US doesn't see Turkey moving away from west, says outgoing consul general
The United States doesn't see Turkey as turning its back on the West and believes Turkey's multiple identities don't make it weaker, but stronger, US Consul General Sharon Anderholm Wiener said yesterday. Addressing the Turkish Women Entrepreneurs Association (KAGIDER) on a farewell visit, as her term in Istanbul is set to conclude within weeks, Wiener said that the Turkish-US relationship has always been important but that under today's circumstances, this is truer than ever. Wiener said Turkey and the US cooperate on social issues as well as issues of security, freedom and prosperity in the region. She told how US President Barack Obama redefined the Turkish-US relationship from a strategic partnership to a model partnership, and pointed to the increasing frequency of high-level visits between the two. Noting that Obama's first overseas visit was to Turkey, the consul general said this was not by chance. Wiener said in Obama's view, their relationship is "critical for meeting the challenges of our time," as the challenges they must work to meet include Afghanistan, where Turkey is uniquely effective for historical and cultural reasons, and Iraq, which Turkey is building stronger economic ties with, as well as Cyprus, Armenia, and Iran. Terrorism is another challenge for both countries to work on, Wiener stated, noting how the terrorist PKK's status as a common enemy was acknowledged in a recent telephone conversation between Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. "The US supports Turkey's efforts to deal with the problem of the PKK," she said. "Our support is continuing and always increasing in fighting the PKK." Wiener also reiterated US support for Turkey's European Union membership.