Turkey to carefully watch new U.S. administration after Obama's win

November 8, 2008

Turkish leaders welcomed the election of America's first African-American president, as a source of hope for peace in the world. But the new administration's uncertain policies on a wide range of issues, from the alleged ""genocide"" of Armenians to Iran and Iraq, are a matter of curiosity for Ankara.

""Your message of change and hope meets today's expectations. Turkey embraces this message,"" Turkish President Abdullah Gul said in a letter of congratulations he sent to U.S. President- elect Barack Obama. The original version of the letter was aired on the web site of the presidency on Wednesday.
The president highlighted the importance of Turkish-U.S. friendship, based upon such universally accepted values as freedom, democracy and human rights, and reiterated Turkey's resolve to improve the strategic partnership with Washington, especially in the fight on terrorism.
The outgoing U.S. ambassador to Turkey praised the election as a, ""miracle of American democracy that a poor African-American, from a broken family, could rise to become the leader of our country.""
""That he could do so, less than 40 years after the great civil rights struggle of America, is especially remarkable and it is a source of great pride,"" said Ambassador Ross Wilson in brief remarks.
On Turkish-American relations, he underlined that there were always changes from president to president, but also great continuity.
""President after president has understood the importance of Turkey to the United States and of the United States to Turkey. President after president has engaged seriously and in a very sustained way with Turkish leaders for decades,"" Wilson said.
But he added that he did not know what the future held.
""Like all of you, I look forward to seeing the movie that we will be watching over the four years of the Obama administration. But I am sure that we will remain friends and remain engaged and the close bonds between our two countries will endure in many presidential terms to follow.""
The desire to reach the stars is ambitious but the desire to reach hearts is wise. The election campaign in the United States has shown that this is Obama’s wisdom, said a member of a panel at the beginning of a long night Tuesday in the Turkish capital.
The event was part of a traditional over-night election-watch at the Turkish-American Association in Ankara. The morning heralded the winner, the first black American leader in U.S. history.
""The election result shows there is no longer a black-white problem in the United States,"" said Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, describing it as a turning point in American history.
But Obama-led policies, especially on the 1915 incidents, remain to be seen.
Erdogan expressed belief that the statement Obama made during the election campaign would remain election rhetoric. If elected president, Obama had pledged to recognize the 1915 incidents.
The Turkish premier also said foreign ministry diplomats would seek an opportunity to meet Obama during a visit to the United States next week. Erdogan will attend an economic summit in Washington on Nov. 15, when the current financial crisis, its causes and efforts to resolve it will be discussed.
(Source: hurriyet.com)