- The United States-Turkish Relationship Daniel Fried, Assistant Secretary of State Press Conference with Turkish Reporters Following Washington Visit of Foreign Minister Gül . Feb 8
- Remarks With Turkish Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdullah Gul Before Their Meeting Secretary Condoleezza RiceFeb 6
- U.S.-Turkish Relations Matthew Bryza, Deputy Assistant Secretary Roundtable With Turkish JournalistsFeb 1
- Interview on CNN-Turk R. Nicholas Burns, Under Secretary for Political AffairsJan 19
- Interview with Kanal D's Mehmet Ali Birand R. Nicholas Burns, Under Secretary for Political AffairsJan 19
- Remarks After Meeting With Foreign Minister Gul R. Nicholas Burns, Under Secretary for Political AffairsJan 19
- Remarks Following a Meeting With Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan R. Nicholas Burns, Under Secretary for Political AffairsJan 19
- Remarks at Memorial Service for Slain Journalist Hrant Dink Daniel Fried, Assistant Secretary Jan 23
- BIOGRAPHY Ross Wilson Ambassador, TurkeyDec 22, 2005
- Background Note: Turkey PROFILE
The United States-Turkish Relationship
Daniel Fried, Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs
Digital Video Press Conference with Turkish Reporters Following Washington Visit of Foreign Minister Gül
Washington, DC and Ankara, Turkey
February 8, 2007
Assistant Secretary Fried: I'm certainly grateful for the opportunity. Good afternoon everyone and Merhaba.
Foreign Minister Gül is winding up several days of visits in Washington. He has met with Secretary Rice, he has met with the Vice President, he met with key congressional figures and leaders, and, of course, with the rather extensive friends of Turkey group in Washington. I was at a dinner last night hosted by the German Marshall Fund in his honor which featured a very good discussion.
The United States-Turkish relationship is both deep and broad. It is deep because our friendship goes back a very long way, and we work together extremely closely on key issues. It is broad because it touches a great number of issues.
The agenda with Turkey includes almost every issue in the Middle East and the greater Middle East. We discuss with the Turks Lebanon, Israel, Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran. We discuss the South Caucasus. Not just Nagorno- Karabakh but Georgia, Azerbaijan, energy. We discuss Central Asia, whether it's Turkmenistan and the changes that may be underway there or Kazakhstan and its future. We discuss energy independence and energy dependence and the problem of diversification of energy supplies.
And yes, of course we discussed the issue of the PKK, a terrorist organization which we believe should be eliminated and the threat to Turkey reduced to zero. In that context I was delighted to learn that European officials, French officials have arrested a large number of PKK operatives. This does, as has been reported, follow some close cooperation between the United States and Turkey. This cooperation is continuing. It will continue, and our cooperation is not limited to Western Europe, let me put it that way.
And yes, in anticipation of some of your questions, of course we discussed the resolution which has been introduced about Armenian-Turkish issues, about the Armenian, what its supporters call the Armenian Genocide. This bill does not have the support of the administration. The administration opposes this bill. We have made that clear. We are continuing to make it clear. Later today I am going up to meet with key figures in the Congress about this bill and I expect our efforts will continue.
The U.S.-Turkish relationship, though, is more important than any particular issue. We have dealt with areas in which we disagree, about Iraq in 2003, and other issues where we have had differences. But despite those differences we remain friends. We are linked by common values, and, critically, we are linked by common interests. Our relationship with Turkey is knit together not simply by sentiment but by strong, common interests, interests in a stable, more peaceful Middle East; interest in the spread of our common values in the South Caucasus and Central Asia. We have common interests in combating terrorism. Turkey has played a strong role in the promotion of reform in the broader Middle East. So our relationship with Turkey is a strong one, it is a relationship which can withstand the occasional disagreements because we are, after all, not children. We are not prone to obsess about areas where we disagree or squabble for the sake of squabbling, but to put any disagreements behind us and work on the basis of our common objectives.
Now, with that, I'll be happy to take any of your questions.
Media: Hi, I'm Evren Mesci working for Sabah Daily Newspapers.
Mr. Fried, you have talked of the relationship between Turkey and the United States and you talked about how strong it is. So you also talked about the resolution concerning the Armenian issue. How do you think it would affect the strategic partnership between Turkey and the U.S. if that resolution is passed from the Congress? And you said you are going to talk with the key figures at the Congress. What will be your thesis in order to convince them not to support this bill? Thank you.
Assistant Secretary Fried: I and I suspect more senior people in the U.S. administration than I will be discussing this.
Our argument is essentially this. Such a resolution will damage U.S.-Turkish relations and for no good purpose. Such a resolution would not in fact advance Turkish-Armenian dialogue and it would not advance the process of Turkey's examination of its own past.
I've always been of the view that democratic countries need to take a hard look at the dark spots in their own history. And by the way, I start with my own country. We do have dark spots in the United States. Our past includes a past in which slavery was an institution that existed in this country for centuries. We fought a civil war to end it and still its affects linger to the present day. That is a dark spot and we had to confront it honestly.
Our treatment in the 20th Century of Japanese-Americans in World War II; our treatment of American Indians were dark spots in our history. We had to deal with this honestly and painfully.
Our view is that Turkey is going through a process of looking at its own history with Armenians. The killings in 1915 were horrific. They need to be looked at honestly and without taboos, but not because Americans say Turkey should look at this. It should be looked at because Turks in the process of building a democracy and deepening a democracy are looking at these issues for their own reasons.
I think this process is going on in Turkey. It is painful, it is emotional. There are nationalist forces and it was an extreme nationalist, it seems, who murdered Hrant Dink and there are millions of Turks who reject this dark legacy of nationalism including the hundreds of thousands of Turks who marched in the streets of Istanbul at the Hrant Dink funeral saying things like we are all Armenians, we are all Hrant Dink, which I interpret as Turkey's rejection of nationalism.
So my argument to the Congress will be that this natural, painful process in Turkey needs to be allowed to unfold with encouragement and support, but not pressure from the outside. That will be my argument.
Now I don't expect that everyone will accept it, but I will make the case as best I can. And it won't be just me. There will be more senior people than I making the case and pointing out that Turkish-U.S. relations should not be damaged for no good purpose.
But this is obviously a very emotional issue and I believe it is in Turkey's interest for its own reasons to take steps to examine its past and to reach out to Armenians worldwide and to Armenia despite the fact that Turks don't like all of the things that Armenian communities say.
Long answer, I'm sorry, but it's a complicated question.
Media: Sevil Kucukosum from Aksam Daily. Regarding the murder of Hrant Dink, do you think that this murder can create an opportunity for reconciliation or normalization of relations between Turkey and Armenia? Do you have any message to both sides?
Assistant Secretary Fried: It is not for the United States to tell Turkey what to do. I was deeply saddened by the murder of Hrant Dink. I felt the reaction in Turkey was the reaction of an honest and democratic people, and the reaction I have in mind is the reaction of horror and revulsion. The reaction of Turks who took to the streets to identify with Hrant Dink as a man who refused to indulge in nationalism but believed in a Turkey which embraces a multi-cultural cosmopolitan identity for itself. I thought that was a healthy, strong reaction.
Is there an opportunity for reconciliation? Perhaps, perhaps there is. It seems clear that in Turkey the society as a whole, as much as one can generalize, has rejected nationalism or is rejecting nationalism, and I hope that Turkey's leaders will build on this strong legacy of tolerance in at least that part of the society and reach out to Armenia and to Armenians.
This is not easy. It's easy for me to sit here and say things like this. It's hard to do the right thing. But I think through strong leadership it is possible to do this and I hope that Turkey takes advantage of the opportunity.
Media: Mr. Fried, I have two questions. One, in the Turkish press there is a feeling that Gül's visit was a failure, and probably because we were expecting lots of things. You are in a better position than us to see how the American administration sees this visit, the results of the visit. Also, the friends of Turkey in Washington, the American Turkish Council, how they are receiving the results of this visit.
The second thing is we are hearing from the American administration that Turkey is no longer in a position to listen from Washington, but in a position to advise Washington on certain issues. You counted Afghanistan, Central Asia, Iran and Lebanon. I wonder if really Turkish Foreign Ministry has things to advise to Washington about, for example, Israeli-Palestinian relations or Lebanon.
Assistant Secretary Fried: Our relationship with Turkey is certainly a two-way street. By that I mean that we welcome Turkish advice. Turkey has a lot of experience in the Middle East. It has contacts, connections. It has a deep knowledge of the history, from the Ottoman period, and we welcome Turkish advice. And yes, Foreign Minister Gül is not only an eloquent person, but he gave us advice on issues like Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, Iraq and Afghanistan, and frankly, that's welcomed.
Our relationship is not one where Turkey simply is a passive object and receives advice. No one who has the slightest understanding of the relationship would believe that. We welcome Turkish input and advice and it tends to be pretty sound advice at that.
I don't understand how any Turkish newspaper could call Foreign Minister Gül's visit a failure. I suspect that such articles, like similar articles that appear in the United States about Secretary Rice from time to time, are a function of domestic politics rather than reality. I suspect that. I haven't read these articles.
But look, this is the real world. In the real world when a foreign minister comes to visit he and his counterparts go over a series of issues. Issues on which they agree, issues on which they may have differences, issues on which they need to take common action.
It was a successful visit in that we heard directly from Turkey issues of concern to Turkey. It was a success because we were able to discuss common objectives with respect to a number of issues. Foreign Minister Gül presented Secretary Rice with some concrete ideas which frankly we find very valuable, and we are going to work together with Turkey on that basis.
It is also true that Foreign Minister Gül was very eloquent and strong in presenting Turkey's concerns about the Armenian Resolution and about the PKK, and we welcomed this. It does no good for Turks not to tell us what's on their mind and what's troubling them. We welcome this.
So it was a good visit. We appreciate this dialogue. Our dialogue with Turkey is intense. Under Secretary Burns was recently in Ankara. General Ralston has been traveling to the region. He's our envoy for countering and combating the PKK. Our Economic Partnership Commission is taking place this week in Turkey. Policy planning talks will be held later. Our dialogue with Turkey is very rich and there is a lot to talk about.
Media: Mr. Fried, my name is Hilal from Radikal daily. Actually I'd like to ask a question about combating the PKK in Northern Iraq, but also nowadays in Central Europe, in Belgium, in France there are some operations, and members and leaders of the PKK have been captured through this. Is there any direct link between these operations and that visit, Mr. Gul's visit United States? Just how do you evaluate this issue? How do you see these operations [inaudible]? Thank you.
Assistant Secretary Fried: I doubt that the French police arrested PKK terrorists to help the atmospherics around the visit of the Turkish Foreign Minister in Washington. We appreciate our French friends' efforts, but the timing is clearly a coincidence.
But it is true that the United States and Turkey have been working with our West European friends about the problem of the PKK. And it is true that West European governments understand the nature of the problem, and these arrests have been made. This is good news. These aren't the first arrests; I doubt they will be the last arrests.
But you are also correct when you suggest that the problem of the PKK is obviously not confined to Western Europe. It's also a problem in Northern Iraq. We are cooperating with Turkey to deal with that problem.
Solving it will require cooperation between Turkey and Iraq, both the Iraqi central government and the Iraqi Kurdistan regional government and I think this cooperation is moving forward.
We are working together on projects like the closing of the Makhmour camp which had become, frankly, very heavily infiltrated by the PKK. This process is underway now.
There are other things which might be done, but they are of a nature that should not be discussed with the media openly.
Media: According to some latest news USA has started a huge operation in Iraq, but on the other hand, some news agencies and a very close person to Prime Minister el Maliki declare that there is no such operation. So what is the truth? To whom are we to believe, has America started an operation?
Assistant Secretary Fried: The Iraqi government with our support has begun an operation to try to improve security in Baghdad, if that's the operation you're referring to. That has started today. The efforts will intensify. President Bush has made the case to the American people that although Iraq is in grave difficulties to withdraw from Iraq, to pull out would lead to a situation far worse than it is at present, which is bad enough. To help stabilize Iraq and give the central government time to establish itself we need to help the Iraqis get a handle on the violence in Baghdad. That's what we are intending to do. The surge, as it's called, the reinforcement of U.S. forces in Baghdad, is intended to support the Iraqi government which is launching this operation.
Turkey has played a supportive role working with Iraq. One of Foreign Minister Gül's messages throughout his trip is that despite some of the differences between the United States and Turkey, Iraqis' success will be Turkey's success. Iraqis' failure will be Turkey's failure and Turkey has played a good role.
An Iraq which is more stable, more united - albeit federal, but one country - is apt to be a better neighbor for Turkey and a less hospitable place for the PKK.
Media: Zeynep Gurcanli from Vatan Daily Newspapers. You said in your opening remarks that the Western European operation towards PKK was not limited to Western Europe. So can we expect also a new operation in Northern Iraq? And also what is the U.S. government position for a possible cross-border operation, military operation, of Turkey towards PKK in Northern Iraq?
