Transcript: Soli Ozel on Turkey and the Global Context | Feb 19, 2005

Soli Ozel stands at a podium. He is in his late forties, has a gray full beard, very short gray hair, and is wearing a black suit, pale blue shirt, and striped brown and black tie.

Soli Ozel says WHEN THE TURKS
STARTED THINKING MORE SERIOUSLY
ABOUT THE WEST, THEY HAD TO ASK
THE QUESTION WHICH WEST?
AND INDEED FOR THOSE WHO RUN
THE COUNTRY TODAY THE WEST WAS
NEVER AN OPTION, AND THE
WESTERNIZE, AND FOR THE
WESTERNIZERS THEY WERE T
NEMESIS.
INDEED, THE WEST HAS BECOME
SOMETHING OTHER THAN WHAT THE
PUBLIC ITSELF, HAS THOUGHT FOR
A LONG TIME ONLY AFTER THE
CRISIS OF THE 1990S.
I WOULD ARGUE THAT WHAT
EXPLAINS TURKEY'S POLITICAL
TRANSFORMATION IN THE LATE
1990S AND EARLY 21ST, 21ST
CENTURY IS, ARE REALLY THE FOUR
TRAUMAS THAT THE COUNTRY WENT
THROUGH FROM MID 1990S ONWARDS,
WITH THE BACKGROUND OF THE
CIVIL WAR AND OF THE COLD WAR,
RISE OF ISLAMISM, AND THE
TRANSFORMATION OF TURKISH
DEMOGRAPHIC COMPOSITION AND
THEREFORE TURKEY'S SOCIOLOGY.
WHEN THE TURKISH ECONOMY WENT
INTO BANKRUPTCY ONE MORE IN
1978 - 79

A caption reads "Soli Ozel. Istanbul Bilgi University. Turkey and the Global Context. Munk Centre for International Studies, November 12, 2004."

Soli continues FOR THE FIRST
TIME, IN 40 YEARS THE CURE FOR
IT WAS SEEN TO BE IN
LIBERALIZING THE ECONOMY.
THE LIBERALIZATION OF THE
TURKISH ECONOMY IN THE 1980S
AND IN SUBSEQUENT YEARS --
AND THE
INTEGRATION OF THE TURKISH
ECONOMY WITH THE WORLD ECONOMY
MEANT THAT WITH, THAT, THAT THE
TURKISH PRINCES WERE NOW
GENERATING NOT JUST PEASANTS,
BUT ENTREPRENEURS WHO WERE
CUTTING THEIR TEETH IN
COMPETITIVE RELATIONS WITH
OTHER COUNTRY'S FIRMS IN
INTERNATIONAL MARKETS.
THAT WAS A PROCESS THAT WAS
ACCELERATED AT THE END OF THE
COLD WAR, WHEN THE BARRIERS TO
TRADE BETWEEN TURKEY AND ITS
IMMEDIATES NEIGHBOURS MOST OF
WHOM, MOST OF WHICH HAPPENED TO
BE IRON CURTAIN COUNTRIES OR
COMMUNIST COUNTRIES, WHICH WITH
THERE WERE, THERE WAS NOT MUCH
TRADE.
ACTUALLY MADE IT SURE THAT BY
1990S WE HAD A NEW PROVINCIAL
BUSINESS CLASS, WHICH WAS
MAKING WAVES IN ECONOMIC AND,
AND SOCIAL TERMS AND WANTED TO
BE REPRESENTED IN THE POLITICAL
REALM AND HAVE ITS, ITS SHARE
OF POWER.
SO IN, WITH THAT, WITH THAT
BACKGROUND WE HAD I THINK FOUR
TRAUMAS THAT TRANSFORMED THE
TURKISH PUBLICS RELATION TO ITS
STATE.
THE TURKISH PUBLIC'S VISION OF
WHAT THE EUROPEAN UNION
ACTUALLY MEANT FOR ITSELF.
AND THE TURKISH PUBLIC'S
UNDERSTANDING AND APPRECIATION
OF DEMOGRAPHIC, LIBERAL,
DEMOGRAPHIC PRINCIPLES.
DEMOCRACY HAD ALWAYS BEEN VERY
POPULAR.
LIBERALISM NEVER WAS.
AND WE DON'T EVEN STILL NOW
MAKE THE DISTINCTION.
ON THE THIRD OF NOVEMBER 1996,
A CAR CRASH, A MERCEDES 600
CRASHED INTO A TRUCK.
A, A POLICEMAN WHO WAS OF --
ORIGIN, A KURDISH DEPUTY WHO
WAS IN, WHO WAS AN ALLY OF THE
TURKISH STATE IN THE FIGHT
AGAINST THE PKK.
A FUGITIVE MURDERER FROM 1978
AND HIS GIRLFRIEND WERE IN THE
CAR, EVERYONE EXCEPT THE
KURDISH DEPUTY DIED.
AND THEN TURKEY DISCOVERED THAT
IN THE PROCESS OF FIGHTING A
DIRTY WAR AGAINST THE PKK FROM
1984 ONWARDS, THE TURKISH STATE
NEEDED OR USED SOME RATHER
UNSAVOURY CHARACTERS.
THE TURKISH MAFIA TO BE, TO BE
MORE PRECISE AND IT'S RIGHT
WING ALLIES, WHO THEN TURNED,
WHO THEN MADE WHAT WE, WE IN
TURKEY CANNOT DO VERY, VERY
SUCCESSFULLY, PRIVATIZE THEIR
ENDEAVOURS AGAINST, AGAINST THE
PKK AND BEGAN TO ACTUALLY
INFILTRATE THE STATE APPARATUS
AND CORRUPT IT.
