25 Oct. 2004
The U.S. Elections And Turkey
BY YASEMIN CONGAR
MILLIYET- My personal views coincide with Turkey’s official preference,
a high-level Turkish bureaucrat told me during a recent chat. His words
implied that both he and Ankara want US President George W. Bush to win
the elections. Ankara of course cannot adopt an ‘official’ stance on
this issue. However, the observations of a high-level official familiar
with both countries are noteworthy.
I don’t think his stance coincides with the Turkish public’s
preferences. In fact, the majority of the world seems to favor Democrat
Senator John Kerry winning, along with our people. I don’t believe it
is mistaken to argue that there is a strong anti-Bush feeling behind
this wish, rather than a pro-Kerry stance. But how can we explain why
Ankara is close to the Bush administration while the Turkish nation
wants him to get his walking papers? I believe that there are three
main reasons: First of all, Ankara fears that a Kerry administration
might support the idea of partitioning Iraq. In addition, Kerry is
likely to back the Armenian lobbies, advocating that Turkey be punished
over the so-called Armenian genocide. Finally, bureaucrats see ties
between Ankara and Washington improving over Bush’s term, despite a
number of problems of late.
Personally, I do believe that a Kerry administration would see through
significant economic and social changes domestically and give
Washington a chance to repair its image internationally. However, no
matter who is elected, the next president will face a host of problems
concerning Iraq and terrorism. Both candidates have underlined that the
US mission in Iraq must be completed, clearly expressing that American
troops leaving the country immediately is a non-starter. However, Kerry
wants to transform the Iraqi issue into an international one by
organizing an international summit to discuss it as the world’s common
As a matter of fact, there are no major differences of opinion between
Bush and Kerry on the issues of Iraq’s territorial integrity. We know
that neither Bush nor Kerry favor the establishment of a Kurdish state
in the region. However, I know that some people from both US Republican
and Democratic circles believe that Iraq’s territorial integrity cannot
be protected and so a Kurdish state will be formed sooner or later.
Kerry and Bush have agreed that any possible Iraqi scenario should be
realized under conditions which would ease Turkey’s concerns on the
issue. Both Republicans and Democrats believe that Turkey cannot be
allowed to hold unilateral military operations in northern Iraq no
matter what happens there.
In brief, I believe that Washington will adopt a similar stance in the
future no matter who wins. Both candidates are expected to favor a
Turkey establishing close relations with the Baghdad administration or
any other possible federal formation in the north.
We’ll discuss other points later.