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tv   Turkey Relations with U.S. Europe  CSPAN  March 26, 2018 10:34am-12:10pm EDT

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even though the majority may want gun control, that is not necessarily the way it is playing out in congress, and you will see a difficult coalition that could come together to pass gun-control legislation. we could see it being a central issue. >> i have 10 seconds left. you surprisede senator leahy did not call the election? >> yes, i was. >> thank you for being back. good to see you. >> c-span is live at the brookings institution in washington dc for discussion about turkey's relationship with the u.s. and europe. you are watching live coverage on c-span.
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>> good morning. let's get started. thank you for coming to this event on turkey. i'm seeing familiar faces, which is wonderful. it is a timely day to be talking about turkey and the west. we just had a post come out in the washington post. everyday is a timely day to be talking about turkey if you follow it as regularly as we do. .e have an excellent panel i'm excited to be here with him. bit ofally have a little a mafia here today. ambassadore with me,
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eric 80 men, a distinguished practitioner and former ambassador. amanda sloat. deputy assistant secretary for southern europe and eastern mediterranean affairs. we have another colleague, a senior fellow at the american institute for contemporary german studies. have the senior fellow here at brookings who has just published a fabulous new book the turkey and the west the which i would highly recommend you purchase. it is certainly worth getting an excellent set of insights into turkey's relations with the west. we are going to be talking about the challenges and how does the
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west deal with turkey, is there anything salvageable in this relationship? what are the tools governments have when they are trying to influence what turkey is doing? think the u.s. or europe can influence what turkey is doing? what role does domestic politics play in these relations and how erdogan's government views his relationship with the u.s.? we have a diverse set of views on these issues which is going to be valuable. i want to start with ambassador adelmen first. what are the biggest challenges at this point? what would you see as the appropriate tool for the u.s. to overcome those?
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>> it is great to be here. good to be with this distinguished group of turkey watchers. think the predominant challenge we have is almost every a and occurring in u.s. turkish relations, and more broadly turkey's relations with by erdogan'sriven domestic political agenda which is a personal political agenda, which is essentially about finishing the direction of a very personal a stick -- istic regime, since the term limits have been removed in and in thei jinping, russian election come a discussion has begun in russia
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about whether it is worth having additional elections in russia, since the russian people have voted overwhelmingly to make president putin there president. i would not be surprised after 2019 if we get some discussion of that going in turkey. if you look at the changes being law,sed in the electoral this is clearly changes meant to allow the regime to fiddle the vote and control the vote going forward. understandably because they had to do that last year for the referendum creating the executive presidency. the first thing to recognize is this is driven by his domestic political agenda. the outstanding issues we have our obviously a difference of view about how to manage the situation in syria, which is a
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serious issue that requires some give and take on both sides which could happen under the right circumstances. the practice of hostage ,iplomacy by the erdogan regime by u.s. foreign service nationals who have been havesoned in turkey or totally trumped up charges. and the attempt to export the kind of thuggery and illegality that has gone on in turkey and the u.s.. the final thing that is on the isnda, the use of air bases important. the final thing on the agenda is the fact that the erdogan regime
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ceaselessly stokes anti-americanism in the crest controlled by the president's in-laws and other cronies. i think there is little prospect for this relationship to prosper in the long run as long as that continues. ourher the tools at disposal -- for too long, this is a bipartisan, nonpartisan, self-critical comment going back arrival in 2002 with united states in successive administrations has created a situation of political moral by essentially saying the relationship with turkey is too important to allow it to be ,istracted by domestic issues human rights, rule of law. i think that has turned out to
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be a mistake. we have operated on the assumption if we treat turkey act an ally, turkey will like an ally. the famous einstein quotation about insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result, .hat is where we are through successive administrations we have not been able to do that and make turkey behave like an ally. i think the tools we have in our disposal, we can get into that but i think it is a question of what our fundamental orientation is. we should stop pretending they are going to behave like an ally , to try and warn them off buying as for hundreds offering to sell them other military goods, and take a transactional approach with them. the russians have done that
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effectively. so have the germans. i don't think there is any reason we cannot do it as well. >> the paper you published takes a different approach. rather than saying we have tried youreat turkey as an ally, take this approach of we can engage and practice principled engagement. can you talk about how that is different than the approach man discussed?l >> i agree with the challenges we are facing. in the paper i wrote my laid out what i see are the three main baskets of options people have been discussing as tools of responding to turkey. one of those is the idea of a transactional approach. some of that is happening to a certain extent in terms of real
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politics. it waswant to be cynical the eu paying turkey to keep borders andits turkey trying to extract as high a price as possible to keep them there. it included these -- visa liberalization. the problem that i have with the transactional approach is i think there's limits for western countries that want to hold true to principles of rule of law and good governments. the ambassador mentioned hostage hostage diplomat is asian. -- diplomacy. deal with the issue of hostage diplomacy you need to get at questions in turkey of rule of law and good governance, and an independent judiciary.