Assistant Secretary Fried: To state the obvious but to start from it, of course there is a problem of the PKK presence in Northern Iraq. Of course this problem has to be dealt with. We are discussing with Turkey and our Iraqi friends this problem. I'm not going to say any more in this channel about it.
I understand in the press there has been speculation about unilateral Turkish cross-border operations. I understand perfectly Turkish frustration with the PKK bases and camps in Northern Iraq. This is understandable. But the responsibility for the outcomes of such an operation is something Turkey needs to think about.
It's easy to talk about it, but the consequences can be not what Turkey intends. So our view is that it is better for Turkey to cooperate with the regional, the Kurdish regional authorities and with the Central government and with us, and it is very fair for Turkey to say that this cooperation should be meaningful, concrete and yield results, but that's our view.
Media: Mr. Fried, Gulsen Solaker from Anatolian Agency. You say that you welcome the advices of Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul on some issues. Is the United States listening also to the advices about the Kirkuk issue? What is the latest position of United States government about the Kirkuk referendum?
Assistant Secretary Fried: We understand Turkey's interest in Kirkuk. Ultimately this is an issue for Iraqis to decide. They have constitutional provisions which require a referendum, but we think it's very fair for Turkey to express its views and its concerns about this. This issue has come up. It's something which Turkey should feel free to express its concerns directly to the Iraqis and to the Kurds. The solution will hopefully be one that contributes to stability in Iraq, not detracts from it.
As I said, ultimately it's an Iraqi decision. It's their country, not our country. But Turkey has every right to make its views known. We found it interesting to hear the Foreign Minister's arguments about this.
Media: Conxita Isik from ANKA News Agency. There has been a problem between Turkey and the Greek Cypriots regarding the latest attempts to launch oil exploration in the Eastern Mediterranean. I would like to know your position regarding this.
Assistant Secretary Fried: I've heard about this. I'm not familiar with the details of the oil problem, but I will say this. We supported the Annan Plan a couple of years ago because we believed it was the best chance to reunite the island as a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation. We also appreciate, frankly, the role of the Turkish Cypriot leader Talat in strongly supporting reunification. I think it is terrible that this opportunity was missed. There we are, however. We think in the meantime it's important to end the isolation of the Turkish Cypriot community to help that economy develop and to support reunification.
Now that there is a Turkish-Cypriot leadership that supports reunification, that does not support separatism, it is the time now to support this leadership in a way consistent with our position that it ought to be a reunited island. This has been our position, we don't make a secret of it, and we welcome the efforts to increase contacts between the two communities.
Media: Mr. Fried, at the beginning of your speech you said that Mrs. Pelosi was planning to meet Minister Gül, also. Do you make any effort to (audience noise) - Sorry, I understood like that maybe. We know that Minister Gül wants to meet Ms. Pelosi. Do you make any effort to gather them? And just how do you solve this crisis?
Assistant Secretary Fried: Speaker Pelosi and Foreign Minister Gül did not meet. We think that such a meeting would have been a good idea. The Speaker, let me put it this way, does not always listen to all the advice from the administration. She does represent a different political party. She is, after all, now I suppose the leader of the opposition in Congress.
We do not support this resolution. We will make efforts to see that this resolution does not pass. That is an unequivocal statement of the administration's position. I hope that Turkey, without regard to this resolution, makes every effort to reach out to Armenia and Armenians and makes every effort to examine its own history. Not because of outside pressure, but because this is appropriate for Turkey's own development as a democracy.
The debate in Turkey about its history, the position of writers such as Orhan Pamuk, the position of intellectuals, the participation of Turkish scholars in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission some six years ago is all the result not of any outside pressure. Orhan Pamuk doesn't care at all what the Americans think. It's the result of internal Turkish processes. I applaud these, and I hope that Turkey for its own reasons will do everything it can to reach out to Armenia and Armenians.
Great nations are not afraid to confront the dark spots of their past. The United States had to do so and we were not our best selves, we were not true to our best traditions until we had done so.
I believe the same is true of all countries. I believe the same is true, therefore, of Turkey. I hope Turkey does this not to please the United States but because of itself and this is something the United States can best influence by being a friend, not by passing resolutions. That is my view and I hope I can help convince the Congress of it.
Ankara Public Affairs Officer Daniel Sreebny: Thank you very much for the time. We'd love to keep you longer but we know you are just at the start of a very busy day. We appreciate this and we hope you'll come out and visit sometime soon.
Assistant Secretary Fried: I love my visits to Ankara. I love my visits to Istanbul, as well. I look forward to my next trip to Turkey. Thank you.
Released on February 9, 2007
Remarks With Turkish Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdullah Gul Before Their Meeting
Secretary Condoleezza Rice
February 6, 2007
SECRETARY RICE: And I can just say welcome to my colleague, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul. We've met a number of times and Turkey is a strategic ally, a global partner, shares our values. And we have a great deal to talk about today, so I look forward to working with you and talking to you, but thanks for being here.
DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER GUL: Thank you very much for this invitation. It's a great pleasure for me to be here. As you said, we are a good friend and we have strategic issues of our relations based on the values. We have many positive common agenda that will have all these issues and continue.
SECRETARY RICE: Thank you very much.
Released on February 6, 2007
Matthew Bryza, Deputy Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs
Roundtable With Turkish Journalists
February 1, 2007
Deputy Assistant Secretary Bryza: The Foreign Minister's visit comes in the midst of, and sort of is at the highest level of a whole series of high level interactions we're having with Turkey now, and we have been. Look back to the shared vision statement that was agreed when the Foreign Minister was here back in June, I guess it was. In that document basically we highlighted two sets of tasks. One set of tasks was to focus on specific subjects and we can go through those in a little while. The other set of tasks is to make sure we have a process underway to have our various pieces of our governments following up on those specific topics. So we do it at the working level and we do it at a very high level as well. So the Foreign Minister's visit here is pretty much, besides a Prime Ministerial visit, the highest articulation of that implementation of the shared vision statement. But we had Under Secretary Burns just in Turkey, as you know, week before last. That was a moment where we did the senior level review of the whole process, and again we outlined in the shared vision statement.
I guess what I'm trying to say is in terms of the process of restrengthening U.S.-Turkish relations at the official level, I think we're doing a good job in making sure we've got the communications working together, making sure we have the same goals, and then calibrating the tactics.
I still feel without any question, despite the complications we see in U.S.-Turkish relations and public opinion, I still feel confident, we all do in fact feel confident that our official relations are really strong and are moving in the right direction.
We have a real challenge ahead of us still on PKK, obviously, we all know that. We know we have to deliver concrete results as I was telling Kasim just the other day. We have to deliver. It's not just the Turkish military leaders or the Turkish political leaders that are demanding concrete results, it's the Turkish people that expect it. The PKK is a serious terrorist threat to one of our most important allies in the world so we're obligated. But we're also obligated to do something against PKK by our own vision for Iraq and our own global policy on terrorism. To paraphrase Gertrude Stein, a terrorist is a terrorist is a terrorist. We have to eliminate havens for terrorists, we are committed to doing so, and as our highest political leaders have told Turkey's highest political leaders, we will do it.
General Ralston is a remarkable military leader. I have been surprised by how effectively he is able to work through our own military bureaucracies, even though he's retired, because he is so respected by the career military. He's one of the highest, most effective and professional military officers I've ever encountered, both internally, working within our system, and then diplomatically.
So all of that is a long way of saying there should be some concrete results soon. There need to be, have to be, and I feel we're actually building some momentum. And again, as I was saying to Kasim just the other day, if we don't produce those results then I'll have no credibility with you. But more importantly, neither will our government, so we've got to do it.
So I would presume that the Secretary and the Foreign Minister will spend some time talking about the PKK, but I hope they'll go well beyond that when it comes to Iraq because we have so much more to talk about on Iraq than just the PKK.
In the last couple of years we worked hard to improve our coordination between our two governments on the ground in Iraq. We've tried to make sure that our Ambassador and the Turkish Ambassador are having regular contact, that we're listening to each other, that the U.S. side is learning from Turkey's extensive experience in Iraq over so many years and decades and even centuries. I think that coordination is working well.
I wasn't here when (Turkish MFA Iraq Special Envoy) Oguz (Celikkol) was here, (Defense Minister Vecdi) Gonul was here last week, but I do try to see him any time I go to Turkey and I have sensed much better coordination between our missions in Iraq than was the case in the past.
Beyond Iraq, when it comes to the Middle East we are always looking for ways, again, to work together with Turkey, to deepen our understanding of the situation on the ground be it in Iran or in Syria or in the Palestinian territories and to make sure we're moving in the same directions, and I think we are. You'll probably have specific questions to ask about that.
In Afghanistan where Turkey, as you know, has twice led ISAF, it's helping to run a PRT in Wardak Province, it's pledged $100 million for Afghan reconstruction. As we saw from the conference last week the Secretary helped organize on Afghanistan, we want to make a new rejuvenated push to provide the security assistance and the economic assistance Afghanistan needs to rebuild and Turkey is a crucial partner in that.
Turning to the economic side, we have a rich agenda right now with Turkey. Just next week I'll be traveling out with (EB) Assistant Secretary Dan Sullivan to have our first EPC, Economic Partnership Commission meeting in I guess two years. That's way too long since we've been able to pull that meeting together. It might be three years even. I won't go into all the items on that agenda, we can talk about it if you wish to.
I just want to highlight one which is energy security. Energy --
Question: What is the date of that meeting?
Deputy Assistant Secretary Bryza: We'll be there next Thursday evening, then Friday and Saturday. Friday is the main day. So a week from today, the 9th, 10th and 11th.
Question: In Ankara?
Deputy Assistant Secretary Bryza: Yes, in Ankara. The 8th and 9th.
So on energy security, if you look back to U.S.-Turkish relations in the early ?90s there wasn't a whole lot to talk about in terms of strategic partnership. I don't think anybody was using that term in 1990. Then in 1999 we were saying U.S.-Turkish relations are a strategic partnership.
There are two major things that happened during that period, maybe three. One was Operation Northern Watch where we worked so well with Turkey to provide security for the Kurdish populations in Northern Iraq. Turkey was essential to that.
The second thing we did together was work with the international financial institutions, especially the IMF, to help Turkey as it implemented its reforms, to make sure that the IMF was there to help Turkey as Turkey was reforming.
The third thing we did that was really substantial was our partnership in Caspian energy which obviously meant Bakhu-Tblisi-Ceyhan which many people thought would never happen, and meant the South Caucasus gas pipeline which is about to open.
Today what we want to do is build on those pipelines, expand the corridor that currently exists for natural gas and make it a major one, a big one, a transit route that will help Europe diversify its gas supply so that it doesn't feel so much monopoly pressure from one direction. Our goal is not to have a confrontation with GazProm, but our goal is to increase competition, healthy commercial competition which in the long run is good for everybody, including for GazProm itself, by the way. The key to making all that work is helping the Azerbaijani Government work with investors to expand gas production in Azerbaijan as quickly as possible to make sure gas is available to fill the pipelines that will go from Turkey to Greece and Italy, as well as an Abuko pipeline from Turkey to Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Austria.
So that's sort of the full realm, I think, of what will be on the agenda for the Foreign Minister's visit.
Question: What about Cyprus?
Deputy Assistant Secretary Bryza: They'll probably touch on it, but as you know things have quieted down quite a bit on Cyprus except for in the last couple of days with the questions of the possible oil prospecting on the Continental Shelf.
Frankly, that issue is not one I would think that merits at this point attention by the Secretary of State and the Foreign Minister of Turkey. We're not party to that at all. That's an issue for Turkey to work through with the Republic of Cyprus.
In terms of the Cyprus question, it's time now to implement the agreement brokered by (United Nations) Undersecretary General (Ibrahim) Gambari last July 8th on the island, which means soon Talat and Papadopoulos will meet and then technical committees will begin working through specific, everyday quality of life issues while at the same time the two sides will work through substantive issues that are pertaining directly to a comprehensive settlement. The Annan Plan is something that isn't, well it's not formally on the table now but it still has elements that are important, that reflect a lot of good thinking, a lot of hard work, and that are promising, that will have to be a foundation of a comprehensive settlement whenever we move more rapidly toward a comprehensive settlement.
The port issue now seems quieter since the European Union decision.
Deputy Assistant Secretary Bryza: The so-called Armenian genocide, yes. What's happening with that? That will probably come up, yeah.
Our position on that is that our policy remains of course unchanged. We don't believe that political statements or diplomatic statements are the appropriate way to resolve this issue of how to refer to these horrible events of 1915. We all agree, I'm sure we all agree that what happened was a horrible tragedy. It's terrible. It's an issue that has so many sides, so many complicated angles, so many differing points of view that politicians can't do it justice by simply making a determination. What has to happen from our perspective, what we would like to see happen, is that learned people, everyday common people, professors, philosophers, historians have a chance to sit down and have a candid discussion over time for an extended period that gets at the core of what happened and allows the societies of Turkey and Armenia to reconcile themselves with their pasts and with each other. You can't do that through a political decision.
