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Cablegate: Turkey's Nationalist Action Party Deputies: Fresh Sophisticates Cover Up Old-Line Bruisers

Published: Tue 7 Aug 2007 09:09 AM
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E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/03/2017
TAGS: PBIO PGOV PREL TU
SUBJECT: TURKEY'S NATIONALIST ACTION PARTY DEPUTIES: FRESH SOPHISTICATES COVER UP OLD-LINE BRUISERS
Classified By: A/POLITICAL COUNSELOR KELLY DEGNAN FOR REASONS 1.4(b),(d)
1. (C) Summary and Comment. The far-right Nationalist
Action Party (MHP) is returning to parliament after five
years on the sidelines, having carried 14.4 percent of the
vote in Turkey's July 22 elections (septel). Since its
coalition government with the Motherland Party (ANAP) and
Democratic Left Party (DSP) failed in 2002, MHP has
capitalized on rising nationalism stemming from terrorist PKK
violence and bumps in Turkey's EU accession process. The
party owes much of its success to its leader, Devlet Bahceli,
who carefully selected a slew of urbane, intellectual
candidates to compensate for the party,s more thuggish
members. MHP MPs include former diplomats, long-time
political activists, and several experienced former
ministers, as well as a couple of murderers -- all of whom
will potentially play important roles as the new parliament
grapples with controversial reforms and new approaches to
Turkey's Kurdish question. End Summary and Comment.
Ministers and Intellectuals:
============================
2. (C) AHMET DENIZ BOLUKBASI. Son of the famous nationalist
politician Osman Bolukbasi, Ahmet Deniz Bolukbasi is a former
ambassador turned politician. After a diplomatic career
focused on Europe, he is a supporter, albeit a skeptical one,
of Turkey's EU accession. He was an especially tough MFA
negotiator during the talks leading up to the March 1, 2003
petition on Iraq. The public considers him one of the
strongest defenders of Turkey,s interests, especially
against the United States. He speaks fluent English.
3. (C) GUNDUZ AKTAN. Aktan, a former diplomat, editorialist,
and advisor to the late PM Turgut Ozal, is a nationalist
known for isolationism, hawkish views on Cyprus, and strong
criticism of the EU accession process -- he does not believe
Turkey should seek EU membership on Brussels' terms. He sees
Turkey,s interests as more closely aligned with China and
Russia. Described as intelligent and articulate, many expect
him to be one of MHP,s most effective MPs, particularly on
foreign policy issues such as the Armenian genocide
resolution. He previously served as president of the
think-tank ASAM and foreign policy advisor to Turkish Chamber
of Commerce and Commodity Exchanges (TOBB) Chairman
Hisarciklioglu. Although he was a leftist advisor to former
PM Ozal, his views have shifted; we can expect his foreign
policy positions to be hard-line nationalistic.
4. (C) MERAL AKSENER. Affectionately labeled one of the
"asenas" -- legendary female wolves that led the Turks west
from Siberia -- Meral Aksener formerly headed the women's
branch of the True Path Party (DYP) before joining MHP. As
Interior Minister during the 1997 DYP-Refah Party coalition
government under Tansu Ciller, she was accused of creating a
secret domestic spy service, tapping reporters, phone lines,
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and terrorizing Kurdish businessmen to undermine the PKK,s
finances. Many PKK-related disappearances occurred during
her tenure, although no accusations were officially
substantiated. Aksener abandoned DYP and joined MHP after
allegedly attempting to join AKP when the party was founded.
Considered highly intelligent, she is a former professor of
sociology.
5. (C) SABAHATTIN CAKMAKOGLU. Nearly 80 years old,
Sabahattin Cakmakoglu returns to parliament after a long
career in the Interior Ministry, where he served as
sub-governer, deputy governor and then governor of four
regions. First elected in 1999 on the MHP ticket, he served
as Defense Minister as well as Interior Minister, and remains
on good terms with the military. He was quoted in early
August as agreeing with TGS CHOD General Buyukanit that
Turkey's president must be devoted not in rhetoric but "in
essence" to the secular principles of the Republic.
