www.worldbulletin.net, Turkey
Jan 1 2010

2009 Turkey-US ties sees "model partnership" term

The beginning of the tenure of Obama in January had an impact on
Turkey-U.S. relations and the year 2009 was the scene of many
important developments.

Friday, 01 January 2010 16:25

The beginning of the tenure of United States (U.S.) President Barack
Obama in January had an impact on Turkey-U.S. relations and the year
2009 was the scene of many important developments.

The traditionally described "strategic" relations between Turkey and
the U.S. went through a hard period during the Iraq invasion. But
Turkish Parliament won the world praise over its refusal to U.S. use
of Turkish territory to launch an invasion of Iraq from the north.
However, relations between Turkey and the U.S. began to improve after
an historic summit between Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan
and then U.S. President George W. Bush on November 5, 2007.

The relations further improved when the U.S. declared PKK as the
"common enemy" of the U.S., Turkey and Iraq and the U.S. began sharing
intelligence with Turkey. Washington's lifting of opposition to
Turkish cross-border operations also contributed greatly to the
improvement of Turkey-U.S. relations.

Everyone was curious about how Turkey-U.S. relations would be shaped
in the new period with the arrival of new U.S. President Barack Obama
who began his presidential campaign with "change" motto.

The Obama administration made promises that it would leave aside the
isolationist policy in the Middle East and develop a different vision.
Right after assuming the office, Obama sent important names to Turkey.
President Obama's first overseas visit took place to Turkey in April.
Obama showed the importance he attached to Ankara and made it clear
that he would make a new beginning.

"First high level visit after Israel attack"

President Obama's Special Envoy to the Middle East, George Mitchell,
made the first U.S. high level visit to Turkey on February 25.

Mitchell's visit took place following the Israeli military attack in
Gaza. Mitchell was received by Turkish President Abdullah Gul, Prime
Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the then Foreign Minister Ali
Babacan. Mitchell gave the message that the U.S. expected Turkey's
leadership in providing humanitarian assistance to Gaza and in
facilitating permanent cease-fire.

Only 10 days after Mitchell's visit, Turkey hosted another prominent
U.S. official who confirmed the strategic partnership between the two
countries. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton came to Turkey on
March 7 and held talks with high level Turkish officials. Clinton
discussed bilateral relations and international topics present on the
agendas of the two countries with President Abdullah Gul, Prime
Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Babacan.

Babacan and Clinton's joint press conference was the venue for warm
messages and a joint statement was issued. The statement said that the
two countries would continue cooperation and solidarity in
counter-terrorism, on Iraq, Afghanistan, the Middle East and Turkey's
accession into the European Union (EU).

The statement said that the U.S. supported the normalization of
relations between Turkey and Armenia and that U.S. would continue to
provide intelligence to Turkey in the fight against terrorist
organization PKK. The statement further said that both countries would
continue "cooperation" in Afghanistan invasion.

"Model partnership"

The most important visit made by an U.S. official to Turkey in 2009
was that of President Barack Obama. Obama's first trip abroad, after
assuming office, was to Turkey and this showed clearly the
"importance" he attached to Turkey.

An important part of Obama's visit to Turkey was the addition of a new
term to "strategic partnership". Instead of using the term "strategic
partnership", President Obama used the term "model partnership" to
define Turkey-U.S. relations and expressed that he wanted to carry
bilateral relations to a new level.

Following a tete-a-tete meeting with President Abdullah Gul, Obama
made important statements on the issues. Obama addressed the Turkish
Parliamentary General Assembly. In his speech in the parliament, Obama
reiterated his support to Turkey's EU membership bid. Obama stressed
that he would work to strengthen not only military relations with
Turkey but also economic and commercial ones.

Touching on relations between Muslim countries and the U.S., Obama, in
his speech, argued that the U.S. had never been in war with Islam and
would never be.

One of Obama's most remembered messages in Ankara was that Turkey lied
in the center of everything. Turkey is the place where we all come
together and are not divided, Obama stressed.

President Obama said that the attacks of PKK could never be accepted
and that cooperation with Turkey against the terrorist organization
would go on.

During his trip in Ankara, Obama was introduced with the first name
"Hussein" and, while talking about himself, Obama used his full name
"Barack Hussein Obama".

Obama praised Turkey's reforms and mentioned state-run TRT TV
channel's programs in Kurdish and the abolishment of a ban on the use
of Kurdish language as important reforms.

In 2009, there were not only visits to Turkey from Washington but also
vice-versa. Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu's visit to
Washington D.C. on June 5 and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's
visit to Washington D.C. on December 6 facilitated the comprehensive
discussion of issues present on the agendas of the two countries.

