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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
04BRUSSELS1496
2004-04-06 16:10:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Brussels
Cable title:  

EUR/PDAS RIES DISCUSSIONS WITH EU ON TURKEY'S

Tags:   PREL  PHUM  KDEM  TU  CY  EUN  USEU  BRUSSELS 
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						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 BRUSSELS 001496 

SIPDIS

EUR FOR SCC WESTON

E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/06/2014
TAGS: PREL PHUM KDEM TU CY EUN USEU BRUSSELS
SUBJECT: EUR/PDAS RIES DISCUSSIONS WITH EU ON TURKEY'S
ACCESSION BID

Classified By: USEU External Affairs Officer Andrew Erickson
for reasons 1.5 (b) and (d).

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 BRUSSELS 001496

SIPDIS

EUR FOR SCC WESTON

E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/06/2014
TAGS: PREL PHUM KDEM TU CY EUN USEU BRUSSELS
SUBJECT: EUR/PDAS RIES DISCUSSIONS WITH EU ON TURKEY'S
ACCESSION BID

Classified By: USEU External Affairs Officer Andrew Erickson
for reasons 1.5 (b) and (d).


1. (C) Summary: EUR/PDAS Charlie Ries visited Brussels on
March 30 to review EU Commission concerns on specific
Copenhagen Criteria issues, with the aim of working with the
EU and Turkey to achieve a positive decision on a Turkish
date for accession negotiations in December. Matthias Reute,
DG Enlargement Director for Turkey, Bulgaria, and Romania
told Ries that there are five specific areas where further
improvement is needed. These are the judiciary, protection
of fundamental freedoms, civil-military relations, enjoyment
of cultural freedoms, and southeast Turkey. Ruete reiterated
that implementation in all areas remains spotty, but
expressed a general view that the "glass" of Turkish reform
can increasingly be seen as "half full" as opposed to "half
empty".


2. (C) Summary (continued): Ruete specifically requested
U.S. help in pressuring Turkey to meaningfully reform its
economy, and to push the GOT hard to ensure civilian control
of the military. Ruete (strictly protect) also offered his
private political assessment of hold-outs against Turkish
accession. (He included France, the Netherlands, and Austria
in this group, but also expressed a growing concern about
Denmark.) In a subsequent lunch with a wider range of
interlocutors, Ries reviewed these points, and pushed the EU
hard on the need to (a) either ensure that the Republic of
Cyprus votes yes to the Annan Plan; or, (b) not penalize
Turkey in the event that the ROC blocks a Cyprus settlement
in the eleventh hour. End summary.

--------------
"We're here to help"
--------------


3. (C) EUR/PDAS Charlie Ries visited Brussels on March 30,
accompanied by US Embassy Ankara Econ Counselor Scot Marciel,
to review EU Commission concerns on specific Copenhagen
Political Criteria issues with a view towards offering
behind-the-scenes U.S. assistance to the GOT in its efforts

to meet the Copenhagen Criteria. Ries met for two hours with
Matthias Reute, EU Commission Director, Pre-Accession, DG
Enlargement. Ruete told Ries that there are five specific
areas where further improvement is needed. He identified
these as the judiciary, protection of fundamental freedoms,
civil-military relations, enjoyment of cultural freedoms, and
southeast Turkey. Ruete noted that implementation in all
areas remains spotty. (See septel for a specific review of
concerns addressed in a preparatory working-level meeting on
March 29.)


4. (C) Ruete was receptive to Ries' message of U.S.
willingness to assist with Turkey in ensuring that the
Copenhagen Political Criteria are met. He noted that there
has been a significant change of tone from Turkey since the
Erdogan government came to power, and this new discourse has
been welcomed by the European Union. Ruete said that where
previously the basis of Turkey's arguments for EU membership
had been perceived by the Commission to be "you owe us a
date" the current Turkish government made a more persuasive
case to the Commission by relying on arguments based upon the
mutual benefits to the EU and to Turkey that would accrue in
the event of eventual Turkish accession. "It's been a silent
revolution", he told Ries.


5. (C) Ruete said there continues to be debate in public
opinion about whether the cup of Turkish reform is half full
or half empty. In his view, U.S. assessments of Turkish
democratic process that focused on "the water level of the
glass" were a helpful contribution to the internal EU debate;
overt US pressure on the EU to accede to Turkish demands was
not. He cited EU domestic blowback on the State Department's
annual human rights report as one irritant; the report had
put his office in a difficult position as many suggested that
the U.S. was being more critical than the Commission on
Turkey's human rights record. While public opinion would
react negatively to perceived U.S. pressure, positive U.S.
assessments of Turkish progress on human rights reform would
be helpful as long as they were not explicitly linked to EU's
decision in December. Finally, Ruete noted he sees that "the
glass is filling up" in terms of Turkey's fulfillment of the
Copenhagen Criteria. Challenges nonetheless remain and more
action was needed.

--------------
Specific Religious &
Cultural Freedoms
--------------


6. (C) Ruete noted that a significant difficulty for Turkey
is that the EU criteria are "soft" to the extent that there
is no one EU model for Turkey to implement; in fact, there
are fifteen EU models, and the GOT must find a model of
religious and cultural freedom that addresses the spirit of
the EU approach of respect for individual-rights. This was
both a challenge for Turkey (because there is no one model to
implement), and an opportunity (because the GOT can invent a
model appropriate for Turkey, provide it respects the spirit
of the EU's rights-based approach). Ruete added that the
Council of Europe's guidelines and suggestions could be very
useful resource for Turkey in this regard.


