY


Classified By: DCM Daniel Russel Reason 1.5 (b)

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 THE HAGUE 002636

SIPDIS

EUR/SCC WESTON

E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/14/2013
TAGS: PREL EU TK NL
SUBJECT: DUTCH PRIME MINISTER VISITS TURKEY


Classified By: DCM Daniel Russel Reason 1.5 (b)


1. This is an action request for EUR/SCC Tom Weston. Please
see para 9.


2. (C) Summary: Prime Minister Balkenende traveled to
Istanbul and Ankara October 7-9 to discuss developments in
Turkey's EU accession bid and Cyprus. Despite Turkish pleas,
the Dutch made no promises on Turkey's EU candidacy. The
Dutch confirmed that Turkey has made great legislative
progress in working to fulfill the Copenhagen criteria, but
also maintained that significant work on implementation
remains. They encouraged the Turks to continue progress,
especially in the judicial and human rights sectors. On
Cyprus, the Dutch expected to hear positive signals from
Foreign Minister Gul on the need to find a solution, but were
disappointed. (Note: A decision on whether or not to set a
date for Turkey to begin EU accession talks will occur during
the Dutch EU presidency in the second half of 2004. End
note.) End Summary.

EU Accession
--------------


3. (C) Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende and Foreign
Minister Jaap de Hoop Scheffer visited Turkey October 7-9.
MFA Turkish Desk Officer Lesley d'Huy, who traveled with the
Ministers, confirmed that discussions revolved primarily
around Turkish desires to obtain a date to begin EU accession
talks during the Dutch EU presidency in the second half of

2004. Both the Turkish Prime Minister and President bluntly
asked for Dutch support of Turkey's candidacy. PM Balkenende
responded diplomatically that he could not pledge such
support in advance of the November 5 EU Commission report on
Turkish progress in meeting the Copenhagen criteria.
However, d'Huy noted that the Ministers feel that Turkey is
moving positively towards fulfilling the legislative
requirements. While the Turks assert they have fulfilled
"all of the political requirements of the Copenhagen
criteria," d'Huy noted that the Commission report will
highlight a few areas, primarily in the judicial sector and
regarding human rights, which still require progress.
However, she opined that these areas will be overcome. The
main problem remains implementation. Both Prime Minister

Balkenende and Foreign Minister de Hoop Scheffer reinforced
the importance of sincere implementation of Copenhagen
criteria. The Dutch will carefully watch to see if new
reforms, especially those concerning human rights, freedom of
expression, freedom of religion and those in the judicial
sector, are adequately implemented throughout the next twelve
months.

Sezer - What Else?
--------------


4. (C) Turkish President Sezer was blunt with the Dutch,
asking PM Balkenende if Turkey could count on the EU to set a
date for accession talks if all implementation requirements
are met. He wanted to know - "what other excuses might the
EU create to prohibit Turkish accession?" PM Balkenende
dodged the question by making a joke with regards to the
number of Dutch soccer players playing on Turkish teams.
However, D'Huy commented that Sezer's question highlighted
the Turkish fear that the EU will not allow Turkish
membership in any form, choosing instead to be a
Judeo-Christian union. PM Balkenende later dismissed the
idea of a link/hidden agenda that the EU would refuse
membership on religious grounds. To put Sezer's fears further
to rest, he underscored that in his view a reference to
religion (Judeo-Christian) in the European constitution would
recognize where and how the union was originally founded, and
not determine the future of the union. D'Huy stated that
while fear of a Muslim state has been and will likely
continue to be an issue for some Europeans, such an outlook
is dwindling.

