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WikiLeaks: 2007-12-04: 07ANKARA2885: Codel Shays goes to Southeastern Turkey

by WikiLeaks. 07ANKARA2885: December 04, 2007.

Posted: Tuesday, October 30, 2012 at 08:17 PM UT


Viewing cable 07ANKARA2885, CODEL SHAYS GOES TO SOUTHEASTERN TURKEY

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07ANKARA2885 2007-12-04 08:39 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Ankara
VZCZCXRO2881
RR RUEHBC RUEHDBU RUEHDE RUEHFL RUEHIHL RUEHKUK RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV
RUEHSR
DE RUEHAK #2885/01 3380839
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 040839Z DEC 07
FM AMEMBASSY ANKARA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4531
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 ANKARA 002885 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT. FOR EUR/SE AND NEA/I 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/03/2017 
TAGS: PREL PGOV PTER TU IZ
SUBJECT: CODEL SHAYS GOES TO SOUTHEASTERN TURKEY 
 
REF: ANKARA 2863 
 
Classified By: Ambassador Ross Wilson for reasons 1.4(b) and (d) 
 
1. (U) This is a Consulate Adana cable. 
 
2. (C) SUMMARY: Representative Christopher Shays obtained 
first-hand insight into the Kurdish issue and efforts to 
counter the PKK during a November 27-28 visit to southeastern 
Turkey.  He also toured the Habur border gate and was briefed 
on Turkish-Iraqi trade relations and supply operations for 
coalition forces in Iraq.  While most interlocutors praised 
the AKP government's attempts to improve economic conditions, 
NGO representatives criticized the Turkish establishment's 
historic inability to deal effectively with the Kurdish 
issue.  END SUMMARY. 
 
DIYARBAKIR GOVERNOR 
------------------- 
 
3. (C) In Diyarbakir, governor Avni Mutlu discussed the links 
between economic conditions and terrorism, noting that the 
government's efforts to address urgent needs such as health 
care, provision of safe drinking water, and improved roads 
have helped reduce support for the PKK.  The private sector 
has also grown in recent years; production of marble from 
local deposits has developed into a business generating over 
$100 million annually and 80 percent of the local organized 
industrial zone's 150 sites are now occupied after only five 
years.  But Mutlu noted that unemployment remains a serious 
problem and that, under the rubric of the Southeastern 
Anatolian Project (GAP), more land needs to be put under 
irrigation to spur employment. 
 
4. (C) PKK violence has also cost the region, the governor 
said, noting that the group's attacks on innocent civilians 
cannot possibly be justified as a legitimate defense of 
Kurdish rights.  He welcomed Shays, firm condemnation of the 
PKK and the recent deepening of U.S.-Turkish cooperation in 
efforts to counter the organization.  He said that "the 
children in the mountains are our children -- we are not 
happy with anyone's death or pleased with anyone's tears." 
Mutlu hopes the U.S. can play a role in disarming the PKK and 
having them express themselves through politics.  Many Turks, 
who were accustomed to America's staunch support during the 
Cold War, are disappointed that the U.S. has not done more 
against the PKK.  Shays reiterated the USG's commitment to 
work with Turkey against the PKK, including through 
intelligence sharing. 
 
CIVIL SOCIETY: GOOD NEWS, BAD NEWS 
---------------------------------- 
 
5. (C) Sezgin Tanrikulu, President of the Diyarbakir Bar 
Association, Sahismail Bedirhanoglu, head of a local business 
association, and development worker Nurcan Baysal painted a 
mixed picture of current developments.  They briefed Shays on 
the legacy of the conflict in the 1990,s, when PKK violence 
stunted economic growth and the GOT forced about 1.5 million 
people to evacuate their villages in the region, causing 
serious damage to the agricultural economy and creating 
massive problems as people relocated to larger cities such as 
Diyarbakir.  Per capital income in the southeast is about 
one-third the level of the Turkish average, unemployment is 
about 40% and half the population is less than 18 years old. 
 
6. (C) Tanrikulu reported that since the PKK resumed violence 
in 2004 human rights violations by the government, including 
cases of death in custody and limitations on speech and 
assembly, have increased.  He noted that the PKK was created 
and is perpetuated because the Kurdish issue has not been 
addressed and that, if the GOT had met the minimum demands of 
the Kurds, the PKK issue would be resolved. 
 
