1st Turkey - USA Forum

  • Turkey - USA Relations in the New Era: Opportunities and Risks

There has been a great deal of commentary regarding the recent deterioration in Turkish-U.S. relations Bilateral relations have been negatively impacted by questions of “shared history,” normalization of relations between Turkey and Armenia, Turkey’s relations with Iran, and in particular the controversial Turkey-Brazil-Iran nuclear enrichment swap proposal. Obvious strains, especially with the U.S. Congress, have resulted from the deterioration of the Turkey-Israel relationship over the Gaza Flotilla incident. All of these elements have tended to exacerbate each other to the detriment of a mature, stable and mutually beneficial bilateral relationship.

Despite largely positive U.S.-Turkey collaboration in Iraq, Central Asia and Afghanistan Turkey’s more active regional foreign policy, to include its “no problems with neighbors” approach, have also aroused concerns in some quarters in the U.S. and the region. Greater multipolarity in the international system and more assertive policies on the part of a range of countries seemingly question the prevailing consensus on many issues, and reinforce those concerns. As the differing perceptions over Iran and Israel underscore, a new crisis in Turkish-American relations is not unlikely. This increasing estrangement at both the official and unofficial levels suggests the need for franker, more informed, sustained dialog between the two nations.

Turkey continues to be a key ally for the U.S. and Turkey still sees the U.S. as a very important partner. Both share important common interests such as encouraging peace and stability in the Middle East, fighting against terrorism and radicalism, fostering an open, global economy, ensuring reliable energy transportation, providing security in the Black Sea, Caucasus and Central Asian regions, and continuing beneficial cooperation with the EU. This significant overlap of interests provides a promising spectrum of opportunities for mutually beneficial collaboration. This collaboration seems particularly appropriate given President Obama’s outreach efforts to the Islamic World and to Turkey.

However, today, U.S.-Turkey relations lack the strategic quality they once had and increasingly reflect divergent views on critical issues, particularly in the Middle East/Gulf region. Both parties find it hard to look beyond current issue areas and seem to have difficulty effectively communicating their real interests and policy objectives, much less their expectations of their ‘model partnership.’ The structure of the relationship needs to broadened and deepened to serve the larger strategic interests of both countries. In order to acquire the “model partnership” in the Turkey-U.S. relations within the world power system that is being shaped in the multi-dimensional way; it is an obligation to form a structure based on not only politics and strategy but also a structure in which every parameter would form mutual depth.

The Turkey – U.S. Forum was created for this purpose. Held every other year, it should serve as a platform to put forward the ideas and opportunities that will improve and strengthen relations between Turkey and U.S. and advance the interests of both countries in the region and more broadly.

The main theme of the Forum and the sub-themes are as follows:

Main theme: “New Era in the Turkish – US Relations: Opportunities and Risks”

Sub-themes:

- Normalization of Turkey – Armenia Relations and coming to terms with “Shared History”

- Peace and Stability in the Middle East: Turkey – U.S. Cooperation

- Turkey – Israel Relations: a New Regional Paradigm

- Turkey – EU Relations and the U.S.

- The Role of Turkey, NATO and U.S. on the axis of EU Common Security and Defense Policies

- Energy Safety, Power Supply Policies and Opportunities

- Black Sea – Caucasus Policies of US and Turkey

- Afghanistan and Central Asia: Areas for Possible Collaboration

- Iran and the Region: U.S. and Turkish Approaches

- Iraq and the Region: U.S. and Turkish Approaches

Partner-Institution : Near East South Asia Center for Strategic Studies