On March 14, TCA hosted a luncheon discussion on the “US-Turkey Alliance and Israeli-Turkish Relations” featuring Ambassador Ozdem Sanberk (R), Former Undersecretary of the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Member of the UN Panel of Inquiry on the Gaza Flotilla Incident, and Mr. Memduh Karakullukcu, Vice Chair and President of the Istanbul-based Global Relations Forum.
The forum provided a unique opportunity for the participants, among them several Congressional staffers, to learn about these complex issues. Ambassador Sanberk expressed concern over the current state of relations between Israel and Turkey, two countries with a shared history of friendly relations. Amb. Sanberk read aloud the draft “Agreement on the Flotilla Incident between the Turkish and Israeli Governments” of June 19, 2011, which would have settled the flotilla matter and paved the way for improved relations. Despite the present lack of agreement between the two governments, Amb. Sanberk emphasized that Turkish –Israeli commercial relations continue to flourish, leading him to be cautiously optimistic for the future.
The luncheon discussion concluded with an overall understanding that there was a need for strong US mediation and an emphasis on the convergence of trilateral interests between the countries concerned to help reconcile the Turkish-Israeli relationship.