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if western countries stay true to rule of law we are never going to win with turkey. for western countries we need to preserve this focus on rule of law. briefly, another approach my don't think anyone is going to advocate that, that this idea of abandonment, of kicking out of think, out of nato, and i that is a problem if we think turkey's deal with inside nato. i think they will be even more challenging to deal with outside of nato. this applies to the idea of this debate over whether or not we should stop eu exceptions. my argument has been to preserve the process cousin provides a framework to deal with turkey. and i think we need to preserve the possibility of eu accession when we have a government practicing more effective
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democracy and rule of law. posed, my third set of policy tools and the one i would prefer, principled engagement. i think we need to do this in several ways. onneed to widen the aperture the issues we deal with. over the last several years our relationship has become almost andusively focused on syria counterterrorism. there has been the focus on refugees. a relationship founded on security issues is not the appropriate grounding for a relationship and it is something we need to widen the aperture on more. you are seeing the eu in germany doing this on a wider set of issues. we need to deal with a wider set of actors in turkey beyond the president. the recent engagement by the outgoing secretary of state tillerson was a useful part of this.
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we need to look at the economic aspects of the relationship. steve may talk about this more but that is per germany has had the most leverage, on the economic side. it is been an underdeveloped area of relationship for years. there has been discussion of looking at upgrading the customs union which provides an interesting set of tools to give turkey some of what it wants plot the same time locking them into a rules-based framework that will require more work on their part. the final point, there is a need to deal with civil society. we need to be careful in terms of how we talk about this and have humility in this idea of dimock c promotion and what we can do from the outside. i feel that ultimately that is a fight for the turkish people. there is a utility and engaging with a broad section of turkish
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civil society from a range of sectors, continuing to support those who want to see the country going in a different direction. what theyou see given ambassador was talking about, we know we have local and national 2019, andcoming up in erdogan has staked his career on being president, having a presidential system, can a now, or be implemented is this something that any outreach the outreach makes to turkey, turkey can push back against? this nationalism is such a mobilizing tool for elections? >> i think things are going to be difficult because of the reason that ambassador eagleman -- edelman mentioned. with the eu being easy
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rhetorical tools for the u.s.. from turkey's perspective, they see internal and external threats as being the fault of the united states. with the u.s. and their decision in turkey, in syria, which is cementing threats. i'm under no illusion the next year is going to be easy. but i don't think we have much choice other than continuing to engage with them. i think the united states government needs to be more vocal about what we are saying in terms of the human rights and rule of law abuses. i think president trump and vice president pence have been quiet on this, as has the white house. the state house has been more forward leaning but i think to stay consistent with our own
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principles and values, to send a message to the people in turkey, we need to be more vocal about the things we are saying. tohow would you respond amend's take on this? we have a suggestion of where the u.s. should be going in terms of its relationship that with the nomination of pompeo, someone who has tweeted turkey is islamic rotarian -- totalitarian dictatorship the u.s. sending? .> i believe he deleted that >> tweets last forever in cyberspace. how do you respond to that strategy? are we sending signals that might inhabit that? >> i agree with a lot of what amanda said. i don't think the differences are that great. a couple of observations. i agree with amanda that we should not be abandoning rule of
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law. that is the most important thing we ought to be talking about both because of how it affects the issues between us but also how it affects the domestic situation in turkey. ofimately this is the future turkey, for turks to decide. i'm not suggesting it should be transactional. but there are things that you can do that don't necessarily put you outside the bounds of the rule of law that allow you to create more leverage for dealing with things like taking 's prisoner.s -- fsn if we close the one in l.a. that would impose pain on turkey. on people close to the president.
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this is similar in some sense to how we deal with other kleptocracy is like russia. i'm not suggesting we abandoned rule of law. but i think we can take things of value to turkey hostage within the rubric of rule of law. second, although i am in favor we shouldn't kid ourselves that secretary tillerson or secretary pompeo, when he is confirmed, dealing with the foreign minister or jim mattis dealing with the minister in a systemmatters where the only decision-maker who matters is the president. this was one of the fundamental flaws of the russia reset, the
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idea we could engage with lavrov and this was going to create more openings. i'm not against it. i would say we ought to do it in a format we have used with other countries where we have the secretary of state together. there is a problem of conflicting messages and you want to have a unified message. any policy towards turkey that is not marked by a uniform message coming out of the united states government is going to fail. that is the other piece. and on abandonment, i agree processintaining the eu . it does provide a framework for good governments. we ought to remind our turkish friends president erdogan said the copenhagen criteria should
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be renamed because those are things turkey should want to do for itself, not just to become a member of the eu. but with all due respect to amanda i think the abandonment option is a straw man. recommendingiously turkey they kicked out of nato. there is a mechanism for even doing that. that is why we have to get this relationship back onto some kind of even keel. >> one of the troubles with applying pressure through sanctions to try to compel or deter or change the behavior is that given these elections that can feel that anti-western rhetoric and when you are squeezing -- as targeted as sanctions are when you end up by trickle down squeezing the
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turkish society in general have difficulty in that outreach amanda was talking about. the populationnt because you are taking steps against their government. that point we are being accused of doing this anyway. we might as well actually get some juice out of the squeeze. we are being blamed for it anyway. bring europe into the discussion and turned to our next guest. can you think of how the challenges the u.s. faces, we have geographical differences and the refugee crisis, is there a fundamental difference in the that are facing these actors? do they have a differential in their ability to resolve those differences?