SUDDENLY, A BROAD SEGMENT OF
THE POPULATION BEGAN TO THINK
THAT THIS WAS NOT THE WAY THEY
THOUGHT OF THEIR OWN STATE.
THE SECOND TRAUMA CAME AT THE
END OF FEBRUARY 1997.
AT THAT TIME TURKEY WAS BEING,
TURKEY WAS BEING GOVERNED BY AN
ISLAMIST LED COALITION
GOVERNMENT, THE WELFARE PARTY
IT WAS CALLED AT THE TIME.
THEY WERE CRASS, AND THEY WERE
CERTAINLY NOT IN TUNE WITH THE
SOCIETY THAT THEY WERE
PRESUMABLY GOVERNING.
AND THE TURKISH MILITARY ON THE
28TH OF FEBRUARY AND NATIONAL
SECURITY COUNCIL MEETING BEGAN
THE PROCESS OF PUSHING THE
WELFARE PARTY AND ITS PARTNER
OUT OF POWER.
TO THAT END, THE TURKISH
MILITARY MANAGED TO MOBILIZE
PUBLIC OPINION THAT WAS UNHAPPY
WITH WHAT THE WELFARE PARTY WAS
PRESUMABLY DOING AND CERTAINLY
THE, THE NEWSPAPERS OF THE DAY
TURNED INTTHE DAILY BULLETINS
OF THE TURKISH GENERAL STAFF.
NOW, THAT ACT BY THE MILITARY
SUDDENLY TRANSFORMED THE
OUTLOOK OF A SEGMENT OF THE
POPULATION WHICH NEVER REALLY
CARED MUCH ABOUT LIBERALISM,
RULE OF LAW, WESTERN PRINCIPLES
AND BASICALLY ESTABLISHING A
LIBERAL, DEMOCRATIC ORDER IN
THE COUNTRY.
IT WAS THE FIRST TIME THAT THE
ISLAMS, WHICH NOW DIDN'T JUST
REPRESENT THE PROGRESSIVE
FORCES IN THE COUNTRY, BUT ALSO
HAD AMONG THEIR CONSTITUENTS
THIS NEW ARISING,
INTERNATIONALIST ECONOMIC
PROVINCIAL ELITE, SUDDENLY
BEGAN TO THINK THAT MAYBE THERE
WAS SOMETHING TO THE RULE OF
LAW AND THE RULE OF LAW EXISTED
ONLY IN THE WEST.
AND MAYBE THEY SHOULD ALSO TURN
THEIR, THEIR SIGHTS TO THE WEST
AND SEE IF THEY CAN PROTECT
THEMSELVES BY TURNING TURKEY
INTO A BONA FIDE WESTERN
COUNTRY, RATHER THAN ONE THAT
IS ONLY NOMINALLY SO.
THE THIRD TRAUMA CAME IN
PHYSICAL TERMS.
ON AUGUST 17TH, AT THREE-TEN IN
THE MORNING THE WESTERN PARTS
OF TURKEY WERE SHAKEN BY AN
EARTHQUAKE, 7.4 ON THE RICHTER
SCALE.
WE STILL DON'T KNOW TODAY HOW
MANY PEOPLE DIED.
WHAT WE DO KNOW IS THE
FOLLOWING.
THE TURKISH STATE WAS NOWHERE
TO BE SEEN FOR THREE DAYS AND
WHEN IT WAS, WHEN IT CAME ABOUT
IT TURNED OUT THAT IT WAS MUCH
MORE INTERESTED IN KEEPING TO
ITS PEROGATIVES THAN PROTECTING
THEM, THAN ACTUALLY SAVING
LIVES OR HELPING THE PEOPLE WHO
WERE IN DESPERATE CONDITIONS.
PEOPLE FROM ALL OVER THE PLACE,
FROM HOLLAND, FROM GERMANY,
FROM SWITZERLAND, FROM ISRAEL,
FROM GREECE, FROM THE UNITED
STATES WERE ON THE EARTHQUAKE
REGION WITHIN A DAY, AS WERE
PEOPLE WHO TOOK THEIR SHOVELS
AND THEN WENT TO THE REGION TO
HELP SAVE AS MANY LIVES AS
POSSIBLE.
BUT THE TURKISH STATES JUST
DIDN'T, DIDN'T GO THERE AND THE
TURKISH PRIME MINISTER GOT THE
NEWS ON THE RADIO BECAUSE THERE
WAS NO COMMUNICATION.
BUT IT WAS REALLY THE ATTITUDE
TO THE VICTIMS ON THE PART OF
THE AUTHORITIES THAT SUDDENLY
TRANSFORMED THE MOST IMPORTANT
SEGMENT OF THE
POPULATION.
WHERE THE, IF THE EARTHQUAKE
OCCURRED IN THE PROVINCE OF VAN
LET'S SAY AT THE IRANIAN
BORDER. AND THE SAME
THING HAPPENS AND I'M SURE IT
WOULD HAVE HAPPENED, NOBODY
WOULD HAVE CARED.
BUT WHERE THE EARTHQUAKE
HAPPENED WAS WHERE 65 percent OF
TURKISH GNP IS PRODUCED.
WHERE THE BACKBONE OF EVERY
SINGLE DEMOCRACY IN THE WORLD,
THE CONSERVATIVE MIDDLE CLASSES
HAPPEN TO LIVE, AND OBVIOUSLY
IT WAS ALSO VERY CLOSE TO THE
COMMUNICATION CENTRES OF THE
COUNTRY.
SUDDENLY IT DAWNED ON EVERYONE
THAT WITH THAT KIND OF STATE WE
COULD NEVER BE SAFE.
THAT THE RELATION OF THE STATE
TO THE POPULATION REALLY NEEDED
TO CHANGE.