6. (C) MITHAT MELEN originates from Van but serves as an MP
from Antalya. He comes from a political family, his father
having served in the senate and as Minister of Defense. He
was previously involved in ANAP and has run for parliament
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four times before 2007. He is also currently an economics
professor at Istanbul University and emphasized to EmbOffs
that he loves teaching. He is a frequent columnist, even
writing for the English language publication, Turkey Daily
News. He claims to have advised Bahceli to propose an MHP
candidate for president so they would have grounds to attend
the voting session and meet the 367 quorum requirement.
6. (C) TUNCA TOSKAY. A former academic elected with MHP in
1999, Tunca Toskay served as State Minister in the
DSP-MHP-ANAP coalition. A good Embassy contact before the
MHP defeat in 2002, Toskay returned to his hometown, Antalya,
and taught at Antalya University after AKP came to power in
2002.
The Loyalists:
==============
7. (C) KENAN TANRIKULU. Young and personally loyal to MHP
leader Devlet Bahceli, Kenan Tanrikulu served as Minister of
Industry from 1999 to 2002. He attended schools in Britain
and the United States and is seen by some as a rising star
within the party. The press has dubbed him Bahceli's
"promising prince". Tanrikulu earned a PhD in economics from
the University of Western Illinois.
8. (C) OKTAY VURAL. Also personally loyal to Bahceli, former
Transportation Minister (1999-2002) Oktay Vural is now a
deputy party leader. He is known for transcending
intra-party feuds and will likely provide his boss with
balanced council. He is pro-West but very skeptical of the
EU. He was a member of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly and
chairman of the TGNA Industry, Trade, Energy, Natural
Resources, Information and Technology Committee. Vural has
been a useful Embassy contact. He is intelligent and speaks
English, though he prefers not to.
9. (C) FARUK BAL. Bal entered Parliament in 1999 and headed
the Interior Affairs Committee during the trial of former
Kurdistan Worker,s Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Ocalan. He
worked on good terms with the Embassy during this period and
remains an important contact. Following MHP's 2002 defeat,
Bal remained loyal to the party, serving as a vice chairman.
The Aristocrats:
================
10. (C) TUGRUL TURKES, son of the nationalist movement legend
Alparslan Turkes and self-styled scion of the movement,
served previously as deputy party leader. After his father's
death in 1997, Turkes ran for election as head of MHP but
lost to Bahceli, in part because the party rejected the
notion of a dynasty. After heading the failed Aydinlik
Turkiye Partisi, Turkes spent several years running his
insurance business and only rejoined the MHP on Bahceli's
invitation shortly before the July election. He took MHP's
top slot in Ankara's first district. Although his nationalist
heritage is indisputable, most MHP members consider his
blue-blooded background and patrician manners a turnoff and a
sharp contrast to their humbler backgrounds. Many
nevertheless recognize that his presence and excellent
English are good for MHP,s image.
11. (C) HAMIT HOMRIS. Referred to as "the groom" for gaining
political popularity by marrying Alparslan Turkes's daughter,
Hamit Homris has been a member of MHP for many years. MHP
officials showed their confidence in his abilities and future
by selecting him to run for the important post of Ankara
mayor.
The Thugs
=========
12. (C) OSMAN DURMUS, a lifelong radical, was accused of
murdering a military doctor but escaped punishment under a
1974 amnesty. As Health Minister during the 2000 earthquake
that claimed over 30,000 lives, Durmus gained notoriety for
rejecting foreign aid in a series of nationalistic
pronouncements -- most famously he refused to accept Greek
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blood donations for fear of contamination. He also tried to
force the US to return the blood samples of a Turk with
cancer who sought treatment in the US, deeming it
strategically inadvisable to allow foreigners to unlock the
secrets of the Turkish genome.
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13. (C) ATILLA KAYA formerly managed ultranationalist camps
during the strive-ridden 1980s. He served ten years in
prison for murdering a leftist construction engineer. After
his release, Kaya served as an advisor to Bahceli and
recently wo.#CQBQ;y%
Society and served as president of the Syrian Bayir Bucak
Turks Cultural and Solidarity Association. Embassy officials
who have met him describe him as difficult and unpredictable,
regularly disclosing private discussions to the press.
Visit Ankara's Classified Web Site at
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/eur/ankara/
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