7. (C) Ruete's overall critique of the Turkish approach was
the GOT's need to move from a "statist," authoritarian
approach, to a mentality respectful of individual liberty.
Noting that limitations on religious freedom in Turkey remain
a significant problem, he nonetheless expressed sympathy with
the GOT argument that increasing the rights of religious
organizations could open the door to Saudi-financed Wahabbist
madrassah. This is in turn could lead to a rise in Islamist
radicalism in Turkey, the Turks argue. On the Halki
Seminary, Ruete noted that the GOT continues to insist that
it be attached to the religion faculty of the University of
Istanbul; Ruete was receptive to Ries' idea of exploring a
compromise that would attach Halki to a private college in
Istanbul, instead of a government institution. Reute
stressed that the treatment of non-Muslim religions was of
key concern to many of the EU Member States. Almost a
quarter of his briefing book for a recent meeting with
Turkish officials was devoted to this subject.


8. (C) Ruete was very critical on GOT implementation of
cultural freedoms. The area of non-Turkish language
broadcasting was "one of the government's real defeats" of
the past few months; the law on non-Turkish language
broadcasting simply imposed unacceptable burdens on those
attempting to broadcast in Kurdish. The broadcasting board
was also hostile to Kurdish broadcasting, and needed a change
in personnel (which is reportedly in the works).
Recalcitrant bureaucrats were also unacceptably stalling
Kurdish language education. The GOT was simply not doing
what it needed to do in this area of reform. When asked
whether minority language broadcasting had been an issue in
the Commission's recommendations on starting accession
negotiations with Hungary and Romania, Reute said he was not
sure as this issue had not had the same degree of prominence.

--------------
Of particular concern: civil -
military relations, the economy
--------------


9. (C) Ruete had a broad set of concerns on civil-military
relations. The GOT needed to enhance the transparency of the
military budget, addressing the question of off-budget
military funding. It also needed to remove the military
representatives from the education and audiovisual boards. A
GOT appointment of a civilian head of the National Security
Council this summer would also be helpful. Ruete added that
he wasn't sure that "a general can be fired by a civilian";
indeed, he was concerned that Turkish generals are not vetted
by the civilian establishment. Ruete told Ries that he
thought that the U.S. could be helpful with the GOT in this
area in particular, through frank dialogue with Turkish
officials.


10. (C) Another key area where the U.S. could be
influential, Ruete hoped, was the Turkish economy, which
Ruete characterized as "awful". In pharmaceuticals, IPR, and
telecommunications, the GOT was behaving terribly. On import
liberalization, Ruete said that the "Turks are behaving like
the French in the seventies". Under the circumstances,
Turkey remained incapable of raising foreign direct
investment, and this had a negative impact on Turkey's
accession quest. "If Turkey's GDP were at sixty percent of
the EU average, public opinion would be much more favorable
to Turkish accession", Ruete said. Economic reform was the
only way to improve Turkish economic performance.

--------------
Getting to yes - the
political landscape
--------------


11. (C) While optimistic about the Commission issuing a
positive report card on Turkey's fulfillment of the
Copenhagen Criteria, Ruete warned that the political
obstacles to a date remain. "On some member states, very
clearly, there are big question marks. Go to Paris, you
won't find one senior official who won't tell you its crazy
to begin negotiations. However they won't say this publicly
as they are waiting to see what position Chirac will adopt".
The Netherlands and Austria remain problematic, he said,
before noting that he was also a "little bit" concerned about
the trend in Denmark, where an influential official has been
raising new concerns over torture and ill treatment of
prisoners. He was more sanguine about Germany; in his view,
the opposition would change its position once in power. The
question for Germany was whether Germany wants
"German-speaking Turkish engineers or English-speaking Indian
engineers" to address its long-term demographic gap.
Finally, Ruete was confident that the new accession states
would be favorable for a date.

--------------
Annan Plan Impact
--------------


12. (C) In a subsequent lunch with a wide range of EU
officials dealing with Turkey and Cyprus, Ries reviewed these
points, and pushed the EU hard on the need to (a) either
ensure that the Republic of Cyprus votes yes to the Annan
Plan; and to, (b) not penalize Turkey in the event that the
ROC blocks a Cyprus settlement in the eleventh hour. Ries
suggested a number of ways that the EU could actively
campaign for a "yes" vote in the south, and heard EU
interlocutors add some ideas of their own, including high
level statements of support from Greek and EU political
leaders, joint visits to the island on the eve of the
elections, and a clear message to the Greek Cypriots that
there would be consequences to a no vote. Reute offered the
argument that a settlement would statistically decrease
Cyprus' per capita GDP making the island as a whole, and the
Greek Cypriot south, eligible for a greater share of EU
structural funds. Interlocutors were divided on the
consequences to Turkey's accession quest of a no vote on the
Annan Plan by the south; it was generally agreed, however,
that a no vote would have a negative impact on Turkey's
candidacy. Ries pushed back hard on this point, saying that
it would be unacceptable for the international community to
punish Turkey for the Greek Cypriots' failure to accept a
peace plan.
Foster