FINALLY, FOR HOTHEADS WHO COULD
NOT UNDERSTAND THE MESSAGE THAT
HAD BEEN COMING IN FROM 1989
ONWARDS, THAT TURKEY COULD NOT
BE KEPT TOGETHER AS A
SOVEREIGN, VIABLE COUNTRY IF IT
TRIED TO MAINTAIN ITS ORDER
INTACT, CAME THE FINAL CRISIS,
WHICH WAS THE ECONOMIC CRISIS
OF 2001.
THE ECONOMIC CRISIS OF 2001
MEANT AT, AT ONE, AT THE SAME
TIME THAT THE TURKISH IMPORT
SUBSTITUTION INDUSTRIALIZATION
PROJECT WAS OVER.
THE DAYS OF PATRONAGE
CLIENTELISM AND DISPENSATION OF
FAVOURS WAS OVER.
THAT TURKEY WAS FROM NOW ON
UNDER THE OBLIGATION OF
RATIONALIZING ITS ECONOMY.
AND IF IT WAS GOING TO BE DONE
ON THE BASIS, UNDER THE
PROTECTION OF THE IMF, THEN SO
BE IT.
THERE WAS NO OTHER WAY OF DOING
IT.
IT TOOK STILL ABOUT A YEAR FOR
MOST TURKISH ECONOMY ACTORS TO
RECOGNIZE THAT THIS IMF
PROGRAM, THE 17TH OF ITS KIND
BY THE TIME IT WAS SIGNED WAS
NOT LIKE ANY OTHER, THE 16
EARLIER ONES.
MOST OF THEM TURKEY JUST
RENEGGED ON ITS PROMISES BY THE
SECOND YEAR, THAT THIS TIME THE
STAKES WERE TOO HIGH.
YOU COULD NOT REALLY BOW OUT
AND THAT MEANT YOU HAD TO
RESTRUCTURE YOUR FIRM, YOU HAD
TO RESTRUCTURE THE PUBLIC
SECTOR AND YOU REALLY HAVE TO
BE, YOU HAVE TO BECOME A
DIFFERENT COUNTRY.
THE SUM TOTAL CONSEQUENCE OF
ALL THESE TRAUMAS WAS THAT THE
TURKISH PUBLIC BEGAN TO DEMAND
THAT ITS STATE CHANGE.
THAT THE WAYS CITIZEN, STATE
RELATIONS ARE DEFINED CHANGE
AND THAT EUROPE FOR BETTER OR
WORSE WAS THE PANACEA.
THAT WAS IF YOU WILL, THE
DREAMLAND THAT WOULD GET US OUT
OF OUR, ALL OUR PROBLEMS.
THAT OBVIOUSLY WAS NOT TRUE.
BUT THAT IS WHAT ABOUT 73 percent OF
THE TURKISH PUBLIC CONSISTENLY
SINCE 1996 THINK, E.U.
I'M ONLY SLIGHTLY EXAGGERATING,
BUT THE RELATIONS BETWEEN
TURKEY AND THE EUROPEAN UNION
HAD BEEN DEFINED BY FOUR
IMPORTANT ATTRIBUTES,
DUPLICITY, HYPOCRISY, DOUBLE-
TALK AND INSINCERITY FROM
THERE, INCEPTION.
WE NEVER REALLY WANTED TO
BECOME LIBERAL DEMOCRATIC AS
EUROPEAN UNION WOULD TURN OUT
TO BE AT THE END OF THE DAY.
AND THEY NEVER REALLY THINK
THAT TURKEY WAS GOING TO BE ONE
DAY A MEMBER.
WE ALL PLAYED A GAME, BUT THE
PROBLEM WAS THE GAME CAME TO AN
END.
THE, THE GAME REALLY GOT
SERIOUS.
FIRST OF ALL ON OUR PART, BY
THE END OF THE 1990S, WITHOUT,
WITHOUT THE EUROPEAN UNION
WE'RE DOOMED, WE'VE GOT TO GET
IN.
AND IF, AND ONE FORGOTTEN
ASPECT IS DESPITE ALL ITS
RESISTANCE WITHIN THE TURKISH
STATES THERE WAS A GOOD AND
STRONG ENOUGH CONSTITUENCY THAT
NEVER LET IT SLIP FROM ITS
REACH THAT WE WOULD BE ON TRACK
FOR EUROPEAN UNION MEMBERSHIP.
IN FACT, I WOULD ARGUE THAT
MOST, ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT
REASONS AS TO WHY THE JDB COULD
ACTUALLY ACCOMPLISH EVERYTHING
THAT IT DID ACCOMPLISH OVER THE
PAST TWO YEARS IS THE CURRENT
CHIEF OF STAFF OF THE TURKISH
MILITARY.
WITHOUT THE, WITHOUT THE
DISCREET SUPPORT OF THE CHIEF
OF STAFF AND HIS CLOSE
ASSOCIATES THESE REFORMS COULD
NOT HAVE BEEN THERE.
BUT AT ANY RATE, AND IT'S THE
PARADOX OF TURKEY'S
WESTERNIZERS, ON THE ONE HAND
THEY DON'T LIKE WHAT THE E.U.
REPRESENTS.
IT'S LOSING TOO MUCH POWER.
MY GOD, ARE WE GOING TO GIVE
INTO THE SEPARATISTS, TO THE
ISLAMISTS, AND WHAT HAVE YOU.
ON THE OTHER HAND, IN THE
IDEOLOGICAL FORMATION THIS IS
WHAT -- TOLD THEM TO SEEK.
SO YOU SEEK IT, YOU KNOW IT'S
LIKE, DO YOU KNOW THE OTTOMAN
MARCH?
YOU KNOW YOU GO TWO STEPS
FORWARD AND THEN ONE STEP
BACKWARD.
AND THAT WAS REALLY THE
ATTITUDE OF THE STATE -- TURKEY
IN THE 1990S, NEVER WANTING TO
LOSE E.U. FROM SIGHT.
