Ankara and Washington must put aside their differences and focus on areas of common interest after years of tumultuous relations, experts from the two countries stressed on Saturday.
Relations between Turkey and the United States were discussed during a panel organized by the Directorate of Communications in New York.
The panel, which hosted local and foreign scholars at the Türkevi Center on Friday, covered the historical, political and economic aspects of relations between the two countries.
Speaking at the first session, Çağrı Erhan, rector of Turkey‘s Altınbaş University, said that relations with the United States date back to the late 18th century.
“The main meeting is not on military issues, but on trade issues,” Erhan said, adding that trade was the most important item on the agenda in the early periods.
The American public began to perceive the Turks negatively after the outbreak of wars in North Africa in the early 19th century.
Despite the ups and downs, military cooperation has developed in the relationship over time, he said, recalling that the United States manufactured 11 warships for the Ottoman state in the 1830s. .
Kılıç Buğra Kanat, research director in Washington at the Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research (SETA), said the two countries had made significant attempts to establish trust until World War II.
Strategic relations began immediately after the war, he said, adding that Russia is sometimes a “fault line” or a “glue that binds the two countries together”.
During the second session, Mike Doran, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, said he has been following relations between the two countries closely since 2016.
More and more people realize that relations with the PKK are a strategic mistake, even if they do not like to admit it, he said, adding that the United States has alienated its ally , Turkey, Syria.
The PKK is a designated terrorist organization in the United States, Turkey and the European Union, and Washington’s support for its Syrian affiliate has strained bilateral relations with Ankara. The United States has mainly partnered with the YPG in northeastern Syria in its fight against the terrorist group Daesh. By contrast, Turkey has firmly opposed the YPG’s presence in northern Syria.
Noting that he is “more optimistic than ever” about the bilateral relationship, Doran said there was a real opportunity to rethink everything from start to finish.
Brenda Shaffer, director of the Center for Eurasian, Russian and Eastern European Studies at Georgetown University, discussed the energy ties.
Shaffer said the energy crisis that emerged in Europe with Russia’s war on Ukraine underscored the importance of Turkey and southern corridor alternatives.
Stressing that the most appropriate way for Israel’s exports to Europe would be through Turkey, she said Ankara’s diverse market, with around six different sourcing projects, could be a lesson for many. Many countries.
Former US State Department adviser Rich Outzen, who gave the closing speech at the panel, said Turkey and the United States are two good but not easy long-term allies.
Outzen said it was a difficult relationship and Washington had unrealistic expectations of its allies.
Noting that there are political and cultural differences between the two countries, he pointed out that while the American people generally live as a society closed to the outside world, Turkey has traditions deeply rooted in a dynamic geography from Asia to the Middle. -East.
It is necessary to leave problematic areas aside and focus on common interests and there is a wide area in this regard, especially in Ukraine, he said, adding that the two countries have common interests in many areas.
Among the various issues affecting the relations between Turkey and the United States are the United States’ cooperation with the Syrian branch of the PKK terrorist organization, the YPG, its attitude towards the Gülenist terrorist group (FETÖ), disagreements on the S-400 and Washington’s sanctions against Ankara. However, the two countries recently announced the establishment of a new strategic mechanism to focus on areas of cooperation and overcome problems.
The first step of the strategic mechanism was taken during the meetings of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his American counterpart Joe Biden in Rome on October 31, 2021.
Participating in the panel via video conference, Turkish Communications Director Fahrettin Altun said the US administration should also stand with Turkey in the fight against regional and global terrorism.
The United States should realize before it’s too late that FETÖ’s presence in their country is also a threat to American society from now on, Altun said.
Stressing that Turkey is always open to developing cooperation with the United States in areas of mutual interest, he said that Ankara aims to resolve issues and disagreements that negatively affect bilateral relations by managing them effectively. Turkey will pursue the “constructive, realistic and determined” approach in the same way, he added.
He went on to say that the potential for cooperation between Turkey and the United States in all fields, from economy to security, should be fully mobilized.