Faruk Loğoğlu was appointed Turkey's Ambassador to the U.S. in September 2001. He holds a graduate degree from Brandeis University and a PhD in political science from Princeton University. Ambassador Loğoğlu began his career at the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs thirty years ago, filling such positions as deputy director general in the Cyprus/Greece section and the deputy undersecretary. He has held ambassadorships to Azerbaijan and Denmark. The ambassador spoke to the Middle East Forum in Philadelphia on May 31, 2002.
Turkey and the War on Terror
Turkey and the United States share similar values. Both countries are democracies, respect the rule of law, respect human rights, and embrace the notion of a free market economy. Accordingly, Turkey has been a strategic friend, ally, and partner to the United States throughout the decades. For instance, Turkish soldiers fought alongside Americans early in the 1950s during the Korean War. Today, the mutual political, security, and economic interests held by our two countries have been further strengthened by Turkey's induction into NATO and the recent events of September 11th.
Turkey sympathizes with the U.S. war on terror because it has also suffered at the hands of terrorists over the past 15 years. In fact, Turkey has lost more than 40,000 of its citizens to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and other terrorist groups. The leadership in Turkey's capital, Ankara, understands that the war on terror will require a long and sustained struggle along many fronts in many countries.
Currently, Turkey is a key player in the allied anti-terror coalition. Indeed, Turkey will be assuming command of the International Security Assistance Force. Turkey plans to further cooperate with the U.S. on issues facing the Middle East, Balkans, the Caucuses, the future of NATO, and the question of Kashmir.
But no matter how many fronts open in this war, the most important weapon against terrorism is education. We must win the hearts and minds of our children back from extremists through education. The strength of a democracy and our way of life is dependant upon future generations of educated boys and girls who respect knowledge, moderation, education, and gender equality.
U.S. and Turkish Economic Interests
Turkey's geography and political history make it an important strategic ally for the U.S., but economically, Turkey should be just as important. Turkey functions as a conduit for the energy production from the Caspian Sea and central Asia. Further, the Turkish economy is the 17th largest in the world, one of the top ten emerging markets, and has a strong private sector.
Despite the close political relations the U.S. and Turkey enjoy, commercial and economic cooperation is sorely lacking. The U.S. and other foreign nations have not traded and invested sufficiently in Turkey's economy. Economic and commercial cooperation is key to strong bilateral relationships.
Turkey's Relationship with Israel
Turkey and Israel enjoy very strong relations for much the same reason as it does with the U.S. -- Turkey and Israel share common values and interests. Turkey has been an important historical player in the Middle East. Turkey's predecessor, the Ottoman Empire, ruled the Middle East and the Balkans for over half-a-millennium. Turkey was among the first to fully recognize the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948.
Turkey is committed to a peaceful solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict. Ankara believes that the solution to the conflict requires a sovereign Israel with secure and recognized borders, and a state of Palestine, in accordance with U.N. Security Council resolutions. Turkey does not qualify the right of Israel to defend its citizens. However, it is critical of Israel's disproportionate use of military force against civilian Palestinians. At the same time, Turkey condemns terrorism, particularly suicide bombings.
Turkey's positions may not sound appealing to either the Israelis or the Palestinians, since neither side fully empathizes with the plight of the other. Nonetheless, Ankara maintains strong relations with Israel and its Arab neighbors. In fact, Turkey was a key member of the Mitchell Commission, whose report on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is viewed as a framework for a future settlement. Furthermore, Turkey has offered its facilities for use in future Middle East conferences. Turkey, through its unique geographical and historic conditions, can serve as a player in bringing forth a peaceful resolution.
The Future of Iraq
Turkey believes that Iraq represents a threat with its Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD). Still, an attack on Iraq would be devastating to the Turkish economy and its tourism industry. Turkey, therefore, hopes that Iraq will voluntarily comply fully with U.N. resolutions and allow for the return of U.N. weapons inspectors.
In the end, Turkey believes that the territorial integrity of Iraq must be preserved and is against the creation of a Kurdish state. A Kurdish state can only be successful if it were to have the support of neighboring countries. Such support is not present and makes the prospects for a Kurdish state unrealistic at this time.
Turkey and the E.U.
The decision to induct Turkey into the European Union would demonstrate to the world, specifically the Muslim world, that globalization is not a closed club of Christian nations. Turkey is a predominately Muslim nation that has embraced democracy, modernity, and secularism. Thus, it serves as a model to the rest of the Islamic world.
The E.U.'s decision to accept Cyprus, regardless of whether a settlement is reached between Greek and Turkish separatists, might have a negative impact upon Turkey's relationship with the E.U. Inducting Cyprus eliminates any motivation on the part of the Greeks to enter into genuine give-and-take negations with the Turks, and does not bode well for a peaceful future.
Turkey and Iran
Iran and Turkey enjoy important economic relationships. However, Iran must democratize and take a clear stand against terrorism. Most people mistake President Muhammad Khatami's actions as trying to reform Iran. In truth, Khatami is an Islamist who has no discomfort with the current regime. Still, his reforms affect the daily lives of Iranians much more so than the structure of the Iranian religious regime.
Turkey shares common values with both the U.S. and Israel. It is an important political and economic partner for the West, and serves as a model for a modern, secular, and democratic Muslim nation. Turkey will be increasingly important in the war America now wages against the forces of militant Islam.
Summary account by Ira Stickler, research assistant at the Middle East Forum