BUT NEVER REALLY, REALLY,
REALLY WANTED TO GRAB IT, OKAY.
THAT WAS UP TO THE ISLAMISTS TO
DO IT AND THAT'S OF COURSE ONE
OF THE IRONIES OF HISTORY.
IN THE EARLY 1990S THE EUROPEAN
POSITION ON TURKEY WAS, OKAY
TURKEY, IT'S BEEN A GOOD ONE,
BYE.
WE'RE NOW DISCOVERED OUR OLD
LOVES, BROTHERS, COUSINS, WE
DON'T LIKE THEM PARTICULARLY
MUCH EITHER.
BUT FOR OUR OWN SECURITY WE --
NEED TO INTEGRATE
THEM.
WE'RE GOING TO ENLARGE TOWARDS
THE EAST.
IT'S BEEN VERY GOOD TO HAVE
KNOWN, YOU.
YOU STILL ARE IN NATO.
YOU STILL ARE IN OUR
INSTITUTIONS, BUT YOU WILL NOT
BE IN E.U.
AND THAT ATTITUDE
ACTUALLY CULMINATED WITH A BLIP
OF THE CUSTOMS UNION, WHICH
SERVED OBVIOUSLY CAPITALIST
INTERESTS WHERE EVEN THE
CHRISTIAN DEMOCRATS WERE IN
FAVOUR.
IN 1997, WHEN THE EUROPEAN
UNION IN ITS LUXEMBOURG SUMMIT
SAID TO TURKEY YOU KNOW WE LOVE
YOU DEARLY.
BUT WE'RE REALLY NOT PREPARED
TO COMMIT.
SO, WE WILL NOT GIVE YOU THE
CANDIDATE'S STATUS BUT WE'LL
GIVE YOU A EUROPEAN CONFERENCE.
THERE UPON TURKEY SAID, THANK
YOU, I DON'T WANT IT AND I'LL
GO TO THE UNITED STATES.
THEY UNDERSTAND ME.
THEY KNOW THAT I'M VALUABLE AND
I'M JUST GOING TO START
FLIRTING WITH THEM, NOT THAT WE
HAVEN'T BEFORE.
BUT YOU KN WHEN TURKEY
BASICALLY SAID TO THE, TO THE
EUROPEANS YOU KNOW WHAT?
I CUT ALL MY, DON'T CALL ME,
JUST DON'T CALL ME.
DON'T SEND ME EMAILS.
DON'T CALL ME, I'M NOT TALKING
TO YOU.
SUDDENLY WITHIN TWO YEARS IT
DAWNED ON THE EUROPEANS THAT
HOWEVER DESIRABLE IT MAY HAVE
BEEN, AND HOWEVER EASY IT MAY
HAVE BEEN TO SAY TO TURKEY WHY
DON'T YOU GO TAKE A WALK?
IT REALLY WASN'T A VERY TENABLE
POSITION FOR A WHOLE VARIETY OF
REASONS FOR THE EUROPEAN
POLITICAL SYSTEM TO ACTUALLY
TOLERATE THAT ALIENATION.
THEREFORE WE COME, FINALLY
WE'VE COME TO ONE OF MY MIRACLE
YEARS.
WE'VE COME TO 1999.
TURKEY AT THE END OF 1999 AT
THE HELSINKI SUMMIT GOT FROM
THE EUROPEAN UNION THE
DECLARATION THAT IT WAS A
CANDIDATE ON EQUAL TERMS.
THAT IT WOULD BE TREATED LIKE
EVERY OTHER CANDIDATE.
AND OF COURSE THE NATURAL
EXPECTATION ON THE PART OF THE
EUROPEANS, AND IT REALLY WAS
NATURAL GIVEN THE RECORD IN
TURKEY, THAT THE TURKS WOULD
NEVER DO WHATEVER THEY WERE
SUPPOSED TO DO.
SO, TEN YEARS FROM NOW, YOU
KNOW IT'S LIKE CAINE SAID IN
THE LONG RUN WE'RE ALL DEAD,
YOU KNOW WHOEVER IS IN POWER IN
TEN YEARS FROM NOW THEY'LL DEAL
WITH IT.
BUT THERE WERE ALSO OTHER
REASONS.
I MEAN NOT ONLY WAS IT TOO
COSTLY TO KEEP, TO HAVE TURKEY
ALIENATED.
THE GOVERNMENT IN GERMANY HAS
CHANGED, SO THEREFORE THERE WAS
AT LEAST A MORE OPEN
IDEOLOGICAL APPROACH.
SECONDLY, THE KOSOVO WAR AND
TURKEY'S VERY RESPONSIBLE
BEHAVIOUR DURING THE KOSOVO WAR
SHOWED TO THE EUROPEANS THAT
FOR EUROPEAN SECURITY, TURKISH
COOPERATION WAS ACTUALLY A
VERY, ESSENTIAL FACTOR.
AND IN, SO, IN, IN THOSE SENSES
HELSINKI ACTUALLY MADE SENSE.
NOW WHEN SEPTEMBER 11TH
OCCURRED, IT WAS A BIG A BREAK
ACTUALLY IN EUROPE AS IT WAS IN
THE UNITED STATES.
ALTHOUGH THE RESPONSES TO THE
SEPTEMBER 11TH CHALLENGE
OBVIOUSLY WERE DIFFERENT, BUT
PARTICULARLY IN GERMANY.
IF WE GO BY THE WORDS OF, OF
GERMAN FOREIGN MINISTER, YASHKA
FISHER HE SAYS UNTIL SEPTEMBER
11TH, IT WAS 49 percent -- 51 percent AGAINST
TURKEY.
