Recep T. Erdogan: ''Turkey's Success Is Important for the Stability in the Region''

During his visit to New York, Washington DC and Boston, Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan spoke to Turk of America about Turkish-American relations and the problems of Turkish associations as well as Turkish people in the US. Mr. Erdogan stated that Turkey and the US are indispensable partners for each other.
“We would like to see our cooperation to improve and to include cooperation in economic areas and reconstruction of Iraq”, said the Prime Minister. He also emphasized that Turkey’s success is very important for the stability in the region.
Secretary of State Colin Powell, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdullah Gul and Istanbul MP Egemen Bagis were present at the White House meeting. (By Yasin Aras)

How appropriate is it to categorize the Turkish-American relations into pre-Iraq war and post-Iraq war eras? What implications would your government’s policy have on the future of relations?
What do you think about the idea that strategic partnership with the US is over and a new strategy should be formulated under new conditions?  

Although there were difficult times, the fundamental strategic and political realities define the relations between Turkey and the US as a relationship between two allies. The alliance between the two countries has a strong base. Therefore there cannot be any pre-war and past-war periods. Iraq cannot be defining factor for our relations; they extend over much longer term and cover a wide range.   During the Iraq war, we had different perceptions of the crisis and adopted different approaches. This is normal. The world is changing fast, and it is natural for every country with its own system to evaluate developments according to its own political position. Turkey and the US are indispensable partners for each other in this region. This relationship comes from the past and will continue in the future.

My government has a strong will to improve our relations and cooperation with the US to the highest possible point for the benefit of the Turkish and American people and in a way in which the cooperation contributes to the stability in the region.

In addition to strategic partnership, we would like our relations to expand into new horizons such as economic cooperation and the reconstruction of Iraq. One of our fundamental objectives is to bring commercial and economic relations to be as important as political and military relations. As the only Muslim country in the region with a free market economy and secular democracy, Turkey has many values to offer. Turkey sets an exemplary model for other countries in the region. The success of this model is very important for the future of these countries as well as the stability in the region.

There are many individuals among the Turkish community in the US who are very successful in their fields. However, greater level of organization is needed in order to ensure that these people benefit their country. Could the government possibly create a platform on which the Turkish people living in the US come together and discuss what they can do for their country? Has your government worked towards such an objective?
A commission was established under the Parliament in order to address the problems of our citizens living abroad. In addition, the Foreign Relations Department of our party works about this subject. We are open to any ideas where successful Turkish people living abroad can benefit our country and are committed to support such people.
President George W. Bush saying goodbye to Prime Minister Erdogan after the meeting at the White House. (By Yasin Aras)

As for other nationalities, many Turks who are illegally in the US experience problems in visiting their home country. They cannot travel for many years. Has your government done anything to resolve this situation?
We cannot defend or encourage any unlawful act. Our citizens must respect the laws of the country they are in. However, the US occasionally defines priority communities and issues amnesties. We will do our best to make sure that our citizens benefit from such opportunities on such occasions.

Have you made any efforts to support the associations in the US so that they can stand on their own and live without any support from the Turkish government? What do you think about the fact that associations abroad seek financial support from the government?
It is a universal need that civil society organizations have their independence from all respects. We support this idea. We respect the community organizations’ decision to attain financial self-sufficiency. On the other hand, it is very important for these entities to operate smoothly and continue to fulfill their respective roles.  We hope that any deficiency arising from their decision to become self-sufficient does not create an obstacle in fulfilling these roles. We will continue our commitment to coordinating our promotion efforts abroad with the efforts of civil organizations.

Are there any special messages that you would like to send to the Turkish community in the US through Turk of America?
The Turkish community in the US is different from those in other countries in the sense that they have a higher education level and a greater feeling of unity. Standing together is the only way we can resist to misconceptions and misunderstanding about out country. The Turkish community in the US has proved this argument by succeeding in blocking resolutions against Turkey at the Congress and the Senate.

Yet another significance of the Turkish community in the US is the fact that any accomplishment in the US can have worldwide implications. An example would be the efforts of civil society organizations in the US during the Bosnia-Herzegovina war. Turkish-American community took an active role within this movement, which had important implications on the US policy and the world.

The most important message that I would like to give to the Turkish community is their unity and togetherness around their common values. Turkish organizations should embrace all parts of the society.

(April 2004 – 12th Issue)
Last modified onSaturday, 06 May 2017 10:07