US ambassador says terrorism cannot damage Turkish-US relations

US ambassador says terrorism cannot damage Turkish-US relations
# 05 February 2013 17:52 (UTC +04:00)

Baku-APA. US Ambassador to Turkey Francis J. Ricciardone stated on Tuesday that Turkish-US relations deepened even further after an attack on the US Embassy in Ankara last week, adding that terrorism cannot damage the relationship between the two countries, APA reports quoting Todays Zaman.

Speaking at the opening of a conference on Turkish-US ties hosted by the Ankara-based International Strategic Research Organization (USAK), Ricciardone said the attack brought the Turkish and US peoples closer and that the terrorists who carried out the attack had failed to reach their goal.

A suicide bomber detonated an explosive device at the entrance of the US Embassy in Ankara on Friday, killing at least two people, including the suicide bomber and a Turkish security guard as well as seriously wounding a Turkish television journalist.

Touching on Friday's attack on the US Embassy in Ankara, Özdem Sanberk, the head of USAK, described the attack as horrifying. “This attack is also an attack on Turkey as much as on the US,” said Sanberk, adding that the two countries stand side by side against terrorism.

“What we saw last Friday is just an example of the pain and suffering which the Middle East has been facing for years,” added Sanberk.

The conference, titled “Obama's Second Term: Realism, Change and Continuity in Turkey-US Relations,” drew a large crowd, including representatives of foreign diplomatic missions in Turkey, senior Turkish officials and media representatives. Participants discussed Turkish-US relations and the main issues concerning the agenda of the two countries. Extensive security measures were taken to safeguard the USAK building prior to Ricciardone's arrival to the building.

Ricciardone stated that the relationship between the two countries was much more mature and stronger than ever. “Not only in the terms of military alliance but we are engaged to each other in many other terms, including economy,” said the US ambassador.

“I am more optimistic regarding the relationship between Turkey and the US than I was when I first arrived in Turkey a few years ago,” said Ricciardone.

Sanberk stated that the aim of the conference was to examine bilateral relations in the first term of US President Barack Obama with policy recommendations for his second term.

Sanberk further stated that Turkish-American relations have traditionally been characterized by mutual cooperation on issues of common concern, despite occasional complications.

“This partnership has lasted almost 60 years and resisted the test of time as well as the changes of administrations in both countries. Today, the agenda of Turkish-American relations is more substantial than ever,” said Sanberk.

Consultations between Turkey and the US involve a vast range of topics ranging from terrorism to transatlantic relations, from the Arab Spring to the global financial crisis.

Sanberk believes that the partnership between Turkey and the US has always served to promote peace, stability and prosperity in the Middle East and the wider regions.

Agreeing with Sanberk, Füsun Türkmen from Galatasaray University stated that despite the divergence in the politics of the two countries, the relations between Turkey and the US have improved in recent years.

“The Middle East is the testing ground of Turkish-US relations,” said Türkmen, adding that Turkey and the US have agreed on common ground with regard to the Syrian crisis.

Stephen Flanagan from the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) stated that the Arab Spring became an area of cooperation for Turkey and the US. “Both countries want to promote good governance and democracy in the Middle East,” said Flanagan, adding that both countries have run on the right side of history.

According to ÇaÄŸrı Erhan from Ankara University, the Arab Spring has opened a new page in Turkey-US relations. Erhan stated that there were six main problematic issues between Turkey and the US. According to Erhan, the first issue is the difference in the stances of the US and Turkey towards Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who is currently at odds with the Turkish government.

“The second issue is the different attitude of the two countries toward the situation in Syria. The third is the Iranian nuclear issue. The fourth is Turkish-Israeli relations. The fifth is Turkey's increasing support of Hamas, which the US considers a terrorist group. Lastly, the Armenian allegations and campaign in the US against Turkey,” said Erhan.

The conference consisted of three sessions. The first session was an assessment of the current situation in Turkish-American relations, especially after the election of the American president. The second session was an evaluation of the interactions between bilateral relations. The third session focused on the future of the bilateral relations with respect to the Syrian crisis, which has dragged on for far longer than any other Arab Spring uprising and has become an ordeal for Turkey, an ally of the US.

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