- The Washington Times - Monday, February 3, 2003

Much has been written in recent weeks about what level of support Turkey might provide in the event of a war in Iraq. The Turkish government's deliberation over how best to contribute to the U.S.-led international effort to disarm Iraq has been construed as an indication of uncertainty, or even weakness, in our countries' long-standing alliance. Worse still, some have suggested that Turkey is attaching a dollar value to its support for the United States.
Both notions are unfair and incorrect.
While our timelines and priorities may be different, our countries' ultimate objectives are very much the same: the disarmament of Iraq in accordance with the will of the international community.
Turkey is in a unique position with respect to Iraq. First, it is the only democracy among the frontline states whose active help the United States is seeking. In Turkey, as in America, the constitution, the Parliament, civil institutions and public opinion all have an influence on policy matters, especially when it comes to making decisions about war and peace.
Second, Turkey is in a unique geographical location. After the last American soldier departs from the region, Turkey and Iraq will still be neighbors.
Third, Turkey is faced with a very heavy and difficult agenda in its political life. Three months ago, while the U.S. Congress was completing its debate and authorizing President Bush to use force if necessary against Iraq, Turkey was in the midst of a general election campaign. Turkey's new government was then confronted with immediate economic challenges and an impending decision by the European Union regarding its possible accession. And also, our new government has placed a high priority on seeking a resolution to the question of Cyprus. Hence, we hope our consultations and deliberations on the Iraqi issue will be viewed in the context of these other major issues, and that the pace of our open and democratic process not be mistaken for slowrolling or stonewalling.
Turkey's alliance with the United States goes back many decades, and is based on common values and mutual interests. Democracy, rule of law, respect for human rights, a commitment to a market economy and security bind the two nations together. Turkey has proven its worth as an ally and strategic partner to the U.S., starting with the Korean War. Today we stand together in confronting terrorism. We have joined hands to advance international security in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Kosovo, Macedonia, the Middle East, Somalia, the Caucasus and Central Asia.
In 1991, we joined the U.S.-led international coalition because we recognized the serious implications of Iraq's invasion of Kuwait. We made this decision despite the tremendous economic hardship we expected to and did endure. With the knowledge of that experience, the United States and Turkey are discussing ways to keep the Turkish economy healthy and how to address the consequences of a war next door. But this discussion is in no way related to the degree of involvement by Turkey in such a conflict. Rather, that decision will depend on the facts of the matter itself, the national interests of Turkey, and our regard for the preservation of international legitimacy and solidarity.
Over the years, U.S.-Turkish cooperation vis-a-vis Iraq has been concrete, substantial and sustained. Whether in the context of terrorism or in the enforcement of U.N. Security Council resolutions, Turkey has worked closely with the United States ever since the Gulf War. The long list of joint efforts includes our extension of Operation Northern Watch to enable continued enforcement of the no-fly zone in northern Iraq, our work to complete site surveys, our sustained military-to-military cooperation and continued close consultations at all levels with the U.S. government.
Turkey is solemnly engaged in efforts to bring about a solution to the Iraqi question through peaceful means. The goal is to bring peace, security and prosperity to the region, to Iraq, to its neighbors and beyond. In this effort, Turkey will do its part as a responsible regional actor in concert with the United States, its ally and strategic partner, and the international community.

O. Faruk Logoglu is Turkey's ambassador to the United States.

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