Panel 2 of TAA Annual Convention was held between 10:45 a.m. and 12:15 p.m. at the same place with Panel 1. Moderator discussant of the panel was Dr. Michael Werz, Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress. Panelists were Honorable Robert Wexler, President of S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace and Former Member of Congress (D-FL), Mr. Rudy deLeon, Senior Vice President of National Security and International Policy at American Progressand Dr. Gokhan Bacik, Professor of International
Relations at the Zirve University in Turkey at the second panel that entitled “The Future ofUS-Turkey Partnershipâ€. There are some notes, but detailed script will be provided later.
Honorable Robert Wexler: Surely there are differences of opinion between the United States and Turkey with regard to Iran nuclear question, Israel etc. The tension between Turkey and Israel does not benefit any party. Turkey’s decision to host a NATO radar system is a significant decision anchoring Turkey in the West. Erdogan is our most respected ally in the region in terms of influencing developments in the Arab world.
Mr.Rudy deLeon: Turkey is a secular country with a strong economy and rule of law, a sustained engagement with the US. Surely its influence is on the rise. Turkey’s role with Israel is very important. Turkey earned great respect for playing a moderating role in the Middle East.
Dr. Gokhan Bacik: Arab Spring changed the nature of the US-Turkey relationship. NATO membership is the most important institutional aspect of Turkey’s membership in the west. Turkey, through NATO, gets a very high profile. Are the good relations a long-term reality? The answer lies in the economic relations. Turkey’s trade with the US is very small. Strategic partnership has its own limits. You need to substantiate it with economic relations.
Mr.Rudy deLeon: How to support democracy in Egypt? Egypt needs economic reforms, young people need jobs. A partner like Turkey is very critical. American and European economic recovery will be slow, so Turkey is out there.
Honorable Robert Wexler: I question Turkeyâ€™s contribution to the peace process between Israelis and Palestinians. Turkey is focusing on Hamas portion and undermining the forces in Fatah portion. On the other hand, Turkeyâ€™s and USâ€™s policy regarding peace process is not so differentâ€”borders, land swap, settlements etc.
Dr. GÃ¶khan BacÄ±k: Turkeyâ€™s policy towards Iran is changing. It is not like last year. Nuclear Iran is a direct threat to Turkey. Iranians said they would strike NATO facilities in Turkey. Turkey supported the Sunni ruling minority in Bahrain like the US did. On the other hand, Turkeyâ€™s energy dependence to Iran and Russia is very serious. Click Here