2005-12-19 14:22:00
Embassy Ankara
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S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 03 ANKARA 007423 


E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/14/2020



Classified By: Ambassador Ross Wilson, Reasons 1.4 (b),(d)
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 03 ANKARA 007423


E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/14/2020



Classified By: Ambassador Ross Wilson, Reasons 1.4 (b),(d)

1.(C) Summary: In a 75-minute introductory call on Turkish
FM Abdullah Gul December 15, Ambassador laid out his
priorities of continuing to improve the tone and content of
the bilateral relationship, working closely with Turkey on
important regional issues, and supporting continued Turkish
reform efforts. Ambassador and Gul focused on the importance
of success in Iraq and follow-up to the elections there, and
Gul explained the behavior changes Ankara seeks to extract
from Damascus and Tehran. He made a pitch for greater U.S.
investment and undertook to improve the situation for the
U.S. defense industry. On Turkey's EU accession process, Gul
expressed concern that Cyprus-related issues could throw up
roadblocks and asked for USG help, both in moving forward on
Cyprus in the UN context and, as possible, with the EU. The
EU process, Gul emphasized, helps Turkey by anchoring its
economic and democratic reform process, and it demonstrates
appreciation for Turkish democracy that will inspire others
in the Muslim world. End summary.

2.(C) Ambassador stressed the high interest vis-a-vis Turkey
in Washington and acknowledged improvements in U.S.-Turkish
bilateral relations. PM Erdogan's June trip to Washington
was important, as were visits here by Secretary Rice in
February and NSA Hadley in September. Both governments
desired a better tone in the relationship. Secretary Rice,
during Ambassador's swearing in, had spoken of U.S.-Turkish
relations as a "strategic partnership of extreme importance"
and made clear to the Ambassador privately her desire to come
to Turkey early in the new year when we hope to start an
institutionalized strategic bilateral dialogue.

3.(C) Ambassador explained his priorities as three-fold:
continuing to improve the tone of our dialogue and use it to
produce concrete results; working with Turkey on our regional

agenda; and supporting continued GoT economic and democratic
reform as Turkey moves forward with EU accession, including
especially with regard to strengthening democratic
institutions and respect for fundamental human rights.

4. (C) Ambassador said that our number one priority is
success in Iraq. Turkey has been helpful. We valued highly
the FM's initiative to bring Iraqi Sunni representatives to
Istanbul to meet with Ambassador Khalilzhad. One week later,
a prominent Iraqi Sunni group had called for a break in the
violence. It would be particularly useful, Ambassador
underscored, for Turkey to encourage progress in the wake of
the elections, join in recognizing positive progress, and
urge negotiations for an inclusive government, and especially
to appeal for a continued halt in insurgent terrorism.

5. (C) We also recognized the importance of dealing with the
PKK, Ambassador continued. Our success in Iraq would be
reflected in part by Iraq's ability to control its borders
and territory. In the interim, we are working on a number of
other fronts, including bringing an interagency team to
Ankara to work with Turkish ministries to produce effective,
actionable - not political - dossiers on organizations and
people in Europe, on the basis of which European law
enforcement could act. Gul agreed with such an approach. He
had asked the Justice and Interior Ministers what sorts of
files they were sending, and had told them the documentation
must be "concrete".

6. (S) Ambassador noted USG interest in the discussions
between TNIO Under Secretary Taner and Iraqi Kurdish leader
Barzani on the PKK, but added we were unsure of Turkey's
overall goals and intentions. We want to understand the
GoT's priorities so we can be helpful.

7. (C) Further on the regional agenda, Ambassador noted that
Turkey is well aware of our concerns on Syria and Iran. We
are looking for results; changes in behavior. The Iranian
President's statements were deeply disturbing. Both Syria
and Iran are allowing bad people to flow into Iraq. Cyprus
was also important. We believe Turkey wants what we want: a
settlement acceptable to both sides of the island achieved
through the UN negotiating process. Ambassador pledged to
continue to work with the UN and within our own channels to
determine on what basis the GOC is prepared to negotiate and
to help Turkey and the EU manage the issue so it does not
derail Turkey's accession process. Ambassador also flagged
the Caucasus and Central Asia as an area in which he has
personal background and where he sees scope for expanded
U.S.- Turkish collaboration and consultation that could
benefit all in the region.

8. (C) FM Gul welcomed Ambassador, stressing the long
tradition of U.S.-Turkish relations and their importance both
for Turkey and for the region. Gul urged an open, frank
relationship where we can work together closely, discuss
issues both when we agree and when we disagree, thus
strengthening and deepening the relationship. High level
visits were useful and should continue. We share a vision,
he said, which is not just military or economic, but is
valued-based: our societies must allow democracy and respect
for human rights to flourish.

9. (C) Iraq, Gul said, was a neighbor; many Turks had close
family ties. If there is a fire there, he stated, we feel
the heat. He praised the current level of consultations and
noted the importance of the push for a stable, democratic
Iraq. Iraqis, he said, are an educated people, and the
country is rich in natural and human resources. With
stability, just imagine the contribution Iraq could make to
the region, he said.

10. (C) Turkey continues to contribute to building that
reality, Gul continued. Some 3,000 trucks a day carry
logistical support; Turkey has paid a high price in drivers'
lives. Turkish construction firms are active in cities such
as Fellujah and Ramadah, as well as across northern Iraq.
The GoT wants to contribute more to training police and
security forces. Political parties of all stripes come to
Turkey to learn. The December 15 election would, he hoped,
unroll fairly and with no major problems. He had received
word from Kirkuk that "thousands" were brought there to vote.
Turkey wanted reality to be respected, Gul stated -- one
group could not be allowed to oppress others. This was not
an issue of Turks versus Kurds; what was needed was a
government of national reconciliation that could pull the
entire country together and solidify an Iraqi identity. He
agreed with Ambassador that further work on the constitution
was needed as well. The decision of Sunnis to participate in
the voting would, Gul thought, contribute post-election to
the further isolation of the terrorist forces within Iraq,
especially Al Qaeda. Most Sunnis do not want to be
associated with the terrorists.