AFTER SEPTEMBER 11TH, IT'S 70 percent,
I DON'T KNOW HOW HE SCALES
THEM, BUT YOU KNOW IT'S NOT 70 percent
FOR.
AND THE REASON BEING HE THOUGHT
THAT AFTER THE ENLARGEMENTS,
THE CHALLENGE FOR THE EUROPEAN
UNION WAS THE RECONSTRUCTION OF
THE WEST.
AND THE RECONSTRUCTION OF THE
WEST WAS GOING TO BEGIN WITH
THE PLAN TO INTEGRATE THE
MIDDLE EAST INTO THE SYSTEM,
AND THAT COULD NOT BE DONE
UNLESS TURKEY WAS WITH, WITH
THE WEST IN GENERAL AND WITH
EUROPE IN PARTICULAR.
NOW FISHER OBVIOUSLY IS A WISE
MAN, BUT HIS WISDOM IS NOT
REALLY SHARED BY MANY OF HIS
COLLEAGUES WHO DON'T UNDERSTAND
WHAT HE'S SAYING.
SO WHAT DID THE UNITED STATES
DO IN THE 1990S?
YOU KNOW WHEN THE WALL FELL
DOWN, YOU KNOW WHAT, FOUR DAYS
AGO, THREE DAYS AGO, UM,
EVERYBODY WAS VERY HAPPY.
I'M SURE THERE WERE A LOT OF
PEOPLE IN TURKEY WERE ALSO VERY
HAPPY.
THE WALL OF SHAME AS WE CALLED
THE BERLIN WALL HAD FALLEN.
BUT I'M ALSO ABSOLUTELY
POSITIVE THAT IN THE
CHANCELLORIES, IN THE FOREIGN
MINISTRY AND IN THE, IN THE
TURKISH MILITARY'S HEADQUARTERS
WAS LIKE, OH, NO.
WHAT DO WE DO NOW?
HERE WE WERE HAPPILY LIVING,
COLLECTING RENTS OF THE COLD
WAR.
YOU KNOW WE WERE, WE DIDN'T
REALLY HAVE TO BE A BONA FIDE
WESTERN COUNTRY BUT WE WERE
CONSIDERED ONE.
WE KNOW THAT THE ONLY REASON
WHY WE ARE PART OF THE
INSTITUTION OF FRAMEWORK OF THE
WEST WAS OUR STRATEGIC
IMPORTANCE, GEOPOLTICAL
IMPORTANCE FOR THE WESTERN
COUNTRIES.
WHAT ON EARTH DO WE DO NOW?
ESPECIALLY YOU KNOW WHEN WE
HAVE ALSO MANY PROBLEMS, THE
TURKISH INSURRECTION AND ALL
THAT.
AND THE UNITED STATES ALTHOUGH
IT, IT'S, FRANKLY I MEAN TURKEY
IS A LUCKY COUNTRY IN SOME
WAYS.
YOU KNOW WE HAD GOOD
NEIGHBOURS.
SADDAM INVADES KUWAIT AND
SUDDENLY TURKEY IS REDISCOVERED
ON THE MAP.
MY GOD, IT REALLY HASN'T GONE
DOWN THE DRAIN, DID IT?
IT'S THERE.
AND IT'S VERY GOOD THAT WE HAVE
TURKEY AS PART OF NATO, PART OF
THE WESTERN ALLIANCE.
WE CAN USE INCIRLIK AND
WHATEVER.
BUT STILL EVEN THAT WAS NOT
ENOUGH TO CARRY THE TURKISH,
AMERICAN RELATIONS FORWARD FOR
THE POST, COLD WAR ORDER.
IN THE EARLY 1990S THE
PREFERENCE OF THE UNITED STATES
WAS CERTAINLY ON RUSSIA'S SIDE.
AND UNTIL 1993 AND 94 TURKEY
WAS NEGLECTED, AND THE ONLY
THING THAT KEPT THE RELATIONS,
THE STRATEGIC RELATIONS GOING
WAS THE USE OF INCIRLIK TO
PROTECT THE KURDS IN NORTHERN
IRAQ, AND THE FACT THAT THE
PLANES WERE TAKING OFF FROM THE
INCIRLIK BASE IN TURKEY.
FROM 1999 ONWARDS THINGS BEGAN
TO CHANGE.
AND IN A WAY WHEN YOU LOOK AT
IT FROM A TEN OR FIFTEEN-YEAR
PERSPECTIVE YOU SEE HOW
AMERICAN POLICY, WHICH SEEMED
SO WHIMSICAL TO US, HAS
ACTUALLY A LOT OF ELEMENTS OF
CONTINUITY.
IN NOVEMBER OF 1993, THE THEN
NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR OF
BILL CLINTON, ANTHONY LAKE GAVE
A SPEECH.
AND HE SAID THAT DURING THE
COLD WAR THE POLICY OF THE WEST
WAS CONTAINMENT.
THAT FROM THEN ON, FROM NOW ON
THE POLICY OF THE WEST OR, OR
THE UNITED STATES HAVE TO BE
ENLARGEMENT.
ENLARGEMENT OF WHAT?
MARKETS AND DEMOCRACY, SO IN A
WAY THE GREATER MIDDLE EAST
PROJECT OF, OF PRESIDENT BUSH
IS A DESCENDANT, MAYBE, MAYBE
AN AWKWARD DESCENDANT.
BUT NONETHELESS A DESCENDANT,
OR THAT WILL -- AMERICAN
OUTLOOK IN, IN, IN THE WORLD.
IN 1994, RICHARD HOLBROOK WHO
WILL THEN HAVE AN EVEN MORE
IMPORTANT POST IN THE CLINTON
ADMINISTRATION WRITES AN
IMPORTANT PIECE IN THE FOREIGN
AFFAIRS MAGAZINE AND SAYS THAT
DURING THE COLD WAR GERMANY WAS
THE FRONTLINE STATE.