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how would you respond? leverage has a bigger than the united states. because whenical we go back to the 1990's we see a united states that tried hard and leaned on the european union to engage turkey in an exercise that opened up the prospects of membership. but the way the eu enjoys leverage is through economics. of turkey's0% exports go to the united states -- to the european union. even though erdogan now and then brings up russia, iran and china as alternatives to the west, the way he puts it, only 6% of turkey's overall exports go to
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these countries. that ericnge here is and amanda broke of -- brought up, even though there has been this long-standing alliance between the u.s. and turkey going back to 1946, for reasons that puzzle me, trade relationship and the economic relationship between these countries have not taken off. trades. has the greater with vietnam, for example, a country with which the u.s. was one set war. addressing.s some the european union enjoys leverage over turkey for historical reasons. also for the fact there are turkish communities in the european union and there is many
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europeans that until very , pour into turkey. that generates a lot of tourism revenue. when you have a close trade relationship there is also companies that invest in turkey. thirds come basically from the european union. with that comes technology. why is what is explaining they are boarding the point, betweenis meeting officials is going to take place. throw around rose petals at iran. it is amazing. this is driven by recognition
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the turkish economy is not doing as well as statistics seem to be suggesting. wayree with the anti-americanism has been maligned. but i think erdogan is also aware through his immediate cabinet members that there are a lot of companies out there employing people, paying social security contributions on a monthly basis, constantly ,eminds, maybe in a shy way erdogan my that they need this market in the european union. one last remark i would like to
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make his i agree with all that has been set, but when i look at the 1990's and the early parts of the 2000s, the european union is not the lighthouse towards which turkey and other countries of the region were aspiring to move. and that is weakening the traditional leverage that the european union has enjoyed. the fact that the european union is having problems at least with some of its membership with respect to the very principles we are talking about, the rule of law and liberal values -- i need not mention specific countries here -- is coming back into turkish domestic politics where politicians come including erdogan, are kind of of using it for exploiting these realities. lastly, there are inconsistencies. inre are inconsistencies
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u.s. foreign policy and some of to turkey inmade syria but also on the part of the european union a failure to the paper doesd a great job discussing how the needs to be attention to the kinds of threats and turkey is feeling with the european union. the chemistry out there is not one, but i would like to argue by doing in my book that turkey has nowhere else to go but the west. i think this is slowly and amongst of thein decision-makers in turkey, .ncluding the president there is a bitterness towards this reality. >> the economic aspect is an important one with the ships in
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foreign policy and we have seen 180-degrees shifts quickly. one around the same time for the same day, turkey's rapprochement with russia and israel, the mechanician that the economic sanctions and turkey's desire to and natural-gas hub cooperate with israel can we saw very vitriolic relationships soften. that is an important aspect to consider. if you are looking at how the eu can potentially look out to turkey and improve the relationship, how would you respond to an argument that says that the eu is kind of complicit in allowing the rise of the akp in the first place, and sort of having a very warmer relationship with the akp when it first comes to power? the is there anything it could have done differently potentially in terms of having mixed signals on whether it could be a member? >> there is a lot of discussion
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on this, and the extension of that discussion is also whether akp and erdogan fools european union. but i look at it somewhat .ifferent recently i have been doing a lot of traveling, and i'm getting this opportunity to talk to a lot of european diplomats behind closed doors. and also sometimes in public meetings. commented this experience is the recognition that the european union made a mistake, a mistake starting with nicolas sarkozy's position, angela merkel's to some extent. , theo me, symbolically biggest mistake came in december 2006 when the european console decided to freeze negotiations on a 8 chapters because turkey would not extend the customs
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union to cyprus. symbolically this is when you again to see a slowing down of the reform process, and cynicism beginning to creep into the turkish debate and discussions on the european union. moving forward, it is going to be very important to extract lessons from that. i have tended to argue that you cannot reconstruct history, but there is a dynamic there, and i amember how in 2010 and 2011, minister of the cabinet of the time who i would like to think was a very enthusiastic supporter of turkey's eu aspirations and membership , thees, said simply to me european union does not sell anymore in the villages and towns where we go to talk.
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that, i think, is a function of the european union leaders having second thoughts there. one also happens to be public support-- when public support for the european union in turkey hit rock bottom of 33%, compared to where it was in 2003, 2004, at 74, 70 6%, depending on what survey you do. but support for the european up, and i'mking sure erdogan is looking over his .houlder and taking note this picking up, i would argue, is a function of the state of turkey's neighborhood, but also of economics. what in these surveys the public is asked whether you believe turkey would one day become a member of the european union, the percentages are
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extremely low compared to what it was in 2004, 2005. >> i think this point about erdogan spreading roses to the eu or perhaps noticing that support for the eu is picking up is indicative of what i think of him as this nimble but even erraticn,-- but tactician, where there is this strong sense that he can shift his position quickly on issues, like russia and israel but also when it comes to the eu. does the really hostile rhetoric he has been using against the netherlands, germany, using words like not cease and is and fascist and so forth and does that create hard feelings that are difficult to reconcile, or can those be forgotten and papered over? specifically in the case of germany come i want to turn to our expert steve. in your paper you published with brookings, you said that germany
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is a unique case. we have been talking about eu dynamics, but you focus on a germany and say that the german-turkish relationship is a unique one. do you think that is uniquely challenge relationship? does turkey have unique leverage josh --germany have unique leverage over turkey? >> thank you for inviting me to this great panel. it is unique in the sense that you have over 3 million people of turkish origin in the germany and 1.2 million of them can vote in the german elections from 1.7 million can vote in the turkish elections. there are lots of important turkish organizations working in termany, including gulenis organizations, there is a tremendous interconnection of societies between germany and turkey that i don't think existed in any other european countries, and clearly germany is the most important economic player in turkey. you can see on the refugee
