|07ISTANBUL541||2007-06-26 08:42:00||CONFIDENTIAL||Consulate Istanbul|
VZCZCXRO5763 PP RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR DE RUEHIT #0541/01 1770842 ZNY CCCCC ZZH P 260842Z JUN 07 FM AMCONSUL ISTANBUL TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7194 INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
1. (C) Summary. During a June 15 meeting in Istanbul, EUR
DAS Matt Bryza and Prime Ministry senior advisor Ahmet
Davutoglu discussed ways forward on Cyprus in the run up to
the December 2008 EU Commission report on Turkey's accession
process. Davutoglu argued that the current government was
unlikely to make any further concessions and that any
successor government would be equally constrained on Cyprus.
Davutoglu also complained that Greek intransigence on Muslim
rights in Western Thrace hampered Turkey's ability to move
forward on re-opening Halki Seminary. But, he suggested that
after Turkey's parliamentary and presidential elections, we
consider returning to the "package approaches" to Cyprus and
Halki that the USG and GOT were exploring last summer. End
2. (C) EUR DAS Bryza and Turkish Prime Ministry foreign
policy advisor Ahmet Davutoglu revisited earlier discussions
(Ref A) of re-opening Halki Seminary during their June 15
meeting in Istanbul. Prompted by Bryza for a clarification
on opening the Greek Orthodox community's Halki Seminary (Ref
B), Davutoglu claimed that, had the Greeks followed through
with offering real minority rights to the Muslim minority in
Western Thrace, Turkey would have permitted the opening of
Halki Seminary. Davutoglu said Turkish Foreign Minister Gul
had offered this tradeoff to Greek Foreign Minister
Bakyoannis on the basis of the package approach Davutoglu and
Bryza had formulated last summer, according to which the
Greek Government would appoint a secular judge to govern the
Muslim minority's legal affairs, while the Muslim community
would elect its own mufti to govern religious affairs.
Unfortunately, after Prime Minister Erdogan's May 2006 visit
to Greece, Greek Prime Minister Papoulias had neither
reciprocated by visiting Turkey nor offered substantial
minority rights for Muslims living in Western Thrace,
particularly the right to elect muftis with both religious
and civil authority. Though Muslims may elect religious
representatives, the appointment of muftis with civil
authority rests with the government in Athens. Foreign
Minister Gul had explained this to his Greek counterpart,
Foreign Minister Bakoyannis. So far, the GOT remained
disappointed by the results.
WORKING CYPRUS BEFORE DECEMBER 2008
3. (C) Bryza suggested, by taking pre-emptive steps, Turkey
could avoid being backed into a difficult corner with the EU
and face European demands to open Turkish ports to Greek
Cypriot shipping if Turkey is to keep its EU accession bid on
track at the European Council meeting in December 2008.
Davutoglu said the current government in Turkey could make no
new concessions before elections, and its successor
government would be unlikely to make further concessions.
"What did we win by making concessions in the past?" asked
Davutoglu. Turkey's European allies had made mistakes since
2004 and the atmosphere in Turkey today was much less
conducive to further compromise. The governing Justice and
Development Party (AKP) feels strong political pressure ahead
of July elections, being cast as "too close to the West" -
the U.S. and EU - as well as for one-sided concessions on
Cyprus. There were so many promises to the Northern
Cypriots. They kept their promises, as had Turkey, but the
EU did not.
4. (C) At one point, Davutoglu wondered if Cyprus were
solved, if the EU wouldn't demand even more from Turkey. The
EU was right about its aquis but mistaken on the political
methods that led to bringing Greek Cypriots into the EU
without first achieving a settlement on the island. Greek
Cypriots now felt no need to make any compromises with
respect to their Turkish Cypriot neighbors. If, however,
that atmosphere could be changed, Davutoglu said, Turkey
might yet have some room for political maneuver at home.
Some sort of recognition that the Turkish Cypriots were not
"criminals" would be helpful - perhaps a sporting or cultural
event, or direct airline flights. But Turks were rightly
disappointed. Former French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe had
told them that if Turkish Cypriots voted "yes," on the Annan
plan, they would enjoy the same rights as Greek Cypriots.
They voted "yes." And they are still waiting.
ISTANBUL 00000541 002 OF 002
5. (C) The bottom line, Davutoglu explained, was that either
Turkish Cypriots would be accepted as equal to Greek Cypriots
in a new state or there would be de facto separation of the
two communities. This was not a Turkish strategy, it was a
fact. The Turkish Cypriot community and Turks were thinking
along similar lines. If Greek Cypriots could understand
this, it was possible this reality could convince them to
work in good faith toward a workable solution. It would
help, Davutoglu said, if the international community could
bring itself to verbally criticize Turkey but punish the
Greek Cypriots for once. Turkey - and Turkish Cypriot leader
Talat - could not accept a dramatic departure from the Annan
plan. DAS Bryza wondered if the Turkish Cypriots could again
get one step ahead of the competition. Given current
political realities and personalities, Davutoglu thought not.
But Davutoglu did suggest that, after Turkish elections, the
USG and GOT return to the "package approach" discussed last
summer and involving Famagusta-Varosha, as well as Ercan
Airport, and possible other sweeteners for Greek Cypriots.
6. (C) Comment. Davutoglu's narrow focus on reciprocal
measures and a Turkish sense of the EU continually moving
goal posts does not augur well for progress on these issues
until the passage of Turkey's parliamentary and presidential
elections. End comment.
7. (U) This cable was cleared by DAS Bryza.