|Wikileaks:||View 03ANKARA3399 at Wikileaks.org|
|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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