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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
07ATHENS1522 2007-07-30 08:51:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Athens
Cable title:  

TURKISH ELECTIONS: A VIEW FROM ATHENS

Tags:   PGOV PREL TU CYP CY 
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VZCZCXRO5554
OO RUEHAG RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHTH #1522/01 2110851
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 300851Z JUL 07
FM AMEMBASSY ATHENS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 9814
INFO RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE
RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA 4837
RUEHNC/AMEMBASSY NICOSIA 2869
RUEKJCS/OSD WASHINGTON DC
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHINGTON DC
					  C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 ATHENS 001522 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/27/2017
TAGS: PGOV PREL TU CYP CY
SUBJECT: TURKISH ELECTIONS: A VIEW FROM ATHENS


Classified By: CHARGE D'AFFAIRES THOMAS COUNTRYMAN. REASONS 1.4 (B) AN
D (D).



1. (C) SUMMARY: Following the re-election of the Justice and
Development Party (AKP) in Sunday's elections, the mainstream
Greek political elite breathed a sigh of relief. PM
Erdogan's first term was a period of Greek-Turkish stability,
offering Greeks a more secure vision of their bilateral
relations. While problems still exist -- notably the
division of Cyprus and Turkey's treatment of the Ecumenical
Patriarchate and Halki seminary -- most contacts expressed
optimism at the continuity a second AKP term would bring.
Conversely, there was widespread distancing from the
Republican People's Party (CHP) opposition and its
leadership, who are seen as losing credibility with Turkish
voters. The inclusion in the Parliament of the nationalist
National Movement Party (MHP) alsoproved worrying but most
Greek observers weretaking a wait-and-see attitude. END
SUMMARY.



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


View from the Top


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





2. (U) The Turkish elections were closely watched in Greece.
Following the announcement of AKP's victory, Athens, like
most European capitals, was quick to offer congratulations.
PM Kostas Karamanlis telephoned Turkish PM Erdogan from
Sarajevo to offer congratulations. According to press
reports, Karamanlis invited Erdogan to continue working
together to increase and improve cooperation between their
two countries. In public statements, Karamanlis stressed
that he hoped the AK re-election would contribute to an
increased pace of reform efforts. He stressed that Greece
continued to support Turkey on its path to EU accession.
Opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou sent a similar
message in a letter to Erdogan, saying he would support
Erdogan in fulfilling Turkey's obligations to resolve the
Cyprus problem and respect the rights of the Ecumenical
Patriarchate as Turkey proceeds in its EU accession process.
FM Bakoyannis expressed satisfaction at the smooth,
democratic process in Turkey, noting that AK offered the
Turkish people a stable, democratic, European-oriented
government. In a statement to the press following her June
25 meeting with the visiting Cypriot FM, Bakoyannis stated
that Greece fully expected the re-elected AKP to take
tangible actions on the Cyprus issue.



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


View from the MFA


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





3. (C) In a meeting with visiting Greece Desk officer on June
26, Stavros Venizelos (Internal Turkish Politics) and Ioannis
Ghikas (Bilateral Political-Military Affairs) in the A-4
Directorate at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs echoed
Bakoyannis, comments but were less optimistic on the Cyprus
problem or Aegean tensions. However, they agreed the AK
victory was good for the bilateral relationship, continuing
the stability of the last few years. The &stars8 of AK
(Erdogan, Abdullah Gul, and Ali Babacan) represented the
modern face of Turkey and the electorate seemed to be behind
them. Venizelos surmised that the June 6 shake-up in the
AKP,s list of candidates served a two-fold purpose: to
reassure Turks that an AK victory would not usher in an
Islamic state, and to entrench AK as THE party with a firmly
modern outlook, capable of leading Turkey towards the
European Union. Ghikas emphasized that the GOG has never
believed that a re-elected AKP would lead Turkey towards an
Islamic revolution ala Iran. AK voters supported the party
not only because AK had ushered in a period of stability and
growth in the Turkish economy, but also as a protest vote
against the military's actions following the nomination of
Gul for the presidency.



