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U.S.-Turkish relations 15 mars 2007

Posted by Acturca in Middle East / Moyen Orient, Turkey / Turquie, USA / Etats-Unis.

CQ Congressional Testimony (USA), March 15, 2007 Thursday

Statement of Daniel Fried Assistant Secretary, European and Eurasian Affairs Department of State Committee on House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe

Chairman Wexler, Ranking Member Gallegly, Members of the Sub- Committee, thank you for the opportunity to be here. I will speak to you today about how the United States and Turkey are working together closely to address our common challenges, particularly in the Middle East but also more globally.

Secretary Rice has instructed me to shift the focus of the U.S.- Turkey relationship from one of simply managing challenges to one where the United States and Turkey are working cooperatively to advance a broad range of issues, putting in action our shared interests and common values. Our shared interests include stability and freedom in Iraq and Afghanistan, democratic reform in the broader Middle East, energy security across Eurasia, and Turkey’s deeper anchoring in Europe. Our common values start from our two countries’ deep commitment to democracy. Turkey, a majority Muslim state with a deepening democracy with a tradition of secular governance, is of strategic importance to the United States. Its 160-year legacy of modernizing reform, dating back to the late Ottoman period, can inspire people throughout the broader Middle East who thirst for democratic freedom and market- based prosperity.

Turkey also has a rapidly growing market economy. Over the past five years it has had the highest GDP growth rate of any OECD country, averaging over seven percent a year. The Turkish authorities have tamed inflation from over 25 percent for a generation to under 10 percent from 2004-2006.

Washington and Ankara have developed a blueprint to reinvigorate our bilateral relations. It is the « Shared Vision » statement that Secretary Rice and Foreign Minister Gul concluded in Washington in July 2006. This document identifies ten key sectors for cooperation. It also establishes new diplomatic mechanisms to structure our engagements on the tactical, operational, and strategic levels. We have made significant progress in implementing the « Shared Vision » statement, as I’ll discuss below. But much work remains, with anti-Americanism remaining at a historic high among the Turkish public and providing a context for Turkey’s complex political dynamic.

Iraq and Afghanistan

We have made steady progress over the past two years in elevating bilateral U.S.-Turkish relations from their low point on March 1, 2003, when the Turkish Grand National Assembly voted not to allow U.S. forces to deploy through Turkey to Iraq. Today, Turkey supports U.S. objectives in Iraq and has urged us not to abandon the Iraqi people. Coordination between our embassies in Baghdad is working well, with our Turkish ally offering us insights and support. Turkey actively encourages various Iraqi communities to participate in Iraq’s political processes, and provides training to Iraqi political parties, diplomats, and security forces. Most recently, Turkey participated in the first Iraq Neighbors Conference in Baghdad, and has offered to host the ministerial meeting of the Iraq Neighbors group in Istanbul, as we pursue a shared goal of a stable, democratic, and unified Iraq.

Turkey provides extensive logistical support to our troops in Iraq. This critical lifeline includes:

The cargo hub at Incirlik Air Base, through which we ship 74 percent of all air cargo to Iraq, with six US military C-17 aircraft transporting the amount of cargo it took 9-10 aircraft to move from Germany, saving $160 million annually.

The land border crossing at Habur Gate accounts for delivery to Iraq of approximately 25 percent of the fuel used by Coalition forces.

Turkey’s grant of blanket over-flight clearances to U.S. military aircraft is of critical importance to our military operations in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Additionally, KC-135 tankers operating out of Incirlik have flown 3,400 sorties and delivered 35 million gallons of fuel to U.S. fighter and transport aircraft on missions in Iraq and Afghanistan.

More than military support, Turkey’s technical and financial assistance has played a crucial role in the economic stability and development of Iraq, particularly of northern Iraq. Turkish businessmen were among the first to arrive in Iraq after U.S. forces, and have played a key role in rebuilding infrastructure and commerce. Turkish truckers have risked their lives plying the roads of Iraq to deliver to Iraqis the necessities of everyday life.