We also would like to see Turkish-Armenian relations normalize. I as the Minsk Group co-chair for the United States totally understand how complicated that is. I'm deeply sensitive to Nagorno Karabakh and how that plays into this whole equation. Notwithstanding that we would love to see movement toward an opening or a normalization of the relations between Turkey and Armenia because that's good for everybody. It will be good for Turkish business people, it's good for regional stability, and it's good for peace in the long run but I understand how complicated it is.
Question: What could possible steps be on the part of Armenians and Turks for that [inaudible]?
Deputy Assistant Secretary Bryza: Well, Ali, as you well know, the Turkish Government and the Armenian government have talked about historical commissions. They've talked about diplomatic discussions as well to normalize relations. Then there's the question now since the tragic murder of Hrant Dink, about, an even more intensive discussion of Article 301. It's hard for the Turkish Government simply to abolish Article 301 given political realities. We understand that. But I think from our perspective it would be a wonderful step if there no longer was this issue out there of Article 301 that provides a pretext or a reason for people outside of Turkey to criticize Turkey.
We are here as Turkey's friend. I hope Turkey considers us one of its closest friends in the world. In that spirit we want to do everything we can for what we view as Turkey's proud traditions of tolerance and of co-existence, of all sorts of ethnic and religious communities. We want the world, especially Europe, to understand what a strong record Turkey has. Article 301 still makes that difficult. It has a magnetic impact on thinking in Europe and gets everybody to focus just on that issue rather than on all of the complex history of Turkey.
Question: Not on the Armenian genocide but on the PKK, you said that you are, the U.S. is obligated to do something on the PKK, that you're also obligated to do something against it because of your vision in Iraq. So would you please fill in what concrete steps we are talking about and why if this was your vision in Iraq what has changed? Why are you feeling obliged to do it right now when the elections in Turkey are getting closer?
Deputy Assistant Secretary Bryza: We've always felt obliged. Always. There is no change in terms of our commitment. If you go back and read the statement that President Bush, Prime Minister Blair, and then Prime Minister Baroso then of Portugal and President Aznar of Spain issued just a couple of days before the Iraq war began you will see in it -- it's called the Azores Declaration -- one of the goals we outlined is that there will be no haven for terrorists of any sort in Iraq. We meant the PKK. I know, having been involved in the drafting of that document, what we meant when we wrote that in there. We meant the PKK. So even before any U.S. troops set foot in Iraq that was our goal.
Question: You may say that, it sounds wonderful. It comes with such a fantastic statement to the ears, but in reality it is something that the U.S. has not delivered.
Deputy Assistant Secretary Bryza: You're right.
Question: That has created this enormous reaction toward the U.S. policies in the region, evoking the sense of [Sykes-Picot agreement]. So I'm just curious what has changed? What's the new environment now that you feel like you're going to bring this into action now?
Deputy Assistant Secretary Bryza: Again, I'm trying to make the point that nothing has changed in terms of what our commitment has been. What is changing, is that we over time we have been able to get the Iraqi Government to a point where it now understands this is imperative, it has to happen.
Previously we had not been able to bring U.S. forces to bear to resolve or to eliminate the PKK problem in Iraq. Why? Number one, because the solution is not only military. The Turkish military has been present in Iraq for a decade. Long before the war there were Turkish troops on the ground in Iraq. There were clashes. The problem wasn't fixed.
Turkey has the most capable military in Europe. It wasn't able to fix the problem militarily. That's not an excuse for no security steps to be taken against the PKK; don't get me wrong. But what I'm getting at is it's a very complicated issue, number one.
Number two, obviously U.S. military forces and security forces have been occupied with burning fires elsewhere in Iraq. One way to look at it in a folksy way is that if your house is on fire and your neighbor's house is on fire you need to put out the fire in your house before you can go take care of your neighbor's house fire. Or in an airplane they tell you before putting an oxygen mask on your child sitting next to you, put it on your face first so you can function.
So for these last couple of years we've been working so hard to try to get the situation under control in the rest of Iraq first.
Question: It's even worse now.
Deputy Assistant Secretary Bryza: Yeah.
Question: The fire in Iraq in general is much worse now. So the fire at home, your home, is even bigger now.
Deputy Assistant Secretary Bryza: It is even bigger, yeah. So what I'm saying is -- That's a separate point. It's true but a different point, Umit. Now we've gotten to a point I think where we've gotten the Iraqi Government to a point where it realizes uh huh, we've got to do something.
We don't want to be responsible. We can't be responsible for fixing this problem on our own because if we were to do so, if we were the ones that were responsible, we would be undercutting the sovereignty of the Government of Iraq. If we do that, then how do we maintain the territorial integrity of Iraq, if it's the U.S. that's in charge of fixing these problems on Iraq territory? So that's a political reason, so we've had to get the Iraqi Government to do it.
Question: Are you saying that if you allow the Kirkuk Referendum to go ahead, you're going to put your signature to divide the country into three, at least, different countries or nations, whatever you name it. So do you agree with the Turkish vision in that?
Deputy Assistant Secretary Bryza: When the referendum in Kirkuk would take place is not determined, right?
Question: It is determined in the Constitution. It will happen before the end of this year.
Deputy Assistant Secretary Bryza: Or will it? Who knows if it will. Will it actually? I don't know if it will.
Question: What does the U.S. think about Turkey's position on it? Do you agree with the Turkish assessment on Kirkuk? If the referendum goes ahead it is going to be leveraged to divide the country or the Kurds.
Deputy Assistant Secretary Bryza: The way I would answer that is to say that our goal, as President Bush just said, is to maintain a unified Iraq. Anything you hear to the contrary, any pundits or political speculation, whether they be people in power or out of power, to the contrary, is false. Our policy is to support a unified Iraq. We understand how sensitive, how dangerous the situation in Kirkuk is.
The Governments of the United States and Turkey and Iraq, and Baghdad, I mean, share a common vision when it comes to Kirkuk in terms of not wanting that situation to lead to the breakup of Iraq, right? And wanting there to be a way to resolve the difficult property questions and demographic issues that are what's really fueling the political fire in Kirkuk.
So on timing, et cetera, I don't have anything else to say. And if you really want to get down into the details of that, please talk to our Iraq policy people. But in general I can say we do share the Turkish society and government's vision that if Kirkuk is not managed properly it can become a terrible problem that works against our shared goal of maintaining a unified Iraq. That's our goal. We've got to do that.
Question: On the PKK you said it is not only a military solution. Keeping that in mind, when I talk to people in Ankara and Washington lately I am getting the sense that indeed a military operation might take place in the spring and with the consent of the U.S. Government. Am I naive to believe that? Is it still out of the question for the U.S. Government or is it perhaps the sign they're coming to an agreement that may be a limited operation --
Deputy Assistant Secretary Bryza: You mean a Turkish military operation?
Question: Turkish, yes.
Deputy Assistant Secretary Bryza: You were never naïve. But that's not something that we're really talking about at this point.
Our goal is to produce concrete results and preferably to have the Iraqi Government produce them, right? Because of what I said before. We support Iraq's territorial integrity. To do so the Iraqi Government has to be sovereign, it has to carry out its own functions on its own territory. And frankly, if you're a leader in Baghdad you have no interest in PKK terrorists roaming through the country. That's a negative. Even if you're (KRG President Masoud) Barzani or (Iraqi President Jalal) Talibani, if you were still up in the north, you know better than I do about the military clashes that ensued between PKK and Kurdish groupings previously.
So there's no desire in Baghdad to let this problem go on forever. Our challenge is to focus and arrange, physically, mechanically get the Government of Iraq to a point where it can undertake these efforts. Of course with our support. And all of this, obviously I'm not going to give you a detailed answer to your question, but whatever happens has to be done in a way that's coordinated among all of us. The Turkish Government, the Iraqi Government and the U.S. Government, let me put it that way. But please don't misinterpret that as either a green light or a red light or a warning or an admonition or a statement of approval of what you suggested, a Turkish unilateral action.
Question: My second question is about Makhmour (refugee camp). When General Ralston was there he talked to the people in the camp and asked them under what conditions they would go back to Turkey. They said if there is an amnesty. There is a decision to close the camp. There have been these discussions I think now two years ago between the U.S. and Turkey --
Deputy Assistant Secretary Bryza: Even longer.
Question: I'm wondering first of all if that working group or a similar process of negotiations or talks will begin on the closing of the Makhmour Camp, and what is your position of what Turkey can do to persuade those in the camp to go back.
Deputy Assistant Secretary Bryza: Thank you.
We hope there will be trilateral discussions. Actually in a way, quadrilateral, right? The Government of Iraq, the Government of Turkey, the United States and the UNHCR. There is a pending agreement out there that needs to be finalized. Turkey needs to provide its comments on this document that's co-drafted with the UNHCR. But so does Iraq. So the next step ought to be that the parties come together, either they sit down at a table together or if they just exchange information and suggest edits to this agreement, then we can go forward even further in closing Makhmour, but Makhmour is in the process of being closed out, as General Ralston described. There were just actions taken by the Iraqi Government to confiscate weapons that were in the camp. There's a census that's been conducted in the camp now as well. These are all mechanical steps that need to transpire for the camp to be closed down. Not because we say you have to go through these steps, but this is what the UNHCR which has jurisdiction over the camp has wanted to see happen, so that's happening.
When it comes to the return of camp residents or other members of the Kurdish population to Turkey yes, you're right, as General Ralston said, he was there, he did encounter a significant number of Turkish, I guess former citizens, Turkish citizens of Kurdish ethnicity who would like to return to Turkey. I don't know exactly what it takes to provide them the confidence that it's "safe" to go back. I don't know what that is. I know how controversial an amnesty law would be. This government would not suggest to any ally that they should turn the other cheek and forget about terrorist crimes. Of course we would never suggest that. If somebody has committed a terrorist crime they should go through the normal judicial process, be prosecuted. Investigated, prosecuted and the rule of law should proceed.
There's a much more complicated question for people who are suspected of or perhaps are or were members of the PKK who are not and were never terrorist operatives. How do you deal with them? I don't have an answer to that. That's up to the Turkish Government to come up with a way to resolve that problem.
What I can say is if the Turkish Government does come up with a mechanism like that, that will I think have a significant, maybe even a dramatic impact in draining away the political or even physical support for the PKK in Iraq. That's very helpful. But that doesn't get away from our obligation or our need to produce other concrete results on the ground in Iraq.
Question: Do I understand you right, you said you would like to see the quadrilateral process begin again --
Deputy Assistant Secretary Bryza: Yes.
Question: -- but there's no decision?
Deputy Assistant Secretary Bryza: It's sort of going along. The way this works is people exchange papers, drafts, e-mails, it has to come to closure somehow. And whether we force the coming to closure through an actual physical meeting or whether working through embassies we just make it happen, it just has to happen.
Question: I understand the U.S. position is that Turkey should work [inaudible] Iraqi Government. Iraqis take care of problems, be they PKK or other issues. Do you think, obviously Turkey does not invite Mr. Talabani to Ankara and Turkey does not have a good relationship with Mr. Barzani. Do you think this is helpful? Do you think it could be a good thing for Turkey to engage more? Especially Turkish [inaudible], have better outcome?
Deputy Assistant Secretary Bryza: Yeah. We do think it would be useful for the Turkish Government to engage even more with Kurdish regional leaders, but with Kurdish regional leaders in the context of they being part of the Government of Iraq. The whole point is that we don't want to do anything that undermines the sovereignty of the central government in Baghdad. So as far as we're concerned, Barzani, sure he's a leader of the KDP, sure he's the leader of the Kurdish region but he's also a member of the Government of Iraq and we need always to consider him in that regard. Or he's an Iraqi official, let's put it that way. Just as the Governor of California is an American official. That's slightly different.
It's useful in an operational way or in a practical way, for example, for General Ralston and General Bashir to have interaction with political leaders in the Kurdish area because there are so many practical problems that need to be worked out to produce those concrete results against the PKK I've been talking about. It's a lot harder to do if we don't have that multilateral cooperation happening.
Question: The Cyprus Government obviously angered Turkey with its decision to have an agreement, a contract, having a contract with Lebanese and Egyptians. It's an internationally disputed area, obviously. The United States is trying to find a resolution of the problem there. Do you think was it timely on the part of Greeks to pursue with that agreement? Is it helpful?
Deputy Assistant Secretary Bryza: You mean the Continental Shelf thing?
Question: Yes, the agreement with oil exploration. Was it timely? Was it a wise move or a good move on the part of Greeks? Or it should have been better if they delayed such actions after a resolution was found for the dispute?
Deputy Assistant Secretary Bryza: It's not really for me to assess whether the Greek Government's decision was wise or unwise, but what I can say sitting in the chair I sit in, also being our mediator on Cyprus, is that any action that takes place that increases the level of emotionality and political tension doesn't help us get to the point where we reduce tension and reduce emotion to the point that we can really reinvigorate the Cyprus settlement process under UN auspices. So I would hope that this issue will pass, will calm down, and that we together will turn back to the UN process and implementation of the Gambari Agreement from July 8th. That's what I hope.
