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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
09ANKARA1500 2009-10-16 16:47:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Ankara
Cable title:  

TURKS ACCENT THE POSITIVE IN EU PROGRESS REPORT

Tags:   CY EU PGOV PREL TU 
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					  C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 ANKARA 001500 

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT ALSO FOR EUR/SE

E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/15/2019
TAGS: CY EU PGOV PREL TU
SUBJECT: TURKS ACCENT THE POSITIVE IN EU PROGRESS REPORT

REF: ANKARA 1455

Classified By: POL Counselor Daniel O'Grady, for reasons 1.4(b,d)



1. (C) SUMMARY: State Minister for EU Affairs Egemen Bagis
and the MFA offered a broadly positive official reaction to
the European Commission's 12th annual progress report,
released October 14. Both Bagis and the MFA portrayed the
report in their public statements as endorsing the
government's reform efforts and welcoming Turkey's ability to
contribute to the expansion of the EU's influence in the
Middle East. Both rejected the report's criticism of Turkey
over Cyprus. For the balance of this year, Cyprus will
likely overshadow the EU's accession dialogue with Turkey.
End Summary.



2. (SBU) State Minister for EU Affairs Egemen Bagis and the
MFA separately framed a constructive official reaction to the
European Commission's "Turkey 2009 Progress Report" and the
Enlargement Strategy Paper, both published October 14. Bagis
publicly described the report, the twelfth in the annual
series, as "in general, positive and balanced" and "the most
objective report ever issued." He interpreted it as
encouraging the GOT's commitment to its current reform path.



3. (C) Alp Ay, Director of Political Affairs in Bagis's
Secretariat General for EU Affairs, told us the report's
endorsement of the Democratic Opening and the normalization
process with Armenia will be motivating factors for the
government. He took in stride criticisms of restrictions on
freedom of speech and religion, promising the government's
increased focus on these deficiencies. Aly claimed to be
hopeful about the 2010 Progress Report: "We are already
working hard on the areas for which we received criticism.
We are expecting to achieve concrete results by 2010." His
colleague, Seval Isik, Director of Accession Policy, took
encouragement from the report's grading of 18 of the 33
acquis chapters as "improved" or "greatly improved." He
argued these grades highlight the arbitrariness of certain EU
countries, who have frozen 17 chapters for "political
reasons."



4. (U) The MFA took the opportunity of the report's
publication to reaffirm EU accession as Turkey's primary
foreign policy goal. An MFA press release cited the report's
characterization of Turkey as a key player in its region's
security, energy supply and the promotion of dialogue between
civilizations. According to the MFA, this characterization
justifies its assertion that Turkey's future admission would
contribute to the EU's "aim of strengthening its role in the
world of the future." The MFA acknowledged without
defensiveness the report's identification of shortcomings in
Turkey's progress, benignly interpreting the report's
citation of these shortcomings as usefully highlighting areas
upon which the GOT should focus its reform efforts.



5. (SBU) Both Bagis and the MFA rejected the report's
criticism of Turkey over Cyprus. Bagis flatly dismissed the
criticism as "unjust." The MFA asserted Turkey's full
support for the comprehensive Cyprus negotiations and implied
an EU deficiency in its support for the UN-mediated
reconciliation process. Neither Bagis nor the MFA referred
explicitly to the report's pointed criticism of Turkey's
unwillingness to open its ports to Greek Cypriot vessels, in
accordance with the Additional Ankara Protocol (AAP).



6. (U) The report received broad media coverage, but drew
little reaction from the public. Main stream newspapers
offered balanced analyses. Several cited favorably the
report's praise for:

-- Turkey's general elections, which have been held in a free
and democratic atmosphere;
-- The government's Democratic (Kurdish) Opening and the
loosening of restrictions on Kurdish-language TV broadcasts;
-- President Gul's efforts to promote dialogue between
political parties;
-- The soundness of Turkey's banking sector and the
government's success in easing the global recession's impact
on the Turkish citizenry;
-- The Ergenekon investigation for probing into
state-affilliated actors' subversion of democratic
institutions;
-- Turkey's positive role in contributing to regional

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security, secure energy transhipment and the dialogue between
civilizations;
-- Turkey's steps towards rapprochement with Armenia;
-- The strengthening of the civilian judiciary to enable its
accommodation of legal actions against military personnel;
-- The appointment of Bagis and his success in coordinating
an inter-ministerial approach to reform and his advocacy of
Turkey's EU candidacy to civil society;
-- The government's opening of a dialogue with Turkey's Alevi
religious minority.



7. (U) The press offered little commentary on the report's
criticism of:

-- Turkey's failure "to take practical steps to contribute to
creating a climate favorable to a comprehensive settlement of
the Cyprus problem;"
-- The slow pace of reforms;
-- The lack of independence, impartiality, effectiveness and
efficiency of the judiciary;
-- The continued excessive influence of the military in
domestic and foreign policy issues beyond its remit;
-- The failure of the government to amend the 1980
constituion to provide stronger guarrantees of fundamental
freedoms in line with EU standards.



8. (C) Swedish Embassy DCM Urban Andersson told us that
Turkish reaction, so far, seems to positive and that the
Turks clearly see the report as balanced. Andersson pointed
out that the report actually contained important criticism on
the lack of reform and progress needed for membership. The
report did indeed highlight some of the positive diplomatic
developments that Turkey has been pursuing recently, he
noted. He told us that as long as Cyprus negotiations are
still on track in December the EC will roll over the
Additional Ankara Protocol decision to 2010, but that if
things turn badly with the Cyprus talks the EU will not be
able to just push the issue until next year. EU Commission
Political Counselor Diego Mellado told us the report's
drafters had sought to maintain a positive tone. German
Embassy Political Counselor Arno Kirchhoff was more blunt,
saying the report this was "really soft" this year so as not
to provoke a Turkish reaction that might negatively impact
the Cyprus talks.



9. (C) We sounded out several think tank analysts, both of
whom seized on the report's elements pertaining to Cyprus and
freedom of expression. Murat Erdogan, Deputy Director of the
EU Research and Application Center at Hacetepe University,
noted that the comments on the Cyprus issue were not
surprising and that, compared to previous reports, they
seemed relative mild. He pointed out that despite the
criticism, the report does not include any sanctions. He
also commented that Turkey was criticized for limitations on
freedom of speech and Article 301 and that this is indeed "an
issue that Turkey needs to work on." SETA Director Taha
Ozhan told us he thinks the report's comments on Turkey,s EU
reforms were fair. He particularly noted that the statements
on opening Turkey,s harbors to Cyprus were positive.
However, he did not consider it fair that the report included
the Dogan Media Group,s tax evasion fine. He saw this as
proof that strong lobbying in the last month could manipulate
the EU Commission,s opinion. He pointed out that the
Government had levied billion dollar tax fines for other
companies as well, but that none of these examples had been
reflected in the report.



10. (C) Comment: The measured Turkish response to the report
is a tribute to its careful drafting. If the drafters'
intent was to avoid provoking Turkey, they seem to have
achieved their goal. Their concern highlights, once again,
that, for the balance of this year, Cyprus is likely to
become the primary focus of the EU's accession dialogue with
Turkey.

JEFFREY

"Visit Ankara's Classified Web Site at http://www.intelink.s
gov.gov/wiki/Portal:Turkey"