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policy, germany is with the eu on a lot of key issues regarding turkey. if you look at the discussion there, they have this partnership with his -- which is a businesslike relationship, but it is more than that. it is an adjusting relationship, -- interesting relationship, and because of this deep societal connection it has to be more than that. germans take the value issue very seriously and the rule of law. in the paper i talked about the discussion in germany -- i think the view there is they take a long-term view. they -- one of the leading experts on the middle east in germany has argued for a turkey policy and not an erdogan policy. you have to think long-term. don't forget, that referendum was a close call -- >> and doctored. >> it could be that erdogan
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could lose next year. he could stay the next 10 years, too. there is a sense that you have to think beyond erdogan, and the point you made, amanda, was to create these societal relationships going beyond the top level because they are so deep. the problem you see in the german approach is domestic politics, and the recent election -- not recent, last september, took six months to form the government, but you have a new government in germany with the weakest chancellor -- this is her fourth chancellorship, by far the biggest. -- weakest. she had to give up not only the foreign ministry but financial ministry to the democrats. the alternative in germany is this right-wing party and the outgoing foreign minister -- it had neo-nazis in it, a very
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right-wing, extreme party. their -- they are the largest opposition party in the bundestag. and the very affiliate of the christian democrats, which are also very tough on these issues and on turkey. you have domestic politics making it more difficult for merkel and the german government to take a longer-range approach because of the media pressures. that is why you saw in the government declaration that she made last week, chancellor merkel criticized, overly criticized turkey on their policies in syria. pointk, just to make the that they don't have the abandonment option. talking to german diplomats, if you ask a german diplomat, if turkey is lost, not possible, we cannot lose turkey. that is an important point. >> there is a couple other things to think about, and i think this aspect of the large
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turkish population in a germany is important, the long institutional relationship that germany and turkey have, and then also the presence of tomanty groups, like the ot biker gang of turks in germany, which i think is fascinating. there was a lot of praise and of aement with the release turkish-german journalist from turkey and his return to germany. but some would say that is germany engaging turkey in a -- formostage diplomacy of hostage diplomacy, and in some sense playing by turkey's rule. do you think that germany, maybe the u.n. in general but germany specifically, has a greater set of options to consider than the u.s., for example? >> they have different kinds of options. the germans don't have security options list they moved their base from israel and moved it to jordan, but that is not a huge issue for the turks. the germans are not as concerned -- they don't have the security
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levers. there levers, as you pointed out, our economic. 6000 or 7000 german bunnies operating in turkey. -- companies operating in turkey. when erdogan puts copies on a list that supports terrorist organizations because they were doing business with gulenists, he had to backtrack very quickly because he did not want to lose the economic prosperity that comes with german investment. it is a longer-term sort of thing, and i think they will continue to use that. in addition to that, i think that was -- they use transactional politics to get some kind of engagement here. i think what we see happening today in bulgaria, i would advocate that the germans and the eu essentially cut a deal in again, some movement
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on rule of law or at least some of these hostages being held to modernize the customs union, to go to liberalization, and the germans have always taken the view of engagement, and they believe the long-term effects of engagement and of keeping the societyen to a broader will slowly begin to change the society. i think that will be there approach. >> excellent. really fantastic insights. we have a great crowd here. i have one last question i will ask to all of the panelists -- i can ask it now and you can think about it. after the election, whether they are moved up or held this year, potentially with the second anniversary of the coup attempt falling on a sunday, that might make an auspicious date for elections potentially, if one were strategizing -- after those elections, does the playing field change? if erdogan is president -- a lot of people believe he will
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become, by hook or by crook -- irrespective of what the coalition in the government looks like, is this a fundamentally different playing field with erdogan and the akp not worried about the 2019 elections? are more options opened up? let's have you guys think about that. i think we have a microphone that is going to come around. we will take a couple of questions and then have the panel answer them as a group. if you could just state your name and affiliation and make it a question, not a comment, and make it brief, thank you very much. yes, the gentleman here, please. thank you, hi, steve flanigan from the rand corporation. edelmanr alluded to the policy on syria. last week it appeared that the turkish government, senior leaders had, if not a deal comes
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some kind of understanding with former secretary manage and national security adviser master, but then heather nauert tonight there was such a deal. clearly there are areas of common interest, and i'm interested to hear, particularly, eric, and others on the panel, how we might move forward. there is suggestion that turks collaborated with ypg in the past, and we have interest in not setting iranian influence -- offsetting iranian influence in the election. >> demetri right here. >> thank you. visiting fellow at georgetown. relationsn eu-turkish -- is it possible, do you consider the possibility of the erdogan regime being able to play eu member states against each other? we talk about authoritarianism
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quite a bit, we know there are some states within the european union tented by these kinds of politics. is it possible that the transactional politics applies to countries like germany, which takes the longer view, and other countries remain skeptical and therefore able to play them against each other? thank you. >> excellent. do i have one more? down here, please. >> and with the atlantic council, naval war college. i wonder if we could expand the aperture greatly and consider if there are big ideas, some of which may sound a little bit strange, but to consider -- nixon going to china, trump going to pyongyang. for example, suppose the united states suggests recognizing kurdistan in iraq. there are couple of states that are not signatories that are part of it. the leverage on russia, is that away to go -- a way to go?