BUT AFTER THE COLD WAR TURKEY
WAS GOING TO BE THE FRONTLINE
STATE.
ON AND ON, THE UNITED STATES
BEGINS TO SELL TURKEY WEAPON
SYSTEMS TO FIGHT THE KURDISH
INSURRECTION.
THE UNITED, THE CLINTON
ADMINISTRATION SUPPORT THE, THE
CONSTRUCTION OF A PIPELINE FROM
THE AZERBAJANI CITY OF BAKU
THROUGH GEORGIA TO JEHAN IN THE
SOUTH OF TURKEY, AND MAKE
TURKEY A TRANSIT PLACE FOR
ENERGY RESOURCES.
A MOVE THAT WAS FOUGHT TOOTH
AND NAIL BY THE OIL COMPANIES,
B.P. BEING AT THE, AT THE
FOREFRONT OF IT.
BY 1999 AND THE UNITED STATES
HAD WORKED RATHER HARD TO, TO
DIVERSE THE, THE LUXEMBOURG
DECISION OF THE EUROPEAN UNION
AND SUPPORT THE TURKEY'S
ACCESSION PROCESS.
THEN IN 1999 THE UNITED STATES
DID THREE THINGS.
NUMBER ONE, IN FEBRUARY OF THAT
YEAR IT HAD DELIVERED F.O.B. TO
THE TURKS, TURKEY'S PUBLIC
ENEMY NUMBER ONE, WHO WAS
HAPPENED, WHO HAPPENED TO BE A
GUEST IN THE GREEK EMBASSY IN
KENYA, HOLDING A GREEK CYPRIOT
PASSPORT, AND TURKEY THEN WAS
FREED OF ITS AGAIN ENEMY NUMBER
ONE.
UP TO -- WAS DELIVERED WITH THE
CONDITION, WITH THE CONDITION
THAT TURKEY DOES NOT KILL HIM.
AND IN THE END, TURKEY DID NOT.
THEN OF COURSE THE EARTHQUAKE
OCCURRED AND THE AMERICANS
AGAIN WERE VERY, HELPFUL.
AND IN NOVEMBER ONCE MORE THE
AMERICANS PUSHED THE O.A.C.,
ESPECIALLY THE, THE RESISTANCE
BY ARMENIA AND HELD THE O.A.C.
SUMMIT IN TURKEY. PRIOR TO THE
SUMMIT, BILL CLINTON GAVE A
SPEECH AT GEORGETOWN AND CALLED
TURKEY ONE OF THE KEY COUNTRIES
FOR THE 21ST CENTURY.
THEN CAME TO TURKEY, SPOKE TO
THE GRAND NATIONAL ASSEMBLY AND
YOU KNOW SAID ALL THE THINGS WE
LOVE.
WE ARE STRATEGIC PARTNERS.
YOU'RE JUST GREAT.
YOU'RE JUST
WONDERFUL.
YOU KNOW, THREE -- KURDS
BETTER.
HE SAID IT IN THE NATIONAL
ASSEMBLY TO GRAND APPLAUSE.
AND THEN HE WENT TO THE
EARTHQUAKE ZONE AND YOU KNOW
THIS WAS THE MONICA LEWINSKY
PERIOD.
IF HE RAN IN, FOR, FOR, FOR
OFFICE IN TURKEY HE WOULD HAVE
WON WITH A LANDSLIDE.
YOU KNOW HE HAD THE PICTURE
WITH THE BABY WHO HELD HIS NOSE
AND ALL THAT.
IT WAS WONDERFUL.
THEN WE HAD THE O.A.C. SUMMIT
AND AT THE O.A.C. SUMMIT,
CLINTON GOT THE BAKU, JEHAN
PIPELINE SIGNED.
SO IT SEEMED THAT FOR THE
UNITED STATES TURKEY WAS NOW
ACQUIRING AN IMPORTANCE THAT
WAS ACTUALLY QUALITATIVELY
DIFFERENT THAN THE IMPORTANCE
IT HELD FOR THE UNITED STATES
DURING THE COLD WAR.
WHAT WAS THAT?
THE KIND OF COUNTRY THAT TURKEY
WAS.
THAT IT HAD A SECULAR STATE, A
DEMOCRATIC SOCIETY, A
CAPITALIST ECONOMY THAT WAS BY
AND LARGE FUNCTIONAL, WITH,
WITH A LARGELY MUSLIM
POPULATION, REALLY MADE IT A
STRATEGICALLY MUCH MORE
IMPORTANT COUNTRY.
IN A WAY YOU CAN SEE THERE TOO,
THE EARLY, THE EARLY
INDICATIONS OF AN AMERICAN
POLICY THAT WOULD THEN, THAT
WOULD LOOK AT THE MIDDLE EAST
AND TRY TO DO AWAY WITH
DICTATORSHIPS THERE IF IT, IF
IT COULD.
NOW AFTER 9/11 WITHIN HOURS THE
TURKISH GOVERNMENT SAID TO THE
AMERICANS, WHATEVER YOU WANT,
YOU WANT US TO DO WE WILL DO IT
FOR YOU.
SO REALLY THE RELATIONS LOOKED
VERY TIGHT.
IT WAS A STRATEGIC RELATION AND
EVERYTHING SEEMED TO BE VERY
FINE UNTIL A YEAR AND A HALF
AGO, MARCH 1ST.
AND WHEN THE TURKISH PARLIAMENT
ON THE REQUEST OF THE TURKISH
GOVERNMENT, THAT THE AMERICANS
BE ALLOWED TO DEPLOY TROOPS AND
OPEN A NORTHERN FRONT ACTUALLY
SAID YES, BUT TECHNICALLY SAID
NO.
