Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is on a visit to the US with a large delegation and the aim of putting Turkish-American relations back on track. He met with US President George W. Bush for the purpose at the White House on Wednesday, June 8.
The two leaders made statements at the Oval Office and emphasized the "strategic" relation between US and Turkey. Erdogan said they have common point of view regarding a solution in Cyprus and the fight against the Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK) terrorist organization. Bush put US Secretary of State Condollezza Rice in charge of the issue of direct flights to Ercan Airport in Turkish Cyprus when the subject was brought to the agenda.
Since Turkey and the US share an "important strategic relation", President Bush said, they talked about a wide range of issues during the talks. He thanked Erdogan for his "strong support" of the Broader Middle East Initiative. Democracy in Turkey is a significant example for the people in the Middle East the US President praised. As for Turkey's leading role in Afghanistan, he praised Erdogan, "I appreciate you leadership." From the Palestinian conflict to the economy, the leaders talked about many subjects, Bush said. The Turkish Prime Minister assured in return that solidarity between the two countries will continue in the future as in the past. Satisfied with the meeting, Bush said it was a very rich and important conversation.
The Turkish party conveyed to the White House that Turkey has transformed into a country of stability and security and is open to new investments. Following the meeting with Bush, Erdogan made comments to Turkish reporters. He enumerated the topics of the talks as: Cyprus, Broader Middle East Project, Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Afghanistan issue, PKK, Syria, Iraq, Iran, European Union (EU), freedoms, human rights, supremacy of law, minorities in Turkey security and the war on terror. He said both parties are of the same opinion regaring PKK and the US share
Turkey's concerns in the subject. "We are exchanging information and intelligence with the US," he said, "but it's not enough."
Elsewhere, when the White House Spokesperson Scott McClellan asked about the US view on PKK, he responded that the US regards this network as a terrorist organization and the issue came to the agenda during Bush-Erdogan meeting. According to the Spokesperson, Bush spoke of the difficulties Americans face in Iraq.
"We are working on solving these," added McClellan emphasizing the obejctive of the meeting is "to revive strategic partnership."
Erdogan responded to concerns of anti-Americanism in Turkey that it is rightist and leftist marginal groups are trying to keep the issue alive by applying the same picture over and over again. Erdogan stressed that administrations should act beyond emotions; therefore, the Turkish government is taking positive action against anti-Americanism.
As for the Broader Middle East Project, Erdogan said visits to Syria, Jordan, Morocco, and Tunisia are the steps taken in this direction and he will visit Lebanon upon his return. "Turkey continues with the works of reforms, speeding up democratic process and preventive measures against terror." For Syria causing tension between US and Turkey lately, Prime Minister elaborated: "Syria is our neighbor and we have a 800 km border with them. We talked about how we will bring Syria to our own line of action. They talked with our President [Turkish President Ahmet Necdet Sezer] about troop withdrawal from Lebanon. They said, 'we will pull them out' and they did."