Larson sees strong US-Turkish economic relations
While 2003 has been a "tough year" for US-Turkey relations, says Under Secretary of State Alan Larson, the two countries are laying the foundations for an economic relationship that can be stronger than ever.
Larson, under secretary for economic, business and agricultural affairs, discussed US-Turkish relations June 26 at the Brookings Institution, a private policy research organization in Washington.
"It is not my intention to minimize the disappointment of the recent past," Larson said, referring to the Turkish parliament's decision in March not to allow use of Turkish bases by US forces assembling for the war in Iraq. "The question now is whether each side learns from that experience, whether we can agree on shared interests and on a vision for the future. I believe we can. In the months ahead, the United States will be working with our Turkish friends to build a mature economic partnership far into the 21st century," Larson said.
He outlined steps Turkey will need to take to strengthen its economy, including reducing its "dangerously high" public debt, promoting foreign investment in Turkey, and expanding trade.
Larson said he envisions "a mature relationship" between the United States and Turkey, "built on partnership, private sector-led trade and investment, and cooperation in transforming the economic landscape in Turkey's all-so-important neighborhood."
He said "It would not be an economic relationship built on Turkey as a fortress or rampart against Communism or Baathism. Rather it would be an economic relationship built on Turkey's role as a bridge to a dynamic Middle East, Caucasus and Central Asia, and its own movement towards the EU. And it would be a relationship built on reciprocity and mutual respect."
On Turkish-Iraq relations, the under secretary said the lifting of barriers to cross-border trade and investment opens great promise for Turkey. "We need to encourage this trade, which will benefit both countries, and consider whether transborder cooperation on electricity and water could bring benefits to all sides. Turkey's engineers and construction industry surely can play an important role in the rebuilding of Iraq," Larson said. — (menareport.com)
© 2003 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)