August 29, 2016
In his address to the United Nations General Assembly on September 24, 2013 President Obama said:
“… And our approach to Egypt reflects a larger point: The United States will at times work with governments that do not meet, at least in our view, the highest international expectations, but who work with us on our core interests. Nevertheless, we will not stop asserting principles that are consistent with our ideals, whether that means opposing the use of violence as a means of suppressing dissent, or supporting the principles embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights…”
In fact, this has been US policy for decades. President Obama only stated it clearly. Key elements of his formulation were “highest international expectations”, “core interests” and “asserting principles”.
Vice President Biden’s visit to Ankara matched this definition. Okumaya devam et →
August 25, 2016
Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus met a group of journalists, professors and think tank representatives on August 15, 2016. He reportedly said: “Many of the things Turkey is facing today is the result of our Syria policy. This is also true for others but we could not formulate a viable policy. I wish a perspective of peace had been created in the beginning…” By “things” he must have meant the problems, challenges and the threats Turkey is currently confronted with.
In a country where “self-criticism” remains anathema, this was a most remarkable admission. Mr. Kurtulmus is not a member of the opposition. He is not a columnist. He is not a blogger. He is the Deputy Prime Minister of the ruling Justice and Development Party (JDP) Government which, through a string of election victories, has been in power since 2002. So, his words carry weight and must be of consequence. It is understandable that he refrained from going into specifics but the thrust of his statement was clear. Indeed, it all started with Syria and a reckless strategy to redesign the Middle East. Okumaya devam et →
August 22, 2016
On April 6, 2009 President Obama addressed the Turkish Parliament (1). His remarks were full of praise for Turkey. He said:
“… This is my first trip overseas as President of the United States. I’ve been to the G20 summit in London, and the NATO summit in Strasbourg, and the European Union summit in Prague. Some people have asked me if I chose to continue my travels to Ankara and Istanbul to send a message to the world. And my answer is simple: Evet — yes. Turkey is a critical ally. Turkey is an important part of Europe. And Turkey and the United States must stand together — and work together — to overcome the challenges of our time…”
On May 16, 2013 PM Erdogan was in Washington. Following their talks at the White House, the President and the PM held a joint press conference. Again, the President heaped praise on Turkey and the Prime Minister (2). He said:
“It is a great pleasure to welcome my friend, Prime Minister Erdogan, back to the White House…
“This visit reflects the importance that the United States places on our relationship with our ally, Turkey, and I value so much the partnership that I’ve been able to develop with Prime Minister Erdogan…” Okumaya devam et →
August 15, 2016
In retrospect, one of EU’s major foreign and security policy mistakes was the blunting of whatever momentum Turkey’s accession process had. It goes without saying that this was also Turkey’s failure. Had both sides acted with foresight, even with an open-ended process, Turkey and the EU could have been at a different point in dealing with today’s myriad of Middle East problems. Turkey would have become a channel for promoting democracy in the region. And, Turkey and the EU would have engaged in more genuine cooperation to deal with the Middle East turmoil, beyond the controversial “refugee deal”.
At present, Turkey’s relations with the EU can at best be described as mutual dislike/distrust. The accession process exits only on paper. Okumaya devam et →
August 4, 2016
It was only a decade ago that, despite lingering doubts and internal controversy, the EU launched accession negotiations with Turkey. Peoples of the region were following the process with envy. It was less than a decade ago that Turkey was a facilitator between Syria and Israel. Our relations with neighbors were characterized by a determination to open new avenues of cooperation reflecting shared interests. Syria was a close friend. Turkish-Egyptian business relations were booming. In April 2009 Turkey became the first country to host President Obama on a bilateral visit. He addressed the Turkish Parliament and said:
“This morning I had the great privilege of visiting the tomb of your extraordinary founder of your republic. And I was deeply impressed by this beautiful memorial to a man who did so much to shape the course of history. But it is also clear that the greatest monument to Atatürk’s life is not something that can be cast in stone and marble. His greatest legacy is Turkey’s strong, vibrant, secular democracy, and that is the work this assembly carries on today…” Okumaya devam et →
August 1, 2016
On July 28, 2016, David Nakamura of the Washington Post reported that President Obama took the stage at the Democratic National Convention at a time when the nation is more starkly polarized than before. The words “starkly polarized” no doubt qualified a state of polarization by Western standards. By Middle East standards this would require no more than a few doses of passiflora.
President Obama’s address was again remarkable. He was speaking to the delegates of the Democratic Party and beyond them to the Republicans and the entire people of the United States. As expected, he urged people to vote for Hillary Clinton. He criticized Donald Trump in passing remarks. But all along, he gave messages of unity. The leaders and peoples of the Middle East also need to hear him (*). Referring to Mrs. Clinton he said: Okumaya devam et →