Turkey supplied a significant portion of Iraq’s total fuel supply, primarily for consumers in the northern governorates. Billions of gallons of fuel have entered through Habur Gate in the past year despite occasional Iraqi arrears in payments.

Turkey has the capacity to export 270 megawatts of electricity to northern Iraq, and averages around 220 megawatts, depending on the season.

Turkey has played a vital role in Afghanistan in combating terrorism and promoting freedom and democracy. After commanding International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) II in 2002 and ISAF VII in 2005, Turkey is now sharing joint rotational command of ISAF Capital Regional Command for two years with France and Italy. Turkey opened a Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) in Wardak province last November. Turkey has also pledged $100 million in humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan’s reconstruction and operation of schools and hospitals. We continue to press Turkey, a dependable NATO ally for almost 60 years, to contribute more troops in Afghanistan and to remove caveats to its deployment.

Middle East

Under Secretary Burns spoke to the House Foreign Affairs Committee last week regarding our comprehensive strategy for addressing the challenges posed by Iran. Turkey is part of the robust international coalition working to achieve a diplomatic solution to Iran’s continuing noncompliance with its international nuclear obligations. Our cooperation with Turkey on these efforts is evidence of our close working relationship to promote international peace and security. It has stood firm with us and others to counter Iran’s threat to regional stability. Turkey has committed itself to implement fully the provisions of UNSCR 1737, which imposes sanctions under Article 41 of Chapter VII of the UN Charter on Iran’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

Additionally, Turkey is helping to apply targeted financial pressure on the Iranian regime by restricting banking transactions which support Iran’s proliferation and terrorist activities. We will continue to discuss with Ankara how best to make clear to the Iranian regime the costs of its confrontational path. While we may occasionally differ somewhat over tactics, there is no disagreement between us as partners that an Iranian nuclear weapons capability is unacceptable.

Turkey has been a partner in the efforts to achieve Israeli- Palestinian peace and, because of its close relations with both Israel and Arab states, has played a helpful role as honest broker in bridging some of the gaps. Turkey has a long history of close military and economic cooperation with Israel. Prime Minister Erdogan and Foreign Minister Gul have conducted their own shuttle diplomacy between Tel Aviv and Arab capitals to help advance peace, security, and stability in the Middle East. They have played a helpful role in encouraging the Palestinians to accept the Quartet principles. Another helpful Turkish initiative involves its desire to contribute to the economic development of the Palestinians by developing the Erez industrial zone, creating jobs and providing hope and opportunity for otherwise disillusioned individuals potentially vulnerable to recruitment by terrorists.

One of the most tangible Turkish contributions has involved peacekeeping and safeguarding the integrity of Lebanon. Turkey has been actively engaged in Lebanon, notably by contributing about 900 troops to UNIFIL last fall, helping to bring stability to a violence-wracked region. During last summer’s Israeli- Hezbollah clashes, Turkey helped evacuate almost 2000 American citizens from a war-torn Lebanon and assisted in their repatriation to the United States via safe haven in Turkey. In January, Turkey pledged $50 million in grants for reconstruction at the Lebanon international donors’ conference, hosted by French President Chirac, which resulted in an overwhelming global response of $7.6 billion in pledges, including the Secretary’s pledge of $770 million in humanitarian, reconstruction and security support.

Turkey is also a key partner in our efforts to empower civil society and advance democratic freedom in the broader Middle East. No state is a model, and certainly no state is a perfect one. But Turkey’s example of secular democracy with a Muslim majority population, a burgeoning open economy, worldwide commercial networks, and its long experience with modernizing reform, make it a crucial partner in the Forum for the Future. Turkey is a co-sponsor – along with Italy and Yemen – of the Forum’s Democracy Assistance Dialogue, and is making important contributions to advance women’s rights and develop non- governmental organizations in a wide range of Muslim societies stretching from North Africa to Central Asia.

