November 7, 2016
The EU summit held in Brussels on December 17, 2004 decided that accession negotiations with Turkey would start on October 3, 2005. The process was accordingly launched at the Luxembourg Intergovernmental Conference. This was two years after the Justice and Development Party (JDP) came to power when “democratic reform” was high on Turkey’s agenda. In early April 2009 President Obama visited Turkey. He addressed the Turkish Parliament and referred to Turkey’s strong, vibrant, secular democracy as Ataturk’s greatest legacy. Regional countries were looking at Turkey with envy. 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 →
July 25, 2016
A year-and-a-half ago I wrote (*):
“We Turks need to understand that our success as a nation, especially in the field of foreign policy, depends first and foremost upon our internal peace and stability. The amount of respect we enjoy, our international status, our regional role, our effectiveness at international organizations, they all depend upon our giving final proof that Turkey is a secular democracy. Since the founding of the Republic by Atatürk in 1923, this has been the world’s expectation because we are or were, the only country with a predominantly Moslem population to have come this far. Turkey needs to prove, once and for all, that we are a democracy and that the point of no return has been crossed.
“Until we do that even the right foreign policy initiatives will yield no result.
“Unfortunately, the “once in a century” historic opportunity is slipping away…” Okumaya devam et →