|04THEHAGUE1524||2004-06-18 14:01:00||CONFIDENTIAL||Embassy The Hague|
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 THE HAGUE 001524
1. (C) Summary: As expected, Turkish Prime Minister
Erdogan's June 16 visit to the Netherlands focused heavily on
Turkey's EU accession bid. Dutch Prime Minister Balkenende
publicly and privately praised Turkey's reform efforts to
date and assured Erdogan that negotiations on accession would
be fair and transparent during the Dutch EU Presidency.
Balkenende would not anticipate the results of the EU
Commission's October report, but asserted that no new
conditions would be placed on Turkey. The Dutch described
the chemistry between Balkenende and Erdogan as much improved
since their previous meeting in 2002. End Summary.
2. (U) Dutch and Turkish Embassy interlocutors characterized
Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's June 16 visit to the
Netherlands as a positive, but limited, step on Turkey's road
to EU accession. Speaking at a joint press conference
following his discussions with Erdogan, Dutch Prime Minister
Jan Peter Balkenende said he was pleased with Turkey's
reforms over the past two years, noting in particular the
decreased role of the military in Turkish politics.
Balkenende stressed that negotiations on accession could
begin following the presentation of the EU Commission's
report on October 6 if Turkey meets the Copenhagen criteria,
and stressed that negotiations during the Dutch presidency
would be "careful and fair." Balkenende explicitly rejected
the introduction of any new demands on Turkey, but noted (in
response to a question) that the observance of freedom of
religion in Turkey remained a point of concern and attention
for EU members. For his part, PM Erdogan stressed Turkey's
progress in completing and implementing reforms required by
the EU, although he pointedly observed that the new EU
members had not yet implemented all required EU legislation.
3. (C) Rob Swartbol, Balkenende's principal foreign policy
advisor, told Ambassador Sobel on June 17 that the atmosphere
of the Prime Ministers' meeting (lasting one and one half
hours) had been very positive. Without making any promises,
he said, Balkenende had made clear that the Dutch would take
Turkey's progress on reforms into account when guiding EU
accession discussions during the Dutch EU presidency.
Erdogan, according to Swartbol, appeared satisfied with this
approach and did not push back.
4. (C) Leslie D'Huy, Head of the Turkey desk at the Dutch
MFA, confirmed that the personal chemistry between Erdogan
and Balkenende was "much better" than during their previous
meeting in 2002. She added that a key part of Balkenende's
message was that Turkey should provide EU members "space" to
reach their own conclusions following the October 6
Commission report. Balkenende stressed that trying to
influence the decision through pressure would increase
domestic resistance to Turkish EU membership in many states
-- including the Netherlands -- and would therefore be
counterproductive. D'Huy noted that the Turks had received
this message through working-level channels prior to the
visit, and that Erdogan seemed to have taken it to heart
since he did not push Balkenende hard on any issue.
5. (C) According to D'Huy, Erdogan expressed concern that a
negative "Impact Statement" in the EU Commission's October 6
report might negate otherwise positive assessments regarding
Turkish efforts to meet the Copenhagen criteria. Balkenende
would not anticipate the conclusions of the Commission
report, but argued that the negotiations on accession would
be transparent and that Turkish interests would taken into
account as well as those of member states.
6. (C) On Cyprus, Balkenende reportedly thanked Erdogan for
his efforts with regard to the Cyprus referendum. He made
clear that the Cyprus impasse would not be an issue for the
EU to try to resolve during the Dutch presidency. Balkenende
suggested, however, that the anticipated EU Commission's
package of measures to de-isolate Northern Turkey (expected
on July 10) should go a long way towards satisfying Turkey's
concerns in this area.
7. (U) Erdogan's brief program in the Netherlands also
included meetings with Queen Beatrix, Finance Minister/Deputy
Prime Minister Zalm, and Christian Democrat (CDA)
Parliamentary Floor Leader Verhagen. According to the DCM of
the Turkish Embassy, the meetings with Zalm and Verhagen were
useful since both -- particularly Zalm and his conservative
Liberal Party (VVD) -- remain unpersuaded regarding Turkish
EU accession and could present problems for the coalition
government later. Erdogan briefed Zalm and Verhagen on
Turkish reforms. Erdogan also visited the University of
Rotterdam where he gave a speech to a predominantly Turkish
audience arguing that the large Turkish community in Europe
already makes Turkey a de facto member of Europe. Erdogan
was accompanied on his visit by 110 Turkish businessmen who,
according to the Turkish DCM, made several useful contacts
during the visit.