05ANKARA1953 / 2005-04-05 11:25:00
Embassy Ankara
                C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 ANKARA 001953 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/25/2025 
TAGS: PREL, MARR, MASS, TU, RO, BU, GG, UP, RS, IZ 
SUBJECT: USNAVEUR ADM MULLEN DISCUSSES IRAQ, BLACK SEA AND 
BILATERAL RELATIONS IN ANKARA 
 
 
Classified By: Ambassador Eric S. Edelman for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d). 
 
1. (C) Summary:  Having arrived from Iraq, USNAVEUR and Joint 
Forces Command-Naples Commander ADM Michael Mullen provided 
an upbeat assessment of the situation there to Turkish naval 
(TNFC) and general staff (TGS) leaders during his visit to 
Turkey March 22-24.  The CHOD and DCHOD expressed cautiously 
optimistic views of Iraq.  On the Black Sea, CHOD GEN Ozkok 
stated that while he was not opposed to NATO's expansion into 
the Black Sea per se, he feared such a move could damage 
NATO's relations with Russia and maybe Ukraine.  TGS appeared 
unaware of the extent of the problems American firms see in 
the current attack helicopter tender.  All of ADM Mullen's 
interlocutors congratulated him for his nomination to be CNO, 
while both TNFC and TGS leaders acknowledged that no CNO has 
visited Turkey in 16 years.  The Turks and the Mission 
appreciated the visit as another step in improving US-Turkey 
mil-mil relations.  End Summary. 
 
2. (C) In Ankara on March 22, Naval Forces Europe (USNAVEUR) 
and NATO Joint Forces Command-Naples (JFC-N) Commander ADM 
Michael Mullen attended a dinner hosted by Turkish Naval 
Forces Commander ADM Ozlem Ornek, and on March 23 made an 
office call on DCHOD GEN Ilker Basbug and met with CHOD Hilmi 
Ozkok who also hosted lunch.  March 23-24, ADM Mullen called 
on Turkish naval commanders in Istanbul and on the Aegean 
coast, and visited JFC-N's air component in Izmir.  This 
message reports the Admiral's meetings in Ankara. 
 
---- 
Iraq 
---- 
 
3. (C) ADM Mullen told his interlocutors that his visit to 
Iraq just before arriving in Turkey left him much more 
optimistic than his last trip there in October 2004.  The 
January 30 elections had had a more profound impact than he 
had understood previously, he continued.  The Iraqi security 
forces were much more motivated now.  And surprisingly, the 
Iraqi people view the armed forces as they have for the past 
80 years, as their protectors.  ADM Mullen was confident that 
the ISF would succeed. 
 
4. (C) Basbug said having an ISF that was "sufficient and 
efficient" was important for success in Iraq.  ADM Mullen 
responded that LTG Petraeus, the MSTC-I commander, reported 
that the ISF is fighting much better with the coalition and 
even carrying out their own operations.  In many places, CF 
now provides back-up for ISF.  Another factor important for 
success, Basbug added, would be for the new ITG to be 
respected and accepted by the people, and govern efficiently. 
ADM Mullen and the Charge provided an update, noting that the 
Iraqis were close to an agreement.  Regarding the status of 
Kirkuk, Basbug noted that everyone cites Transitional 
Administrative Law Art 58 (on returns), but one should not 
forget Art 53 (defining the KRG area and creating a special 
status for Kirkuk and Baghdad), he declared. 
 
5. (C) Basbug credited this turn around to training.  ADM 
Mullen noted that, under his NATO hat, he was responsible for 
the NATO Training Mission-Iraq.  He expressed appreciation to 
both Basbug and Ozkok for Turkey's recently increasing its 
contribution to NTM-I.  The mission was doing well, he 
observed, with the UK running basic officer training program 
and the military academy's resuming instruction.  The new 
Iraqi commandant of the academy was enthusiastic about 
networking his institution with the outside world, something 
impossible under Saddam.  Basbug noted that Turkey had 
offered leadership training for Iraqis in Turkey.  ADM Mullen 
undertook to check on the status on these offers, but 
observed that Iraqis preferred to train in Iraq.  Basbug 
acknowledged that no Iraqi decision on out-of-country 
training was likely before the new government was in place. 
 
------------------- 
Bilateral Relations 
------------------- 
 
6. (C) Ozkok observed that American initiatives in the Middle 
East were "winning."  "Your success is our security," he 
declared.  Despite the Mar. 1, 2003 parliamentary vote 
preventing US troops from transiting Turkey to open a 
northern front in Iraq (which Ozkok termed a "parliamentary 
accident"), Turkey supported the US, such as with air space 
access (including for cruise missiles, two of whom landed in 
Turkey).  "We shouldn't allow this (Mar. 1) to overshadow our 
relations," he declared.  We cannot only focus on the 
problems when there are many good elements of our relations. 
The political leadership was trying to focus on the good, he 
observed.  He thought military relations were generally good, 
with "only one incident" providing a cloud (the July 4, 2003 
arrest of Turkish military personnel in Suleymania), "and 
even that is fading," he said.  ADM Mullen agreed that it was 
time to focus on ways to move forward in the relationship. 
 