THAT IS THE VOTE WAS THREE
VOTES IN FAVOUR OF YAY, BUT
TECHNICALLY THEY HAD TO HAVE
MORE YAY VOTES SO THE TURKISH
PARLIAMENT REFUSED TO ACCEPT
THE DECREE SENT TO IT BY THE
GOVERNMENT.
HAVING DONE SO, TURKEY HAD DONE
THE FOLLOWING.
IT SAID NO ON AN ISSUE OF
PARAMOUNT IMPORTANCE TO THE
U.S. PRESIDENT.
AND THE TURKISH PARLIAMENT
DEMONSTRATED THAT IT DID NOT
TRUST THE INTENTIONS OF ITS SO-
CALLED STRATEGIC PARTNER.
BYE-BYE STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIP.
BUT THAT PARTICULAR VOTE HAD A
VERY AUSPICIOUS IMPACT ON
TURKEY'S DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS
AS WELL.
THE, FIRST OF ALL BASED ON WHAT
I READ AND I DON'T READ ARABIC,
IN THE ARAB PRESS AND, AND
EUROPEAN PRESS FOR MOST PUBLIC
OPINIONS IT WAS LIKE MY GOD,
LOOK AT THE TURKS.
THERE WAS 24 BILLION DOLLARS ON
THE TABLE.
A COUNTRY THAT JUST THE
PREVIOUS YEAR LOST 13.4 percent OF ITS
GROSS NATIONAL PRODUCT BECAUSE
OF ITS ECONOMY CRISIS, IT WAS
IN DIRE NEED OF MONEY AND THE
GOVERNMENT WOULD LOVED TO HAVE
SPENT THE MONEY AND IT SAID NO.
IN THE ARAB AND EUROPEAN PUBLIC
OPINIONS IT WAS QUITE A BIG
DEAL THAT TURKEY ACTUALLY
TURNED DOWN AN OFFER OF 24
BILLION DOLLARS.
TURKEY'S CIVIL, MILITARY
RELATIONS WERE EFFECTED.
THE MILITARY LOST SOME OF ITS
POWER OVER THE CIVIL
IMPROCESSES AND THAT OF COURSE
GAVE THE JUSTICE AND
DEVELOPMENT PARTY, WHOSE
SURVIVAL DEPENDED ON A
TRANSFORMATION OF TURKEY'S
POLITICAL SYSTEM EVEN MORE OF
A, A THRUST TO MOVE FORWARD
TOWARDS E.U.
THE E.U. PROCESS ACTUALLY DID
MOVE FORWARD, AND PERHAPS MORE
IMPORTANTLY THE JDB COULD NOT
WALK AWAY FR THE REQUIRED
ECONOMIC DISCIPLINE IMPOSED
UPON IT BY IMF.
TURKEY AND THE UNITED STATES
HAVE NOT YET FOUND A NEW
DEFINITION FOR WHAT, FOR THEIR
RELATIONSHIP TOWARDS THE
FUTURE.
WHAT IS THEIR COMMON INTERESTS?
HOW DO THEY GO ABOUT DEFINING
THOSE INTERESTS?
AND HOW CAN THEY RECONCILE
INTERESTS THAT ARE SOMETIMES
NOT COMPATIBLE?
SECONDLY WITH EUROPE, IT IS
OBVIOUS TO THE TURKS ANYWAY AND
IT SEEMS TO THE GERMANS THAT
WITHOUT TURKEY A MORE
EGALITARIAN TRANSATLANTIC
RELATIONS IS NOT REALLY
POSSIBLE. NOW BUT THEN
AGAIN, TURKEY IS TOO BIG, TOO
POOR AND FOR SOME TOO MUSLIM.
HOW DO WE DEAL WITH IT?
SO WHEN YOU THINK
ABOUT IT IN THOSE TERMS THE
PROPOSED TEN-YEAR PERIOD
BETWEEN THE START OF ACCESSION
NEGOTIATIONS AND THE TIME WHEN
TURKEY CAN ACTUALLY ACCEED IS A
VERY GOOD TIME FOR THE TURKISH
TRANSFORMATION TO ACTUALLY TAKE
PLACE.
TURKEY'S OUTLOOK IN THE MIDDLE
EAST PROBLEMS IS A LOT MORE
SIMILAR TO THOSE OF THE
EUROPEAN CORE COUNTRIES THEN IT
IS WITH THAT OF THE UNITED
STATES.
ON IRAN TURKEY PREFERS
NEGOTIATIONS.
WE WOULD BE AS UNHAPPY AS, AS
ANYBODY TO HAVE A NUCLEAR IRAN
NEXT TO OUR BORDERS.
BUT WE PREFER NEGOTIATIONS.
IT SEEMS THAT THE IRANIANS
DON'T AND THAT WILL CREATE A
LOT OF PROBLEMS FOR US.
ON THE MIDDLE EAST ISSUE TURKEY
SHARES THE GENERAL WORLD
CONSENSUS, THAT THERE SHOULD BE
PRESSURE ON THE ISRAELI
GOVERNMENT TO ACTUALLY MAKE
THINGS DO.
INTERESTINGLY, THE TURKISH,
ISRAELI RELATION THAT CAME
ABOUT IN THE NON-MIRACULOUS
YEAR OF 1996, BUT SIGNIFICANTLY
BECAUSE THE ISLAMISTS WERE
COMING TO POWER, WAS ONE OF THE
ASPECTS THAT ACTUALLY
CONSOLIDATED THE TURKISH,
AMERICAN STRATEGIC RELATION.
SO, ON MARCH 1ST THAT WAS ALSO
A BIT SHAKEN AND WHEN THE
TURKISH PRIME MINISTER RECENTLY
CALLED WHAT ISRAEL DOES IN THE
TERRITORIES STATE TERROR,
TREMORS WERE SENT ALL OVER.