4. (C) Venizelos and Ghikas believed CHP is moving against
the current of mainstream Turkey. They attributed this to
the heavy-handed approach of Deniz Baykal and the CHP party
leadership, which allied itself with the military.
Venizelos also speculated Kemalism as an ideology was
becoming outdated, more suitable to Turkey in the 1920,s
than to the modernizing path most Turks now see their country
heading down. Perhaps the Turkish electorate was not ready
for AKP to decide on the President this time around, Ghikas
mused, but four years from now, if AK continued on the same
path, it would be a different story.


ATHENS 00001522 002 OF 002




5. (C) Nonetheless, both Venizelos and Ghikas noted that
there were still significant irritants in the bilateral
relationship, which would be difficult to overcome, even by a
more secure Erdogan/AKP led government. Ghikas pointed to
the hardening of Turkish positions in Aegean affairs over the
last year, including: disputes over fishing and research
vessels, an increase in Turkish overflight "violations," and
at NATO (implicitly referencing the Agios Efstratios incident
in February). He noted Turkey still maintained three casus
belli: over oil exploration of the continental shelf,
territorial waters and territorial airspace. He admitted the
Greek press was often an obstacle to progress as the GOG is
always portrayed as having made concessions to Turkey. The
government was working to shift the media's mindset away from
a zero-sum game, but that was an uphill battle. He also
blamed the Turkish media and Turkish military for spurring on
the Greek media in a negative fashion. As an example, he
noted a posting on the Turkish General Staff's website last
spring listing instances of Greek "harassment" of Turkish
planes. He noted that in addition to the false nature of
these claims, posting them on a public website did nothing to
lower tensions in the region.



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


Cyprus, Aegean Still Issues


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





5. (C) Ghikas and Venizelos were equally pessimistic about a
possible solution to the Cyprus problem. They noted the
on-going dispute between Turkey and Cyprus was threatening
Turkey's EU accession. Both dismissed Turkish accession to
the EU as long as there was a dispute with Cyprus and casus
belli against Greece. DeskOff agreed that Turkey still
needed to undertake reforms before becoming a full member,
but that it was important to keep Turkey on the EU path.
DeskOff continued that eleven years ago, following the
Imia/Kardak crisis, it would have been unthinkable for Greece
to be a firm supporter of Turkish accession, but much has
changed since then. The important thing was not to close the
door on Turkey. Ghikas and Venizelos agreed, but argued
Turkey needed to do something significant, not to convince
just Greece, but all of Europe -- and soon. Europe would be
looking for serious moves on Article 301, the Kurds and/or
Halki and the Ecumenical Patriarchate following the
elections. DeskOff reiterated these were impor



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


A View from PASOK


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





6. (C) A well-connected PASOK-affiliated university Professor
took much the same view of the elections as the MFA
officials. Erdogan's victory was good because it meant
continuity and the continued stabilization of relations
between Greece and Turkey. While most Greeks did not trust
Erdogan because they viewed him as an Islamist, she noted
they appreciated the sense of security his re-election
brought. Of course there was concern about the nationalists
entering Parliament, but people were waiting to see how they
behaved. As for the CHP, despite being the party which
represented the same leftist ideological roots as PASOK,
PASOK was becoming more and more uncomfortable with the
relationship. This was largely due to Baykal and the current
CHP leadership, though other CHP members, especially Kemal
Dervish, could prove to be the future of CHP, reintegrating
the party into mainstream Turkish politics and the European
left. Ultimately, the re-election of Erdogan was viewed as
being helpful as the PASOK elite made its case for supporting
Turkey's accession to the EU to the Greek public. Even
within PASOK's membership it was a tough sell: a recent
internal party poll showed 75 percent of members responding
negatively to Turkey's possible EU membership.
COUNTRYMAN