Energy Security

During the late 1990s, cooperation on energy security became a cornerstone of the U.S.-Turkey partnership. The Baku-Tbilisi- Ceyhan (BTC) oil pipeline grew from a vision of an energy corridor that would resurrect the Great Silk Road, articulated at that time by Turkey, Georgia, and Azerbaijan. Many were skeptical, but the United States offered strong support to help realize this vision, working with these governments and with companies to establish a public-private partnership that has resulted in one of the most complex and successful pipeline projects of all time. BTC was inaugurated in July. It will reach full capacity of one million barrels of oil per day over the next few years, and connect oil fields in the Caspian Sea with global markets reached from Turkey’s Mediterranean Sea port of Ceyhan. A companion natural gas pipeline, the Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum (BTE), is about to begin delivering Azerbaijani natural gas from the Shah Deniz field in the Caspian to Georgia and Turkey.

There is also the Samsun-Ceyhan project, a Bosporus Bypass oil pipeline that takes oil from Turkey’s Black Sea coast and delivers it to the Mediterranean port of Ceyhan. This particular project may be already on its way to commercial viability, something we would welcome.

We now stand at the edge of a new generation of Caspian energy investments, which will build on BTC and BTE and help the Euroatlantic community strengthen its energy security. Oil producers in Kazakhstan are negotiating on ways to ship their product by barge across the Caspian Sea and into BTC, whose capacity could be expanded by as much as 80 percent. Perhaps of even greater strategic significance is the prospect for enlarging BTE with expanded gas production and exports from Azerbaijan. We are now working with governments and companies to help Azerbaijan increase its gas production sufficiently by 2012 to 2014 to fill the emerging Turkey-Greece-Italy pipeline and the prospective Nabucco pipeline linking Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, and Austria. Over the next decade, we hope a trans-Caspian gas pipeline from Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan will connect with BTE. We have also just launched trilateral discussions with Ankara and Baghdad on developing gas production in northern Iraq for export to Europe via Turkey.

As these natural gas projects develop, they will emerge as a Southern Corridor of infrastructure that will offer fair and transparent competition to Gazprom’s massive network of gas pipelines that is in place – and expanding – in Northern Europe. The Southern Corridor can change Eurasia’s strategic map by offering Europe its best hope for large volumes of natural gas supplies that will allow diversification away from a deepening reliance on one supplier or network. Turkey, if it continues to act as a partner with its neighbors, including by reaching a commercially attractive gas transit agreement with Azerbaijan, will be the centerpiece of this grand strategic effort.


We are committed to eliminating the threat of PKK terrorism in northern Iraq, where this terrorist group is headquartered and from which it continues to launch deadly attacks in Turkey. We have made progress against PKK operatives and support networks in Europe. As a result of this close cooperation, France and Belgium recently arrested several PKK terror financiers linked to financing attacks against Turkey. But we also must achieve concrete results against the PKK in Iraq. The Secretary last August appointed General (ret) Joseph Ralston, formerly Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, as Special Envoy to Counter the PKK. General (ret) Ralston has been coordinating closely with his Turkish counterpart, General (ret) Edip Baser, and his Iraqi counterpart, Minister of State Shirwan al-Waili, to end the PKK threat.

Turkey has also made major contributions to our own efforts to combat terror. I have already discussed Turkey’s crucial efforts in Afghanistan. Additional counterterrorism support from Turkey came in mid-February when it hosted in Istanbul the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism, a U.S.-Russia led initiative, which will seek to prevent such particularly destructive acts.

Domestic Politics: Elections, Trends of Nationalism, Liberalism, and Democracy

Turkish-American partnership must rest on a foundation of Turkey’s own democratic development. Turkey remains a secular, democratic state. But it is today a very different and a far more robust democracy than the Turkey of a generation ago. Former boundaries of expression and limits upon political opinions are gone or much widened. Basic freedoms are more respected.

