The Bush years arguably have not been the best of times for America’s decades-long relationship with Turkey. A much-ballyhooed strategic partnership unraveled in March 2003 when Turkey’s parliament failed to authorize the U.S. to invade Iraq from Turkish soil. The Bush Administration’s approval ratings in Turkey later plummeted to single digits. In public opinion polls, Turks routinely came to identify the United States as Turkey’s greatest security threat, even as President Abdullah Gul came to Washington on January 8 for the first official visit by a Turkish head of state in a dozen years for a meeting with White House officials. What can the next Administration do to get on the right track with a partner whose enduring importance to U.S. has been convincingly reaffirmed by the Bush experience?
On January 31, Brookings hosted its final panel discussion with some leading Turkish experts to assess the Bush Administration’s impact on U.S.-Turkish relations, and what lessons can be drawn from this often tumultuous period. Speakers included two members of Turkish Parliament: former Ambassador Gunduz Aktan (MHP) and Dr. Suat Kiniklioglu (AKP); and former Turkish Foreign Minister Emre Gonensay. Mark R. Parris, director of the Turkey 2007 Project and former ambassador to Turkey, moderated. Turkey 2007 has been organized in partnership with TUSIAD, the Turkish Industrialists’ and Businessmen’s Association.