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02 November 2007

2143) Resolution On "Importance Of Friendship With Turkey" Introduced In U.S. Senate

31.10.2007 /PanARMENIAN.Net/ In a move widely seen as intended to calm Turkish anger over growing strains in its ties with the United States, Senators Robert Byrd (D-WV) and Gordon Smith (R-OR) have introduced legislation which ignores key points of tension in this relationship and offers unconditional praise to Turkey and its leaders, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).

"The resolution introduced by Senators Smith and Byrd neither serves U.S. interests nor advances American values by sugar-coating Turkey's record or by ignoring serious tensions in the U.S.-Turkey bilateral relationship," said American Hellenic Institute Executive (AHI) Director Nick Laragakis and ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian, in a joint statement issued today. "Any legislation that the Foreign Relations Committee considers on this issue should clearly and prominently address Turkey's threats to invade and destabilize northern Iraq, its immoral and heavy-handed threats against the recognition of the Armenian Genocide, military occupation of Cyprus, continued airspace violations of Greek- sovereign airspace over the Aegean, blockade of Armenia, mistreatment of the Kurds, and restrictions on the religious freedom of the Ecumenical Patriarch and other Christian leaders."

The ANCA and AHI shared their concerns regarding this legislation today with Members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. In making the case regarding Turkey's increasing unreliability, the ANCA also circulated a recent Los Angeles Times opinion piece by Graham Fuller, a former Vice-Chairman of the CIA's National Intelligence Council, who argued that: "Turkish-American relations have been deteriorating for years, and the root explanation is simple and harsh: Washington's policies are broadly and fundamentally incompatible with Turkish foreign policy interests in multiple arenas".

Introduced on October 29, S.Res.358 begins by asserting that the "United States and Turkey share common ideals and a clear vision for the 21st Century, in which freedom and democracy are the foundation of peace, prosperity and security." It concludes by thanking Prime Minister Erdogan for "continued discussions with officials in the U.S. and Iraq regarding constructive stabilization efforts in northern Iraq." The resolution makes no mention of Turkey's controversial relations with Hamas, its growing ties with Iran, or its refusal in 2003 to allow U.S. troops to open a northern front in Iraq.

Submitted Resolutions Senate Resolution 358

Mr. SMITH (for himself and Mr. BYRD) submitted the following resolution; which was referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations:

S. RES. 358
Whereas the United States and Turkey share common ideals and a clear vision for the 21st century, in which freedom and democracy are the foundation of peace, prosperity, and security;

Whereas Turkey is a strong example of a predominantly Muslim country with a true representative democratic government; Whereas for more than 50 years a strategic partnership has existed between the United States and Turkey, both bilaterally and through the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, which has been of enormous political, economic, cultural, and strategic benefit to both countries;

Whereas the Government of Turkey has demonstrated its opposition to terrorism throughout the world, and has called for the international community to unite against this threat;

Whereas Turkey maintains an important bilateral relationship with Israel and seeks to play a constructive role in Middle East peace negotiations; Whereas Operation Enduring Freedom entered its 6th year on October 7th, 2007;
Whereas Turkey commanded the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan twice, from July 2002 to January 2003, and from February 2005 to August 2005; Whereas Turkey has provided humanitarian and medical assistance in Afghanistan and in Iraq;

Whereas the Government of Turkey has made its base in Incirlik available for United States missions in Iraq and Afghanistan; Whereas Secretary of Defense Robert Gates credits United States air bases in Turkey with handling 70 percent of all air cargo deployed into Iraq;

Whereas 95 percent of the Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protective vehicles (MRAPs) deployed into Iraq transit through air bases in Turkey;

Whereas MRAPs protect coalition forces from improvised explosive devices and roadside bombs;

Whereas the people of Turkey have been victims of terrorist attacks by Al-Qaeda on November 15, 2003, and November 20, 2003; Whereas the United States supports Turkey’s bid for membership in the European Union; and
Whereas the Secretary of State has listed the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, which has taken up arms against Turkey since its founding, as a Foreign Terrorist Organization in accordance with section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act, as amended: Now, therefore, be it Resolved, That the Senate—

(1) reiterates its strong support for the strategic alliance between the United States and Turkey;
(2) urges Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey to communicate the continuing support of the Senate and of the people of the United States to the people of Turkey;
(3) condemns the violent attacks conducted by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party over the last 2 decades;
(4) urges Kurdish leaders in Iraq to deny safe harbor for terrorists and to recognize bilateral agreements between Iraq and Turkey for cooperation against terrorism;
(5) encourages the Government of Turkey and the Government of Iraq to continue to work together to end the threat of terrorism; and
(6) thanks Prime Minister Erdogan and the people and Government of Turkey for—
(A) assuming command of the International Security Assistance Force in Kabul, Afghanistan from July 2002 to January 2003, and from February 2005 to August 2005;
(B) providing humanitarian and medical assistance in Afghanistan and in Iraq;
(C) their willingness to contribute to international peace, stability, and prosperity, especially in the greater Middle East region;
and
(D) their continued discussions with officials in the United States and Iraq regarding constructive stabilization efforts in northern Iraq.