But with greater democratic freedoms has come increased volatility and deeper debate within Turkey about its strategic course, about its identity, and about the role of religion in public and political life. These debates within Turkey are taking place as the country enters a double-election year, with presidential elections in May and parliamentary elections in November.

The volatility of debate has given rise to and coincided with an undercurrent of popular nationalism, frustration with Europe, and even anti-Americanism. One cause of these trends is Turkish citizens’ frustration with PKK terrorism from Iraq, and a popular belief that the United States could do more to combat the PKK terrorists, whom Turks view as the greatest threat to their national security. Another cause is the identity crisis dominating Turkish society as Turkey strives for admission in the European Union. Many Turks feel humiliated by what they perceive as the shifting of accession requirements by the EU even as Turkey advanced serious constitutional and market economic reforms, and made significant compromises on the Cyprus question. While it is up to the Turks to meet the EU’s requirements for accession, many Turks believe that some in Europe use the complex EU accession process to mask a bias against Turkey.

This political turmoil and the widening boundaries of democratic expression have propelled a new nationalism as one factor common across Turkey’s political spectrum. At the same time, a growing and sophisticated middle class also supports the emergence of progressive and liberal ideas in Turkey. The ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party, with its foundation in Turkey’s traditional Islamic culture but also including progressive and liberal elements, is one expression of the different strains in Turkish political life today. Turkey’s secular elite, rooted in the civilian and military bureaucracies that play a key role in Turkey’s democracy, also reflects these trends. And these two diverse political camps are in competition with each other.

As political tension heightens with the advance of Turkey’s election campaigns, additional political strains can undermine our ability to sustain our improvement in U.S.-Turkish relations and continue to reap the benefits in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Middle East, and the Caspian region that I have described above.

Turkey-Armenia Relations

Against this complex background of shared interests, common values, and political turbulence, Turkey now faces the possibility of a U.S. Congressional resolution defining as genocide the mass killings and forced exile of as many as 1.5 million Armenians in the final years of the Ottoman Empire. The Administration has never denied – nor does it dispute or minimize – the historical facts of these mass murders and ethnic cleansing. Each year, the President issues a solemn statement on April 24, Armenian Remembrance Day, recognizing these atrocities and the suffering inflicted on Armenians. The Administration’s goal is to stimulate a candid exploration within Turkish society of these horrific events in an effort to help Turkey reconcile with its painful past and with Armenia. This is not easy. It was not easy for the United States to address its own historical dark spots, including slavery and the internment of U.S. citizens of Japanese descent during WWII. We will have to be persistent and thoughtful.

But after a long silence, Turkey is making progress. The terrible murder of Armenian-Turkish journalist Hrant Dink by an ultra- nationalist accelerated an intellectual opening in Turkish society, with more than 100,000 Turkish citizens of all political, confessional, and ethnic backgrounds demonstrating at Dink’s funeral in support of tolerance and a candid exploration of Turkey’s past. Their shouts of « We are all Hrant Dink; we are all Armenian » resonate in the ears of millions of people in Turkey and the world over who believe in freedom of speech, freedom of expression, and human dignity for all of Turkey’s citizens.

Political leaders across the political spectrum in Turkey condemned the killing. President Sezer said the murder was « ugly and shameful. » Turkish Chief of General Staff General Buyukanit called the killing a « heinous act » and said the « shots fired on Hrant Dink were . . . . . fired on Turkey. » We are seeing growing calls, including from Prime Minister Erdogan and Foreign Minister Gul, for changes to Article 301 of the Constitution, which, in criminalizing « insulting Turkishness, » stifles Turkey’s ability to discuss openly the events of 1915. We welcome Turkish leaders’ and opinion makers’ calls to amend or repeal Article 301.

Against this backdrop, we believe that H.Res. 106 would undercut those voices emerging in Turkey who call for a truthful exploration of these events in pursuit of Turkey’s reconciliation with its own past and with Armenia. We hear from members of the 60,000-70,000 strong Armenian-Turkish community that any such resolution would raise popular emotions so dramatically as to threaten their personal security.

