Turkey has ‘High’ Expectations for Obama

ANKARA (Combined Sources)–Turkey’s Foreign Minister on Friday assured reporters during a press conference that the newly elected US President, Barack Obama, will not recognize the Armenian Genocide, the Turkish Hurriyet Daily reported.

“We have high expectation for President Obama and his team,” Foreign Minister Ali Babacan said, stressing that the new U.S. administration will not risk spoiling the dialogue launched between Armenia and Turkey by recognizing the Armenian Genocide.

“Obama won’t recognize Armenian Genocide,” Babacan said, welcoming also the appointment of Hillary Clinton as the new U.S. Secretary of State.

Babacan’s remarks come a week after he issued a warning to the new president to steer clear from the issue and avoid what he called a “wrong step by the United States” that will harm Armenian-Turkish reconciliation.

"It would not be very rational for a third country to take a position on this issue,” he said late last Friday. Turkey has "never been closer" to normalizing ties with Armenia, he said, adding that a breakthrough could be secured in 2009, the minister said.

Babacan’s remarks Friday are the latest in an intensifying effort to persuade Washington to stay quiet on the key human rights issue. Mr. Obama, who took office Tuesday, pledged during his election campaign to reaffirm the US record on the genocide. Washington has traditionally condemned the massacres, but has so far refrained from terming them genocide due to concern about straining relations with Turkey, a NATO member and ally in the Middle East.

In other news, the U.S. Ambassador to Turkey, James Jeffrey, urged Turkey to cut a deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) which will provide Turkey’s ailing economy with $15-20 billions in much needed financial support.

Jeffrey made his remarks during a speech in Istanbul Friday where he was attending a meeting of the Foreign Economic Relations Board of Turkey (DEIK). He said that he had met with the IMF officials last week and that there have been "encouraging and good developmen’s. “IMF officials are currently in Ankara for talks on the loan package. "The United States is ready to assist anyway it can on the talks between Turkey and the International Monetary Fund," he said.

Jeffrey also said that he expects U.S. cooperation to increase with Ankara on the Middle East. The new administration, he said, should be given some time to draw out its policies on the region. "Palestine-Israel, Afghanistan-Pakistan, Iran and Iraq are among the issues that the U.S. looks to closely work with Turkey," he added.
Commenting on Turkish-Armenian relations, Jeffrey said he sees “very, very important developmen’s” in the ties between the two countries.

Jeffrey also said Obama was pleased with the Turkish government’s position on Afghanistan, and also said that Turkey was an example for regional countries. He said Turkey was playing key roles in the region, pointing to its role in talks aimed at reaching a cease-fire in Gaza. Jeffrey also stressed that the new U.S. administration is aware that Turkey is an important ally and believes that working together is important.


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