BUT I WOULD ARGUE THAT RELATION
HAS ACTUALLY GONE THROUGH THE
TEST OF TIME.
IT WAS TESTED BY FIRE AND IT IS
IN GOOD HEALTH, ALTHOUGH IT IS
BEING RELATIVIZED IT IS, AS IS,
AS IS NORMAL I THINK UNDER THE
CIRCUMSTANCES.
NOW THE ELECTION OR RE-ELECTION
OF GEORGE BUSH IS A CHALLENGE
FOR AMERICA, FOR THE REST OF
THE WORLD.
TO THE BEST OF MY KNOWLEDGE I
HAVEN'T READ ANYONE WHO KNOWS
EXACTLY WHAT HE'S INTENDING TO
DO.
WE WILL HAVE A SENSE OF WHAT
HE'S INTENDING TO DO IN ABOUT A
COUPLE OF HOURS TIME WHEN HE
MEETS THE PRESS WITH TONY BLAIR
AT THE WHITE HOUSE.
AND WHETHER OR NOT HE WILL
ACCEPT TONY BLAIR'S DESIRE TO
START PUTTING PRESSURE FOR THE
MIDDLE EAST PROCESS.
WE WILL ALSO KNOW WHAT HE
INTENDS TO DO BY THE
APPOINTMENTS THAT HE MAKES.
ALREADY THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
APPOINTMENT TELLS US SOMETHING.
I WOULD ARGUE THAT IF THE
UNIT, IF THE TRANSATLANTIC
RELATIONS ARE NOT REPAIRED AND
POLARIZATION IS THE ORDER OF
THE DAY TURKEY WILL BE FACED
WITH A STARK CHOICE.
ASSUMING OF COURSE THAT ON
DECEMBER 17TH AS I THINK IS
MORE LIKELY THAN NOT, THE
EUROPEAN UNION WILL DECIDE TO
CONTINUE THE PROCESS AND START
ACCESSION NEGOTIATIONS.
BUT SHOULD THE POLARIZATION IN
TRANSATLANTIC RELATIONS
CONTINUE TURKEY WOULD BE FORCED
TO CHOOSE BETWEEN ONE OR THE
OTHER PARTY.
AND ALTHOUGH IT FEELS MUCH MORE
COMFORTABLE WITH THE UNITED
STATES, ITS CURRENT POLICY
OUTLOOK IS A LOT CLOSER TO THE
CORE, GERMAN, FRENCH POSITIONS
THAN THE AMERICAN ONES.
THAT IS GOING TO PUT TREMENDOUS
PRESSURE ON THE COUNTRY.
IT'S GOING TO MAKE THE
DECISION, MAKING PROCESS VERY
DIFFICULT AND IT IS LIKELY TO
MAKE LIFE VERY DIFFICULT FOR US
ALL.
IN THE SENSE THAT IF TURKEY IS
THAT IMPORTANT FOR THE UNITED
STATES, THE UNITED STATES MAY
WISH TO USE STICKS NOW RATHER
THAN JUST CARROTS TO MAKE SURE
THAT TURKEY REMAINS WITH IT,
RATHER THAN WITH THE FRENCH-
GERMAN ALLIANCE.
BUT OF COURSE IF THE
POLARIZATION CONTINUES THE E.U.
ITSELF WOULD BE UNDER SEVERE
PRESSURES IN THAT THE OLD
EUROPE, NEW EUROPE DIVIDE IS
GOING TO BECOME MUCH MORE
OPERATIONAL BECAUSE THE UNITED
STATES WILL BE ABLE TO DIVIDE
THE EUROPEAN UNION WITHIN
ITSELF BECAUSE OF ITS MORE, A
LOT CLOSER RELATIONS WITH
EASTERN, WITH EASTERN
EUROPEANS.
SO THE CHALLENGE AHEAD OF US
THEN IS NOTHING LESS THAN THE
RECONSTRUCTION OF THE WEST,
WHICH IS A PREREQUISITE FOR THE
RECONSTRUCTION OF THE WORLD
ORDER BEFORE CHINA AND INDIA
GAIN THE CAPABILITY TO DO SO.
AND ON THAT, TURKEY AS A
COUNTRY THAT HAS HISTORICAL
LINKS HOWEVER TAINTED THEY MAY
BE BY NOW, WITH ITS SURROUNDING
REGIONS AND IS LIKELY TO PLAY A
CRITICAL ROLE, MAYBE MR.
AMBASSADOR WILL, DISAGREE WITH
ME, IN THIS GREATER MIDDLE EAST
AND NORTH AFRICA, PROJECT.
AND I WILL END WITH THIS ONE
PROVISO.
I TEND TO THINK THAT STRUCTURAL
FORCES BOTH IN INTERNATIONAL
RELATIONS AND WITHIN TURKEY
HAVE BROUGHT TURKEY TO A
CENTRAL PLACE IN WORLD AFFAIRS.
IT IS A TERRIBLY INTERESTING
TIME, BUT IT IS ALSO AN
EXTRAORDINARY BURDEN.
AND REALLY THE TEST OF THE
PUDDING IS THEN, WHETHER OR NOT
TURKEY HAS THE WHEREWITHALL TO
ACTUALLY CARRY THAT BURDEN.
AS OF TODAY, WE'RE NOT.
WITHIN TEN YEARS WE WILL BE.
BUT IF WE ARE NOT ALLOWED TO
MOVE FROM WE ARE NOT TO WE WILL
BE BY THE ACCESSION PROCESS TO
CONTINUE THE ONES LIVING IN
TURKEY WILL NOT BE THE ONLY
ONES WHO WILL SUFFER THE
CONSEQUENCES.
THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

[Audience applauds]

Watch: Soli Ozel on Turkey and the Global Context