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are there other areas, using germany in the economic sense, big ideas that may be difficult to execute but might be able to change the relationship in a big way? i would like your views on what you might consider. >> great. let's use that as the first round of questions. ms or edelman, do you want to start --ambassador edelman would you want to start? we have haduestion, since the rebellion in syria broke out in march 2011, in my view, a dialogue of the deaf without turkish friends and colleagues, and we talk past each other. we have working groups set up under secretary clinton, but i don't think we have ever really engaged in the main issue. to me, the main issue is less about ypg and the future of that what the is
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future of the large kurdish minority in turkey. that is the real issue. i think what we have failed to communicate to president erdogan is that that which he and his colleagues claim to be most afraid of, the creation of an independent kurdish state are kurdish -- or kurdish secession inside turkey, is more likely to be promoted by policies particularly in southeastern turkey, the siege of various kurdish cities in the south is from which in my view alienated entire generation of turkish kurdish use, than working with us to arrange some kind of modus vivendi in eastern syria that takes into account the requirements that we have counter-isis campaign to use the ypg, which has been the only effective fighting force, but bearing in mind that they have got security interests there as well.
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i think we had some experience with this. when i was ambassador, there was a tremendous amount of antagonism and angst on the part krgurkish leaders about the and what was going on there. happenlook at what come there is flourishing trade and investment between the krg, etc. it is not like there is not a previous track record of being able to work through some of this committee people are willing to sit down and actually have a serious strategic conversation. either way, i'm not just blaming the turks here. i think we are equally to blame. we have not been willing to have that conversation, and i think we should. to my colleagues on the turkey-eu question. points, i think there was a chance before
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barzani seriously misplayed his hand last fall with a referendum to play that card, maybe, but unfortunately, that has made it almost impossible to do that. at this point we have to modulate the conflict that is going on between baghdad and ir bil. it was worth thinking about it one time, but but i think the time for that may have passed by a little bit. montreux, i am not quite sure how that cuts. i mean, it was our support for montreux going back to 1946 that was alluding to when he talked about the long arc of the u.s.-turkey relationship. i'm not sure how much of this point mileage there his, particularly because turkey's
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relations with russia are better than ours are, and it is hard to make the diplomacy of that work. quickly on the survey question, you mentioned that the u.s. is equally to blame in these tensions, and the u.s. arming of the ypg is maybe the biggest sticking point or obstacle in the u.s.-turkey relationship. in terms of the mistakes the was made one of them is mixed messaging, different members of the government's saying different things, saying they would stop ypg, saying they were not going to. do you think the u.s. underestimated how much turkey perceived the ypg as a security threat? amanda ondefer to that -- >> i was going to go to her next. >> i wasn't in government at the time so i cannot explain what the government's thought process was in doing that. look, i think the reality is that erdogan and turkey have to -- it that kurds in syria
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mean, syria is humpty dumpty. " ind may have "won the war the sense that he is still there, but i don't think, at least as long as u.s. forces are there, that they are going to completely reassert their control over the entire country, and as a result, the kurdish population is going to have a great deal more autonomy in syria no matter what. that is just a reality. they are not going away. so the question is, how can that be moderated and how can that be regulated in a way that takes into account legitimate security concerns about its own border, etc. on the other hand, one can also be a little cynical about turkey's concern with the syrian border, since it was something that for about six or seven years they didn't take seriously either going the other way. >> absolutely. i wanted to move on to amanda, and incorporate in answer to that question and the next steps communicate with turkey vi
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s-a-vis the ypg in syria and other questions. >> i will address the syria issues and let others do with eu issues. agree withmpletely eric that the only way you solve this overarching kurdish problem is by having a reconciliation between the turkish government and the pkk. don't forget, erdogan actually did start a peace process. you had a 2.5-year cease-fire by the pkk, peace talks between the turkish government and the pkk. that ended up breaking down, i think in part as a result of spillover from the violence in syria. i think it is going to be very difficult in the run-up to the elections to resume those peace talks because of the way it plays within the national space, but we shouldn't forget that there was a process at one point. on steve's comments about the turkish cooperation with the ypg, which comes up a fair bit, this was fairly limited,
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tactical coordination when the the memorialmoving within turkey that was surrounded by isis forces. i think that shouldn't be overplayed as turkish ypg coordination in the broader fight against isis. it was just a reality that turkish forces needed to cross through ypg-held territory to get the remains of this memorial in and relocated. at that coordination did happen on the ground -- but that coordination did happen on the ground. this has long been attention with the u.s.-turkish relations, and certainly with the three years i spent at the state department managing relations, this subject was discussed more than anything else. i think the u.s. has done a disservice to itself and its own understanding of the issue by focusing very much on the legal distinction it made between the pkk, a designated terrorist organization by the u.s. and the eu, and the ypg, which is not. that legal distinction separates the two groups and also was part of the basis for which the
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united states was able to cooperate with the ypg. the reality is that there are clearly very close connections between the groups. you have a movement of the fighters between the groups, you have ypg forces in in syria that have pictures of the leader of the pkk, which the turks inested with usd i help syria. there is clearly connections between those groups, and i think in response to your question, the u.s. has not been as sensitive as it should have been to some of the legitimate security concerns that the turks have. the turks have suffered more deaths over the years at the hands of pkk terrorist attacks than they have by some of these other isis-related groups. there also has been very mixed messaging coming out of the administration on this. the obama administration had been clear to the turks that the ypg would be able to clear isis forces and then would move east of the euphrates, which was one of erdogan's red lines from the
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beginning of this, because he did not want ypg forces to connect them all into a single autonomous kurdish region, which length ofe run the the turkish border and blocked off any other turkish access. there are ypg forces and that is part of what is driving erdogan's continued desire now that they have captured afrin to move 60 miles to the east. there is also mixed messages coming out of the trump administration about what u.s. policy is going to be towards syria and the kurds. you have president trump who has told president erdogan that the u.s. was going to stop arming raqqag after the operation, which the pentagon quickly corrected and said was not necessarily the case. you have the state department indicating that cooperation with the ypg was going to be temporary and transactional. you then have tillerson delivering a syria policy speech
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in stanford on syria talking about a long-term u.s. security presence. and then you had the pentagon, especially special forces, who have been very clear in their comments in the nea media that they see the ypg as a strategic partner with whom they want to continue cooperating. that there is confusion within the turkish government about what u.s. policy is for syria and what that means for long-term corporation. the stakes certainly have been made in the -- mistakes certainly have been made in the past and we are where we are now. it is important that the u.s. reaches some sort of diplomatic and military agreement with turkey before we get to a situation where turkish forces j and comingon manbi into conflict with u.s. forces on the ground. but ultimately i agree with the ambassador that we need to have a much more holistic approach to the situation of kurds in the region and get back to some sort of peace process in turkey. >> lisel, can i just say one thing?
