The 2nd TAA Annual Convention began with a panel discussion about Turkey’s New Foreign Policy and Its Challenges at 9:00 a.m. on November 30, 2011 in Conference Theater-Lagoon Level (1B) of the Grand Hyatt Washington Hotel in Washington D.C. As a moderator discussant Dr. Joshua Walker Transatlantic Fellow at the German Marshal Fund attended to the panel 1. Panelists in this panel were Mr. Abdulhamit Bilici General Manager of Cihan News Agency, Honorable Mike McMahon Former
Memberof Congress (D-NY) and Dr. James J. Zogby President of Arab American Institute.
President of TAA Dr. Faruk Taban warmly welcomed all guests and read his welcoming message. Full script of his speech will be given later. There are some highlighted notes from the panel 1:
Mr. Abdulhamit Bilici: These are golden times in US-Turkey relationship. Turkish and American officials are communicating on a daily basis. We need to make this level of relationship durable.
Honorable Mike McMahon: We Americans know that we have important friends but when our friends are at odds we are concerned. We have mutual security concerns with Turkey. We care about our security and our friends’ security, democracy. Turkey is very important. Israel is very important. Iran is the greatest threat to all. Syria is greatest threat to all.
Dr. James J. Zogby: Our polling in the Middle East shows that in the last years, Turkey’s rate of favorability is steadily going up (about 60-80% at the moment) while Iran’s numbers are going down. The United States failed to read Arab Spring correctly. On the other hand, Turkey got it right. Turkey is now the best bet of the United States if it wants to influence the transition in the Middle East
Mr. Abdulhamit Bilici: Some are saying that Turkey is moving from one form of authoritarianism to the other. It is very difficult to get a fair judgment domestically in Turkey, because the politics is very polarized. On the other hand, European Union’s approach is very objective. They applaud obvious progress in human rights, legal reforms. EU progress reports depict the right picture. Portrayal of Turkey in the reports in the last ten years is as starkly different as day and night.
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