11. (S) Gul noted continuing problems with the PKK and the
difficulties of explaining to a domestic audience why a force
of several thousand cannot be contained. Referring to recent
travels by Iraqi Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani, Gul
mentioned the "dangers" of regional leaders consulting on the
broader international stage. If they do so, others may
follow suit. What is needed, in Gul's view, is for them to
look to Baghdad. That will relax their neighbors, which
will, in turn, allow them to get more from Ankara. The GoT
had sent TNIO Under Secretary Taner to northern Iraq after
discussions in Ankara with Nechirvan Barzani and Barham
Salih. He hoped that Turkey, the U.S. and Iraq could work
collectively together on a strategy that would help defeat
PKK terror in northern Iraq. Cooperation on law enforcement
and shutting down finances are important as well. With
respect to combating money laundering, the Finance Ministry
was about to send a draft bill to parliament; that, too,
would help.

12. (C) On Iran, Gul termed President Ahmedi-nejad's recent
series of statements "irrational." He hoped the regime in
Tehran would back down. Gul said he had "told them straight"
what the issues and problems are, both in Ankara during
Iranian FM Mottaki's visit, and subsequently in Mecca, at the
OIC meeting, where the Iranians had been isolated on a number
of issues. The situation, Ambassador said, appears dangerous
-- all signs emanating from Tehran are bad. Gul responded
that Turkey wants no WMD or radical regimes in the
neighborhood; he had made that clear. Iran is a neighbor;
Turkey has security issues, and there is PKK in Iran as well.
However, Turkey influences Iran, not the reverse: Iranians
watch Turkish TV, and travel here for tourism - some 800,000
come annually, mostly to the seaside in Antalya.

13. (C) Acknowledging that Turkey has to deal with Iran as a
neighbor, Ambassador cautioned Gul to be judicious in what
Turkey does and how it portrays those actions. Turkey's
recent overtures to Tehran and Damascus had soured normally
pro-Turkish sentiment in various quarters in Washington, and
Turkey won't help itself to exacerbate that. Gul agreed. He
said Turkey's mission in both Iran and Syria is to help force
change. Turkey has an 800-kilometer long border with Syria,
too, as well as security issues. The GoT truly wants to see
democratic regimes. The ultimate goal is to change the way
the regimes behave. He pledged to cooperate closely and to
share information regularly on these matters.

14. (C) On the domestic front, Gul said that Turkey has
changed a great deal; taboos are being lifted and democracy
upgraded. The GoT was consciously pressing forward with
these changes. The point of anchoring Turkey with the EU and
working toward a democracy and an economy compatible with
European standards was to create a bulwark in the region. He
likened it to building a dam - it changes the environment.
Sooner or later, in the Middle East and the Islamic world,
others would be influenced.

15. (C) On the economy, Gul stated, Turkey must do more to
increase trade with the U.S. Many legal barriers had been
removed, in his view. Ambassador responded that it was his
goal, as well, to improve bilateral trade and increase
investment. Many of the legislative changes Turkey had
instituted in the context of EU accession were helpful.
However, one theme from Washington he heard before coming to
Turkey is that U.S. defense industries, which traditionally
have enjoyed a strong presence in Turkey, feel they are being
squeezed out. If they conclude they cannot compete and leave
Turkey, then already inadequate trade and investment will
decline further and word will spread that Turkey is a bad
place for business. Gul indicated he was aware of the
problem and intended to fix it in order to allow U.S. defense
industry firms to compete effectively. Turkish forces had
long used American equipment, he said; that should continue.

16. (C) With respect to the EU, Gul thanked Ambassador for
U.S. help at all levels in the run-up to the October 3 start
of Turkey's formal accession negotiations. He hoped the
accession process would move forward. The GoT, he stated, is
well aware of its responsibilities and is prepared to fulfill
them. The one stumbling block, however, is Cyprus. In his
view, the GoC has "exploited" EU member countries. EU
solidarity was a good thing, but when one member endangered
others' interests, they should react. The EU had not kept
its word and was forgetting what had happened in the April
2004 referendum. We and the Europeans had asked Ankara to
show leadership; it had done so, despite the political risks.
Now, it was as if nothing had happened, and the EU is asking
Turkey to do "unbelievable" things. Gul had asked UNSYG
Annan a number of times to re-start the process. As he had
told Secretary Rice, though, in his view, the GoC understands
only one language: the threat of an increase in relations
with the Turkish Cypriots. Turkey's process with the EU is
essential for Turkey's continued transformation; it should
not be blocked. Gul had phoned an EU contact to urge that
they be part of the solution, not part of the problem.

17. (C) Ambassador responded that, as EUR A/S Fried had told
outgoing Turkish Ambassador to the U.S. Logoglu earlier in
the week, we would continue to try to be helpful on Cyprus
and ensure it doesn't become an undue obstacle in the EU
accession negotiations. He related his experience with other
countries that had had difficult accession process issues:
while doing what they could on those problems, they had tried
to race ahead on other matters so as to build confidence with
Brussels and member States and then more skillfully manage
internal EU politics. In the end, Gul said, Turkey could
enrich the EU; he was aware of Turkey's shortcomings, but
proud that it was proving to other Muslim countries that it
is possible to have a democracy that aspires to European
standards; many are watching.

18. (C) Comment: Gul was focused and expansive. The depth
and breadth of the meeting, and the FM's expressed commitment
to continued engagement, are good signs.