US embassy cable - 03ANKARA3399

TURKEY RESPONDES TO RUSSIAN IMO PAPER ON TURKISH STRAITS REGULATIONS

Identifier: 03ANKARA3399
Wikileaks: View 03ANKARA3399 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Ankara
Created: 2003-05-23 13:14:00
Classification: UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY
Tags: SENV EWWT TU
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ANKARA 003399 
 
SIPDIS 
 
 
SENSITIVE 
 
 
STATE FOR E, E/CBED, OES, EUR/SE 
 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: SENV, EWWT, TU 
SUBJECT: TURKEY RESPONDES TO RUSSIAN IMO PAPER ON TURKISH 
STRAITS REGULATIONS 
 
 1. (SBU) Summary:  MFA Chief of Maritime Affairs Erciyes 
told econoff May 22 that the paper Russia had submitted to 
the IMO, which claims that Turkey has implemented new, costly 
restrictions on passage through the Turkish Straits, was 
factually incorrect.  Erciyes maintained that the guidelines 
issued by Turkey in October 2002 did not change the Maritime 
Traffic Regulations established in 1998; rather, these 
guidelines were designed to more strictly enforce the current 
regulations.  Erciyes said recent delays of passage in the 
Straits were due primarily to increased tanker traffic, heavy 
weather conditions, and the failure of vessels to provide 
required documentation.  Erciyes noted that the Vessel 
Traffic System (VTS) should begin operating on July 1,2003. 
He requested U.S. support of Turkey's efforts to ensure the 
safety of life, property, and the environment in the Straits. 
 End summary. 
2. (SBU) Econoff met with MFA Chief of Maritime Affairs 
Cagatay Erciyes May 22 to discuss the paper submitted by 
Russia to the IMO, which claims that Turkey has implemented 
new restrictions on passage through the Turkish Straits, 
which have resulted in lengthy delays and higher costs for 
shippers.  Erciyes said the GOT regretted that Russia had 
submitted this paper, which was factually incorrect and even 
absurd in some parts.  He said the GOT was somewhat surprised 
that Russia had taken this position, since the government had 
gone to great lengths to explain its position to Russia. 
3. (SBU) Erciyes told econoff that, despite what the Russians 
claimed in their paper, the guidelines issued by Turkey in 
October 2002 did not change the Maritime Traffic Regulations 
established in 1998.  Rather, due to increased traffic in the 
Straits, Turkish authorities determined that the 1998 
Regulations must be more strictly enforced in order to ensure 
the safety of life, property, and the environment in the 
Straits.  Erciyes said this new guidance contained four basic 
new elements: 
-- The ship length criteria for temporary suspension of 2-way 
traffic had been reduced from 250 meters to 200 meters. 
(Erciyes said the 200 meter criteria was also in the 1998 
regulations). 
-- Ships are now required to submit all required technical 
documentation, such as those documents pertaining to 
International Oil Pollution Prevention, through the ship 
reporting system. 
-- All administrative dues owed by ships must be paid, and 
the receipts shown to the Turkish traffic control center, 
before ships are allowed passage. 
-- The regulation of passage priority for ships waiting for 
passage will not be determined on a first-come, first-serve 
basis, but rather on the basis of safety.  For example, 
passenger ships will go first and dangerous cargo ships last. 
4. (SBU) Erciyes said the Russians claimed that delays in the 
Straits have increased fourfold since Turkey implemented 
these new guidelines.  He allowed that delays had increased, 
but not primarily due to the new guidelines.  Erciyes 
attributed recent delays to three factors: 
-- A 75 percent increase in tanker traffic in the last five 
years -- in 1997, 4,303 tankers and dangerous cargo vessels 
passed through the Straits; in 2002 that number was 7,427. 
-- Vessels were failing to submit required reports to traffic 
control stations, which was causing congestion and delays. 
-- Heavy winter weather conditions - in the first three 
months of2003 traffic was suspended for 1,029 hours. 524 
hours of suspended traffic were due to the passage of large 
ships and tankers; 505 hours were due to heavy winter weather 
conditions. 
5. (SBU) Erciyes stated that, although the Russians were 
exaggerating the situation, delays in the Straits were a 
reality. However, he said, the top priority for the Turkish 
government was to ensure the safety of life, property, and 
environment in the Straits. He noted that there was increased 
global concern for safety and security in maritime affairs. 
Turkey, for its part, had taken steps to enhance safety and 
security in the Straits, in a manner which conformed to the 
1998 Regulations and IMO standards. He said Turkey hoped the 
U.S. and its European partners to support Turkey in its 
efforts. 
 
 
6. (SBU) Erciyes added that the GOT expected the Vessel 
Traffic System (VTS) in the Straits to be functional on a 
trial basis as of July I, 2003. The VTS should also 
contribute to safety of navigation in the Straits.  Erciyes 
gave econoff a non-paper on this subject, which he said was 
only a draft in preparation for the May 28-June 26 IMO 
meetings (faxed to OES, E/CBED and EUR/SE). 
PEARSON 

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