Questions and Answers
Ask the Ambassador
I am very happy to be back in Turkey as ambassador. This is my fourth assignment here. I’ve been working in Turkey and in Washington on U.S.-Turkish relations for a good part of my career. Over the twenty-five years since I first came to Turkey, I’ve developed a deep appreciation for your country and an abiding respect for the complexity of the Turkish language. There’s no country with which I’ve developed a closer attachment. I’m not saying that simply because I’m ambassador.
Turkey and the United States have been friends since 1923, and allies in Korea and NATO for fifty-eight years. Ours is a special partnership, a relationship that is important to both Washington and Ankara.
It’s a partnership that has undergone significant change as the international political landscape has evolved. It is a far broader relationship than I experienced during my first assignment here in 1983. Then, security concerns dominated. Security cooperation is still an important dimension of our partnership, but now we work closely on issues as wide ranging as energy, trade, fighting international drug trafficking, and promoting ties between Turkish and American universities.
The strains that developed over our Iraq policy are a less welcome change in the Turkish-American relationship. The downturn in Turkish attitudes about U.S. policy and the United States has been a source of deep concern to policymakers in the U.S. and to me personally. I believe that we’ve made some progress in reversing this trend since President Bush and Prime Minister Erdogan opened a new chapter in counter-terrorism cooperation last year. We share the same view of the PKK. It’s a terrorist organization that’s a common enemy of Turkey, the United States and the broader international community. We have backed up our verbal commitment to assisting Turkey in its efforts to counter the PKK threat with deeds. We’re sharing information and supporting Turkey’s political and economic steps to counter the PKK’s propaganda.
We have a lot more work to do to expand Turkish-American cooperation and further improve our relations. I’m committed to doing this and I’m interested in talking to you about how to go about doing it. I’m interested in your ideas about how we can better understand each other and work together. Close friends will always disagree on some issues, but the U.S. and Turkey cannot and will not let such differences stand in the way of cooperation that serves both our countries. The Turkish-American relationship is too important and offers too much promise for doing good in the region and beyond.
I look forward to hearing from you.
James F. Jeffrey