Turkish Ambassador to United States Namik Tan said that differences of opinion are only transient and they do not cast a shadow over the fundamentals of Turkish-U.S. alliance.
"Differences in methods and approaches should not be allowed to overshadow this valuable relationship," Tan told a conference on "Turkish- U.S. Relations in a Changing World" organized by the Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS).
Tan said the term "model partnership", used by U.S. President Barack Obama to describe Turkish-American relations during his first bilateral overseas trip to Turkey in April 2009, emphasizes the importance of close cooperation between Turkey and the United States based on common values and principles.
"Turkey and the United States need each other. We did not inherit any prejudices from our past. We have good and sound memories," Tan said. "Our alliance is firm and solid. Our objectives in the Middle East, the Balkans, Afghanistan, the Caucasus, and in many other regions and on various issues are overlapping. Our soldiers continue to work together in Afghanistan and off the shores of Somalia."
Tan said Turkish-American relationship has withstood the test of time, adding, "we have diversified and enriched its strategic texture. Methodological differences on certain issues do not trump our shared principles."
The two countries are able to leave difficulties behind and continued strategic cooperation with fresh perspectives, Tan said, adding that discussions on the so called "shift of axis" in Turkish foreign policy are simply wrong.
"Turkey's Western vocation is an irreversible process," he said.
"Turkey's policy, which is widely known as 'the zero problem policy towards neighbors' is inclusive and not based on religion or ideology. Thanks to this policy, we have accomplished positive changes in our relations with all of our 12 direct and indirect neighbors. Only four of these countries are Muslim majority ones," he added.
Moreover, Tan said Turkey's relations with other global actors are complementary.
"Hence, our relations with the United States and the EU complement our presence in Eurasia and the Middle East. These components are not mutually exclusive.
Therefore, developing our relations with Syria or Russia does not indicate a shift of axis," he said.
"Viewing this multi-faceted foreign policy as a shift of axis is not only inaccurate but also does an injustice to our sincere efforts to achieve peace and stability, to engage in more trade, to increase interdependency, and to solve conflicts through peaceful means. When another European nation, such as France, Spain, or Sweden, tries to reach out, to say, Syria, nobody questions its foreign policy direction. Why then is Turkey's involvement in the Middle Eastern issues and her efforts to improve relations with her Middle Eastern neighbors used as a basis for arguments over a shift of axis?" Tan stated.
Tan also touched on the May 31 Israeli raid on Gaza aid convoy in which Israeli commandos killed eight Turks and an American of Turkish origin. He said friendship between Turkey and Israel is now jeopardized by the attack.
"This is the first time in the history of the Republic of Turkey that her citizens have been killed by a sovereign state during peace time," Tan said.
"And this attack did not come from a nation traditionally hostile to Turkey; it came from a friend.
The Gaza convoy was not an initiative of the Turkish government. It was a civilian and non-governmental effort. It was not a Turkish convoy either. It was an international civilian effort."
Recalling that Israeli soldiers attacked the ships in international waters, 72 miles off the nearest coast, in clear violation of international law, Tan reiterated Turkey's expectations that Israel must accept her wrong-doing and apologize to the Turkish people for the killings.
"We also underlined the need for Israel to accept an international, independent inquiry as decided by the UN Security Council presidential statement.
Israel's current policy is leading the country towards global isolation. Israel is on the verge of losing one of her closest friends," he warned.
"At this moment, there is not much to do on the Turkish side. The ball is in the court of Israel. This is about how Israel sees herself 10 years from now: with or without Turkey's friendship."
On Iran's nuclear program, Tan said Turkey is against a nuclear Iran and do not want nuclear weapons around.
"However, we do not believe in the effectiveness of sanctions. In the past we have suffered from sanctions imposed on other countries in the region. They did not produce the desired impact on the targeted regimes," Tan said.
"We have been working for a diplomatic solution, in coordination with our U.S. counterparts. We were not acting against U.S. interests. On the contrary, we were trying to convince Iran to agree to the demands of the international community.
Thus, we have worked towards the same objectives," he said.
AALast Mod: 24 Temmuz 2010, 13:15