Volume 9, Issue 3
What is the Future of EU-Turkey Relations? (Webcast)
The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars hosted a panel discussion titled, “What is the Future of EU-Turkey Relations?” held April 24, 2017. Henri Barkey, director of the Middle East Program at the Wilson Center, moderated.
Constanze Stelzenmueller, a public policy scholar at the German Marshall fund, began the discussion. He believes from each perspective, European and Turkish, that each side wants to prevent a tipping point from occurring between relations. Neither side is willing to break off accession talks, despite talks being de facto frozen, as that would push the ball out of their own courts, he said. Adding to the topic, Michelle Egan, fellow, Wilson Center, and professor and Jean Monnet Chair ad personam, American University, School of International Service, stated the EU’s internal credibility problems have contributed to the deterioration of accession talks. Accession talks with Turkey are all the more complex because of Hungary and Poland’s track records on human rights and the rule of law, which undermine the EU. Regarding NATO, Egan believes no other member is willing to throw Turkey out because of a history of non-democracies in NATO, including current members who have questionable democracies such as Hungary and Poland.
Egan also addressed the Cyprus problem. Egan argued that a deal could fundamental and symbolically shift relations forward also while opening new issues that cannot be anticipated. On the other hand, a lack of solution also gives EU member states reason to stop accession talks because of a lack of solution. Considering this, Egan cited Cyprus as an example of one of the EU’s lack of successes regarding the resolution of territorial issues prior to joining. She added that finding a solution remains unlikely. Regarding EU-Turkey relations moving forward, Egan emphasized the harsher measures and EU standards set in place regarding security and the rule of law. If Turkey shows a serious and persistent breach of civil rights and rule of law, one-third of the commission can freeze Turkey’s accession, Egan noted. This comes with the reality there is a hollowing out of support for Turkey’s accession to Europe. Egan argued the focal points of cooperation between EU and Turkey today lie in the customs union between the EU and Turkey that requires modernization and greater cooperation on energy and migration.
Aykan Erdemir, senior fellow, Foundation for Defense of Democracies, and a member of the Turkish Parliament (Republic Peoples Party), shifted discussion toward “The Turkey Question.” Erdemir offered that moving forward, President Erdogan will take a more offensive defense. Scenarios such as full-scale assaults through government funded NGOs and state institutions, and Turkish support for political parties in Europe, are likely. Moreover, Erdemir argued Erdogan is pivoting away from Transatlantic alliance and values, which is what he wants. Erdogan is back full circle to his Islamist, authoritarian self, and he is serious about it. Nevertheless, Erdemir posited that Turkey does lose out from accession talks coming to a halt. Erdemir highlighted Turkey received more FDI after candidacy status than during the entire republic’s history. The talks ending means an exit of Western and local capital from Turkish economy, leaving every Turkish citizen and company with their bank account, business, and assets unprotected. This means they can be taken, frozen, or controlled by Erdogan’s cronies at any point, leaving Turkey vulnerable.
As a final thought upon reflection, Erdemir stated Turkey never had a serious vision for the EU. Turkey never thought like the EU because it did not realize a European vision. Erdogan’s EU vision was to use the EU as instrumental tool to counter balance Turkish judiciary and military momentarily. Moving forward, Erdermir argued the question is whether we want the EU to border Russian buffer states (Ukraine and Turkey) or if we want the EU to control those buffer states.
Turkey and the United States: Assessment and Prospects
Georgetown University hosted the Institute of Turkish Studies for two panel discussions on “Turkey and the United States: Assessment and Prospects,” May 12, 2017. Gonul Tol, senior fellow and director of the Center for Turkish Studies at the Middle East Institute, moderated the first panel, Issues in Turkish Domestic Foreign Policy.