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i agree with what amanda just said. the question is how do we have this discussion. this goes back to my basic point -- we shouldn't think that we by sitting down and having a really happy discussion with the turks and then, don't worry, it will all work out. this really requires some very serious thought ahead of time about what we think we need, what we think they need, how can we get there. and to the point about the breakdown of the peace process importantkk, a very point amanda just made, i don't want to himself the pkk of its own responsibility -- absolve the pkk of its own responsibility for the breakdown and a series of attacks in the early summer of 2015. but i think it is impossible not to look at the domestic context of that decision and not to conclude that erdogan fundamentally made a decision to ,o to war not just with the pkk
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but with the kurds in southeastern turkey at that point. why did he do it? because he had lost the election, essentially, in june of 2015 in the sense that in the first time they do not have a majority. he had a kurdish party in the parliament. he lost votes to the mhp, which he had to steal back in his strategy, which was not to have a national unity government as the prime minister wanted but to go to another election in november, which he did. and he needed the military on his side in his struggle against the gulenists, the parallel state, as he would put it, inside turkey. that is what drove the breakdown in the negotiations with the pkk. the point we need to make is that it is important for you to get back to that, because that is the only solution, ultimately, for you to have this problem. the one truly constructive thing erdogan has done in
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>> ultimately this comes down to u.s. strategy in syria and what it is going to look like. there is a tendency to talk about ypg as syrian kurds so that -- so they don't represent the entire group, and you have the ypg kurds the turks have been attacking and have been backed by russians. they are not cooperating with the u.s.. you have russians in there and you also have in a lot of areas, predominantly arab town's don't want to be governed by kurds. there is a tendency to make this a simple issue as u.s. versus turkey versus kurds, and i think it is far more complicated than that and far more newest and there's a lot of actors involved in the syria question. >> i love that you are -- how do you manage these groups when there are internal factions and
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insights orting them. it is important to make sure we don't have a simplistic understanding of the issue, and focus on domestic politics is important. this is a panel on turkey and the west but there is so much in turkey's foreign-policy -- and the u.s. these to understand that turkey's commitment to the war in syria and the war against the syrian kurds -- there is a legitimate security threat but -- before the elections, what is the post election atmosphere? they can threat this amazing board of nationalists on by targeting the ypg. i think the u.s. needs to understand exactly what are the dynamics behind turkey's commitment. i want to turn to the turkey eu
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question. up?e, do you want to pick when merkel was deal withe eu refugee in europe -- there is a consensus that this is a good thing and the whole feeling right now in europe on refugees and borders is what macron said. you are going to see a lot of emphasis on border security and i think you'll see today something that may come out in this meeting where they have a deal that will extend the refugee deal and are be some other things thrown in. there is a consensus in europe -- where i see the problem coming is the new austrian chancellor courts coming out yesterday or today and the negotiations with turkey altogether on you. there's were to be pressures coming to take that position and that is something i don't think germany or france would go for at this point.
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i think it is going to be those divisions. the other question, i see a lot of little things more likely to happen. for example, on the turkish side theynk the easiest thing can do is get more flexible on cyprus. the military presence in cyprus baffles me, whitey think it is important to keep troops in cyprus -- there is a major card they can play and can open the door for some concessions on the european side. pushnk also, russia will turkey back towards nato because turks don't want to be out there on their own -- that is why you have to have strategic patience with them. sayhe german side, i would on the economic side there is a symmetrical relationship.
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turkey needs germany a lot more than germany needs turkey. i thought the german business people about this, and while it is nice to have the turkish market it is not a huge, the can use that leverage. use the armsy export issue -- the export arms to turkey, but that is a long-term thing. the final point i will make is the coup plotters. the german position has been that they are not behind the coup. people no turkey better than i do, and there is a strong case that there was some connections there. there is 800 or so right now in germany that are not being extradited and i think the german courts and government have done things more seriously. there's got to be some people that maybe should be sent back for legal reasons. >> the idea of countries like
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other isat each interesting, and countries are looking at brexit and some of the debate surrounding the campaign have to do with immigrants coming and there was an islamophobia dynamic. concern that being tough on turkey is good the mastech politics? good the mastech politics. >> we can be tough on turkey but realistic on tough transactions. >> i would like to go back to the point of being tough -- i agree with what eric and amanda
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have been saying in relation to syria and the dynamic around there. when the united states doesn't stand behind the words that he has given to the turkish government the turkish side exploits it and uses it to fuel on the americanism and onto western is him. the message is clear, you can trusted, and that message is translated in public opinion surveys, where to might utter bafflement, turkey and the eyes of the public -- the united states -- comes out is a bigger source of threat and russia is. there is that domestic politics dimension. , irelation to this issue would like to go back to the complexity of it.
