A positive, constructive relationship with Turkey has never been more important to Europe and the United States. Bordering Iraq, Iran, Syria and the Caucasus, Turkey also occupies the corridor between Western markets and the Caspian Sea energy reserves. A stable, Western-oriented Turkey en route toward EU membership would provide a growing market for exports, a source of needed labor, a positive influence on the Middle East, and a critical ally. An inward-looking Turkey, on the other hand, would be a disaster not only for the West but for Turkey itself.
At the onset of what has recently been labeled by Turkey’s chief foreign policy adviser as a “historic era” in bilateral relations, President Barack Obama visited Turkey in early April. Is the trip evidence that the once-fading relationship will be revived, and if so, will the stronger ties anchor Turkey decidedly toward the West?
On April 13, the Center on the United States and Europe (CUSE) at Brookings hosted a panel discussion on the future of U.S.-Turkish relations. Ömer Taşpınar, director of Brookings’s Turkey Project, offered analysis and recommendations from his recent book, Winning Turkey (Brookings Institution Press, 2008). Soli Ozel of Istanbul’s Bilgi University presented the findings of a new report published by the Turkish Industrialists’ and Businessmen’s Association (TUSIAD) entitled “Rebuilding a Partnership: Turkish-American Relations for a New Era – A Turkish Perspective.”
Arzuhan Dogan Yalcindag, chair of TUSIAD, made introductory remarks, and visiting fellow Mark Parris moderated an audience question and answer session following the panelists’ remarks.