7. (C) ADM Mullen mentioned to Ozkok that a USN vessel would 
participate in the Marmaris festival in April.  Ozkok was 
appreciative, noting that ship visits are useful economically 
and they demonstrate to the public that the bilateral 
relationship is sound. He also noted that public opinion was 
increasingly hard to control. 
 
8. (C) At lunch, ADM Mullen, the Charge and ODC-T Chief 
MajGen Sutton all raised the recently released attack 
helicopter tender with Ozkok, Basbug and TGS/J5 LtGen 
Babaoglu, noting the considerable problems that American 
companies have voiced and that have resulted in one 
manufacturer's, Bell Helicopter, droping out of the 
competition.  They averred ignorance of the procurement 
process, which is handled by a civilian procurement agency. 
(Comment: Subsequently, Babaoglu invited MajGen Sutton to a 
March 28 meeting to review the American companies' issues 
with the tender.) 
 
------------------------- 
Russian and the Black Sea 
------------------------- 
 
9. (C) ADM Mullen noted that Russia had recently sent two 
ships to participate in OAE and was deploying vessels to the 
North Atlantic in numbers not seen for a long time.  Ozkok 
said that he had insufficient information to make a 
definitive judgment about Russia, but that Ankara was 
cautiously trying to cooperate with Moscow.  In the Black 
Sea, the risks were fewer than during the Cold War, but 
Russia has yet "to live up to its commitments."  (Comment: 
Ozkok did not elaborate, but this is likely a reference to 
Russia's Istanbul Commitments to reduce forces in the 
Caucasus and Moldova.)  He was generally cautious on Russia, 
noting that Turkey wants to be friendly, but within limits. 
In fact, there were not many bilateral military connections 
between Russia and Turkey, with most of their contact coming 
through the NATO-Russia Council.  Bilateral relations were 
mainly economic, he said. 
 
10. (C) While NATO and the NRC are useful channels, NATO 
cannot do everything, Ozkok continued.  That was why Turkey 
views regional cooperation as important.  However, regional 
cooperation should proceed in a manner that Russia does not 
see as harming its interests.  In the Black Sea, where there 
is intelligence that smuggling is occurring, Turkey began 
Operation Black Sea Harmony and is now inviting other 
littorals to join.  BLACKSEAFOR is growing and shows promise. 
 Turkey wants to create a secure environment in the Black 
Sea.  It is not opposed to NATO's eventually expanding into 
the Black Sea, but does not want to damage the fragile 
confidence Russia and the Ukraine have in the NRC and the NUC. 
 
11. (C) ADM Mullen noted that SACEUR was anxious to support 
Turkey's strategy of countering trafficking and smuggling in 
the region through regional engagement.  Turkey should lead 
the effort, he said.  NATO could help.  OAE has been 
effective in the Mediterranean.  Expanding OAE to the Black 
Sea was one possible approach.  He invited Ozkok to let him 
know how he could help, either as the JFC-N commander or as 
CDR USNAVEUR. 
 
12.  (C) Ozkok observed that the Black Sea is the only region 
where Russia still has the capability to maintain constant 
operations.  As OAE is an Article 5 operation, its expansion 
into the Black Sea might be seen as insulting to Moscow -- an 
indication that the Alliance has no confidence in Russian 
forces. 
 
13. (C) ADM Mullen observed that both Romania and Bulgaria 
were anxious to have NATO expand its presence into the Black 
Sea as quickly as possible.  Ukraine was coming around to the 
same view.  Ozkok changed the subject, commenting that 
Turkey's aim is to have a democratic region that would yield 
stability and predictability.  Georgia and Ukraine have 
evolved in a democratic manner; Egypt, Saudi Arabia and 
Pakistan have even had some positive movement toward 
democracy.  Nothing would be better for Turkey's security. 
 
---- 
NATO 
---- 
 
14. (C) ADM Mullen praised Turkey's support for NATO, both in 
the quality of the officers it sends to NATO HQ positions as 
well as its contribution to NATO missions, such as in the 
Balkans where the Alliance has made a real difference.  Ozkok 
observed that in Kosovo, the international community needed 
to find a way to transition to a permanent resolution.  ADM 
Mullen agreed that Kosovo was only "one incident away from a 
disaster" politically, although the military situation was 
good.  "Time is the enemy," he said. 
 
15. (C) ADM Mullen and Ozkok agreed on the need to better 
educate Alliance political leaders on the new command 
structure.  They also agreed that the NRF concept was good. 
ADM Mullen noted, however, that of the 18,000 troops under 
his NATO command, only about 33% were available to respond to 
a crisis. 
 
--------------------- 
Moving On/Coming Back 
--------------------- 
 
16. (C) All the Turks congratulated ADM Mullen on his 
nomination to be the next CNO.  Both sides were perplexed 
that no CNO had visited Turkey in 16 years.  ADM Mullen 
thanked them and said he intended to come to Turkey again. 
 
17. (C) Comment:  ADM Mullen's Turkish counterparts were 
pleased with his visit and especially with the opportunity to 
develop a rapport with someone they expect to be a member of 
the Joint Chiefs soon.  They clearly were interested in 
putting past difficulties over Iraq behind us and moving 
forward cooperatively.  They, and we, saw this visit as 
another step in moving our bilateral military relations to a 
more positive footing.  End Comment. 
EDELMAN 

            
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