7. (C) Bedirhanoglu was upbeat about recent political 
developments.  "We want democratization and to reduce 
regional disparities and lower unemployment," he said.  The 
AK Party government, which he noted was the first mainstream 
party to win support across the Kurdish region, has been 
constructive in dealing with these issues.  But the Turkish 
military and the judiciary are in conflict with the 
government and block its progress.  Baaysal was less 
optimistic, accusing the government of trying to improve 
living standards through programs that treat people as 
recipients of charity rather than as citizens who should be 
empowered to develop their own talents.  She also expressed 
skepticism about the rosy plans for GAP-related expansion of 
employment, noting that the government had been making such 
promises for 20 years.  Tanrikulu said that the PKK is losing 
popularity, but continued poverty could increase support for 
 
ANKARA 00002885  002 OF 002 
 
 
fundamentalists who could organize the way Hamas did in the 
Palestinian territories. 
 
EPICENTER OF TURKISH-IRAQI TRADE 
-------------------------------- 
 
8. (C) Shays met with Aydin Abak, the Sirnak sub-governor in 
charge of the Habur Gate, which handles virtually all freight 
going from Turkey to Iraq, including fuel and supplies 
destined for coalition forces.  Abak briefed on the recent 
$40m upgrade in the gate's infrastructure, a joint 
build-operate-transfer project between the GOT and TOBB, a 
national business association.  The new facility has 24 
vehicle lanes which currently process about 600-900 trucks 
per day in each direction and 300-400 cars and passenger 
vans.  The head of the local customs office, Mehmet Ulusoy, 
explained that weapons, explosives, drugs, and cigarettes are 
the most common forms of contraband his officers intercept 
from Iraq.  During a tour of the area, he showed Shays a 
state-of-the art x-ray machine that will be on line in a few 
weeks and will be able to scan trucks suspected of hauling 
illicit cargo.  Operating at full capacity, the gate could 
process up to 5,000 trucks per day, according to Ulusoy. 
 
9. (C) In a subsequent meeting, Adnan Elci and Halil Balkan, 
Presidents of the Cizre and Sirnak Chambers of Commerce, 
talked about the deepening economic ties between Turkey and 
Northern Iraq.  Elci noted that, although Turkish exports 
have declined from $8b/year to $2.5/year due to tensions at 
the border and increases in Iraq's trade with Iran and Syria, 
he and other Turkish businessmen continue to pursue a variety 
of projects in northern Iraq's Kurdish region, including a 
major hotel development in Erbil.  Balkan urged the U.S. to 
play an active role in encouraging an improvement in 
political relations and cooperation on the PKK issue between 
Ankara and the KRG.  He said that commercial relations can 
also play a role in improving the atmosphere. 
 
ASSYRIAN CHRISTIANS IN MARDIN 
----------------------------- 
 
10. (C) At the St. Gabriel Monastery in Mardin province, 
Shays met with Bishop Samuel Aktas, who voiced concern about 
continuing difficulties his community faces because the GOT 
does not accord Assyrian Christians the privileges associated 
with officially recognized "minorities."  As a result, the 
church is not allowed to have a seminary inside Turkey, which 
forces all of its clergy to train abroad.  Aktas said that he 
and his colleagues fully support Turkey's efforts to 
integrate with the EU and want Turkey to develop the levels 
of tolerance found in European countries. 
 
11. (U) While violence against his church members is rare, 
during Shays, visit to the monastery, Aktas learned that an 
Assyrian priest from a neighboring town had been kidnapped by 
unknown assailants who demanded EURO 300,000 in ransom.  (The 
priest was released the following day.) 
 
INTENSE MEDIA SCRUTINY 
---------------------- 
 
12. (U) Shays visit to the southeast received extensive 
coverage in the national media; he gave a brief impromptu 
press conference for about two dozen reporters in Cizre, near 
the Habur Gate.  In his remarks, Shays stated his interest in 
visiting the region of Turkey that borders Iraq and 
reaffirmed President Bush's formulation that the PKK is an 
enemy of Turkey, Iraq and the U.S.  He added that the U.S. 
wants Iraq to succeed as an independent, unified country and 
needs Turkey's help to achieve that goal. 
 
13. (U) Codel Shays did not clear this message. 
 
Visit Ankara's Classified Web Site at 
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/eur/ankara/ 
 
WILSON

 



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