In Washington D.C., Davutoglu and his U.S. counterpart Hillary Clinton
discussed the ways to further strengthen relations. In a joint press
conference, the two officials referred to the normalization of
relations between Turkey and Armenia, fight against PKK, and U.S.
support of Turkey's EU membership bid.

"Erdogan's visit to US"

The most important visit made to Washington D.C. from Turkey in 2009
was that of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on December 7.

Erdogan's trip took place at a time when there were arguments on
Obama's decision to send more troops to Afghanistan and when
international pressure increased on Iran's nuclear activities.

The Obama-Erdogan meeting's agenda mainly focused on bilateral
relations, EU process, Cyprus, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and PKK.

The meeting of the two leaders lasted longer than expected, more than
two hours. In a joint press conference following the meeting at the
Oval Office, Obama gave warm messages to Turkey and said that he was
"ready" to do whatever was necessary to establish the best relations
possible between the two countries.

Obama said that Turkey was a country that contributed to peace not
only in its region but also in the whole world.

Obama thanked Turkey for its efforts made to ensure "stability" in Afghanistan.

Turkey's presence in the region is providing security especially in
urging Iran to use nuclear capacity for peaceful purposes, Obama

Obama thanked Erdogan by referring to him as "my friend" for Erdogan's
bold steps in Turkey-Armenia relations.

President Obama reiterated that the U.S. regarded PKK as a terrorist
organization and he praised the Turkish government's "democratic

Obama expressed that Erdogan and he discussed the inclusion of
minorities in Turkey to the political process. Obama said that the
U.S. supported the re-opening of the Heybeliada Seminary in Turkey.

Erdogan said that, the "model partnership" as described by Obama,
involved not only economic dimension but also dimensions on science,
arts, technology, military and politics.

We have decided to form a joint group in order to follow-up the
process, Erdogan noted.

Within such a scope, two senior U.S. officials and Turkish State
Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan and State Minister
Zafer Caglayan have been appointed to the joint group, Erdogan said.

In his statement, Erdogan talked about Turkey's contributions to
Afghanistan, Turkey's role in energy matters, the normalization of
Turkey-Armenia relations, efforts made in counter-terrorism, the
solution of (Iran's) nuclear problem by diplomatic means and Turkey's
determination to contribute to regional and global peace.

While in the U.S., Erdogan delivered speeches at two think tank
organizations and a university.

Erdogan rejected arguments that Turkey's foreign policy shifted its
axis. "Turkey is strong enough to look at the world from a 360 degrees
angle," Erdogan stressed.

Erdogan reminded President Obama that Turkey was ready to help train
the national army and police of Afghanistan.

"Armenia issue"

One of the issues that many were curious about was how Obama would
define the incidents of 1915 after assuming office in Washington D.C.

During his election campaign, Obama had promised Americans of Armenian
descent that he would recognize their allegations. Having arrived in
Turkey only a few days before April 24, the "Armenian Remembrance
Day", Obama gave signals of what type of a speech he would deliver on
that day.

President Obama's statement that he wanted to be as encouraging and
constructive as possible for the process between Turkey and Armenia
was an indication that, "at least in 2009", he would not use the term
"genocide" while giving a speech on April 24.

Obama, on April 24, 2009, referred to the incidents of 1915 as "Meds
Yeghern" in Armenian which translates into the English language as
"Great Disaster".

Just as the Armenian people live in our hearts, the 'great disaster'
must live in our memories, Obama noted.

The Armenian lobby in the U.S. continued efforts so that certain
resolutions referring to the incidents of 1915 as "genocide" get
adopted in both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives in 2009.

"Israel's removal"

U.S. officials praised the reforms and "democratic move" of the
Turkish government and reaffirmed Washington's support to Turkey in
the fight against terrorist organization PKK.

The U.S. extended strong support to the normalization of relations
between Turkey and Armenia. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
played an important role in the signing of protocols between Turkey
and Armenia and helped the sides overcome a last minute crisis.

U.S. authorities said that Turkey could play an important role in
conveying the international community's message to Iran on its nuclear

The U.S. support to Turkey, as an important transit country for energy
sources, continued during the Obama administration.

U.S. leaders displayed appreciation of Turkey's role in facilitating
peace in the Middle East and the solution of various regional

One of the few official criticisms of Turkey by the U.S. in 2009 had
to do with the "Anatolian Eagle" military exercise and Israel's
removal from the list of participants to the military exercise. Philip
Crowley, a spokesman for the U.S. Department of State, said that it
was undesirable to see Israel's exclusion from the military exercise.

However, Turkey linked the removal to Israel's ongoing siege on the
Gaza land that already faced the deadly offensive.


From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress