05ANKARA5953 / 2005-10-04 09:03:00
Embassy Ankara
                C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 ANKARA 005953 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/22/2015 
TAGS: PREL, MARR, MASS, TU, RO, BU, GG, UP, RS 
SUBJECT: WHAT IS BEHIND TURKEY'S BLACK SEA POLICY? 
 
REF: A. BUCHAREST 1778 
     B. BUCHAREST 1991 
     C. ANKARA 2060 
     D. ANKARA 3581 
 
Classified By: Counselor for Political-Military Affairs Timothy A. Bett 
s for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d) 
 
1. (C) Summary: Turkey makes a strong distinction between 
Black Sea maritime security and broader security challenges 
in the larger region (such as frozen conflicts).  We see 
Turkish pride of place as a main driver of their approach to 
the former, though a genuine desire to draw Russia into 
cooperation with western security institutions may also be in 
play.  This may be a false distinction, but will drive how 
open Turkey will be to Romania's "Black Sea Forum of Dialogue 
and Partnership" initiative.  The initial Turkish reaction to 
this Romanian proposal is cool.  End summary. 
 
2. (C) We note with interest recent reporting from Embassy 
Bucharest on the GOR's concern that Turkey and Russia are 
pursuing a "closed sea" policy with regard to Black Sea 
security (ref b, among others).  Turkey has made a 
significant distinction between broader security concerns in 
the Black Sea region (frozen conflicts, for example) and 
maritime security in the Black Sea proper.  Turkish officials 
tell us that they welcome NATO, EU, and other interested 
parties' cooperation, assistance, and input on broader 
issues, but prefer for now to limit maritime security 
primarily to the littoral states. 
 
3. (C) When the Turks explain this distinction, they cite 
Russian sensitivities as their chief concern.  MFA officials 
have told us that NATO involvement in the Black Sea is 
Turkey's "end game," but have asked that we take a go-slow 
approach and allow the Turks to bring Moscow along (ref c). 
They believe that if NATO (including the U.S.) were to play 
an active role in maritime security now, this would spook the 
Russians and cause Moscow to back off from the cooperation it 
has agreed to thus far under BLACKSEAFOR.  (In any case the 
Montreux Convention already precludes a sizable NATO presence 
outside the three littoral NATO states, only one of 
which--Turkey--has a capable navy.)  Officials explain that 
multilateralizing Turkey's Black Sea Harmony operation (a 
maritime interdiction operation similar to OAE, under which 
Turkey provides data to NATO) under the BLACKSEAFOR rubric is 
Turkey's way of integrating Russia into western security 
institutions.  N5 Chief RADM (LH) Cem Gurdeniz told PolMilOff 
Sept. 21 that Black Sea Harmony will have a "NATO 
affiliation."  Still, Turkish officials express exasperation 
with what they see as Romania's efforts to undermine Turkey's 
efforts to make BLACKSEAFOR into a more effective 
organization and Bucharest's insistence on putting the NATO 
stamp on Black Sea maritime security now. 
 
4. (C) The Turks' sharp differentiation between maritime and 
broader security concerns in the region is somewhat odd. 
While we defer to Embassy Moscow's analysis, the Russians 
appear to be just as reluctant to engage meaningfully with 
NATO, the EU, or other "outsiders" in solving frozen 
conflicts and other regional security threats as they are to 
participate with these groups in maritime security.  One 
explanation may be that the Turks want to carve out a 
specific security sphere (maritime) in which they have some 
measure of control (as the founder of BLACKSEAFOR and through 
Montreux's restriction on non-littoral navy traffic in the 
Black Sea) to establish a meaningful OAE-type operation and 
to bring the Russians slowly into enhanced cooperation with 
NATO. 
 
5. (C) Another likely explanation is pride of place.  Turkish 
officials and military officers tell us repeatedly that for 
50 years of Cold War, Turkey was the bulwark which prevented 
Soviet domination of the Black Sea.  Many Turkish 
policymakers appear to perceive the Black Sea as a Turkish 
lake, and they want to be the lead nation in providing for 
maritime security.  Although they don't particularly want to 
share with the U.S., the EU, or with the Alliance, they 
realize that the U.S. wants to engage, and that they will 
likely not be able to ensure that maritime security remains 
indefinitely as a "littorals only" project.  The Turks do not 
have the same attitude toward broader security challenges in 
the region writ large; they recognize that neither Turkey nor 
even all the littorals can solve the economic and political 
challenges facing the region. 
 
6. (C) Some will posit a warmer Russia-Turkey relationship as 
a possible motivation for the GOT's go-slow policy on NATO 
involvement in Black Sea maritime security.  There is some 
logic to this, but we do not see Turkey's policy as merely 
kowtowing to Moscow.  With several recent reciprocal 
Erdogan-Putin visits and a burgeoning trade relationship as 
well (including 3 million Russian tourists a year visiting 
Turkey and Turkey's reliance on Russia for petroleum 
products), there is no question the relationship is growing. 
Additionally, some senior foreign policy advisers close to 
Erdogan and FonMin Gul promote the concept of "strategic 
depth," arguing that Turkey needs to reach beyond its 
traditional western foreign policy orientation and seek 
closer ties to its north and east.  However, this concept is 
unpopular in the military and the bureaucracy, who appear to 
be the main architects of BLACKSEAFOR and Black Sea Harmony. 
These officials do not show a deep affection for Russia; they 
assert to us that they are working to integrate Russia slowly 
within western security institutions, not necessarily to 
bring Turkey and Russia closer together. 
 
7. (C) We understand the Romanians are proposing to hold a 
"Black Sea Forum of Dialogue and Partnership," and are 
seeking U.S. assistance to persuade the Russians and Turks to 
attend (ref a).  MFA Head of Department for NATO Political 
Affairs Atilla Gunay told PolMilOff Oct. 3 that Turkey is 
cool to the Romanians' proposal, but is still studying the 
idea.  The Turks and Romanians are clearly annoyed with each 
other on the Black Sea issue.  Whatever the outcome on the 
Romanian proposal, we hope it will not create a larger wedge 
between these two NATO allies. 
MCELDOWNEY 

            
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