Henri Barkey, director of the Middle East Program at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Studies, began the discussion. He explained President Erdogan is under great public pressure to have some success in his foreign policy, and at the time, was looking forward to his May 16 meeting with President Donald Trump to strike a deal favorable to Turkey as a chance to regain the support of the 48 percent who voted against him in the referendum. Barkey posited that the YPG stands between Trump and Erdogan reaching a deal. For Trump, seeing Raqqa fall is of pivotal importance, but defeating ISIS will only be possible by using the YPG. For Erdogan, removing the YPG from Raqqa is of equal importance. Barkey argued the U.S. administration must be smart enough to give Erdogan something that he can prove to his people is a victory for the purpose of discouraging Erdogan from taking further drastic measures.
Steven Cook, an Eni Enrico Mattei senior fellow for Middle East and African Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, added to Barkey’s insights. He believes no trust exists between Turkey and the U.S. regarding the YPG because previously the U.S. had forced the Turkish hand on the YPG. What Erdogan will take from the meeting is an advertising opportunity for himself to boost his public support. Nevertheless, Erdogan will adamantly resist any international interference in restarting negotiations between the government and the PKK, making it hard for the U.S. to use the meeting to negotiate for leverage.
Sebnem Kalemli-Ozcan, Neil Moskowitz Endowed professor of Economics, University of Maryland, turned the conversation to argue that Erdogan will have no leverage during his trip to Washington, aside from gaining legitimacy at home. Ozcan argued Turkey economically cannot continue to finance the war. Moreover, the U.S. and EU’s lack of involvement with Turkey during the past few years has led to a disengagement of relations and an embittered Turkey. Ozcan argued with the EU and United States’ weakened hand in Turkey, negative repercussions are arising; an unstable Turkey means an unstable Middle East. Turkey’s authoritarianism will continue to grow with no serious intervention, Ozcan said.
Cook reaffirmed Ozcan’s notion the EU unfairly has treated Turkey with failed accession procedures, but added Turkey must also do more to meet the EU half way. For Europeans, Turkey’s growing authoritarianism is a huge problem because of the importance Europeans place on values, Cook noted. Although this is not as important to the U.S., the EU and US must begin meeting Turkey half way, he said. Complicating matters, Barkey argued Erdogan’s inner circle is problematic because he is surrounded onlyl with yes-men. No one in his inner-circle provides him with honest answers. Furthermore, Cook emphasized that Kemalism was a set of ideals that never became important in Turkish society, and in that, Erdogan continues to represent an old-fashioned form of autocracy, not theocracy, making the future of Turkey’s foreign policy with the West seem even more complex.
The topic of the second panel discussion was Immigration and Migration in the Ottoman Empire and Modern Turkey. Kent Schull, associate professor of History, Binghamton University, moderated. The panel focused on the development of international law vis-à-vis Turkey and the EU, and the historical roots of refugees and internally displaced people in the Middle East and Africa. The ramifications of the movement of displaced peoples during the past 150 years, and how they manifested into what is happening today, received particular attention.
David Gutman, assistant professor of History, Manhattanville College, introduced the topic by highlighting that migration and mobility control have always been central to the Ottoman Empire. Gutman argued the Ottomans used documents to control mobility for centuries. Out of this grew vast and important smuggling networks that increasingly became sophisticated and important in their geographic scope. These networks continue to grow and prosper today. Gutman argued the major difference between the late 19th century, 20th century, and the refugee crisis today, are the vast number of people dying in the Mediterranean Sea while trying to migrate. Gutman posited that it increasingly dangerous to travel through these smuggling routes today because of the international mobilization of military control and the close interaction of states, which have created a level of danger that never used to exist when taking on these routes.
Will Smiley, assistant professor of History and Humanities, Reed College, advanced this notion regarding law. Smiley argued International Law was never considered to be part of the Ottoman Empire. Therefore, today, while migration continues for similar reasons as it did a century ago, the rules and laws have changed. As a result, the ability to migrated has become complicated and the scope for crime and corruption has worsened.
