Turkish officials are getting increasingly apprehensive over the repeated promises made by Sen. Barack Obama during the campaign to recognize the Armenian Genocide. Turkish circles are trying to dissuade and pressure President-elect Obama and his close advisors to keep these campaign promises by using high-priced lobbying firms, dispatching delegations of senior diplomats to the U.S., a meeting between Prime Minister Recep Erdogan and Obama's representatives in Washington, and a phone conversation between Pres. Abdullah Gul and Pres.-elect Obama.
Even retired Turkish diplomats are getting into the act. Faruk Logoglu, a former Turkish Ambassador to Washington, recently wrote a lengthy "Open Letter" to Pres.-elect Obama, consisting of 23 points, touching upon various aspects of U.S.-Turkish relations. The letter was published in the Autumn 2008 edition of Private View, a publication of the Turkish Industrialists' and Businessmen's Association (TUSIAD).
Amb. Logoglu has served as President of the Eurasian Strategic Studies Center (ASAM), an influential Turkish think tank specializing in international relations. More importantly, he is a member of the board of the Strategic Studies Center of the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. His letter to Pres. Obama, titled "Win Turkey as a Key Partner," provides unique insights into the thinking and agenda of the Turkish foreign policy establishment.
The Turkish Ambassador begins his letter with a vain attempt to find similarities between the United States and Turkey. He falsely claims that the two countries share "common values and converging national interests" such as "democracy, the rule of law, human rights, fundamental freedoms and market economy." Amb. Logoglu concludes that the agendas, priorities and needs of the U.S. and Turkey overlap.
Not surprisingly, the Turkish Ambassador makes several references to the Armenian Genocide. In point 2 of his letter, he states that U.S.-Turkish relations have improved after "the halting of the Armenian Genocide resolution in Congress last year."
Amb. Logoglu's letter, written in a patronizing tone, repeatedly tells Pres. Obama what to do once in office. In point 6 of his letter, the Ambassador demands that Pres. Obama, as one of the first tasks of his administration, "implement a broad public diplomacy strategy to win the hearts of the Turkish public," in view of the fact that "surveys consistently indicate a very unfavorable opinion of the U.S. in Turkey." In Logoglu's twisted logic, since most Turks hate Americans, it is Pres. Obama's solemn obligation to take immediate steps to make Turks like Americans!
In point 7 of his letter, Amb. Logoglu, treating Pres. Obama as his junior clerk, orders him to "render harmless ... the efforts of the Armenian and other anti-Turkish lobbies to take our relationship hostage. ...You need to convince the Turkish public that you are being fair and not giving in to the demands of special interest groups, especially when those demands are at least questionable."
In point 8, Amb. Logoglu indicates that the congressional resolution on the Armenian Genocide and the fight against the (Kurdish) PKK are two concrete issues that would require Obama's attention in the early days of his Presidency. These issues, the Ambassador warns, "literally constitute the red buttons in the control deck of our relations. Any resolution in Congress supporting Armenian claims would do substantial, if not irreparable, damage to your standing in Turkey and upset the entire chemistry of our relationship. Moreover, it would not help resolve the problem and reverse the positive trends now in the making between Turkey and Armenia. Instead, you should encourage the recent positive trends between the two neighboring states in the direction of dialogue and conciliation."
In point 12, Amb. Logoglu asserts that Turkey wants to become an "energy hub" in order to "counter-balance Russian dominance in this domain and provide alternative outlets to producer nations." This statement exposes the Turkish government's fake gestures of friendship with Russia. Furthermore, this is the continuation of long-standing Ottoman policy of pitting one great power against another, claiming to be an ally to both, while exploiting both countries for its own self-interest. In point 22 of his letter, the Turkish Ambassador contradicts himself by urging Pres. Obama to keep "Turkey's special position" in mind when dealing with Russia, given Turkey's substantial relations with Moscow in terms of "trade, investments, tourism and [ventures] in the field of energy. Our national interest dictates that we maintain positive relations with Russia."
Finally, Amb. Logoglu invites Pres. Obama to visit Turkey at his "earliest opportunity," so that the schmoozing can continue in a warmer atmosphere!
Most probably, neither President-elect Obama nor any of his aides would have the time to read this lengthy polemical letter. However, the Ambassador's words provide a window into the Turkish mindset and show how alarmed Ankara is by Obama's campaign promises and their likely implementation.
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