Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Turkish-U.S. Relations: Looking Ahead

July 6, 2006 12:30-2:00pm

Speakers: Abdullah Gul, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Turkey

Minister Gul spoke at the Brooking Institution about current Turkish-US relations. In his speech, Gul described a strong, positive relationship between the United States and Turkey. Turkey shares many of the United States’ foreign policy goals, including peace and stability in the Middle East, solving the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, and helping to promote stable democracies. Minister Gul emphasized Turkey’s political reform efforts over the past few years, noting the need to couple political reforms with economic reforms. These reforms, Minister Gul claims, have helped deepen democracy to European standards. Also, Turkish political reforms have important implications for the entire Middle East, as Turkey is an example of a successful Islamic democracy. Furthermore, Minister Gul commented on the belief that Turkey’s increasing strength and current foreign policy is creating a rift between Turkey and the United States. In reality, Gul argues, Turkey’s growing power is good for the United States. Turkey is becoming more democratic, leading to a healthier relationship with the United States and the world. Next, Minister Gul answered questions about Turkey’s foreign policy and relationship with the United States. When asked about Turkey’s refusal to recognize the Armenian Genocide, Gul said that, while the EU wants Turkey to accept responsibility for the genocide, what happened to the Armenians was not genocide. Rather, many Armenians were tragically killed as a result of war. Also, Turkey has opened its archives to scholars that want to study the issue, so Turkey is not hiding anything. Next, Minister Gul was asked about the Anti-American and Anti-Semitic Turkish sentiments affecting Turkey’s relationship with the United States. While many Turks criticize U.S. policies, people in Turkey are not Anti-American or Anti-Semitic. Gul also said that Turkey’s entrance into the E.U. may have negative economic consequences for Turkey, but all transitions are bound to have ups and downs. Next, when asked about the PKK, Gul said that the U.S. was the first country to recognize the PKK as a terrorist organization, but Turkey is expecting more from the U.S. and others. Iraq is a safe haven for PKK terrorists, where they are sheltered by the U.S.-supported regime. Finally, Gul was asked about Turkey’s religious contribution to the E.U. He responded that Turkey might become the only Muslim country in the E.U. Turkey, then, can set an example for other Muslims by proving a Muslim country can maintain a stable, modern democracy.

by Adam Perry

No comments: