ANKARA (Combined Sources)–Turkish President Abdullah Gul on Tuesday commented on the release by WikiLeaks of dozens of classified U.S. diplomatic cables that raise a series of concerns by US diplomats and State Department officials over an increasingly unreliable Turkey, the Turkish Hurriyet Daily News & Economic Review reported.
Speaking to reporters before departing for Kazakhstan for an OSCE Summit, Gul went on to assert that he believes WikiLeaks is systematically working toward a specific goal, but declined to specify what that goal was. The Turkish President, however, did not outright criticize the whistle-blower organization, choosing instead to downplay the importance of the leaked cables.
“When we take into account the effects created so far [by WikiLeaks], I think it has a system. It seems that it has an aim. But it would not be right to say something absolute at this point. We will see what comes and what is published later,” Gul said.
Ankara, which according to the Guardian has a record 7,918 cables coming from its US Embassy, has remained relatively quiet on the issue, with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan refusing to comment on the content of the cables and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu merely saying he his country would have no problem if its own diplomatic communications were disclosed publicly. Davutoglu, however, met on Monday with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to discuss this and other issues, according to Hurriyet.
The cables provide telling insight into Washington’s perception of Turkey’s government over the past eight years.
The classified documents reveal US displeasure with Turkey on a number of foreign policy issues, from Ankara’s meddling in the Iran nuclear crisis to its role in allowing its citizens to smuggle weapons to al-Qaeda in Iraq. The cables also underscore unease with Turkey’s aggressive use of the Turkey-Armenia protocols to pressure American leaders to block US recognition of the Armenian Genocide and secure a pro-Azerbaijani settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
A deep suspicion of Turkey is also evident in a number of cables that provide assessments of Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party and its leadership. One cable, titled ‘What Lies Beneath Ankara’s New Foreign Policy,” is an assessment by the former US Ambassador to Turkey, James Jeffrey, who speaks of a hidden agenda to “Islamize” the entire country and pursue a “neo-Ottomanist foreign policy.”
Another leaked cable provides a scathing assessment about Prime Minister Erdogan’s frequent outbursts against Israel. The memo is on a conversation between Jeffrey and Israeli Ambassador to Turkey Gabby Levy, in which Erdogan’s posturing on Israel is attributed to his deep hatred of the Jewish state on religious grounds.
Other cables describe the personal attributes of and relationships between government members, from Erdogan, to Gul, to Davutoglu.
When asked by reporters to comment on the startling revelations found in the cables, Gul emphasized that the U.S. diplomats’ evaluations of Turkey were the personal opinions of those who served in the country. The documents reflect personal opinions about incidents and figures in Turkey by U.S. diplomats at different levels, he said, according to Hurriyet.
“Just as you evaluate things and people every day, they, too, evaluate and send [these opinions] to their headquarters,” Gul was quoted by Hurriyet as saying. “Some of them may be true and some of them wrong. This should be understood first.”
According to Hurriyet, Gul also added that nothing could affect the friendship between Turkey and Azerbaijan, whose president, Ilham Aliyev, was quoted in the cables criticizing Erdogan’s government and saying that he was trying to keep Turkey from becoming an energy hub.
Asked to comment on documents that claimed he had come into conflict with Erdogan, Gul said the allegations would not affect their work together.
“There are some [allegations] about Turkey… They can’t harm the importance we place on the political power in Turkey and our old friendships,” Gul was quoted by Hurriyet as saying. “There are also some about me and the prime minister. They don’t prevent us from working shoulder to shoulder for Turkey.”