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Boyner calls for a more comprehensive relationship


Umit Boyner, President of the Board of Directors of TUSIAD, called for a more comprehensive relationship between Turkey and the United States. Speaking at a joint conference organized by TUSIAD and The Brookings Institution, Boyner stressed the common interests of the U.S. and Turkey.

She said, “We can say that we share a common stance on promoting peace and democratic stability in the Middle East, particularly in the civil-war-like situation in Syria. We share a common stance on contributing to the stability, democracy and the prosperity of the Black Sea Region, the Caucasus, Central Asia and Afghanistan, achieving comprehensive and mutual acceptable agreement on Cyprus, on countering terrorism, including the fight against the terrorist organizations, on increasing understanding, respect and tolerance between and among different cultures, and on strengthening the transatlantic alliance on every front. I have to say that Turkey’s EU process should also be seen from this perspective. Our cooperation, which was initially shaped on mutual security concerns, have actually transformed and evolved into a multi-dimensional cooperation in response to changing threats and regional conditions.”

Boyner’s remarks in full:

“I would like to welcome all of you on behalf of TUSIAD to our joint conference with Brookings in Istanbul. The Brookings – TUSIAD cooperation started in 2007 and we have already seen the impact we have had on numerous occasions in terms of the Washington’s perception on Turkey. I would like to thank all these people who have made this cooperation possible, fruitful and promising, especially President Talbott, Ambassador Parris, director Fiona Hill, Mr. Ömer Taşpınar, our former Washington representative Mr. Akyüz and our current representative Mr. Ornarlı, alongside, obviously, Mr. Soli Özel.

Today the speakers will analyze different aspects of the possible outcomes and effects of the presidential elections in the United States on our bilateral relations and also on our surrounding region. We greatly value the relations between the United States and Turkey, that share a sound and deep rooted partnership since the 19th century. Although the strength of our bilateral cooperation have been tested in a number of cases, like the war in Iraq, the crisis of the Flotilla, the developments in Iran, and the Syrian problem, both countries have had a long standing partnership and they share common strategic priorities in our region.

We can say that we share a common stance on promoting peace and democratic stability in the Middle East, particularly in the civil-war-like situation in Syria. We share a common stance on contributing to the stability, democracy and the prosperity of the Black Sea Region, the Caucasus, Central Asia and Afghanistan, achieving comprehensive and mutual acceptable agreement on Cyprus, on countering terrorism, including the fight against the terrorist organizations, on increasing understanding, respect and tolerance between and among different cultures, and on strengthening transatlantic alliance on every front. I have to say that Turkey’s EU process should also be seen from this perspective.

Our cooperation, which was initially shaped on mutual security concerns, have actually transformed and evolved into a multi-dimensional cooperation in response to changing threats and regional conditions. New institutions, communication channels and a new approach that highlights the common interests and the sensitive to Turkey’s domestic priorities are needed to address the challenges of a new era in bilateral relations.

Yes, the U.S. presidential elections are in November. No matter which candidate wins, we must look forward to a more comprehensive relationship. This will indeed necessitate a thorough and frank assessment of our interests. We must re-define the framework of our common interests, devise the new approaches and be respectful of diverging viewpoints. The future of the Arab spring, Turkey’s accession to the EU, the promising developments in the long-awaited Cyprus issue, the future of Syria within the broader framework of the transformation in the Arab world, the Israeli-Palestinian relations, and the future chorus of the American policy on these and other possible issues during the next four years will be the main areas of the interests on our side.

Since we are a business association, we attach particular significance to the economic dimension of Turkish-American relations as well. There are many fields of potential cooperation, and energy being the most obvious one. Even though increasing investment and trade volumes in a relatively short period of time is not an easy task to achieve, proposals and approaches should go beyond some everlasting items, such as qualified industrial zones or generalized system of preferences. And both governments

should put determined and concerted efforts in making economic relations a relatively significant component of this partnership. That is the reason why we strongly support the work of U.S.-Turkey framework for strategic, economic and commercial cooperation. To this end, a U.S. working group was set up under TUSIAD International in 2010 with the aim of fostering trade and investment relations between the two countries, reaching higher level of partnership between private sectors and relevant government bodies of both countries and realizing concrete and result-oriented business activities. Considering the role of business worlds in both countries, we signed a memorandum of understanding with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, one of the most influential business organizations in the U.S. We also have close contacts with the U.S. Ex-Im Bank, OPIC, and USTDA.

Turkey and U.S. have to let go of outdated strategies and focus on innovative ones aimed at boosting relations between the two

countries. We have to work towards implementing coordinated export schemes between the two governments. We believe that joint investments in the 3rd country markets should be encouraged and creating finance facilities in sectors, such as energy, construction and health care is vitally important. We hope that the future of Turkish American bilateral relations during the next president, from either Democratic or the Republican side, will have more room for mutually beneficial business partnerships as well. I believe the contributions in this conference will help us in clarifying our expectations and long term strategies.

I thank you very much for your attention and I leave the floor to our discussants.”

(October 15, 2012 – Istanbul)