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remember in the late summer or fall of 2014. large numbers of kurds led into turkey eventually before an early movement of hesitation when they all amassed at the border. no a good portion of those refugees are still in turkey and sitting in refugee camps right across from kobani. they are not the appropriate and ypg goesas pyd in terms of being let back into these kurdish populated parts of northern syria. i would like to link that to what has constantly been coming up about this strategy for not only syria but for the middle east. we were all hopeful of the arab
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arab spring did not deliver what we were hoping and looking forward to. instead it has ended up in a utterly fractured middle east of the kind we hadn't seen in the troubled history of the middle east. that middle east needs to be reconstructed, and one challenge in syria is the demographic changes that has occurred, and some refer to it as ethnic cleansing. erdogan is addressing a public both in syria and in turkey in a manner where he is arguing that the status quo and the situation proceeding the civil war in syria has to be re-created. you cannot always take it on its face value, but the principle of it is going to be important and that will have a repercussions in terms of what form governance
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is going to take place in northern syria. turkey, io to you eu-turkey,g idea -- the u.s. had a good ideas in the 1990's, and one big idea that was shared either likes -- especially anna lindh from sweden, was the notion that turkey has a place in the middle east -- in the european union. there -- a and slip ureudian slip there. i saw how this line impacted turkish society and civil society -- that was a huge idea.
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thedea very much oil to founding fathers of the european union and the european integration project. achievee going to prosperity, a lot of bridges were built in those 50 or 70 years, and that idea has faded a way. there is good reasons to do away with politics, and i would wish to see leaders emerging who can weave the idea back into place. we must not also forget the role the united states played way ink in the late 1940's encouraging this european integration project. i doubt it would have materialized if it was not for characters like the matches and pushing sideson
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to work together on these ideas. they did the same things in the mid-1990's and delivered. the u.s. ambassador to brussels in the mid-1990's was working much more dynamically and effectively than his turkish counterpart in mobilizing you support for the customs union in 1995 and 1996. a very important turning point in theire. and the u.s. decision to cooperate with their turkish -- from bring over nigeria, was delivered to turkish security forces and in return clearly behind the scenes , that reform has to be introduced with respect to the kurdish minority.
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i think it was a huge idea. there was a huge idea in this town that i would like to think i was fortunate to be able to be on the margins. a bigwas going to be exercise not just on trade, but i saw in my own reince plank on the margins how this keep eip might impact turkey and are there ways in which one could get into turkey and get them involved. i don't materialized it would have been a huge idea. i suspect the world would have been a different place than where it is right now. i would like to see if there are more questions. >> very quickly, i would go along with what steve said. at the end of the day, the big
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ideas that turkey would like to extract from the european union, such as the customs union and an extension of the eu-turkey migration deal. there are going to be have to negotiated and agreed upon at the eu level. the policy of divide and rule, yes, to a limited extent, but not in terms of domestically needs in terms of economy and moving along with the migration deal. i have to underline one very quick point. there are 3.5 million syrian refugees and turkey. in europe it is about one million, in a union about 500 billion people and a huge economy. that needs to be recognized and that needs to be addressed
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together with the spread of burden sharing. that is what the deal did. it was criticized when it came out, i understand it, but it offers opportunity moving forward. gain as theder a whole eu deal rather than a deal just between turkey and germany. >> other questions? again, trying to keep it brief. >> i have two quick questions. turkey ands -- erdogan against kurds -- i want to ask you, i am sure you are aware -- are you aware that there are a lot of kurds along
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with turkish government, one of the most important positions within the turkish government. what is your purpose of calling ypg are talking about ypg and calling them kurds? sure the second part of the question. kurds,are calling ypg and you said in your comments, that erdogan against kurds, and there are a lot of kurdish in important positions in turkey. the second question is, we have been talking about anti-americanism in turkey increasing. ask, isn't that enough -- the washington support the
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pkk, is that enough for tension? especially when we compare the u.s. oppression due to the russian meddling in u.s. elections? >> was that a question to a specific panelist? please?stion, m a visiting scholar to the american university and the like to know from the panelist had a /risk ofossibility conference and opposing sanctions including it weapons deal with russia. thank you. >> one more, in the back? hi, they give for your
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panel and insights. the decision for the u.s. and embassy and the counter decision, could this be a potential way to collaborate on the peace process argued see nothing but negativity? >> and then won in the back and that will be it. you, a quick comment before my question. it is disappointing and false that we continue to give turkey and turks the victim card because we can't to blame the kurds with the pkk and link them with the pkk. we have to understand why they exist at what happened between 1923 the founding of turkey up until 1984. there is a reason why the pkk,
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and my question is what we can expect with ambassador john bolton's appointment and pompeo's appointment with this administration? what can we expect the reaction to the fascist and aggressive war against the kurds? >> very good questions. will go down the panel, and you can choose the answers. think want to postelection we see new opportunities open up and you can address that as well. ambassador, you want to start? long time it was impossible to describe the population as kurds, they were referred to as mountain turks and is in a period when the prime minister and president of turkey was partially kurdish heritage.
