Wilson: "Turkey matters in almost all US foreign policy priorities"
Despite differences of opinion between the US and Turkey, Turkey is taken into consideration in almost all of the US' high-level foreign policy priorities, said US Former US Ambassador to Turkey Ross Wilson late last week. Speaking at the Jimmy Carter Library and Museum in Atlanta as part of the Atlanta-based Istanbul Center's Distinguished Speaker Series, Wilson said Turkey is undergoing a fundamental transformation, but that this isn't well understood in the US. Saying that this transformation is still important for the US, he said there are three important streams in Turkey: migration, sweeping economic progress, and political transformation. Underlining Turkey's unprecedented economic growth, Wilson said that not only is this seen in Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir but also in such cities as Gaziantep and Kayseri. Political transformations, Wilson commented, are the result of social transformation in the country, and the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) has played a tremendous role in this. As a result of this transformation, Wilson said, Turkey is more powerful now than it has been for centuries. Saying that Turkey averted the recent world financial crisis better than any other country in Europe, Wilson said the lessons Turkey's business world learned from previous crises was key to this. Turkey has also gained self-confidence, he said, as seen in the actions of government officials and government activities. The speed of domestic transformations and the political strife since 2001, in the past three to four years in particular, have created problems in Turkish-US relations, he acknowledged, adding that despite some disappointments and different views on some tactical and strategic issues, Turkey is considered in almost all the US' high-level foreign policy priorities. He said the US needs to explore the reasons behind Turkey's political scene to better understand the country and also that it is important for the two countries to work together.