ISTANBUL (Hurriyet)—The United States does not agree with the perception that Turkey is moving away from the West, its consul general in Istanbul said Thursday, adding that the country’s multifaceted nature is “a strength, not a weakness.”
“The relationship between Turkey and the United States has always been important and that’s truer now more than ever,” said U.S. Consul General Sharon Wiener, whose three-year assignment in Istanbul is ending in two weeks.
“Turkey and the United States share the common goals of peace, security, freedom and prosperity in the region and beyond. Neither of us can achieve these goals alone,” she said.
Speaking at a meeting organized by the Women Entrepreneurs Association of Turkey, or KAGIDER, Wiener said, “Turkey has always had multiple identities and that is one of Turkey’s strengths, not a weakness.”
According to Weiner, U.S. President Barack Obama’s decision to visit Turkey in April 2009 as his first intercontinental trip was a conscious choice. “America’s relations with Turkey are critical to meeting the challenges of our time,” she said.
“Our model partnership does not mean we won’t face challenges and differences of opinion. It means we will exercise leadership and courage and work together to tackle these challenges. It is important that we focus on the long-term goals we share,” she added.
One common goal of both countries is their fight against terrorism, according to Weiner, who said the United States always supports Turkey in its fight against terror.
“The U.S. and Turkey are also cooperating in counter terrorism to fight al-Qaeda internationally and battle the PKK [Kurdistan Workers’ Party] in this region,” the consul general said.
In a phone call earlier this week with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the PKK – which is designated as a foreign terrorist organization by the United States – is the common enemy of both countries in Iraq, Weiner said. “The PKK is a threat to stability in the region. We support Turkey’s efforts in Iraq to deal with the problem of the PKK and I can assure you that our support is continuing and always increasing.”
Weiner also said that although the United States is aware it does not have a vote, it still supports Turkish membership in the European Union. “America continues to believe that having Turkey in the EU would benefit both Turkey and Europe. Reforms Turkey has already implemented have made it more democratic and modern,” the Consul General said. “The EU will benefit from Turkey’s dynamic economy, its energy-transit resources and its young labor market.”
In her meeting with the female entrepreneurs, Weiner thanked KAGIDER for its work and for enabling her to work on women’s education and health issues in Turkey.