Question: I understand your [inaudible] about the [inaudible] on the issue of PKK, but we know that President Bush gave instruction to American Army [inaudible] without asking the Iraqi authorities. And when your troops [inaudible] people all parts of the Iraqi Government. Maybe not [inaudible], but the Shiite and the Kurdish ones [inaudible]. Is that a double standard? [Inaudible] with the Iranians, you can arrest them, you can kill them, but without asking Iraqi authorities; but on the other hand the terrorist PKK, you called them terrorists, you know that they are, and you cannot provide any instruction because you refer [inaudible] of Iraq.
Is that something, I think there is something wrong.
Deputy Assistant Secretary Bryza: That's a very perceptive question, but my answer would be no, there's not a difference here.
Number one, when it comes to -- I don't know when the orders were issued in terms of dealing with Iranians on the ground. There are press reports --
Question: We know that they arrested them and that Iraqi authorities protested.
Deputy Assistant Secretary Bryza: Yes. But what we don't know is what other sorts of arrangements may have been in place between us or the coalition and various Iraqi authorities. I just don't know the answer to that. I don't know. So what I'm saying is I don't know the case that what we did was totally against the wishes of the Iraqi Government, but that's not that important. The difference here is that the Iranians are in the midst of U.S. forces, so we encounter them. If we encounter PKK operatives we better arrest them as well, but we don't encounter them. We don't have forces in the north. We don't have them up there.
Question: With all due respect, sir, are you punishing the country that's behaving and loving its citizens to be killed by PKK terrorists crossing the border from northern Iraq?
Deputy Assistant Secretary Bryza: I don't understand your question.
Question: Because they do not intervene in the Iraqi theater? Because they sit on their side, don't cross the border. But the Iranians are crossing the border, creating your, making your life much more difficult in Iraq, so that you are taking an action against Iran. But on the other side you are claiming to be an ally to Turkey and just okay, they have to handle it.
Deputy Assistant Secretary Bryza: I don't understand that point. Where is there a double standard? Can you try it again?
Question: Can I [inaudible]? Does the United States need any PKK attack to American troops for arresting them?
Deputy Assistant Secretary Bryza: No. Not at all.
Question: You need some encounterment with the PKK people in Iraq for arresting them?
Deputy Assistant Secretary Bryza: No. It's a question of the physical presence of where U.S. forces are. We do not have these concentrations of U.S. troops in the north. We're not there. So we don't come across PKK operatives the way we come across these Iranians elsewhere in Iraq.
Question: But American troops arrested the Iranian in Irbil.
Deputy Assistant Secretary Bryza: It was in Irbil.
Question: It shows us that American troops may operate in north, and just the first days of the occupation American forces attacked and eliminated [inaudible] in north.
Deputy Assistant Secretary Bryza: Yes.
Question: Because [inaudible] terrorists. Yeah, he is terrorist. But PKK also. So that American troops operated and are still operating if necessary in northern Iraq, and they are operating against, they are arresting Iranian people in northern Iraq, in Irbil. We know it is [inaudible] PKK people [inaudible] or other places.
The question is the lack of encounter with the PKK in Iraq territory, is the question? If PKK attacks, are you waiting for some kind of literally attacks from PKK in order to --
Deputy Assistant Secretary Bryza: We're not. No. That's a good question. No, we're not. We are waiting to get the information that allows us to go after them and there have been cases in the past where we've gotten information and we've followed up on it, gone after them, and they weren't there. The operatives of the PKK weren't there.
So we've been unsuccessful so far. I probably shouldn't go beyond that as to why we're unsuccessful. I can't really talk about why we were, but we were unsuccessful. So we've got to be successful. We've got to improve the flow of information for one thing. That means we've got to get the right sources, to get the right sources, that gets back to what I talked about before. We have to get the Government of Iraq more focused to make sure we get that information and we have to do all of that information sharing and planning in close cooperation with the Government of Turkey as well, because the Government of Turkey can have information as well.
I can't go beyond that because then I have to be talking about intelligence operations.
Question: But you know that Turkish public opinion is very [inaudible] about that every day, the relation of the action. Fortunately [inaudible] PKK, fortunately. If one day they will decide that we cannot trust them enough, [inaudible] decide to cut ceasefire, break the ceasefire.
Although the ceasefire, the tension in the public opinion about this PKK issue is very high. The tension in the circle of the state operators also the same thing. So that the question is very big and when you said that, the last time, [inaudible]. How can you realize that they help people who might be [inaudible] and especially [inaudible] to the electoral task, the campaign. So can you give some specific means of [inaudible]?
Deputy Assistant Secretary Bryza: I wasn't saying to Kasim just be patient. That's not what I was saying. What I was saying was if you're patient a little while longer you will see some concrete results. And General Ralston said something similar today. He said something like, I didn't read it but I heard what he said, he said previously as a military man, right, the use of force as a last resort. He didn't say that today. He talked about arrests today.
So when I said be patient I meant beyond our interview that we're having yesterday, or beyond this gathering here. We know something has to happen quickly. Yes, the ceasefire may be lifted this spring. Yes, you're going through elections. Yes, there's all this controversy over the resolution in the U.S. Congress. There is a lot of tension, all coming together at the same moment in Turkey about this very issue. So we know, you've got our attention and we've got to do something or else you'll have zero patience and we won't have to deal just with journalists but with the TGS --
Question: -- about this question. I had an interview with General Ralston two weeks ago. He was complaining about, he complained about the comments of some people in Washington about PKK. Who are they? Because they are saying, we agree with Turkish Government and [inaudible]? Who are they? What's the problem?
Deputy Assistant Secretary Bryza: Obviously I don't know exactly to whom General Ralston was referring to in your conversation. But to try to put it in a different way without naming names, of course, I can't name names.
But the challenge of dealing with Iraq is bigger than obviously anything this government is dealing with right now. And there are endless tasks and in bureaucracies, and the U.S. Government is the biggest bureaucracy in the world, it's the most powerful organization in the world, it's got so many directions, so many moving parts, people moving in all different directions and accomplishing what they see as their discreet tasks.
If you are let's say in charge of economic reconstruction in our embassy in Baghdad, that's what you focus on. If you're in charge of security at our embassy in Baghdad you worry about the quieting the overall security situation with that burning house that I was talking about before. If you're in Washington dealing with Turkey, the top priority is U.S.-Turkish relations and worrying about what the impact would be if there were what Yasamin was talking about, if there were a Turkish incursion into Northern Iraq and how destabilizing that could be for the whole region potentially. Somebody's got to pull all these pieces together and somebody has got to make sure there's a proper balance and a proper focus in our government, and then in the Iraqi Government as well which has all of its priorities. But Ralston was talking about the U.S. Government.
So to integrate all that we have the Deputies Committee, the Principals Committee, and on top of that all the President just to pull it all together. The challenge is to make sure that when we're working on this problem over here, whatever it may be on the economics of Iraq, we're also spending enough time and devoting enough resources and focusing enough effort on in this case the PKK problem. Getting the huge, enormous, monstrous machine of the U.S. Government to stay focused on the right problems at the right time requires a huge amount of work and that's what General Ralston is talking about.
What I was getting at before is that he is very effective at doing that. He has such credibility, is so well regarded in the military that he can get our folks on the ground in Iraq to say this is urgent. You've got to go push the Iraqi Government to drop what they're doing over here and focus on the PKK. That's what he's doing.
Question: You are encouraging Turkey to get into some cooperation with Iraqi Kurds as well as Americans and the [inaudible] too.
Deputy Assistant Secretary Bryza: With the Iraqi Government.
Question: Yeah. The thing is, I have heard many military or Turkish military officials say that the PKK and Barzani are one and the same. You say in some cases you pursue PKK terrorists, but you got some leads but when your troops were there they were not there. And the weapons surge in [inaudible]. Apparently the PKK people there had been warned in advance and they kind of fled or whatever and the weapons were cached or whatever. Who is doing that? Iraqi Kurds apparently. Are they cooperating in the first place? Why don't you urge the Iraqi Kurds to cooperate with Turkey in the first place? It's their job as Iraqis to do that. Why don't you push them in [inaudible] this way.
Deputy Assistant Secretary Bryza: What makes you think we don't?
Question: The results are clear.
Deputy Assistant Secretary Bryza: No. The fact that they don't produce results doesn't mean we're not pushing them, right?
Question: Okay, so that means you have no leverage on them.
Deputy Assistant Secretary Bryza: It doesn't mean no leverage, it means we've got to keep on pushing them and so far we haven't been able to convince them to do what they have to do. I agree with you, they need to do that and we've been pushing them and we need to keep pushing them and push them harder and get them to do it. I agree with you.
Question: The other thing is that unfortunately many people we talked to including some officials don't share your enthusiasm about General Ralston's performance. There are even some rumors that Turkey might cancel its part of the mechanism. Many people have lost their faith in trilateral. Do you think that can happen?
Deputy Assistant Secretary Bryza: Who cares what I think about that? You know Turkey. You tell me.
Question: Well what happens if that happens? Is it hypothetical?
Deputy Assistant Secretary Bryza: It's pretty hypothetical, yeah. I don't think we're going to get to that. We better not, right? Look, if we don't produce concrete results, loss of faith in us overall is a natural consequence so we have to produce the results. I don't know what else to tell you. But I don't want to predict, I don't want anyone to write about the U.S. official predicts that General Ralston is going to lose confidence of Turkish officials. I don't think that's going to happen because he's so capable, but I take your point.
Question: You have been asked several times about this 50/50 issue, [inaudible] and you [inaudible]. But I want to ask a question that [inaudible] problem that Turkish society might become totally anti-Western, anti-American, anti-Iraqi, anti-everything. The last issue when we [inaudible] of the [inaudible] this reaction, all of this discussion, et cetera. Do you think that this American and European [inaudible] a position about [inaudible] of the issue like PKK or [inaudible], et cetera, are not helping this kind of anti-Westernism or anti-democracy approach [inaudible]? Is that [inaudible] for Turkey? Is that [inaudible] for Turkey? The kind of civil coups defeat in Turkey, against democracy, against Europe, against United States, against everything? Is there some kind of fear or --
Deputy Assistant Secretary Bryza: No fear that there will be some kind of overturning of Turkish democracy. No. No fear of that. Turkish democracy is strong. It's really strong, and it's complicated and difficult as a democracy is supposed to be, but no, there's no fear that the fundamental secular democracy that is a cornerstone of the Turkish republic, that that's going to go away? No. Absolutely no concern about that.
Question: But I'm not asking for your [inaudible], I'm asking a societal issue. If people are becoming really anti-Western, anti-democratic, you cannot protect the democracy without people. And we have so many examples like this in Europe --
Deputy Assistant Secretary Bryza: You mean a revolution? You're talking about a revolution?
Question: I'm talking about [inaudible] crisis, or a kind of crisis. I am not talking a coup de'tat or some [inaudible]. I'm talking about society preference, society's choice, that there is the target of [inaudible]. Hitler came to power through elections.
Deputy Assistant Secretary Bryza: He sure did. But no, I don't see that historical analogy having any currency in today's Turkey. But of course we remember what happened earlier with Gray Wolves and right wing parties and the violence previously. Yeah, we're aware of that. But maybe we're naïve, maybe we're not seeing the full picture, but I don't see that level of social tension being present yet in Turkey. We still see the most popular political party being the [AKP] party. You can argue over how much popularity it has. Is it 25, 35, 40 percent? Probably not 40 percent, but has it lost some of its support since the last election? People debate that. And [MHP] which is not a violent party but it's on the far right, yes, it's increasing in strength. But nowhere near where the [AKP] party is at this point. So in terms of society, I don't see that happening. Maybe I'm wrong. Tell me. You are much more astute observers of Turkish society than I am. You know infinitely more than I do. I don't see it.
But do we see a sharpening of the mood and the attitudes and a hardening of approaches toward the U.S. or toward Europe? Yeah, we sure do and that's worrisome. The one common political concept across the political spectrum in Turkey is nationalism. Nationalism can be a good thing if it rallies a country to achieve greatness; and nationalism can become a bad thing if it leads to chauvinism.
In Turkey I don't think it's a worrisome trend at all, nationalism. I think it's positive. I think the [AKP] party's election was a reflection of a positive form of Turkish nationalism which is embracing Turkey's traditions. Islam and democracy are core traditions of Turkish political society. Great. That's what we would like to interpret the [AKP] party's election having been about. But the [AKP] party isn't going to govern alone, either. This next election will have other parties coming into the parliament most likely.
Question: Don't you think that you contribute a little bit the anti-Western [inaudible], your position, --
Deputy Assistant Secretary Bryza: Sure.