Mr. BYRD. Mr. President, today marks the 84th anniversary of the founding of the Republic of Turkey. It is an auspicious occasion to commemorate the abiding and enduring partnership between two great nations.

In 1923, following the collapse of the 600-year-old Ottoman Empire and a 3-year war of independence, a Turkish World War I hero, Mustafa Kemal, helped found the Republic of Turkey. Kemal, who was later given the name Ataturk, meaning ‘‘father of the Turks,’’ rejected the crumbling structures and outdated modes of empire and embraced instead a platform of reform and modernization, a legacy that continues in Turkey to this day and to this hour.

Today Turkey is the most successful example in the Muslim world of a secular representative democracy. Turkey’s economy has grown at a record pace in recent years to become the world’s 19th largest. Literacy and education rates continue to climb, as life expectancy has improved and poverty rates have declined. Turkey stands as an inspiration to reformers in the greater Middle East and throughout the world.

Turkey has been a consistent and loyal ally of the people of the United States. From World War II, when Turkey entered the fight on the side of the allies, to the cementing of the United States-Turkish alliance in the 1947 Truman doctrine to Turkey’s accession to the North American Treaty Organization in 1952, Turkey has been a friend of the American people.

During the long Cold War, Turkey was a bulwark on the edge of the Iron Curtain, and it was a critical ally. Turkey later helped the United States to patrol the no-fly zones over Iraq after the first Persian Gulf war and aided the U.S. Armed Forces in Afghanistan after the September 11 attacks.

Turkey, which has the second largest army in NATO, commanded the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan twice, in 2002 and 2005, and Turkish troops continue to contribute to security efforts there.

It is difficult to overstate the critical importance of Turkey’s cooperation with United States missions in the region. United States Defense Secretary Robert Gates recently estimated that 70 percent—let me say that again, 70 percent—of the air cargo deployed into Iraq to support United States troops there transits through airbases in Turkey. I perhaps should say that again. It is difficult to overstate the critical importance of Turkey’s cooperation with United States missions in the region.
© This content Mirrored From TurkishArmenians  Site
United States Defense Secretary Robert Gates recently estimated that 70 percent of the air cargo deployed into Iraq to support United States troops there transits through airbases in Turkey. Turkey, as a predominantly Muslim country with an important bilateral relationship with Israel, seeks to play a constructive role in Middle East peace negotiations and continues to be an important ally in a dangerous and turbulent region. Turkey occupies a strategically critical territory between Europe and Asia, bordering such challenging neighbors as Iran, Syria, and Iraq.

Furthermore, I say, as the United States increasingly looks to diversify its sources of energy, it is important for us to remember that Turkey forms a crucial energy corridor to the West, capable of bringing oil and natural gas from the steppes of Eurasia to the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. Turkey is, in short, central to the interests of the United States. Now is a good time to be reminded of that fact, as tensions build in the Kurdish region and tempers flare over the proper words to use to describe a century-old tragedy. Whatever one’s views may be about that tragedy—politically, economically, geographically, strategically, and militarily—as our soldiers— our soldiers, U.S. soldiers, American soldiers—are in harm’s way in Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States can illafford to lose such an important friend and ally as Turkey.

This is a critical moment for Turkey. The Turkish people recently elected a new government, led by Prime Minister Erdogan and President Abdullah Gul. Let me say that once more. This time I think I can say that better. This is a critical moment for Turkey. The Turkish people recently elected a new government led by Prime Minister Erdogan and President Abdullah Gul. These decisive elections demonstrated the vibrant and healthy spirit of Turkey’s democracy and the commitment of Turkey’s people to the democratic process. However, the young government is facing a number of serious challenges as it simultaneously seeks to guard against a very real threat from Kurdish terrorists, assuage Turkish nationalists and the military, and maintain the secular character of the State, all while continuing Turkey’s bid for European Union membership. We should offer the Turkish Government all the support we can give in these noble endeavors.
© This content Mirrored From TurkishArmenians  Site
Much like the United States, Turkey continues to struggle with the darker moments of its history. The terrible treatment of Armenians prior to and during the first World War, as well as the treatment of other minorities, including Greeks, Alevis, and Kurds, is a matter that continues to haunt the people of Turkey. In recent years, however, there have been encouraging signs: historians conferences, attempts to improve relations with Armenia, and growing acceptance of the Kurdish language.

This is what free people and open democracies do. They debate and they examine their history and the conscience of their people. Given time and patience, their past can be confronted in a truthful and candid way. Many of us would like to see more progress from Turkey in this area. There continue to be issues about which our two countries disagree. This should be no surprise. Members of the same family disagree at times, and our best friends are often those who criticize us most openly. But there is a time for criticism and a time for praise, and criticism can be constructive. Today is a day to celebrate the great Turkish nation and its people and to acknowledge the strong ties that bind our countries together. That is the reason I am cosponsoring a resolution with my colleague, Senator GORDON SMITH—to affirm the friendship and the alliance of the American and Turkish peoples. May our ties continue to grow stronger with the passage of time.


Kindly Forwarded by Sukru Server Aya

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