TCA ISSUE PAPER-2
April 13, 2007
Turkey is a vital partner for the United States. As a predominantly Muslim country, Turkey is unique for several reasons for U.S. policymakers. Turkey is a pro-western, secular state with a thriving free-market economy that fully embraces democracy. And Turkey is a country where Islam preaches peaceful coexistence with the west, developed during thousand of years of coexistence of Turks with Christians and Jews first in Anatolia and then in Europe during the Ottoman Empire.
Turkey is not only a reliable, but also critically important ally for the United States.
On Iraq, Turkey supports the national unity of the country where all the rights of all minorities, including the Turcoman, are protected and natural resources of the country are equally shared by all its citizens. Turkey also supports a strong Iraqi national government which can control its national borders and does not allow terrorist activities within its boundaries.
On Afghanistan, Turkey provides the U.S. with crucial help. Turkey has contributed to the International Security and Assistance Force (ISAF), established in Kabul in January 2002 to secure Afghanistan. In June 2002, the leadership of ISAF-II and the administration of the Kabul airport were undertaken by Turkey, with 1,400 personnel. Turkey continues to support NATO's operations, which since October 2006 have expanded to cover all of Afghanistan.
Turkey is also the only NATO ally that borders Iran, Iraq and Syria and provides unique and crucial logistical support for NATO and the US.
This important relationship may face a challenge in the form of the “Armenian Genocide” resolutions that have been presented to the House of Representatives (H.Res 106) and the Senate (S.Res 106) of the United States Congress. The resolution is supported by small but vocal Armenian organizations and the Government of Armenia and is based on distorted, one-sided information. It is emotionally charged and potentially very harmful to US-Turkish relations. If the resolution would come to a vote and pass, it will have detrimental effects on the long standing bilateral ties and the strategic relationship between Washington and Ankara.
An overwhelming number of Turks think that the tragic events of World War I in the Ottoman-Russian front, the Armenian upraising on the side of the Russians, the resultant death and destruction on both sides and the 1915 relocation of Armenians from certain parts of Anatolia to Syria, a province in the Ottoman Empire, under deplorable war time conditions, however tragic, do not constitute genocide. Yet this resolution, written by lobbying groups, declares the 1915 relocation to be a genocide, totally ignoring the death and suffering of the Turkish population at the time. If this resolution is approved, Congress would be passing a one sided judgment on the tragic events of the Ottoman-Russian front, causing a massive public resentment against the United States in Turkey and the backlash would inevitably cripple U.S.-Turkish cooperation on many fronts.