TAIK STATEMENT ON THE PASTOR CRISIS AND AMERICAN SANCTIONS
YALÇINDAĞ: "THERE SHOULD BE NO SANCTIONS BETWEEN OLD FRIENDS. TWO PRESIDENTS WILL SOLVE THIS PROBLEM"
The strain on the Turkish-American relations that has been going on for some time, has evolved with US Treasury Department adding Turkish Minister of Justice Abdülhamit Gül and Minister of Interior Süleyman Soylu to their sanctions list. This new development is unacceptable given the bilateral relationship, NATO alliance, and because of the fact that it is direct political move aimed at the independence of the judicial process. We urge the related parties to reverse this decision, and urge all to work hard to put the bilateral relationship to a level worthy of allies and friends.
There has always been problems in the Turkish-American relations, and from time to time these problems have escalated into crises, however, the mutual strategic and economic interests have been so large, strong and deep that, even after the most tumultuous times, the bilateral relationship has persevered.
I think that the situation we are in today, which has escalated with reciprocal statements in the press and on social media, can be resolved. The most important thing here is that we get out of this situation before it further strains and permanently damages the bilateral relationship. Lets not forget, in the beginning of the 21st century, we are going through a period where alliances are broken down and new ones are being established. Lasting friendships are very important, we all need each other.
Even though it looks like the bilateral relations might come to a halt if we don't fix the crisis between our two countries immediately, let's be real, this is not a possibility. We are working together on a number of issues, particularly in Syria and NATO. The bilateral economic relations are still healthy.
Without delving into who is right or wrong, I just want to make three points clear:
We should shift our focus to the realities of our relationship rather than the crisis at hand, at least for a while. I believe we should find solutions to the existing problems by keeping the mutual interests in perspective. In this regard for example, the new roadmap for Syria is a win for both Turkey and the US. We should work to speed up the development of this. I think, a step by the US Government recognizing Turkey's security concerns and meeting the Turkish Government's requests regarding the Gulen network's operations in the US, and a mutual show of goodwill by the Turkish Government will have a very positive effect. In this case, I believe it will be much easier for the Turkish public to understand US' demands from Turkey.
Sanctions should not be the way to solve problems among friends and allies. Sanctions have never been the solution, the greatest burden of it always lies on the people of the sanctioned country. Given that one of the most important aspects of the Turkish-American bilateral relations are economy and trade, it should not be forgotten that the Turkish public will face the real burden of the sanctions.
We need realistic and reasonable views rooted in goodwill more than ever. Channels should be kept open, and all should refrain from irreversible discourse. As the business community, we hope the mutual sincerity we've witnessed at the NATO Summit will continue to grow.
As a person who knows President Erdogan and President Trump personally, I think I can understand how they feel regarding the recent problems. I think that they both believe the problems should be resolved and they sincerely want it to be fixed. The two presidents are in fact very alike, both brave and passionate leaders. Both have dealt with status quo, interest groups that see themselves above all and fake perceptions. Both want their country to get stronger and bigger, and both know that such goals can only be achieved through realistic and pragmatic steps.
I believe, our greatest luck in solving this crisis lies in the characters of the two presidents detailed above. We may hear differring voices on both sides, this is normal in politics. But I believe, both leaders will focus on resolving the differences and get there quickly by listening to their reason and conscience.
Mehmet Ali Yalçındağ
Turkey-U.S. Business Council (TAİK)