This Administration, like the previous Administration before it, opposes any resolution that attempts to define how free-thinking people should term the horrific tragedy of 1915. We believe this question, which is of such enormous human significance, should be resolved not by politicians, but through heartfelt introspection by historians, philosophers, and common people. Our goal is an opening of the Turkish mind and the Turkish heart. Our fear is that passage of any such resolution would close minds and harden hearts.

Secretary Rice has an ambitious agenda with Turkey over the next two years, and we hope to work with Congress to achieve success in these goals. We look forward to close consultation with the Subcommittee, Committee and other Members interested in our agenda with Turkey.

Mr. Chairman, Congressman Gallegly, members of the Committee, I am grateful for the opportunity to speak before you, and I look forward to your questions.

U.S.-Turkish Relations and the Challenges Ahead

General Joseph Ralston (USAF, retired), Special Envoy Countering the Kurdistan Worker’s Party Testimony Before the House Foreign Affairs Committee Subcommittee on Europe Washington, DC
March 15, 2007

As prepared

Chairman Wexler, Congressman Gallegly, Members of the Sub-Committee, it is an honor to speak to you today about my efforts during the past six months to address the significant threat posed to our long-standing ally Turkey by the PKK (the Kurdistan Workers Party), including its impact on Turkey’s relations with Iraq and the potential for Turkish cross-border action. This conflict has endured for more than twenty years and the resulting violence led in the last year alone to the deaths of 600 Turkish citizens. The continued ability of this terrorist group to operate from Iraqi territory is a threat to regional security and an impediment to improvements in the lives of people on both sides of the border.

A word on the PKK

The PKK or Kurdistan Workers Party, also known as the KGK, is a militant group composed of ethnic Kurds who have carried out a campaign of terror against Turkey since their foundation in the 1970s. The PKK was founded on Marxist principles with the aim of carving out through violence an independent Kurdish state in south-eastern Turkey and neighboring states. Recently, the PKK has sought to hide its terrorist roots by cloaking its political demands in terms of local cultural and linguistic rights. PKK attacks on Turkish authorities turned south-eastern Turkey into a war zone in the late 1980s and 1990s. The group revolved around the cult-like leadership of Abdullah Öcalan until 1999, when he was captured. He remains in Turkish custody.

The PKK suspended military action following Ocalan’s capture and was forced to regroup between 1999 and 2004. Turkish government attempts to address outstanding cultural and political demands, as discussed in the annual State Department Human Rights Reports, were unsuccessful at addressing ethnic aspirations. In 2004 the PKK resumed terrorist attacks against Turkish security forces, innocent civilians and foreign tourists. Its actions have been criticized by human rights groups such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.

The conflict with the PKK has diverted Turkey’s effort to join the EU and has fostered instead a permanent state of alarm throughout the country. Badly needed outside investment cannot be productively used to shore up underdeveloped south-eastern Turkey until the threat of terrorism recedes. Ironically, the continued existence of a terrorist group that cloaks itself in the mantle of Kurdish rights has impeded the progress for which Turkish Kurds aspire through economic development and the cooperation facilitated by EU human rights law.

The PKK in Iraq

Several thousand PKK terrorists are based just over the Turkish border inside Iraq. The PKK has used Iraq as a base to pursue operations, train terrorists, and direct attacks against Turkey. Iraqi and U.S. forces have lacked the resources to root out this pocket of terrorist camps despite the continued insistence of Turkish authorities. We have reached a critical point in which the pressure of continued attacks has placed immense public pressure upon the Government of Turkey to take some military action. Ankara understands that military action, even within this small pocket of Iraq, could be potentially destabilizing and counter-productive to our joint goal of achieving a stable and strong Iraqi government. Unfortunately, the PKK terrorist threat is a reality and the Turks justly take it very seriously.

