Ambassador's Speech on Turkish-US Relations to the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies

Namık Tan 08.10.2010
Prof. Alexander,
Distinguished guests,
Ladies and gentlemen,

I am honored to address this gathering on the Turkish-US Strategic Partnership with perspectives on the past, present and future.

Before I start, I would like pay tribute to Prof. Yonah Alexander and the International Center for Terrorism Studies for organizing this conference, and for the opportunity to speak on this very important topic.

Under Professor Alexander’s leadership, the International Center for Terrorism Studies has been working on issues directly related our way of life. Its extensive studies and reports provide guidance for the policy-makers and the general public in understanding and addressing the strains of modern day terrorism.

Prof. Alexander is also a good friend of Turkey. He is a regular contributor to Turkey’s Center of Excellence in Defense Against Terrorism. His analyses and insights on the PKK terrorism are always taken into consideration in devising Turkey’s counter-terrorism policies.

Distinguished guests,

When the Battleship USS Missouri arrived in Istanbul on April 5, 1946, bringing the body of Ambassador Munir Ertegun who had passed away while in office as Turkey’s envoy to the US, it also heralded the dawn of a new era in Turkish-American relations.

By sending the USS Missouri on this mission, President Truman made a very important statement to friend and foe alike: that Turkey and the US would stand firmly together to defend the values of the free world.

Since then, Turkey and the US have been striving vigorously to achieve shared interests and common objectives in a wide geography. 60 years ago, around this time of the year, we were fighting shoulder to shoulder in the mountains of Kunu-ri, Korea, to defend the values that characterize our societies. Today we are in a fierce battle for the very same values in Afghanistan and off the shores of Somalia.

Over the decades, Turkish-American relationship transcended limits of a political and military alliance, evolving into a strategic partnership that comprises not only political but also economic, cultural and social spheres.

Today the strategic alliance between our countries is ever more relevant and crucial for the regional and international peace, security and stability.

Dear friends,

When reflecting on Turkish foreign policy, one should always bear in mind that Turkey continues to be a bastion of democracy and stability in a volatile neighborhood.

Let me briefly describe the surroundings that shape our foreign policy:

- In the east, the Iranian nuclear issue remains unresolved,
- In the south, Iraq is yet to be secured from sources of instability,
- Efforts to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict have still not produced the desired outcome and Turkish–Israeli relations are passing through difficult times,
- In the north-east, the Caucasus continues to be a potential source of conflicts,
- In the north-west, reconciliation efforts in Bosnia face serious challenges,
- And in Cyprus, isolation of the Turkish Cypriots continues despite attempts to achieve a lasting settlement of the problem.

Turkey plays an important, if not central, role on each of these issues, all of which remain high on the U.S. foreign policy agenda.

As a matter of fact, I should stress that all these issues weigh heavily in Turkey.

Against this backdrop of challenges, the Turkish–American partnership is as important as ever.

During his first bilateral overseas trip to Turkey in last year in April, President Obama chose to use the term “model partnership” in describing the Turkish-American relations.

To better understand the term, we should look at the unique characteristics of Turkey and the U.S.:


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