Relations between Turkiye and the US were discussed at a panel held by Turkiye’s Directorate of Communications in New York.

The panel, which hosted local and foreign academics Friday at the Turkevi Center, covered the historical, political and economic aspects of relations between the two countries.

Speaking at the first session, Cagri Erhan, a rector at Turkiye’s Aliınbas University, said relations with the US date to the late 18th century.

“The main encounter is not on military issues, but on commercial issues,” Erhan said, adding that trade was the most important item on the agenda in the early periods.

A negative perception against Turks started for the first time in the US public after wars that broke out in North Africa at the beginning of the 19th century.

Despite the ups and downs, military cooperation has been made in relations over time, he said, recalling that the US manufactured 11 warships for the Ottoman state in the 1830s.

Kilic Bugra Kanat, Washington research director at SETA Foundation, said the two countries made important attempts to establish confidence until World War II.

The strategic relations were started immediately after the war, he said, adding that Russia is sometimes a “fault line” or a “glue that binds the two countries together.”

In the second session, Mike Doran, a senior fellow at Hudson Institute, said he has been closely following relations between the two countries since 2016.

More and more people are realizing that relations with the PKK are a strategic mistake, even if they do not like to admit it, he said, adding that the US alienated its ally, Turkiye, in Syria.

Noting that he is “more optimistic than ever” regarding bilateral relations, he said there is a real opportunity to rethink everything from start to finish.

Brenda Shaffer, Director of the Center for Eurasian, Russian, and Eastern European Studies at Georgetown University, discussed the ties in the field of energy.

Shaffer said the energy crisis that emerged in Europe with Russia’s war on Ukraine underlined the importance of Turkiye and the south corridor alternatives.

Stressing that the most suitable way for Israel’s exports to Europe would be through Turkiye, she said Turkiye’s diversified market, with about six different supply projects, could be a lesson for many countries.

Former US State Department Advisor Rich Outzen, who made the final speech at the panel, said Turkiye and the US are two good but not easy allies in the long run.

Outzen said it is a difficult relationship and Washington has unrealistic expectations about its allies.

Noting that there are political and cultural differences between the two countries, he emphasized that while the American people generally live as a closed society to the outside world, Turkiye has deep-rooted traditions in dynamic geography from Asia to the Middle East.

It is necessary to leave the problematic areas aside and focus on common interests and there is a large area in this regard, especially in Ukraine, he said, adding the two countries have common interests in many areas.

Attending the panel via video conference, Turkish Communications Director Fahrettin Altun said the US administration should also stand with Turkiye in the fight against regional and global terrorism.

The US should realize before it is too late that the presence of the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO) in its country is also a threat to American society as of now, Altun said.

Stressing that Turkiye is always open to developing cooperation with the US in areas of mutual interest, he said Ankara aims to solve problems and disagreements that negatively affect bilateral relations by effectively managing them. Turkiye will continue the “constructive, realistic and determined” approach in the same way, he added.

He went on to say that the potential for cooperation between Turkiye and the US in all fields, from economy to security, should be fully mobilized.

*Writing by Gozde Bayar

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