Lisel Hintz, visiting assistant professor, Department of Political Science, Barnard College, shifted the conversation to consider how Turkey has used the refugee crisis for its own political gain. Hintz argued the way the AKP handled the refugee crisis from the outset, was quite commendable. The Turkish government initially refused international help and foreign aid, giving them moral standing and an upper hand in bargaining with Europe. Since then, Turkey has welcomed more than three million Syrian refugees, even overlooking a 1951 refugee law that said it would not grant refugee status to individuals who were not European.
Domestically, Lintz explained there have been several outcomes from the huge number of Syrian refugees that Turkey has accepted. First, Lintz identified that less than 10% of Syrian refugees live in refugee camps and instead chose to travel to big cities such as Istanbul to find work. This has led to a domestic backlash in terms of the number of refugees that Turkey is hosting. However, on the other hand, Turkey has managed to turn the migrant crisis around from an economic crisis to an economic boom. With Syrians making up 4% of Turkey’s population, Erdogan seeks to gain loyalty from Syrian refugees. With the AKP failing to get the support it needed during the referendum, this 4% of the population, if given citizenship, may vote for the AKP, creating an important foundation of support for Erdogan. Moreover, Erdogan has been trying to take advantage of the intellectual capital that a lot of the refugees have brought with them, replacing those who have fled Turkey, or who were purged from their jobs, with highly educated refugee Syrians.
Congressional Hearing: Lessons from the IMF’s Bailout of Greece
The House Financial Services Subcommittee on Monetary Policy and Trade held a hearing titled, “Lessons from the IMF’s Bailout of Greece,” May 18, 2017. U.S. Rep. Andy Barr (R-KY) chaired the hearing. Witnesses included: Paul Blustein, senior fellow, Center for International Governance Innovation; Meg Lundsager, public policy fellow, Woodrow Wilson Center; Professor Anna Gelpern, professor of Law, Georgetown Law and non-resident senior fellow, Peter G. Peterson Institute for International Economics; and Dr. Rebecca Nelson, specialist in International Trade and Finance, Congressional Research Service.
In his opening statement, Chairman Barr reflected on Greece’s continued state of deep recession, despite the systemic exemption Greece has received, stating the Greek bailout has made a mockery of the IMF lending rules. Chairman Barr expressed shock the IMF is considering a third bailout and argued the IMF’s bailout will serve only to help Eurozone politicians in upcoming elections. Moreover, Chairman Barr stated a third Greek bailout will show the IMF has not learned from its past experiences and that its decision making has become hopelessly politicized.
Blustein stated the IMF’s role in the Greek bailout was to aid Greece in paying its debt to avoid catastrophic default. In return, Greece was to implement strategic reforms. Blustein contended even if Greece had complied with all austerity measures, and fulfilled all of the IMF’s conditions, the Greek economy would still not have been able to revive itself. Nevertheless, despite the misgivings of the IMF bailout package, Blustein maintained the funds provide a global public good—global financial stability. The crisis in Europe showed IMF’s work is important and that even advanced countries need the IMF.
Lundsager posited that while the IMF’s early response to the Greek crisis was key in containing the crisis, IMF lending to Eurozone countries strained IMF principles and weakened the IMF’s lead role in designing economic adjustment programs and financing packages. This is because IMF lending programs have been shaped more by European needs than by IMF standards, which eroded the IMF’s ability to deal with countries uniformly. In her opinion, it is unlikely Europe will adjust its internal rules and regulations to accommodate the IMF. Therefore, the preferred future approach is for European countries to not seek IMF lending and begin to address their own internal inconsistencies. In support of her opinion, Lundsager referred to the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), which she argued creates little financial need for a parallel IMF program. Therefore, the Eurozone should assert its lead role in addressing its internal economic challenges and move forward without an IMF program for Greece.
