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Graham Fuller



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well good afternoon ladies and gentlemen

I'd like to welcome you to our round

table or panel discussion on where

Turkey is today in the world what is the

new Turkey first of all I'd like to

welcome you on behalf of the turquoise

Council of Americans and Eurasians which

is a an American based group primarily

of people of Turkish backgrounds or

Turkic backgrounds who share a concern

for the image and position of Turkey in

the world today especially at a time

when this great deal of controversy over

what Turk what is happening to Turkey

today is we all know that it's become

there are many controversial aspects of

this as turkey becomes more independent

in its foreign policy positions more

independent policies towards Iran Israel

Russia Palestine and other countries

there is some talk now and then about

whether Turkey has been lost

to the west and who even who lost Turkey

some would like the debates that were

heard 50 years ago or so on who lost

China or some suggestions that maybe

there is a new axis developing in the

Middle East which would be a Turkish

Syrian axis instead of an American

Israeli Turkish axis so these are some

of the issues that I think are really

extremely contemporary very important

and we have a superb panel here to

address these issues from many different

points of view so I think you all have

and you

folders the list of the list of speakers

that we have here for today and I don't

want to have to stop and introduce each

of them but you will find their their

biographies in the in your in your

pamphlet so I think it's very important

that we at a time when there is so much

controversy surrounding aspects of

Turkish policies domestic and foreign

that we try to address these from all

points of view there are Turkish

politics unfortunately has become

somewhat polarized in recent years

perhaps more so than in in quite a long

time so any discussion of these issues

has to really acknowledge the various

viewpoints that exist otherwise these

issues will not be comprehensible to an

American audience and particularly to a

congressional audience which needs to

understand frankly the the pros and cons

or or various aspects of issues at heart

so we will attempt to to represent as

much as we can various viewpoints even

the same speaker may offer alternative

viewpoints on these on these

developments let me just say one or two

more words about Turkey at this point as

we move into our our panel discussion

there's no question in my mind the

turkey today is one of the most

important countries in the world I know

many countries would like to flatter

themselves that that is the case but

Turkey really has now become incredibly

central to events over over across a

very broad region first of all I mean if

we think is about turkey as part of the

huge Muslim world there's no question

the turkey today is by far

overwhelmingly the most Democrat

of all Muslim nations and much more

democratic than huge numbers of other

nations in the world certainly in the

Middle East or in the Muslim world it

has the most powerful military with the

exception of Israel of course but I'm

talking about within the Muslim world or

even the region at large it is a member

of NATO as you all know of a

long-standing member it is an aspirant

to become a member of EU it's been a

long ally of the United States during

the Cold War and above all it is it is

developing a sense of regional interest

that is very new I would call this

almost revolutionary and I'll have a few

more words to say about that later on in

our foreign policy period but this is a

country that now thinks in 360 degrees

around it in terms of its interests be

they it's as turkey as a European

country is a Western country as a Balkan

country as a Caucasian country is a

Black Sea country is a Mediterranean

country as a Middle Eastern country etc

even as with interest in Africa and

certainly a Eurasian country so this is

a very broad range of empower and

importance that I think makes it become

more important to Washington rather than

less in the old days when it was simply

a loyal ally quote unquote of the United

States so let let's begin and our first

speaker will be Matt

Tosh panade who is a fellow at the

Brookings Institution and professor at

the National War College let me also say

we I've asked each speaker to speak no

more than ten minutes these are huge

topics books have been written on each

one of them but we want to have time for

discussion and debate among ourselves

and with you here

so we're deliberately I will

be fairly strict in in keeping asking

our speakers to to limit themselves to

10 maybe 11 minutes if I'm feeling

generous and then we'll we'll go on so

with that let me turn first I met Josh

panade who is going to be looking

essentially at domestic issues and the

first half of our panel is indeed on

domestic and I'm sorry just one more

thing we will not be taking a break

because it will just simply lose our

momentum so if anybody needs to leave

for any reason please do so but there

will be no formal break

I met Thank You Graham and thank you all

for coming since Graham asked me to

speak for 10 minutes I'll try to be

brief and be happy to answer questions

later on in the discussion section let

me echo what Graham just articulated

that turkey there's a new turkey

especially as far as foreign policy is

concerned there's a more ambitious and

self-confident turkey that wants to have

a 300 degree 360 degree foreign policy

and definitely this is a new development

compared to the 1990s when Turkey was

more focused about its own problems at

home

the Kurdish problem the war with the PKK

and the ousting of the welfare party

government by the military what came to

be called the soft coup in 1997 so

compared to the 1990s this last decade

the 2000 the first decade of the 21st

century has been a more ambitious more

positive decade for Turkish Foreign

Policy the bad news however is that the

problems at home continued the and here

since we will talk about domestic issues

in this first half a half hour let me

underline what is probably obvious to

all Turks in the in this auditorium that

basically the country continues to have

a major identity conflict and in fact

there is a mismatch between the

ambitions of Turkish Foreign Policy and

the situation at home where there is no

really

real consensus the absence of a new

social contract in absence of a new

constitution which will be able to solve

the identity problems of the country and

what I mean by identity problem of the

country is nothing new essentially there

are two major identity conflicts in

Turkey and those of you follow Turkish

news are likely to see in the headlines

every day something related to these two

issues the first one is the Kurdish

issue it has been plaguing Turkey since

the end of the Cold War but its roots

goes back to the birth of the Republic

when the Republic was established by the

founding father Ataturk there was this

idea of basically assimilating the Kurds

transforming the Kurds into Turkish

citizens and this assimilation project

of the Turkish Republic of Kurds has

created major problems but during the

Cold War there was a sense that the

problem was solved that the Kurdish

issue was somehow solved but with the

end of the Cold War by starting with the

1980s with the reemergence of the PKK as

a terrorist organization there is an