Question: -- that only the PKK [inaudible]. The PKK, I am against this [inaudible] solution. I don't think there is a need for [inaudible] personally, but as a journalist I know that people are really, really [inaudible] and really are becoming more and more anti-American, anti-Western because PKK is surviving in northern Iraq occupied by United States.
So this is the question. So --
Deputy Assistant Secretary Bryza: I agree with you.
Question: Previously when the Turkish Government had talks with Damascus you had some concern. Now at the ISG [inaudible] advice to the President to have dialogue with Damascus, also Tehran, but the President doesn't seem to be liking the idea. Turkey still goes on dialogue with Syria and [inaudible].
What is your feel of it now? Do you feel that Turkey has a leverage to bring some communication via Damascus or Tehran? What does that mean to you? Are you as irritated as you were or you have a different take on it now?
Deputy Assistant Secretary Bryza: I wouldn't say we're irritated. We know Turkey has an important role to play in its neighborhood. For God's sake, Turkey is a NATO ally that borders Syria, Iraq and Iran. Wow. That's astounding. So it's important for us to stay very closely coordinated with Turkey as Turkey conducts diplomacy in its neighborhood.
You're right there was some dissonance or a difference of approach to Syria back a couple of, well, a year ago when the international community had decided it was going to push very hard to isolate Assad, right? As the whole Hariri murder was unfolding and the report was coming due. Things have changed a bit. We don't need to go into the history of what all that is. We still of course are not in favor of embracing the Assad regime.
That said, we did see a positive contribution that Secretary Rice recognized during Foreign Minister Gul's last visit here when Ahmet Davutoglu paid his visit to Damascus and had consultations in this case with Hamas. It was a useful intervention. I don't know how much of that intervention of Ahmet Bey (Davutoglu) had to do with the government in Damascus, but our approach is more complicated than saying never talk to Syria. It's more complicated than that. And as long as we're coordinating with the Turkish Government and doing whatever we need to do or what Turkey needs to do with Syria as a neighbor in a way that we all are comfortable with, then there's no problem.
When it comes to Iran, again the situation has moved a little bit. I think the U.S. and Turkey are on the same page in terms of the goals in Iran. We're not talking about regime change in the U.S. Government, we're talking about a change in the behavior of the Iranian Government. Turkey agrees with that.
We're talking about Iran --
Question: Regime change is the U.S. policy.
Deputy Assistant Secretary Bryza: Not in Iran. No, it's not. It's not the administration's policy. The administration's policy is behavioral change. It's not regime change. It's changed behavior. Maybe some people in Congress may have different views, but the U.S. Constitution says the President makes foreign policy. So our view is it's behavioral change that we seek.
On weapons of mass destruction or on the nuclear program I think Turkey and the United States are on the same page completely. And I guess just in the last couple of days Iran has suggested that maybe some of the neighbors of Iraq get together to discuss security, and we're not against that actually. We're not against that. If something positive can come out of it, okay. It's important that Turkey play a role in that.
Question: The Syrian Prime Minister was in Ankara. He talked to Foreign Minister Gul and Gul is visiting to Washington. So each time prior to the Washington visit we have these regional cooperation or whatever, and then there is always the talk that oh, are they going to carry a message from Damascus to Washington.
I don't know about the message, but in the broader term do you see Turkey is playing a role or Turkey has been asked to play a role by Washington to have a dialogue with those two countries?
Deputy Assistant Secretary Bryza: Turkey doesn't need to be asked by Washington do anything. Turkey is a NATO ally, a sovereign country with a proud history of being an important actor in this region and in regions beyond its immediate neighborhood, so we're not asking Turkey to do anything but we welcome Turkey when it does the sorts of things I talked about already, be it the visit of Davutoglu or Foreign Minister Gul's speech a couple of years ago in Tehran, right? When he talked about reform. He said if we don't advance reform, reform will overtake us. Those sorts of interactions are great. That's very helpful. That's valuable.
Question: To follow up on [inaudible]'s question, would it in your view be a good step if the Turkish President invited his Iraqi counterpart to Turkey for a visit?
Deputy Assistant Secretary Bryza: Sure, it would be wonderful. It would be great.
Question: Which [inaudible]?
Deputy Assistant Secretary Bryza: [Laughter]. You provocateur. Sezer and President Talibani? Of course that would be a wonderful step. We want Turkey and Iraq to have the closest possible relationship and we've got a lot to learn from Turkey with regard to Iraq and vice versa.
Question: Maybe he will visit as [inaudible].
Deputy Assistant Secretary Bryza: I hope not.
Question: [Inaudible] is going to next Prime Minister of Turkey.
Deputy Assistant Secretary Bryza: What do you think?
Question: I don't know.
Deputy Assistant Secretary Bryza: It all depends on who the next President of Turkey is, huh? I don't know what's going to happen. It seems just reading what you guys write and talking to people in your society, it seems like maybe Turkish politics are moving in that direction, but who knows?
Question: Do you have the time for the meeting?
Deputy Assistant Secretary Bryza: I honestly don't know what time it is, but it will be a meeting and a lunch, so probably they'll meet just before lunch time. I would guess around 11:00 or 12:00, depending on if they eat lunch at noon or at one. Unfortunately, I don't get to go.
Interview on CNN-Turk
R. Nicholas Burns, Under Secretary for Political Affairs
January 19, 2007
Released by U.S. Embassy-Ankara, Turkey
QUESTION: Mr. Burns, thank you very much for joining us. It’s a pleasure to welcome you for us to here. Just I want to start with Mr. Dink’s assassination. You and Mr. Ambassador made a statement in front of the Prime Ministry. We know that there is a bill* regarding Armenian Genocide. It is in the agenda of the Congress. In which direction this assassination can affect the process in Washington. What is your view on that?
UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: Well, first let me say that we were very shocked and saddened by his murder today in Istanbul and obviously, our condolences and our heartfelt sorrow goes out to his family and friends. He was, I had never met him, but I’m told he was a very courageous man who stood for reconciliation between Turks and Armenians, a cause that we support in our country.
We know that the government of Turkey has made a very strong statement condemning this murder, Prime Minister Erdogan and his Cabinet members. We had a chance to talk to Foreign Minister Gul who told us how shocked the Turkish Government was. So, I think what’s important now, is that the Turkish Government obviously be given some time to investigate and to see who is responsible. And we wish the Turkish Government well and we know that they will take that responsibility very seriously.
QUESTION: Mr. Ambassador, Mr. Burns, you know there are critics about Turkey regarding Armenian genocide and one Armenian journalist is killed in Istanbul. In which direction it will affect the bill* in the congress?
UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: Oh, I think it is impossible to say because the resolutions are months away, but obviously, what’s going to be very important is that the government follow up and investigate seriously and aggressively and that those who murdered him are…well, this is a despicable act of murder, an act of terrorism and they should be brought to justice, there is no question about this.
QUESTION: Are you concerned about the passing of the bill*?
UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: I think, today a human being has been killed. First and formost we are shocked; we’re sorry for his family and I think that our sentiments have to be there first. I think our position on a resolution is well known. What’s important now is that those who stand up for reconciliation between Armenians and Turks, that that community be listened to and that the people who brought about this murder be apprehended. I think the focus ought to be on events here right now.
QUESTION: About Kirkuk. We know the time is very tight. Ankara is demanding the postponement of referenda in Kirkuk, not in 2007, but later on. The Arab states, the Egyptian Foreign Minister was here, and they are requesting such a thing. The Turkomans living in Kirkuk are also in this way. The Arabs living in Kirkuk are demanding this. The United States and the Kurds are insisting on the punctuality the referendum. Why?
UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: First and foremost, this is an important issue for the Iraqi’s themselves and we have to remember: it’s Iraqis who run that country now. It’s not the United States, it’s not any other country. They are sovereign, the Government of Iraq of Prime Minister Malaki has to take this decision. It has been part of the Constitutional process and a debate over the Constitution in Iraq and so for them, for the Iraqis this is also a very sensitive and serious issue. And what we would like to do is to encourage countries that have an interest, of course, talk to the Iraqi Government. Whether it’s an Arab, country whether it’s Turkey. Express the sentiments of the Government in Ankara, the Government in Cairo. But in the final analysis all of us need to respect the fact that Iraq is sovereign, Iraqis need to work out these very challenging problems on their own.
QUESTION: Mr. Burns you are right, but at the end the United States forces, the coalition is the main rule sector in Baghdad and, for instance, in Mr. President Bush’s plan some responsibilities for Baghdad Administration. If Iraq is fully sovereign why Bush is demanding some new responsibilities from the Baghdad Government. Then that’s why, in this respect, shouldn’t the American Administration have a request regarding Kirkuk in order to provide the security in the region?
UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: You know, I think it should be very clear what our responsibilities are and what they’re not. We have been asked by the Iraqi Government to provide security for their borders, to help the Iraqi armed forces provide security in the major cities in the country and to try to bring about a greater sense of stability and order in the country so the Iraqis can get on with the business of rebuilding a country that was shattered by war and by 25 years of Saddam Hussein. What we are not responsible for, and I don’t think most of your viewers will want us to be responsible for, is the basic decisions about how Iraqis organize their political life, how they make difficult decisions when there are competing interests and competing demands. We are not an occupier in that sense. We are a country that has been invited to do a specific job, but the responsibility for civil matters, legal matters, constitutional matters rests with the elected officials of the Government of Iraq. That is a very important principle that all of us need to respect.
QUESTION: Mr. Burns, you are right, but at the end so few deadlines were kept in Iraq regarding the elections, regarding the formation of the Parliament and the Government and nobody is requesting the cancellation of the referendum, but the postponement. And that’s why will it destruct the stability and all the process just postponing the referendum?
UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: You know, I think that has to be a decision made by all the people involved on the Iraqi side, the various politicians from political parties and from different ethnic groups. They are the ones who in the final analysis need to make this decision. Now, we certainly recognize that this is a sensitive issue in Turkey. I have heard a lot about this in the last two days from all the Turkish political figures, and we respect that sensitivity, and we encourage the Turkish Government to carry on a dialogue with the Iraqi authorities about this. Of course, Turkey has the right to express its opinion, no one would say otherwise, but decisions have to be made by the government in charge. Just as the Turkish Government makes decisions here, of course, about what happens in Turkey, it’s the Iraqis in the final analysis who have this responsibility.
QUESTION: There are some comments in Ankara that Kurds gave the most concrete support to the United States forces during the operation in Iraq, but The Turks not. And now Turkey is paying the cost. Is it right?
UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: Oh, I wouldn’t look at it that way at all. I don’t think that’s accurate. Turkey is a NATO ally of the United States. Turkey is one of our most important strategic partners world wide. We have a very good relationship between our governments. That’s not how we treat a friendly government, but it’s certainly true that we are very close to the Kurdish political leadership in northern Iraq, that the Kurds represent an important part of the overall Iraqi political process and that all of those Iraqi elements - the Shia and the Sunni and Kurd – need to work on making the basic decisions that are going to be so important for the future of the country regarding oil, regarding the legal process and even regarding the questions that you put in front of me.
QUESTION: Mr. Burns, regarding the integrity of Iraq, there are so many concerns in Ankara that it will divide it into three; the Kurds, the Sunnis and the Shia. Can you guarantee or can you say that Iraq will be intact at the end of the day.
UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: The United States certainly agrees with Turkey that we both support one Iraq. No one wants to see, we don’t want to see the country divided into various factions, the Turkish Government doesn’t. We had a very good opportunity here in Ankara over the last two days to talk to the Turkish authorities about our strategy for Iraq, about what Turkey can do and what the European countries can do to be helpful to the Iraqi Government. But I think we are absolutely agreed with the Turkish authorities and the Turkish people that we want to see the state held together. We want to see one Iraq under its current borders in the future.
QUESTION: Regarding PKK. In Mahmour Camps American troops made an operation and couldn’t find any gun and surprisingly. What will be the next step? To close the Mahmour Camp or regarding combat with PKK?
UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: First of all, we are standing with Turkey, with Turkey, in support of Turkey in the battle against the PKK. The PKK is a vicious terrorist organization. It’s been sanctioned by the United States. We are Turkey’s partner in convincing other countries, European countries, to take a tough stance against it and we are going to support the Turkish Government in insisting that the number of attacks against Turkish soldiers and civilians be diminished. As you know, we are working with the Turkish and Iraqi Governments to try to see if there is a solution to these attacks and to this problem. The Mahmour Camp has been a source of support in some respects for the PKK and we must not allow that to continue. So, frankly, it was a very important first step for the U.N. authorities….with the Iraqi authorities; excuse me with the assistance of the United States to make an inspection of that camp, that is a first step. We will do more and ultimately our country believes that the Mahmour Camp should be closed. The people should be repatriated back to their home countries, many of them are Turkish citizens. And if the PKK continues to use Mahmour for support, or for any other reason, then I think there will be a great initiative to try to close that camp as soon as possible.
QUESTION: Mr. Burns, thank you very much for joining us. We are expecting the next steps and it will be a great pleasure to announce them here.
UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: Thank you very much.
* Note: The speaker is referring to a resolution that may be introduced in Congress, not a bill.
Released on January 19, 2007
Interview with Kanal D's Mehmet Ali Birand
R. Nicholas Burns, Under Secretary for Political Affairs
January 19, 2007
Released by U.S. Embassy-Ankara, Turkey
BIRAND: Turkish Armenian writer Hrant Dink was gunned down today in Istanbul. Do you think this will have any effect on the US Turkish relationship?
UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: Well, let me just say first of all that we very shocked and saddened to hear about the murder of Mr. Dink today. He was a known champion of human rights. He was someone who stood for the right things which is reconciliation between Turks and Armenians. And we hope very much that his killers are going to be apprehended and brought to justice. This is an outrageous act of criminality. We denounce it in the most serious terms and we, of course, have seen the statements by the Turkish government condemning it.
We met with Foreign Minister Gul in a previously scheduled meeting and he told us how shocked the Turkish Cabinet was. So, we look forward to see Turkish justice and we look forward to see these killers brought to justice. But this is certainly a crime which should be denounced by all the Turkish people as well as people around the world because this man was a good man who championed human rights and championed democracy. And I think that’s what people are going to focus on around the world. Whether it’s in the Armenian Diaspora or outside that community, they’re going to want to know who killed him and why and they’re going to want to know that the killers are punished and that they’re brought to justice.
BIRAND: There is an overall belief that the Bush Administration will not be able to block a possible Armenian genocide bill to be submitted to the US Congress this year. Do you agree?
UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: Well, these types of resolutions have occurred on an annual basis for a long time and this year will be no exception. There does appear to be a lot of momentum behind this bill* in the Congress. The position of our government is well known. We are opposing these resolutions. And we talked to the Turkish government over the two days here in Ankara about this. But it is important, obviously, that today’s events be put in perspective and I think it’s important to come back to those events. That’s what’s important today, to bring the killers of Mr. Dink to justice.
BIRAND: If the Turkish government finds the attacker soon, do you think the international reaction to the assassination will die down?
UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: It’s very difficult to say because this murder is so shocking and so barbaric that I think people are going to want to see and expect to see that justice will take hold. The other issue of the resolution is something that’s proceeding in the United States Congress several months from now. So, it’s very difficult to look ahead and to try to see what the effect is going to be. But I think it would be good to see Turkish citizens reject this kind of killing and to speak out against this because that’s what happens in a democratic society. We defend human rights, we defend those who stand up for tolerance and that should be true in Turkey as it is in my own country and all democratic countries.
BIRAND: You have wrapped up your meetings with Turkish political leaders in Ankara. Can you tell us about your visit here? What was discussed?
UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: We had a very good visit over the last two days. I met Prime Minister Erdogan and Foreign Minister Gul and a number of other Turkish officials. We have a strong partnership with Turkey. It rests on the fact that both of us are democracies, that we stand for the same things, that we Americans very much want to support Turkey and many endeavors here in its own region. We’re grateful for what Turkey is doing in Afghanistan. We’re grateful for the fact that Turkey is supporting the Iraqi government and very grateful that we are allies in NATO. So, frankly, it was a very positive visit. And we had good discussions with the Turkish government and we agreed on far more than we disagreed.
BIRAND: If the Turkish military launches a cross border incursion into northern Iraq, do you think Turkish and the US troops in the region will clash?
UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: Well, first of all, we have made a commitment to the Turkish government that we are going to help it to stop PKK terrorism, to end the killing of Turkish soldiers and civilians by the PKK. That is the commitment we’ve made. We’re working with the Turkish and Iraqi governments on a solution to do just that, and that has to take priority and that ought to be the focus of the international efforts to stop the PKK. I think you know about our position on the PKK. We think it’s a terrorist group. We have American sanctions placed on it. We don’t support this group. We encourage all the European countries to close the political offices of the PKK because it is a murderous group, and it has killed a great number of Turkish citizens. So, I think it’s important for your viewers to know that the United States identifies with Turkey on this issue. We understand the frustrations of the Turkish people and we want to support the Turkish people. But the solution would lie in a common agreement; Iraq, Turkey and the United States. That’s where the best chance is to stop PKK terrorism cross-border attacks from positions in northern Iraq into Turkey itself.
BIRAND: Can you comment on the Mahmur camp inspection a few days ago? Can you tell us whether the camp will be closed or not?
UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: Well, the camp, unfortunately, has been used by the PKK as a source of support and source of rest for PKK fighters and that is inadmissible, that is wrong. So, Iraqi forces, assisted by the US conducted an inspection of the camp two days ago. We think this camp should be closed because, frankly, people have lived there for so long. It’s better for these people to be repatriated to their own countries, including Turkey and we do hope this camp can be closed in the near future.
BIRAND: I remember when you were Ambassador to NATO, you were playing drums in a band. I hope you’re still doing that, maybe you can play in Ankara.
UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: Well, that was actually…you’re very kind to remember that. That was actually my predecessor, Ambassador Vershbow, who is now our Ambassador in South Korea. I’m not nearly as talented as he is. But I will say, I’ve been very pleased to be here in Ankara and we feel very close to the Turkish government. We have an excellent relationship with that government. And, I think together as partners we Americans and Turks can be a force for stability in the Middle East, whether it’s to support the democratically elected government of Prime Minister Seniora in Lebanon and opposing, frankly, the attempts of the Iranian government to seek a nuclear weapons future, both of us trying to stabilize Iraq. So we have a lot in common, we have a good relationship. We’re looking forward to welcoming Foreign Minister Gul to Washington in just a few weeks.
BIRAND: Thank you very much.
UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: Thank you very much, pleasure.
* Note: The speaker is referring to a Congressional resolution, not a bill.
Released on January 19, 2007
Remarks After Meeting With Foreign Minister Gul
R. Nicholas Burns, Under Secretary for Political Affairs
January 19, 2007
Released by U.S. Embassy-Ankara, Turkey
AMB.WILSON: Good evening. Ambassador Burns and I have just finished a very good and productive meeting with Minister Gul. Ambassador Burns will talk a little bit about that meeting, but before he does that I’d just like to say a couple of things about the apparent murder of Hrant Dink. We talked about this subject, of course, with the Minister. We were shocked and deeply troubled that Hrant Dink was killed in an armed attack today in Istanbul. I knew Hrant Dink. I was pleased and honored to have met him. We send – and I personally send – our heartfelt condolences to his family, to his loved ones. We express our hope that the perpetrators of this heinous crime will quickly be brought to justice by the authorities here. Thank you very much. Let me turn it over to Ambassador Burns.
UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: Thank you very much. I’d just like to say that we have been very pleased with our discussions today with the Turkish government. We have an exceedingly important relationship together. We are working together, of course, to try to resolve the many problems of the Middle East where Turkey is such an important partner of our country. And I did say to Minister Gul, as I said to Prime Minister Erdogan last evening, that the United States intends to work very closely with Turkey as well as with Iraq to try to diminish the number and severity of PKK attacks on Turkish soldiers and civilians. That we are with Turkey, we support Turkey and we oppose the PKK. There was an inspection of the Makhmour camp as you know. We’re looking for that camp to be closed in the future because there has to be relief and support for the Turkish government and people against this terrorist threat.
Let me just conclude by saying that this has been a very, very good visit. I think there’s a high degree of unity between Turkey and the United States on the need for peace in Iraq, on the need for Iran to listen to what the world is saying – it should not become a nuclear weapons state. It should stop funding terrorist groups. On the need for support for Prime Minister Seniora in Lebanon and the need for peace between Israel and the Palestinians. So Turkey is our valued strategic partner. We look forward to Foreign Minister Gul coming to the United States in a few weeks. And we look forward to continuing this very important partnership that we have.
QUESTION: Mr. Hrant Dink was an Armenian Turkish citizen. Do you think his murder will expedite, facilitate an Armenian genocide bill* in the Congress. What do you think the U.S. can do to block the passing of this bill?*
UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: Obviously, the Turkish government has spoken about its own outrage about this murder. There’ve been very strong statements from the Prime Minister and the government. And Minister Gul assured us that the entire Cabinet had discussed this and that the Turkish government is as shocked and saddened as all of us are about this. I think we have to let the Turkish government now investigate this tragic assassination. I don’t think it’d be appropriate to try to link this to any other issue. A human being has lost his life. A tragic thing has happened and we should give time to the Turkish government to make its own investigation.
QUESTION: Mr. Ambassador, (inaudible) have concern about Kirkuk. The Turkish side wants to cancel or delay the referendum in Kirkuk. How do you evaluate this issue?
UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: Thank you. Well, first of all, let me say we had a series of very good conversations with the Turkish leadership on Iraq. We appreciate all the support that Turkey has given our country in this very difficult situation. And we explained from our side that President Bush has announced a new American strategy for Iraq which we believe can and must be successful. And we appreciate the support of Turkey and other countries to try to help the Iraqi people in a very difficult time in their history. There are sensitive issues. And you mentioned one of them. That ought to be the subject of discussions, obviously, but which in the final analysis must rest with the sovereign government in Baghdad and with the Iraqi people themselves.
AMB. WILSON: Thank you very much.
*Note: The questioner is referring to a possible resolution to be introduced in Congress, not a bill.
Released on January 19, 2007
Remarks Following a Meeting With Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan
R. Nicholas Burns, Under Secretary for Political Affairs
January 19, 2007
Released by U.S. Embassy-Ankara, Turkey
UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: Good evening ladies and gentlemen. I’m just going to say a few words. We will be happy to take maybe one or two questions. Ambassador Wilson and I and our delegation just had an excellent meeting with Prime Minister Erdogan.
First of all, on behalf of President Bush and Secretary Rice we thank the Prime Minister and the Turkish Government for our alliance and for the excellent work that we are doing together in Afghanistan and in both of our efforts to try to be helpful to the people of Lebanon and, of course, on the Israeli-Palestinian issue.
We had a very good conversation about the difficult situation in Iraq. I assured Prime Minister Erdogan that the Untied States is entirely sympathetic to the people of Turkey for the losses the Turkish people have suffered because of these vicious attacks by the PKK. And, of course, the United States will meet its commitment to try to work effectively with the Turkish Government and the Iraqi Government to try to deal with this very serious problem of PKK attacks on Turkey.
Secretary Rice has asked General Ralston to return to this region shortly to work on this problem with the Turkish Government and the Iraqi Government. And we hope that the action taken yesterday at the Mahmour Camp is the beginning of a serious effort to close that camp and to make sure that Northern Iraq is not used by the PKK to attack into Turkey itself.
Finally, we had a good discussion on the question of Cyprus and it is certainly the view of the United States Government that we hope that with the arrival of a new Secretary General of the United Nations, the international community led by the U.N. can continue its efforts to find a solution to the problem of Cyprus. And the United States will continue to be actively involved with all parties concerned towards that objective.
We will be spending tomorrow meeting with Foreign Minister Gul and officials of the Turkish Foreign Ministry and the Prime Minister’s office to re affirm the strong alliance between Turkey and United States and to discuss all of these issues that are of such concern to both of our Governments. Thank you very much.
A couple of questions?
UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: The question was about American and Turkish discussions about the PKK and the situation in Northern Iraq. I spoke to that, and what I told the Prime Minister on behalf of my Government is that the United States will continue to act to support Turkey. We do not recognize the PKK, we have acted to try to shut down PKK offices all around the world, we have used our influence with friendly countries. We are looking for a solution to the problem of the PKK attacks on Turkish soldiers and Turkish civilians. We side with Turkey. We support Turkey, and we are sympathetic to turkey on this issue.
QUESTION: Turkey is objecting to holding a referendum in Kirkuk this year. What is the U.S. position?
UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: There was a conversation on this issue. There’ll be more conversations I’m sure tomorrow in the extended at meetings with the Foreign Ministry and the Foreign Minister. We understand the importance of this issue. We understand how sensitive it is. We understand that, obviously, there are discussions underway between Turkey and the Iraqi authorities. But this is a very important and sensitive issue for the Iraqis themselves, and the United States obviously has to defer to the Iraqis because they are sovereign in that country. This is part of the constitutional arrangements. So we’ll continue the discussions and we will be very pleased to listen to the Turkish authorities, but it is going to be most important for the Iraqi authorities to deal with this question in the first place. Thank you.
Released on January 19, 2007
Remarks at Memorial Service for Slain Journalist Hrant Dink
Daniel Fried, Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs
St. Mary's Armenian Apostolic Church
January 23, 2007
This is a sad and terrible occasion that we have gathered here in honor of a man whose strength and vision we miss. Hrant Dink was a man of courage and decency, and I must express my own awe and admiration for his memory and for his life’s work. And we all express our shock and horror at his brutal murder.
He was a proud son of the Armenian people and a citizen of Turkey, and in his work and in his life insisted on reconciliation and dialogue. And he stood for a civic virtue higher than hatred, higher than ethnic stereotypes, higher than fears and repression and ignorance. His was a vision of a better world. His was a vision of the best in Turkey’s tradition.
The measure of how our world falls short must be judged by his murder at the hands of an ignorant, hate-filled nationalist. The measure of the hope for the world can be judged by his achievements in life, which may be measured by the crowds on the streets in Istanbul today, where tens of thousands of people – Armenians, Turks, Greeks – filled the streets and stated their solidarity with his vision of a better world, of a world of tolerance and understanding.
It is a testament to the power of evil people that he was murdered, and yet a testament to the power of will that his vision was made real today, and that tens of thousands took up his call is a noble vision, and we should all be listening to on our own.
Term of Appointment: 11/30/2005 to present
Ambassador Ross Wilson arrived in Turkey to take up duties as U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Turkey on December 3, 2005.
Ambassador Wilson was nominated to serve at the Ankara embassy by President George W. Bush on October 28, 2005. He was confirmed by the Senate on November 18, sworn in by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on December 2, and presented his credentials to President Sezer on December 8.
Before coming to Turkey, Ambassador Wilson served as Executive Assistant and Chief of Staff for Deputy Secretary of State Robert B. Zoellick from February to August 2005, providing policy and staff support to the Deputy Secretary on the entire range of issues in U.S. foreign policy. Between June 2003 and February 2005, Ambassador Wilson served as U.S. Senior Negotiator for the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. In this capacity, he headed the U.S. delegation in the FTAA negotiations and was responsible for the development, coordination and implementation of U.S. government negotiating positions and strategies in these trade talks.
A career officer in the U.S. Foreign Service with the personal rank of Minister-Counselor, Ambassador Wilson has worked for over 26 years at the Department of State and at American missions abroad. President Clinton nominated him as U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Azerbaijan in February 2000, and he served in that capacity in 2000-2003. From 1997 to 2000, Ambassador Wilson was Principal Deputy to the Ambassador-at-Large and Special Advisor to the Secretary of State for the New Independent States of the former Soviet Union. Elsewhere overseas, he has served as U.S. Consul General in Melbourne, Australia (1995-97), twice at the American embassy in Moscow, USSR (1980-82 and 1987-90), and at the American embassy in Prague, Czechoslovakia (1985-87). In Washington, Ambassador Wilson worked for Secretaries of State Baker, Eagleburger and Christopher in 1992-94 as Deputy Executive Secretary of the Department of State. He was Special Assistant to Under Secretary of State for Economic Affairs and Counselor of the Department Zoellick in 1990-92. Early in his career, he served in the State Department?s Offices of Soviet Union and Egyptian Affairs.
Born in 1955 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Ambassador Wilson received a Bachelors degree magna cum laude from the University of Minnesota in 1977 and Masters degrees from Columbia University (1979) and the U.S. National War College (1995). He is the recipient of the President?s Meritorious Service Award (2005), Azerbaijan?s Order of Honor, and numerous State Department awards. Ambassador Wilson is married to Margo Squire, who is also a career diplomat with the State Department. They have two sons.
Released on December 22, 2005
Background Note: Turkey
OFFICIAL NAME: Republic of Turkey
Area: 780,580 sq. km.
Cities: Capital--Ankara (pop. 4.0 million). Other cities--Istanbul (8.8 million), Izmir (2.3 million), Bursa (2.1 million), Adana (1.8 million).
Terrain: Narrow coastal plain surrounds Anatolia, an inland plateau becomes increasingly rugged as it progresses eastward. Turkey includes one of the more earthquake-prone areas of the world.
Climate: Moderate in coastal areas, harsher temperatures inland.
Nationality: Noun--Turk(s). Adjective--Turkish.
Population (2005): 71.5 million.
Annual population growth rate (2004 est.): 1.33%.
Ethnic groups: Turkish, Kurdish, other.
Religions: Muslim 99%, Christian, Bahai and Jewish.
Languages: Turkish (official), Kurdish, Zaza, Arabic, Armenian, Greek.
Education: Years compulsory--8. Attendance--97.6%. Literacy--86.5%.
Health: Infant mortality rate--39.4/1,000. Life expectancy--68.5 yrs.
Work force (23 million): Agriculture--35.6%; industry--17.5%; services--42.2%.
Independence: October 29, 1923.
Constitution: November 7, 1982.
Branches: Executive--president (chief of state), prime minister (head of government), Council of Ministers (cabinet--appointed by the president on the nomination of the prime minister). Legislative--Grand National Assembly (550 members) chosen by national elections at least every 5 years. Judicial--Constitutional Court, Court of Cassation, Council of State, and other courts.
Political parties in Parliament: Justice and Development Party (AK), Republican People’s Party (CHP), and True Path Party (DYP).
Suffrage: Universal, 18 and older.
National holiday: Republic Day, October 29.
GDP: (2003) $241.1 billion; (2004) $300.6 billion; (2005) $361.5 billion.
Annual real GDP growth rate: (2003) (+) 5.8%; (2004) (+) 8.9%; (2005) 7.4%
GDP per capita: (2003) $3,412; (2004) $4,187; (2005) $5,016.
Annual inflation rate /CPI: (2003) 18.4%; (2004) 9.3%; (2005) 7.7%.
Natural resources: Coal, chromium, mercury, copper, boron, oil, gold.
Agriculture (11.8% of GNP): Major cash crops--cotton, sugar beets, hazelnuts, wheat, barley, and tobacco. Provides more than 40% of jobs, 6% of exports.
Industry (24.9% of GNP): Major growth sector, types--automotive, electronics, food processing, textiles, basic metals, chemicals, and petrochemicals.
Trade: Exports (merchandise)--(2003) $46.8 billion; (2004) $63.1 billion: textiles and apparel, iron and steel, electronics, tobacco, and motor vehicles. Imports (merchandise)--(2003) $68.7 billion; (2004) $96.5 billion; (2005) $116 billion: petroleum, machinery, motor vehicles, electronics, iron and steel, plastics. Major partners--Germany, U.S., Italy, France, Russian Federation, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, U.K.
Modern Turkey spans bustling cosmopolitan centers, pastoral farming villages, barren wastelands, peaceful Aegean coastlines, and steep mountain regions. More than half of Turkey's population lives in urban areas that juxtapose Western lifestyles with traditional-style mosques and markets.
Turkey has been officially secular since 1924, although 99% of the population is Muslim. Most Turkish Muslims belong to the Sunni branch of Islam, but a significant number are Alevi Muslims. Questions of the goals of political Islam and the aftermath of the 1984-99 PKK Kurdish insurgency continue to fuel public debate on several aspects of Turkish society, including the role of religion, the necessity for human rights protections, and the expectation of security. Turkish citizens of Kurdish origin constitute an ethnic and linguistic group. Estimates of their population range up to 12 million.
Mustafa Kemal, celebrated by the Turkish State as a Turkish World War I hero and later known as "Ataturk" or "father of the Turks," led the founding of the Republic of Turkey in 1923 after the collapse of the 600-year-old Ottoman Empire and a three-year war of independence. The empire, which at its peak controlled vast stretches of northern Africa, southeastern Europe, and western Asia, had failed to keep pace with European social and technological developments. The rise of national consciousness impelled several captive nations to seek to regain lost independence, leading to the empire's fragmentation. This process culminated in the disastrous Ottoman participation in World War I as a German ally. Defeated, shorn of much of its former territory, and partly occupied by forces of the victorious European states, the Ottoman structure was repudiated by Turkish nationalists whom Mustafa Kemal brought together under his tight leadership. The nationalists expelled invading Greek forces from Anatolia after a bitter war. After the proclamation of the Republic of Turkey the temporal and religious ruling institutions of the old empire (the sultanate and caliphate) were abolished.
The leaders of the new republic concentrated on consolidating their power and modernizing and Westernizing what had been the empire's core--Anatolia and a small part of Thrace. Social, political, linguistic, and economic reforms and attitudes decreed by Ataturk from 1924-1934 continue to be referred to as the ideological base of modern Turkey. In the post-Ataturk era, and especially after the military coup of 1960, this ideology came to be known as "Kemalism" and his reforms began to be referred to as "revolutions." Kemalism comprises a Turkish form of secularism, strong nationalism, statism, and to a degree a western orientation. The continued validity and applicability of Kemalism are the subject of lively debate in Turkey's political life. The current ruling AK Party comes from a tradition that challenges many of the Kemalist precepts and is driven in its reform efforts by a desire to achieve EU accession.
Turkey did not enter World War II on the Allied side until shortly before the war ended and became a charter member of the United Nations. Difficulties faced by Greece after World War II in quelling a communist rebellion and demands by the Soviet Union for military bases in the Turkish Straits prompted the United States to declare the Truman Doctrine in 1947. The doctrine enunciated American intentions to guarantee the security of Turkey and Greece and resulted in large scale U.S. military and economic aid. After participating with United Nations forces in the Korean conflict, Turkey in 1952 joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Turkey is currently a European Union candidate.
GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS
The 1982 Constitution, drafted by the military in the wake of the 1980 coup, proclaims Turkey’s system of government as democratic, secular, and parliamentary. The presidency’s powers are not precisely defined in practice, and the president’s influence depends on his personality and political weight. The president and the Council of Ministers led by the prime minister share executive powers. The president, who has broad powers of appointment and supervision, is chosen by Parliament for a term of 7 years and cannot be reelected. The prime minister administers the government. The prime minister and the Council of Ministers are responsible to Parliament.
The 550-member Parliament carries out legislative functions. Election is by proportional representation. To participate in the distribution of seats, a party must obtain at least 10% of the votes cast at the national level as well as a percentage of votes in the contested district according to a complex formula. The president enacts laws passed by Parliament within 15 days. With the exception of budgetary laws, the president may return a law to the Parliament for reconsideration. If Parliament reenacts the law, it is binding, although the president may then apply to the Constitutional Court for a reversal of the law. Constitutional amendments pass with a 60% vote, but require a popular referendum unless passed with a two-thirds majority; the president may also submit amendments passed with a two-thirds majority to a popular referendum.
The judiciary is declared to be independent, but the need for judicial reform and confirmation of its independence are subjects of open debate. Internationally recognized human rights, including freedom of thought, expression, assembly, and travel, are officially enshrined in the Constitution but have at times been narrowly interpreted, can be limited in times of emergency and cannot be used to violate what the Constitution and the courts consider the integrity of the state or to impose a system of government based on religion, ethnicity, or the domination of one social class. The Constitution prohibits torture or ill treatment; the current government has focused on ensuring that practice matches principle. Labor rights, including the right to strike, are recognized in the Constitution but can be restricted.
The 1982 Constitution provides for a system of State Security Courts to deal with offenses against the integrity of the state. The high court system includes a Constitutional Court responsible for judicial review of legislation, a Court of Cassation (or Supreme Court of Appeals), a Council of State serving as the high administrative and appeals court, a Court of Accounts, and a Military Court of Appeals. The High Council of Judges and Prosecutors, appointed by the president, supervises the judiciary.
In the November 2002 election of Turkey’s 58th government, the Justice and Development Party (AK) captured 34.3% of the total votes, making Abdullah Gul Prime Minister, followed by the Republican People's Party (CHP) with 19.39% of the vote, led by Deniz Baykal. A special General Election was held again in the province of Siirt in March 2003, resulting in the election of AK’s chairman Recep Tayyip Erdogan to a seat in parliament, allowing him to become prime minister. AK and CHP were the only parties to surpass the 10% threshold required to hold seats in parliament. The elections resulted in 363 of the 550 seats going to AK, 178 seats to CHP, and 9 as independent. Due to a reshuffle in party affiliation, AK holds 367 seats, CHP holds 175 seats, five are independent, and three joined the True Path Party (DYP). In March 2004 nationwide local elections, AKP won 57 of 81 provincial capital municipalities and, with 41.8% of the votes for provincial council seats, consolidated its hold on power.
Principal Government Officials
President of the Republic--Ahmet Necdet Sezer
Prime Minister--Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Minister of Foreign Affairs--Abdullah Gul
Ambassador to the United States--Nabi Sensoy
Ambassador to the United Nations--Umit Pamir
Turkey maintains an embassy in the United States at 2525 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008, tel. (202) 612-6700. Consulates general in Chicago (360 N. Michigan Ave., Suite 1405, Chicago, IL 60601, tel: 312-263-0644, ext. 28); Los Angeles (4801 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 310, Los Angeles, CA 90010, tel: 323-937-0118); New York (821 United Nations Plaza, New York, NY 10017, tel: 212-949-0160); and Houston (1990 Post Oak Blvd., Suite 1300, Houston, TX 77056, tel: 713-622-5849). The Permanent Representative of Turkey to the United Nations is located on 821 United Nations Plaza, 10th floor, New York, NY 10017, tel: 212-949-0150.