However, Lundsager added that under the IMF’s articles of agreement, Eurozone members can seek the right to request IMF financing. Therefore, the IMF should have a policy in place establishing its program design and seniority in lending to all IMF members. The IMF should work toward establishing a policy that governs how it will lend to members in a currency union. With that said, the IMF contribution should be relatively small and a shorter term than some of the recent programs with Eurozone countries. The approach should include a process for the IMF to participate in the design of a country’s economic reform program and monitoring its performance without necessarily providing financial assistance.
In testimony, Professor Gelpern presented the opinion the IMF remains indispensable in sovereign debt restructuring and has more policy sway today with less money on the line than it has previously. Professor Gelpern argued the lesson of Greece is that we need a stronger IMF as the IMF plays a vital coordinating role. The IMF is the only actor capable of bringing together diverse domestic and external constituents around a reform program and has developed unparalleled expertise in crisis management, the professor stated. Moreover, the IMF ideally is positioned to promote more transparency and intelligibility.
Dr. Nelson stated after seven years, Greece’s economy remains in crisis despite IMF programs that have helped to limit the spillover from Greece to the global economy. This raises substantial policy questions, she said. First, should there be limits of the size and length of IMF financing? Long-term financing veers from the IMF’s mandate to provide temporary financial support. Additionally, long-term programs give rise to the potential for moral hazard; governments may be prudent to apply stringent economic policies if they believe the IMF will step in, regardless of the cost. On the other hand, limiting the resources the IMF can deploy during crisis may pose risk to the broader global economy. Second, co-financing with European creditors limits the IMF’s ability to design programs for Greece. Third is the issue of IMF policy accountability and flexibility. Nelson argued that providing the IMF discretion to make policy changes allows the IMF to respond to unforeseen and time-sensitive crises. On the other hand, this allows for a risk that the IMF adopts policy changes that donor governments do not support and may make the IMF less predictable as an institution. Finally, Dr. Nelson touched upon currency unions. The IMF does not design programs for currency unions and how the IMF responds to crises with countries inside a currency union remains a challenge.
In Q&A with the witnesses, Chairman Barr concluded the IMF’s involvement has done little to improve the lives of Greeks because of Greece’s domestic politics. He believes Greece’s leaders have been slow-walking reforms for years. Moreover, Chairman Barr noted how Prime Minister Tsipras criticized the IMF for its unconstructive attitude and fiscal and financial issues and indicated the IMF should stay out of any future bailouts, and he responded the IMF should be happy to do so in the future. In response to Chairman Barr’s statement, Blustein argued Greece has their arms tied and believes it should be asking for IMF help. Additionally, Tsipras scores political points by attacking the IMF because the IMF has been tougher than European creditors by insisting on various structural reforms and for targets to be met. Chairman Barr replied the IMF is creating a moral hazard. If the IMF gives Greece a third bailout, it would give them another credit card to max out, incentivizing the very behaviors that got Greece into trouble in the first place with little meaningful prospect for a long-term solution.
Congresswoman Moore asked the panelists why belt tightening was not achieved in Greece, inquiring if the conditions imposed on Greece were too great. Blustein responded in Greece’s defense, arguing Greece complied and delivered on fiscal conditionality, even to the extent it may have killed its economy. Blustein argued the issue at-hand was time. The structural reforms would take so long to work that the effects of austerity would be felt much greater even if Greece had delivered on all the structural reforms. Congresswoman Moore agreed, adding in the long-run, austerity was not the answer and the IMF did play an important role in stemming contagion.
The Geo-Strategic Importance of Southeast Europe
The German Marshall Fund hosted a panel discussion focused on the future of Southeastern Europe, June 20, 2017. Jonathan Katz, resident fellow, German Marshall Fund of the United States, moderated.
Katz outlined the critical value of the Balkans as allies to the EU and United States. He emphasized the need for the U.S. and EU to step-up and help the region transition. Katz also highlighted the growing challenges posed by external factors such as Turkey, China and Russia that are hampering European integration for Balkan nations. Other challenging factors include ongoing political and economic corruption and a rise of populism that is increasing the urgency to battle radicalization.