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havingve no monopoly of the turks of kurdish origin or heritage as part of its leadership. we are unable and we are all trying to make our remarks -- we are using shorthand here, but what i was talking about in my remarks specifically about 2015 was the decision i think president erdogan made essentially to respond military operations in warm the southeast, and that is what i was referring to. with regard to the pkk, i have track for the pkk rutalheir ways are b and violet and have cost lives -- and the only way to stop this is through a political process.
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what i think is important is for the u.s. to be weighing and with resident erdogan to get him back on the track in pursuing negotiations. commentake one other and i will let all the other questions passed to my colleagues. i think it is extremely important for the u.s. to keep its word when it is negotiating with foreign governments. i think in that regard, a minimum amount of professionalism could help. i think it was appalling that secretary tillerson met with president erdogan lsm he was in turkish early before he was cashiered. he did not meet with any american diplomat president nor was the u.s. interpreter present. ofirely at the mercy
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president erdogan's turkish interpreter, and that is ranked diplomatic malpractice. obviously are going to get differences of views of who agreed with what if you allow yourself to be put in the position. on the anti-americanism, i am at all.zled at it b the u.s. standing and public opinion in turkey has never been that high. you been in the best times of the u.s. and turkish relations including the 90's. since 2002 and certainly since 2003 when i arrived as a massacre -- 415 years nonstop years.ia -- for 15 has spread beyond that to the
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media controlled by the president's cronies and in-laws. soon with the sale of the properties, there wouldn't be anything left of an independent media, even as pitiful as it was in terms of independence. for 15 years has relentlessly indulged in the worst kind of anti-semitic and anti-american slanders and criticism of the u.s. i am only surprised our stunning in turkey is as high as it is. [laughter] agree withoughts, i the ambassador. it wasn't even a professional interpreter, and i also agreed that anti-americanism and that type western is an isn't anything new in turkey and this
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predates and is entirely separate from american cooperation with ypg and provided one more thing for the media to focus on. out to say a word on the question about sanctions. there is already legislation in place that would enable the administration dissension turkey if it goes forward with the deal. congress passed the sanctions and there is a provision that prohibits other countries from making significant defense transactions with russian defense entities. that would already provide the basis for the administration to sanction turkey. it is the as 400 deal and if it goes forward, and there's talk in congress of doing other things. i think one of the things that this, i havep in been talking with people in europe. what is particularly striking is they tend to be different in where executive branches are. the british government and the
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germans and the eu commission and the u.s. probably are looking at this idea of engagement and wanting to do something to preserve the relationship. yet parliaments in very different places, for the same reason turkey has domestic politics, other countries have domestic politics. steve talked about that within germany and easy to the european parliament taking stronger stances in terms of wanting to freeze succession with the eu. and he see that playing out of the u.s. with congress becoming increasingly frustrated with turkish behavior. there is answer is, already legislation in place to sanction. i think there is continued again within congress of whether or not they want to take further measures. >> it is interesting that jerusalem embassy issue -- that is where the turks agree to europeans on this. but then you have the cyprus gas
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issue and i'm not sure how that plays out. on the pompeo impact, let's wait and see. god only knows, it is hard to say, it is not positive in europe. under question of postelection -- the german coalition agreement on turkey basically freezes everything right now until there is movement on rule of law and human rights. you have a new government and the person closest to the turks minister, ander he is gone. have merkel who is we can because of the refugees. not see much movement on the german side until after the turkish election, unless erdogan do something dramatic. i like theckly, nuance of what eric said that anti-americanism. >> i don't do nuance.
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that obamaremember went to and cora in april of 2009 and made a speech and the turkish parliament and received a standing ovation. we must also not forget that and spent theame longest number of days in turkey, compared the past squeezeds and ended up by the little baby when he was visiting in earthquake stricken neighborhood in turkey. i would argue these things go up and down, and when the uss missouri arrived in the harbor wasstanbul, the reception somewhat warm and the legacy still hangs out there. it is not god-given that
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anti-americanism will not change in turkey. politicians play an important role in that and the events and context plays a role in it. for my book, i have interviewed lots of people, lots of former diplomats and officials. there's a recognition that a lighthouse and reference point in its neighborhood and beyond because of its connections to the west. not innot in spite of them. on amanda's point of domestic politics in europe, i totally agree with it. not forget how the openedn parliament up -- is the context the place an important role.
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a quick point about jerusalem, if i am not mistaken from my phd years, there has always been a consulate in east jerusalem of turkey. it is not about opening a new one, it is just highlighting. the question you asked about elections and will happen -- my humble opinion is that turkey is deeply divided. if indeed asow, speculation goes -- the current president is reelected and he pulls out of the back, this white rabbit that he did in 2003 and 2004, when the whole country had high expectations from him. wounds are how those going to be healed just as a
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result of one election. there are huge challenges, and they are there. addressing them is going to be challenging. >> in closing out to add more nuanced to the anti-americanism. the warmer overtures from the turks have a long institutional memory. even if they are the western there is a suspicion that is not new and anti-americanism is not new. it is amazing how many turks know what the johnson letter is. we have here, a good friend and colleague of mine -- should with us the results of a very recent public opinion. when turks were asked of it an opportunity, where would you travel abroad? travel,ere they were
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the european union and here, not the other countries. that says a lot in spite of the remarks you made. >> this may be the only panel on turkey i concluded on a positive note. thank you so much to the panelists. please give them a hand. [applause] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2018] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org]
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