A Conversation on US–Turkish Relations
Ambassador Namık Tan of Turkey

Photos | Transcript

alt Washington, DC—On November 16, 2011, the Ambassador of Turkey hosted WFPG at his residence for a reception and program on US-Turkish relations. The conversation was moderated by Washington Post Senior National Security Correspondent Karen DeYoung. In his remarks, Ambassador Tan gave an overview of Turkeys relations with the US and their foreign policy toward the Middle East, as well as the pivotal role Turkey plays in the region both politically and economically.

Ambassador Tan emphasized Turkeys uniqueness as the only country in the world that successfully synthesizes Islam with modernity, singling it out as the most powerful Muslim majority country. According to the Ambassador, Turkeys geographic location has also greatly influenced the important role it plays in providing stability to the Middle East since its neighbors include Syria, Iran, and Iraq. In terms of the US withdrawal from Iraq, the Ambassador did indicate concerns and addressed Turkeys goal to engage each of the myriad ethnic groups in Iraq with the hope of preventing potential violence. Also, Syrias deteriorating situation over the last year has forced Turkey to shift its long-standing policy of non-interference in the domestic affairs of its neighbors in order to show support for the Syrian people who have been facing harsh government oppression.

The Ambassador also believes that the Arab Spring has positively influenced US-Turkish relations. Not only has it provided credibility to the regional assistance provided by the US and NATO, but also has reinforced the US and Turkeys shared commitment to promoting a peaceful neighborhood in which states provide their people with the rights they demand to achieve a better life and to acquire freedoms and a democratic form of government. The Arab Spring really made a very positive impact on our relationship and solidified the existing trust between Turkey and the United States, noted Ambassador Tan.

Additionally, as a G20 member and the 16th largest economy in the world, Turkey has experienced an incredible growth rate of 11.6% over the last decade, a factor that Ambassador Tan attributed to Turkeys secular democracy, parliamentary system, and free market economy. While ongoing negotiations continue regarding Turkeys membership in the European Union, Ambassador Tan reaffirmed Turkeys commitment to becoming an EU member primarily because of its shared values with other member countries.

Ambassador Tan also asserted Turkeys dedication to encouraging entrepreneurship through its hosting of the upcoming Global Entrepreneurship Summit. While historically entrepreneurship has not existed in the Islamic world, Ambassador Tan reiterated that it is an important concept that should be incorporated into each countrys economic system in order to encourage innovation, enhance democratic values and support further growth. This is just one of the many reasons why Turkey will continue to be an important economic and political bridge between East and West, and why the US-Turkish relationship will continue to be significant.

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Ambassador Namık Tan with moderator
Karen DeYoung of The Washington Post

  Ambassador Tan, Karen DeYoung, and
WFPG President Patricia Ellis

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Shelly Porges of the Department of State
asks a question during the Q&A

  Ambassador Namık Tan addresses guests

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WFPG Board Vice Chair Gail Kitch opens the program

  Ambassador Tan with WFPG Board Member Mary
Catherine Toker, Pro Bono Counsel Sarah Kahn,
and Hasan Dossal

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WFPG Board Member Theresa Loar with her students and
WFPG Associate Director Kimberly Kahnhauser

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