Lisa Rhoads, Private Equity; Network 20/20 board member, discussed the Balkan region’s ‘Plan B’ in the likely event the EU accession process fails for the Balkan countries. Rhoads emphasized the importance of private sector investment in the region, particularly regarding the small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) sector. She stressed the Balkan region needs to transition away from sectors such as coal and iron and move toward creating conditions conducive to investment and growth. Rhoads stated the region is hopeful because of a new generation’s seeking new entrepreneurial opportunities. By providing individuals with know-how, removing the risk of investing, and creating mentorship and development programs, good progress is expected in the region.
Daniel Vajdish, president, Yorktown Solutions, argued the contrary. Today, the region is facing a much bleaker picture than four years ago, he offered. Specifically, the Brussels dialogue has fallen stagnant, there has been a lack of progress in interethnic relations, and the national challenges that plague individual Balkan countries continue to persist. Vajdish highlighted what has changed, which the region’s problems are exacerbated by outside actors such as Russia who is using the Balkans for political leverage in the West. Considering the present-day situation, Vajdish argued regional leaders are clamoring for greater U.S. involvement. However, with the region’s persistently weak economy fueling nationalist rhetoric, and few incentives for outside private investors to invest in the Balkans, it seems unlikely the Trump administration will get involved in the Balkans.
Dr. Daniel Serwer, academic director of Conflict Management, Johns Hopkins University discussed the Balkan region’s future vis-à-vis the European Union and NATO. Serwer stated NATO membership is more important than ever, especially as EU membership seems increasingly unlikely. However, NATO membership currently is blocked by each Balkan country’s own issues. Serwer argued the only way for the U.S. to be able to do something in the region is to solve each country’s individual problems, which is a tall order of commitment to ask of the US and unlikely to be undertaken.
Ambassador Fioreta Faber reminded the audience the Balkan countries still look very positively upon the EU and have not put that option to bed. However, moving forward, the region has no good models of a market economy to strive toward and this holds Balkan nations back. The Balkan region is not an export region or business hub, and therefore, it lacks what it takes to bring multinational companies into the region. On this topic, Rhoads argued the object of a ‘Plan B’ is to ensure that SMEs are supported and given the expertise needed to create a self-sustained region in the long run.
U.S. – Greece Relations & Eastern Mediterranean Strategy with U.S. Ambassador to Greece Geoffrey Pyatt
The German Marshall Fund hosted U.S. Ambassador to Greece Geoffrey Pyatt for a roundtable discussion on U.S.-Greece relations and Eastern Mediterranean strategy, June 21, 2017. Jonathan Katz, resident fellow at the German Marshal Fund, moderated.
Ambassador Pyatt stated the United States’ bilateral relationship with Greece is as positive as it has been since the 1970s. Both governments have been vocal about the importance of their strategic relationship. The ambassador argued the Obama administration strengthened this sentiment by supporting Greece through its years of economic hardship, and the Trump administration has ensured this positive trend continues. Ambassador Pyatt contended military and security relations are at their historical best, both at a soldier-to-soldier level and politically. He added the United States is 100% committed in Souda Bay with its geographic location being irreplaceable for U.S. strategic interests. He said the U.S. is seeking to expand its operations at the base. Ambassador Pyatt argued Greece is an important strategic partner because Souda Bay is the only facility between Norfolk and the Gulf, allowing the U.S. to continue providing security assistance to Europe.
Regarding the Greek economy, Ambassador Pyatt stated following the recent completion of the second review bailout, the big systemic crisis is over. Greece is now able to handle its debt and will be able to once again enter the market, he said. The ambassador cautioned that moving forward, Greece can only grow via foreign investors as it does not have enough money to do it alone. However, substantial foreign investments have already been made, and he cited most notably U.S. companies such as Calamos Investments, and China, which recently acquired the Greek port of Piraeus, granting China access to EU markets. Regarding foreign direct investment, Pyatt argued the debt overhang is not the most important issue affecting Greece, and while it must be addressed, it is not urgent. Moreover, the EU takes precedence when it comes to Greece’s economic matters. For the U.S., it is more important that Greece remains a strong EU and NATO ally because of its geostrategic importance.