NGOs Play a Role in Assessing Implementation
--------------


5. (C) In Istanbul on October 8, the Ministers met with local
NGOs. One individual in particular, a Protestant man,
strongly affected the Ministers as he described that he could
neither be properly buried nor erect a church in which to
worship in Turkey. Both PM Balkenende and FM de Hoop
Scheffer brought this man's story to the attention of the
Turkish Prime and Foreign Ministers. PM Balkenende used it
as an example of how far implementation has yet to go. He
cautioned that if such scenarios did not change and such a
story were told on TV in the Netherlands, any Parliamentary
and public support for Turkish accession would evaporate.
D'Huy stated that in general, the Dutch felt that the Turks
were not pursuing implementation in human rights areas
actively enough. While their official line was "just tell us
the problem, we'll ensure that it is fixed," the Dutch were
looking for a more proactive stance. In particular they felt
that State Minister Mehmet Aydin was too dismissive of
remaining problems. The Dutch will likely meet again with
NGOs in spring 2004, when a visit of MFA State Secretary for
European Affairs Atzo Nicolai is tentatively planned.

Cyprus - A Negative Change of Attitude?
--------------


6. (C) Foreign Minister de Hoop Scheffer met privately with
Foreign Minister Gul. The Dutch FM hoped for reassurances by
FM Gul, building upon Gul's recent positive statements, on
the need to find a permanent solution to the Cyprus
situation. However, the Dutch FM left empty-handed. Gul was
silent, not commenting on nor stating that a solution must be
found before May 2004. FM de Hoop Scheffer noted that a lack
of solution on Cyprus by 2004 could hurt Turkey's accession
bid; however, Gul again was not responsive. The Dutch are
now concerned that this may be a change from the recent
positive statements made by Gul, and that finding a Cyprus
solution is not an immediate objective of the Turkish
government. D'Huy opined that perhaps the Turks believe that
if they can get an EU accession date without settling the
Cyprus question, all the better domestically. When asked by
PolOff if the Dutch would oppose granting a date to Turkey
without such a solution, d'Huy stated that it was not really
for the GoNL to decide. If Cyprus and Greece could live with
such an outcome, the GoNL would not oppose. Nevertheless,
d'Huy commented that opening accession talks with Turkey when
it does not officially recognize a member state would
complicate matters.

Other Issues: Afghanistan, NATO, Iraq
--------------


7. (C) In a meeting with President Sezer, Prime Minister
Balkenende thanked Turkey both for allowing Dutch forces
engaged in Afghanistan to use Turkish bases, as well as for
Turkish support of Dutch FM de Hoop Scheffer for NATO SYG.
Following the announcement by the Turkish Parliament to send
Turkish troops to Iraq and the subsequent initial reaction of
the Iraqi Governing Council (IGC), d'Huy reported that
Turkish interlocutors told the Dutch that they desired to
remain out of any emerging conflict between the CPA and the
IGC. The Turks stated they had done what was needed in
approving the deployment of troops; the CPA would now have to
decide where and when, if at all, to use such troops. The
issue of the PKK and PKK member Nuriya Kesbir was also
broached by the Dutch.

Overall Outlook
--------------


8. (C) Comment: The Dutch tell us privately that EU member
states may be moving closer to setting a date for Turkish
accession talks in December 2004. D'Huy stated that Germany
and Luxembourg, two previous hardliners against Turkish
membership, are more positive following meetings this spring.
Prime Minister Balkenende's comments during the meetings
demonstrate he does not personally oppose Turkish membership
in the EU. Nevertheless, the Dutch will reserve any public
statements in favor of accession at this time to keep the
prssure on Turkey and for domestic political reasons.
Domestically, several members of the PM's Christian Democrats
(CDA) party strongly oppose Turkish membership. CDA Floor
Leader Maxime Verhagen has stated that he does not see
Turkish membership for the time being, and that Turkey should
not count on getting an date during the Dutch EU Presidency.
Balkenende's coalition partner, Deputy Prime Minister Zalm,
has taken an even tougher line, at one point likening
Turkey's accession to the U.S. admitting Mexico as the 51st
state. Parliamentary discussion will heat-up when Prime
Minister Erdogan's visits the Hague in spring 2004.
FM-designate Ben Bot, a former Ambassador to Turkey, is known
to be more favorably disposed to Turkish accession. End
Comment.


9. Action request: The Dutch MFA has expressed interest in
U.S. views on Cyprus, particularly Turkey's approach. Post
suggests that a briefing in the Hague by SCC Weston would be
very welcome by the GoNL. End Action request.
RUSSEL