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Cablegate: Netherlands/Eu/Turkey: Moving in the Right

Published: Fri 30 Jul 2004 03:03 PM
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 THE HAGUE 001919
SIPDIS
NOFORN
E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/28/2014
TAGS: PREL PGOV PHUM TK NL EUN
SUBJECT: NETHERLANDS/EU/TURKEY: MOVING IN THE RIGHT
DIRECTION
REF: USEU 3226
Classified By: A...
19303
2004-07-30
04THEHAGUE1919
Embassy The Hague
CONFIDENTIAL//NOFORN
04USEUBRUSSELS3226
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 THE HAGUE 001919
SIPDIS
NOFORN
E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/28/2014
TAGS: PREL PGOV PHUM TK NL EUN
SUBJECT: NETHERLANDS/EU/TURKEY: MOVING IN THE RIGHT
DIRECTION
REF: USEU 3226
Classified By: Amb. Clifford Sobel for reasons 1.4(B) AND (D).
1. (C/NF) SUMMARY: According to Dutch sources, the European
Council will most likely decide in December to open accession
talks with Turkey, setting a fixed starting date contingent
on Turkey's completion of specific concrete reforms. Senior
Dutch officials based in The Hague are playing an active role
in guiding the drafting of the European Commission's October
report. In this poker game, the Government of Cyprus remains
one possible wild card. End Summary.
2. (C/NF) In recent discussions with Ambassador Sobel, Rob
Swartbol (PM Balkenende's senior foreign policy advisor) has
given clear indications that the Dutch are seeking to guide
the EU toward a positive (albeit conditional) decision to
begin accession talks with Turkey. In separate discussions
following EUR DAS Laura Kennedy's meetings in Brussels
(reftel), Poloff received similar signals from Pieter de
Gooijer, Dutch MFA rep for European Integration (please
protect), and Hannie Pollmann-Zaal.
YES TO TURKEY...
------------------
3. (C/NF) On July 29, Swartbol told Ambassador Sobel that he
believed the EU could set an October, 2005 date for opening
accession talks with Turkey. He asserted that nearly all EU
member states recognized that Turkey would receive a yes
decision from the EU, although some still hoped to push the
date for starting talks back one or two years; this, however,
would be a mistake, he said. Swartbol predicted actual
accession negotiations from 6 to 8 years plus two and
suggested that -- contrary to usual practice -- the EU would
probably try to address some of the toughest issues (like
immigration) early in the process rather than waiting until
the end. Swartbol said that the EU would be careful not to
talk about a 10-year process publicly in deference to Turkish
sensitivities.
4. (C/NF) Swartbol revealed that the Turks had been
consulted about the proposed conditions and timetable
described above, but they had not yet agreed. Several EU
members also remained unconvinced. EU Commissioner
Verheugen, he said, would go to Turkey in September to try to
gain Turkish support for the EC report.
...WITH QUALIFICATIONS
----------------------
5. (C/NF) Swartbol and de Gooijer confirmed that most EU
Members assume the Commission will appraise Turkey's success
with the Copenhagen Criteria as virtually, almost, or
just about. It is impossible to imagine a no, de Gooijer
said. The Dutch cannot imagine an unqualified yes, either,
listing outstanding issues such as judges' behavior, concerns
about torture, access of Kurds to Kurdish language education,
free exercise of religion, and the role of the military.
6. (C/NF) The question remains what the Council will do with
these areas of improvement. The Dutch anticipate the EU
Yes will come with one list of goals for Turkey to reach
within six to eight months before starting negotiations and a
second list of other items that could slow the process down
if Turkey did not make progress toward achieving them.
Swartbol noted that the EU would ensure that negotiations
would tackle the tough issues identified in the impact
statement.
7. (C/NF) De Gooijer cautioned that Turkey should
concentrate on the yes and the date parts of the
recommendation and not be overly-concerned by the
blah-blah-blah that follows it where the Council may list
must-do items for the Turks.
EU AND DUTCH POLITICS: MORE FOR THAN AGAINST
--------------------------------------------
8. (C/NF) Swartbol cited France, Austria, Denmark (where the
Prime Minister is the problem) and the Netherlands as still
needing more work on the domestic front. While the Dutch, in
the Presidency role, will strive for objectivity in public
and eschew overt statements about what Dutch preferences or
strategies, de Gooijer said to watch for Dutch signals. He
recalled PM Balkenende's July 21 Strasbourg Parliament
speech, where he rejected prejudice against Islam as a basis
for opposing Turkey. De Gooijer allowed how he had written,
championed, and insured inclusion of the following lines,
which he proudly reported received warm applause that day:
We must not allow ourselves to be guided by fear, for
example, of Islam. Raising barriers to any particular
religion does not fit in with Europe's shared values. Our
opposition should be directed not against religions but
against people and groups misusing their religion to get
their way by force.
9. (C/NF) Swartbol said that potential divisions within the
Dutch government had largely been resolved, thanks in part to
Verheugen's (quiet) briefing of the Dutch cabinet. De
Gooijer agreed that the Dutch government will ultimately
support accession; Pollman was not so sure. Both feel that
momentum toward Yes is lacking. Pollman alerted us that
the constituents of some cabinet ministers could be tending
negative, meaning the ministers would have to convince them
otherwise or vote and anger the base. De Gooijer and Pollman
predicted any opponents will eventually modify positions
enough to be able to wag their fingers and say, We have
serious problems with this and if it does not work out, well,
we told you so.
THE TIMING OF THE WRITING OF THE REPORT
---------------------------------------
10. (C/NF) De Gooijer (please protect) confirmed that
Commission officers have been on the ground in Turkey in July
surveying conditions across the full matrix of issues. The
various arms of the Commission will complete individual parts
of the report during August and give it to Verheugen, who
will collate the parts and circulate a complete draft in
early September. He will present a final draft to the full
Commission on October 6. The Commission will present it to
the Council thereafter, by November.
11. (C/NF) Both Swartbol and de Gooijer said that the Dutch
(as President) and the Commission were trying to stay in sync
on the report, meaning that the Dutch will have large
influence over all aspects of it. De Gooijer added that the
Commission is loathe to get out in front of the Presidency on
any issue, especially one like this. Swartbol, while
cautioning that the Dutch did not hold the pen, was also
confident that the report would not hold any surprises for
the presidency. (Note: Ambassador Sobel stressed that it
should not hold any surprises for us or Turkey either, and
pressed Swartbol to ensure that the process was as
transparent as possible.)
WILD CARD CYPRUS
----------------
12. (C/NF) Pollman suggested the EU might give the GoC, as
an EU Member State, its due on the Cyprus trade and financial
support issues while then expecting Papadopoulos to relent on
Turkey. However, EU partners do not really engage on Cyprus
since only the UK has any real interest in the island, she
said, adding, What does Cyprus have these days, besides the
Turkey card? And this means the EU has but little leverage
over Cyprus; Pollman hoped that powers outside the EU will
pressure Popadopolous to support Turkish accession, using
whatever psychological, political, or other means that might
work.
COMMENT
-------
13. (C/NF) The Dutch governing elite want a Yes for
Turkey and they seem confident that they can bring the nation
as well as the rest of the EU along. There is finesse at the
top, as seen in de Gooijer's handling of the Islam question
for PM Balkenende. There are many variables open and many
forces at work, but the trends -- at least for now -- seem to
be moving in the right direction.
SOBEL
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