Moderator: I’m [Unhill Ghalasa] from the [Hank] Corporation. First of all I would like to thank the Rumiforum and the organizers of this event for giving me the honor of moderating this event. I have to start by commending the Rumiforum for the very useful and important work that it has been doing in the years since I have gone into contact with the Rumiforum. The forum has become one of the most important venues in Washington for the discussion of issues, not only relating to Turkey. It is a key partner and ally of the Unites States, both of issues relating to Islam more generally and in this [vain], the Rumiforum has contributed to a better understanding of very complex issues in Islam and to a better dialog among the major Abrahamic faiths.
I think I might be drifting away from the subject of this discussion but I wanted to highlight the very important contribution that Rumiforum has made to a very broad niche of issues of great importance and interest today. Concerning the discussion today, before I introduce the panelists and I let them do all the talking, I’d like to take just a little, a few moments to provide some historical context to what is going on today from my own personal perspective, because in the 25 years, almost 25 years, since I have been involved with Turkey, and I used to be Turkish desk officer in the state department back in the days of Tugu Causal. That I don’t think that there has been anytime when the gap between Turkey and the United States has been as great as it is today, and this is why events like this are so important.
Now this is not to say that they were not tensions in their relationship even in the best of days because I remember in the mid ‘80s, in mid ‘80s when Turkey and the United States were very close and they still are to a very large extent but even in those days when we first, perhaps the time when the US-Turkish relationship was closest. There were tensions in their relationship. There were tensions related to Cyprus, related to the inevitable Armenian genocide resolutions that used to come up even then in congress every year. Tensions with regards to Greek Turkish disputes over flights in their [Gian], issues of human rights, issues and controversies relating to the renegotiation of the defense and economic corporation agreement which is a [lynch pin] of the defense relationship between Turkey and the United States.
And I have to say that the tax were probably the toughest negotiators that I ever found in my experience in the state department. So you could be friends and you could really disagree. But even then all of these issues, all of these tensions could be overcome because there was agreement on the fundamentals. And Turkey and the United States share a vision of strategic challenges facing both our countries and what needed to be done to confront these challenges. Now the question is whether we’re still on the same page, whether we’re moving on parallel tracks and as the report states whether Turkey can contribute to the relationship in new and unexpected ways or whether we are on diverging paths.
And I think that this is one of the key issues of our day in terms of the US-Turkish relationship but I’ll let our speakers address these issues as well as other issues in the report and let me quickly introduce Joshua Walker. He is, they’re both at the Trans Atlantic Academy this year. Joshua is going next year to Harvard and Brand Ice. It’s a great combination since I attended myself one of those. And then after that he’ll be going to the University of [Littman] Jefferson School. Juliette Tolay also at Trans Atlantic Fellow has conducted research on Turkish foreign policy and migration. She studied at what I gathered to be the [Séance] Polytechnic in Paris and brings of course a very special perspective. So we expect a special eloquence from Juliette in this presentation. So having said that I’ll just turn over the floor to our discussions