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Turkish Ambassador Says Relations With the United States Rest on Shared Value of Democracy

The Ambassador of the Republic of Turkey to the United States, Faruk Logoglu described the relationship between the two countries as one of friendship, partnership, and alliance.

Speaking with host Carol Castiel of VOA News Now’s Press Conference USA, Ambassador Logoglu said the foundation of this relationship rests on the shared values of democracy, rule of law, and respect for human rights and on a convergence of national interests.

To combat terrorism, the Ambassador said, the quality of international intelligence must be improved. And nations that are not yet democratic must do more to address the issues of poverty, democracy, and gender equality. He noted that the United States has been a supporter of Ankara’s efforts to fight terrorism over the years, especially that carried out by the PKK, or the Kurdistan Workers Party, in eastern Turkey. But, he said approximately 5,000 armed members of the PKK in Iraq continue to pose a problem for Turkey.

Regarding Iraq’s new constitution, Ambassador Logoglu said that “any arrangement agreed to by the Iraqi people” is agreeable to Ankara. But Turkey’s hope and concern is that Iraq stays together as a single country and that all of Iraq’s minority communities enjoy equality under the law. Ambassador Logoglu is more worried about progress toward gender equality, which he says is crucial for democracy to take root in Iraq. And he is concerned about the possibility that Islamic law or Shari'a might play a disproportionate role in Iraqi society.

As the successor to the Ottoman Empire, modern Turkey includes many cultural groups, of which the Kurds are the largest, Ambassador Logoglu said. According to him, Turkish society has “never witnessed discrimination” on the basis of race, ethnicity, or religion.

But he added that in the effort to become a member of the European Union, Turkey has undertaken some major reforms, such as permitting the use of the Kurdish language in public broadcasting and newspaper publishing. He noted that Ankara is making an effort to promote economic activity in the less developed regions of eastern Turkey, where there is a large concentration of Kurds, but acknowledged much more needs to be done.

As for Turkey’s bid to join the European Union, Ambassador Logoglu said among the major obstacles to membership is the resolution of the status of the Turkish portion of the island of Cyprus. He indicated there are additional obstacles from the EU perspective - for example, Turkey is regarded as “too big,” “too poor,” and “too different culturally.” But the Ambassador said these are precisely the reasons why Turkey is needed. If the West is to avoid a clash of cultures and religions, Ambassador Logoglu said the European Union must demonstrate that it can embrace a country like Turkey, which is predominantly Muslim, but is also democratic and secular.