In August 2006, Secretary Rice asked me to undertake the mission of Special Envoy for Countering the PKK. My appointment followed a period of two weeks in which the Turks seemed poised to cross the Iraq border on a mission to root out PKK fighters and destroy their camps. I was given responsibility for coordinating U.S. engagement with the Government of Turkey and the Government of Iraq to eliminate the terrorist threat of the PKK operating in northern Iraq and across the Turkey-Iraq border.

Turkey is a sovereign state with a responsibility to defend its people. Ultimately, the Turkish government will have to take the steps it thinks are necessary to protect its citizens. Over the past six months we have explored what options are available with the Iraqis and Turks to remove the threat posed by this terrorist organization and restore peace to the border zone. Maintaining a peaceful border between Turkey and Iraq is important to our efforts to continue the reconstruction and development of Iraq. My goal was to come up with a set of actions that the U.S. Government, the Turkish government and the Iraqi government could take to eliminate the PKK threat.

I have made half-dozen trips to Turkey and also met with Turkish officials in Europe and the United States. I met not only with Prime Minister Erdogan, Foreign Minister Gul, and the chief of the Turkish General Staff, but also with the Interior Minister of the Turkish National Police and intelligence organizations. Since last September, I have been to Iraq three times and again had meetings with President Talabani, the Vice President, the Prime Minister, the Foreign Minister, and the Defense Minister, as well as with President Barzani of the Kurdish Regional Government in Erbil.

I have stressed with all of these governmental officials the unacceptability of Iraqi territory being used as a safe haven for the PKK. I have repeatedly pointed out that the continued existence of the PKK as a terrorist organization works against Iraq’s best interests. Turkey is the best possible friend that Iraq could have in that neighborhood. There is no question that the economic interests between Iraq and Turkey are critical for both countries. If the quality of life and economic situation of people on both sides of the border are to improve, then we need to stop the violence. Northern Iraq is full of Turkish construction companies building new infrastructure, its shelves are full of Turkish products, and its roads are full of trucks carrying fuel refined in Turkey.

In conjunction with counterparts, General Edip Baser and Iraqi Minister of State for Security al-Waili, we have tried to achieve movement on a series of steps that have to be taken by all three governments to be more effective in countering the PKK. These steps include, but are not limited to:

The Iraqi government’s public condemnation of the presence of armed PKK militias in Iraq, the order to close PKK offices in the Iraqi Kurdish region, and the facilitation of a PKK declaration of a cessation of hostilities that has lasted for almost six months.

Movement toward closure of the Makhmour refuge camp, which had become a refuge for PKK fighters in the safety of northern Iraq. An agreement structuring the voluntary return of Makhmour camp residents to Turkey and on the camp’s disposition is being worked out between Turkey, Iraq, and the UNHCR. Practical steps have had to be dealt with. The camp needed to be cleared of any PKK personnel, all the arms needed to be removed from the camp, UNHCR needed to register every person in the camp — man, woman, and child — and everyone in the camp needed to be interviewed to determine their intention to return to Turkey or to remain in Iraq. All of this, except the survey of intentions, has been accomplished. We will continue to work with UNHCR, the Turks and the Iraqis on how to close the camp and what sort of assistance will be needed to encourage the residents to either repatriate or resettle.

On March 5, the three parties held their most recent trilateral meeting to discuss the closure of the camp. Although the discussion did not finalize the agreement, they made substantive progress.

In general, we have successfully increased the amount of communication between the Turks and Iraqis. It is essential to the improvement of the situation that more and better channels of communication can be developed.


I took this position because I believe Turkey is a very important ally of the United States. As the former Supreme Allied Commander Europe, I can testify to the superb performance of the Turkish Armed Forces and I hope the Turks will continue to stand by us. I have no doubt that if we can significantly reduce the PKK threat to Turkey that it will do much to improve the state of relations between the United States and Turkey. Diplomatic progress on this issue has come grudgingly and with great effort, but there has been progress. As the snows melt in the mountain passes along the Turkish-Iraqi border in several weeks, we will see if the PKK renews its attacks and how the Turkish government chooses to respond.


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