Turkey is a large, middle-income country with relatively few mineral resources. Its economy is currently in transition from a high degree of reliance on agriculture and heavy industrial economy to a more diverse, more modern economy with an increasingly important and globalized services sector. Turkey’s economy suffered from high--sometimes very high--inflation for 30 years, from the early 1970s until the recent reform period. Coming out of a tradition of a state-directed economy that was relatively closed to the outside world, Prime Minister and then President Turgut Ozal began to open up the economy in the 1980s. In the 1990s, Turkey’s economy suffered from a series of coalition governments with weak economic policies, leading to a boom-and-bust cycle culminating in a severe banking and economic crisis in 2001 and a deep economic downturn (GNP fell 9.5% in 2001) and increase in unemployment.
Since the crisis, however, Turkey's economy has recovered strongly thanks to good monetary and fiscal policies and structural economic reforms made with the support of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. The independence of the Central Bank from political interference has been firmly established, a floating exchange rate system has been put in place, and the government's overall budget deficit has been substantially reduced. In addition, there have been substantial reforms in the financial, energy, and telecommunications sectors that have included the privatization of several large state-owned institutions.
Thanks to these efforts, Turkey's economy grew an average of 7.5% per year from 2002 through 2005--one of the highest sustained rates of growth in the world. Inflation and interest rates have fallen significantly, the currency has stabilized, government debt has declined to more supportable levels, and business and consumer confidence have returned. At the same time, the booming economy and large inflows of portfolio investment have contributed to a growing current account deficit. Though Turkey’s vulnerabilities have been greatly reduced, the economy could still face problems in the event there is a sudden change in investor sentiment that leads to a sharp fall in the exchange rate. Continued implementation of reforms, including tight fiscal policy, is essential to sustain growth and stability.
After years of low levels of foreign direct investment (FDI), in 2005 Turkey succeeded in attracting $9.6 billion in FDI and is expected to attract a similar level in 2006. A series of large privatizations, the stability fostered by the start of Turkey’s EU accession negotiations, strong and stable growth, and structural changes in the banking, retail, and telecommunications sectors have all contributed to the rise in foreign investment. Turkey has taken steps to improve its investment climate through administrative streamlining, an end to foreign investment screening, and strengthened intellectual property legislation. However, a number of disputes involving foreign investors in Turkey and certain policies, such as high taxation of cola products and continuing gaps in the intellectual property regime, inhibit investment. Turkey has a number of bilateral investment and tax treaties, including with the United States, that guarantee free repatriation of capital in convertible currencies and eliminate double taxation.
Inflation, Debt and Fiscal Policy. Though Turkey has made great progress reducing inflation, it has not yet converged with the low levels prevalent in most other industrialized countries. Annual consumer price inflation, which averaged around 80% in the 1990s and nearly 50% in 2000 through 2003, fell to 9.3% in 2004 and 7.7% in 2005. In 2006, the target is to bring inflation down to 5%. Turkey’s other persistent economic weaknesses--its large, short-term domestic public debt and runaway state spending--have also been brought under control. Net public debt to GDP has fallen from 92% in 2001 to under 60% at the end of 2005. The composition of the debt, with much of it short-term debt needing to be rolled over in the domestic financial market, remains a risk, but the Turkish Treasury has gradually reduced this by increasing maturities and reducing the share of foreign exchange-denominated debt. Turkey’s five straight years of tight fiscal policy have brought public sector balances under control, with the overall public sector deficit now less than the 3% of GDP requirement in the EU’s Maastricht criteria.
Principal Growth Sectors - Energy. Installed electricity generation capacity in Turkey reached 32,000 megawatts (MW) as of 2004. Fossil fuels account for 71% of the total installed capacity and hydro, geothermal, and wind account for the remaining 28%. The growth in electricity generation has remained below electricity demand until recently, which has made Turkey a net importer of electricity since 1997. The growth of energy demand slowed somewhat as a result of the 2001 economic crisis, but has picked up again. Turkish authorities expect a significant electricity shortfall by 2008 unless new facilities become operational. The Government of Turkey took some important steps in 2001 to liberalize its energy sector, including passage of the Electricity Market Law and establishment of the Energy Market Regulatory Authority (EMRA). However, the government has moved slowly to follow through on plans to liberalize and privatize the electricity and natural gas sectors. In 2004, the High Planning Council approved the Electricity Sector Reform Strategy to renew the reform process.
Oil provides about 43% of Turkey’s total energy requirements; around 90% is imported. Domestic production is mostly from small fields in the southeast. New exploration is taking place in the eastern Black Sea. In 2004, the Parliament approved a petroleum market reform bill that liberalized consumer prices and would lead to the privatization of the state refining company TUPRAS. TUPRAS was privatized in 2005, but this has been held up by court cases still in process. Turkey has a refining capacity of 802,275 barrels per day (b/d).
Turkey acts as an important link in the East-West Energy Corridor bringing the Caspian energy to Europe and world markets. The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline, which will begin operation in 2006, will deliver 1 million b/d of petroleum, and in late 2006, the South Caucasus Pipeline (from Shah Deniz) will bring natural gas from Azerbaijan to Turkey. Turkey is building an interconnector pipeline to Greece, an important step in bringing Caspian natural gas to Europe via Turkey.
Telecommunications. Parliament enacted legislation separating telecommunications policy and regulatory functions in January 2000, by establishing an independent regulatory body, the Telecommunication Authority. The Authority is responsible for issuing licenses, supervising operators, and taking necessary technical measures against violations of the rules. Most regulatory functions of the Transport Ministry were transferred to the Authority, and the regulator is slowly gaining competence and independence. The long-expected privatization of the state-owned telecommunications company was accomplished by the sale of 55% of Turk Telekom to the Saudi-owned Oger Group in November 2005. With liberalization and growth in the economy, there is growing competition for Internet provision, but Turk Telekom remains the sole provider of ADSL wide band Internet.
Environment. With the establishment of the Environment Ministry in 1991, Turkey began to make significant progress addressing its most pressing environmental problems. The most dramatic improvements were significant reductions of air pollution in Istanbul and Ankara. However, progress has been slow on the remaining--and serious--environmental challenges facing Turkey.
In 2003, the Ministry of Environment was merged with the Forestry Ministry. With its goal to join the EU, Turkey has made commendable progress in updating and modernizing its environmental legislation. However, environmental concerns are not fully integrated into public decision-making and enforcement can be weak. Turkey faces a backlog of environmental problems, requiring enormous outlays for infrastructure. The most pressing needs are for water treatment plants, wastewater treatment facilities, solid waste management, and conservation of biodiversity. The discovery of a number of chemical waste sites in 2006 has highlighted weakness in environmental law and oversight.
Transport. The Turkish Government gives a special priority to major infrastructure projects, especially in the transport sector. The government is in the process of building new airports and highways, thanks to an increased public investment budget. The government will realize many of these projects by utilizing the build-operate-transfer (BOT) model.
Textiles. The textile sector is Turkey's largest manufacturing industry and its largest export sector. The global phase-out of textile quotas in 2005 has hurt the Turkish textile sector, with foreign competition eating into Turkish textile companies’ market share both domestically and abroad.
Principal growth sectors are tourism infrastructure, building products, automobiles and automotive parts, and electronics.
Turkey's primary political, economic, and security ties are with the West, although some voices call for a more "Eurasian" orientation.
Turkey entered NATO in 1952 and serves as the organization's vital eastern anchor, controlling the straits leading from the Black Sea to the Mediterranean and sharing a border with Syria, Iraq, and Iran. A NATO headquarters is located in Izmir. Besides its relationships with NATO and the EU, Turkey is a member of the OECD, the Council of Europe, and OSCE. Turkey also is a member of the UN and the Islamic Conference Organization (OIC). In December 1999, Turkey became a candidate for EU membership. On December 17, 2004, the EU decided to begin formal accession negotiations with Turkey in October 2005.
Turkey and the EU formed a customs union beginning January 1, 1996. The agreement covers industrial and processed agricultural goods. Turkey is harmonizing its laws and regulations with EU standards. Turkey adopted the EU's Common External Tariff regime, effectively lowering Turkey's tariffs for third countries, including the United States.
On October 3, 2005, Turkey and the EU reached agreement for Turkey to begin negotiations on accession to the European Union. Turkey and EU officials have begun the process of screening Turkey’s laws and policies in order to begin negotiating the individual chapters required for ultimate EU accession.
Turkey is a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO). It has signed free trade agreements with the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), Israel, and many other countries. In 1992 Turkey and 10 other regional nations formed the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Council to expand regional trade and economic cooperation.
U.S.-Turkish friendship dates to the late 18th century and was officially sealed by a treaty in 1830. The present close relationship began with the agreement of July 12, 1947, which implemented the Truman Doctrine. As part of the cooperative effort to further Turkish economic and military self-reliance, the United States has loaned and granted Turkey more than $12.5 billion in economic aid and more than $14 billion in military assistance.
U.S.-Turkish relations focus on areas such as strategic energy cooperation, trade and investment, security ties, regional stability, the global war on terrorism, and human rights progress. Relations were strained when Turkey refused to allow U.S. troops to deploy through its territory to Iraq in Operation Iraqi Freedom, but regained momentum steadily thereafter and mutual interests remain strong across a wide spectrum of issues.
The U.S. and Turkey have had a Joint Economic Commission and a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement for several years. In 2002, the two countries indicated their joint intent to upgrade bilateral economic relations by launching an Economic Partnership Commission. In 2005, Turkish exports to the U.S. totaled $4.9 billion, and U.S. exports to Turkey totaled $5.3 billion.
Principal U.S. Officials
Deputy Chief of Mission--Nancy McEldowney
Political Affairs--Janice G. Weiner
Political-Military Affairs--Timothy Betts
Economic Affairs--Thomas H. Goldberger
Regional Affairs--Thaddeus W. Troy
Consular Affairs--Laura Dogu
Management Affairs--Gerri H. O’Brien
Public Affairs--James R. Moore
Agricultural Affairs--James Higgiston
Commercial Affairs--John T. Lancia
Defense/Air Attache--Col. Roman Hrycaj
Navy Attache--CDR David Renberg
Army Attache--LTC David Bartlett
The U.S. Embassy is located at 110 Ataturk Boulevard, Kavaklidere, Ankara 06100, tel: (90) (312) 455-5555.
TRAVEL AND BUSINESS INFORMATION
The U.S. Department of State's Consular Information Program advises Americans traveling and residing abroad through Consular Information Sheets, Public Announcements, and Travel Warnings. Consular Information Sheets exist for all countries and include information on entry and exit requirements, currency regulations, health conditions, safety and security, crime, political disturbances, and the addresses of the U.S. embassies and consulates abroad. Public Announcements are issued to disseminate information quickly about terrorist threats and other relatively short-term conditions overseas that pose significant risks to the security of American travelers. Travel Warnings are issued when the State Department recommends that Americans avoid travel to a certain country because the situation is dangerous or unstable.
For the latest security information, Americans living and traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs Internet web site at http://www.travel.state.gov, where the current Worldwide Caution, Public Announcements, and Travel Warnings can be found. Consular Affairs Publications, which contain information on obtaining passports and planning a safe trip abroad, are also available at http://www.travel.state.gov. For additional information on international travel, see http://www.usa.gov/Citizen/Topics/Travel/International.shtml.
The Department of State encourages all U.S citizens who traveling or residing abroad to register via the State Department's travel registration website or at the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate abroad. Registration will make your presence and whereabouts known in case it is necessary to contact you in an emergency and will enable you to receive up-to-date information on security conditions.
Emergency information concerning Americans traveling abroad may be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S. and Canada or the regular toll line 1-202-501-4444 for callers outside the U.S. and Canada.
The National Passport Information Center (NPIC) is the U.S. Department of State's single, centralized public contact center for U.S. passport information. Telephone: 1-877-4USA-PPT (1-877-487-2778). Customer service representatives and operators for TDD/TTY are available Monday-Friday, 7:00 a.m. to 12:00 midnight, Eastern Time, excluding federal holidays.
Travelers can check the latest health information with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia. A hotline at 877-FYI-TRIP (877-394-8747) and a web site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel/index.htm give the most recent health advisories, immunization recommendations or requirements, and advice on food and drinking water safety for regions and countries. A booklet entitled "Health Information for International Travel" (HHS publication number CDC-95-8280) is available from the U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402, tel. (202) 512-1800.
Further Electronic Information
Department of State Web Site. Available on the Internet at http://www.state.gov, the Department of State web site provides timely, global access to official U.S. foreign policy information, including Background Notes and daily press briefings along with the directory of key officers of Foreign Service posts and more. The Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) provides security information and regional news that impact U.S. companies working abroad through its website http://www.osac.gov
Export.gov provides a portal to all export-related assistance and market information offered by the federal government and provides trade leads, free export counseling, help with the export process, and more.
STAT-USA/Internet, a service of the U.S. Department of Commerce, provides authoritative economic, business, and international trade information from the Federal government. The site includes current and historical trade-related releases, international market research, trade opportunities, and country analysis and provides access to the National Trade Data Bank.