The United States and Turkey have stood together through many challenges over the last 60 years as NATO allies and friends who share fundamental values. Like the United States, Turkey is a secular democracy, founded on the separation of religion from politics, yet coupled with deep respect for freedom of religion.
Today, the U.S.-Turkey partnership is even more critical as both countries face formidable issues, including a global economic crisis, terrorism, and strains on the energy supply.
During his recent visit to Turkey, President Barack Obama urged the expansion of trade between the U.S. and Turkey. “This economic cooperation,” said President Obama, “only reinforces the common security that Europe and the United States share with Turkey as a NATO ally, and the common values that we share as democracies.” Because of these common values, the U.S. strongly supports Turkey’s bid to join the European Union.
"Turkey has been a resolute ally and a responsible partner in transatlantic and European institutions,” President Obama said. “Europe gains by the diversity of ethnicity, tradition and faith; it is not diminished by it.”
Turkey has taken critical steps toward E-U membership, including abolishing state-security courts and expanding the right to counsel. Turkey has reformed the penal code and passed laws to strengthen freedom of the press and assembly.
In addition, Turkey has lifted some restrictions on broadcasting in Kurdish and has committed to opening up Kurdish Language and Literature departments at two universities. President Obama also encouraged further reforms. "Democracies cannot be static,” he said, “They must move forward."
With regard to regional relations, the United States supports the normalization of ties between Turkey and Armenia. An open border, said President Obama, would return the Turkish and Armenian people to a peaceful and prosperous coexistence benefitting both nations. The U.S. also hopes that normalization of relations between Turkey and Armenia will contribute to resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
In the Middle East, the U.S. and Turkey support a secure Iraq that does not provide safe haven for terrorists. Iraq, Turkey, and the U.S. all face a common threat from terrorist organizations, including the Kurdish terrorist organization known as PKK. President Obama pledged continued U.S. support in the fight against PKK terrorism.
In addition to joining forces against terrorism, the U.S. seeks broad engagement with the Muslim world, based on mutual interests and mutual respect. “We will listen carefully,” said President Obama, “bridge misunderstandings and seek common ground.”