Ambassador Pyatt also cited numerous negative outside influences affecting Greece internally. Pyatt argued that Russia’s influence in Greece and the Western Balkans is particularly troubling. The Kremlin seeks to reset the terms of engagement with Greece with efforts to infiltrate Greece via the Church and major acquisitions such as the buyout of major Greek companies, private and public, ranging from major local football teams to television networks.
Regarding Cyprus, Ambassador Pyatt reflected on the positive relationship that Turkey and Greece have been working to maintain so to keep channels open. Nevertheless, hampering progress is the issue of energy between Greece and Turkey wherein a solution has yet to be reached. On a positive note, he cited hydrocarbon energy findings in the Ionian Sea and the progress of the Trans-Adriatic pipeline. The pipeline is changing the regional energy dynamic because it will transit the first non-Russian oil to reach Europe.
In conclusion, Ambassadr Pyatt stated the United States desires to see continued democracy and economic growth in Greece. He believes the future looks bright because Syriza and New Democracy are very supportive of the U.S. and the bilateral relationship.
SETA Foundation Hosts: Turkey: A Year after the July 15th Coup Attempt
The SETA Foundation hosted a conference to examine Turkey a year after the July 15, 2016 coup attempt. Between panel discussions, General Yasar Guler, General Commander of the Turkish Gendarmerie Forces, presented the Keynote Address, reflecting upon the coup attempt.
Gen. Guler recalled the time prior to the coup as one of relative stability; Turkey was in process of stabilizing their political system, there was no economic crisis, and there was no major challenge that would peril the integrity of the state within the public order. It is within this environment the general argued FETO was able to orchestrate the coup.
He identified FETO as a terrorist organization and denounced them. Moreover, FETO members are hiding their radical identities under the pretext of a relief agency and religious community. All the while, FETO places its members in government institutions from the lowest to the highest ranks, General Guler said. Within this context, the general stated the perpetrators of the July 15 Coup were an organized movement that infiltrated the army, led by Fetullah Gulen. Guler commented on the growing global problem of radicalism, arguing that individual terrorist organizations are not the problem, but rather radicalization as a whole is a problem both in Turkey and globally. Gen. Guler emphasized FETO is a forty-year organization with a hazardous organizational structure against which the world should be on alert. Moreover, Gen. Guler argued the world’s public opinion should come up with policies to counter terrorist organizations and radicalization over principles, not over persons and countries.
THO Hosts: The July 15 Coup Attempt in Turkey: One Year On
The Turkish Heritage Organization (THO) hosted an event at the National Press Club to discuss the aftermath of the July 15th coup attempt in Turkey, July 13, 2017. Ali Cinar, THO president, in opening remarks asserted that THO agrees the Fetullah Gulen Terrorist Organization (FETO) was behind the 2016 coup attempt.
Former U.S. Ambassador to Turkey James Jeffrey, the Philip Solondz distinguished fellow at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, discussed the state of U.S.-Turkey relations. Leading up to the coup, Ambassador Jeffrey stated the lack of U.S. support in fighting Assad frustrated Turkey. Similarly, Turkey’s lack of involvement in fighting ISIS frustrated the U.S. These factors, along with the U.S. alliance with the YPG in Syria, and the U.S.’ delayed response to the coup, have poisoned U.S.-Turkish relations, he said. On a more positive note, Amb. Jeffrey believes U.S. attention will be directed toward strengthening U.S.-Turkey relations in greater terms with the ISIS campaign concluding soon.
Former Congressman Cliff Stearns, executive director of APCO Worldwide’s Washington DC office, advanced Ambassador Jeffrey’s analysis, stating Turkey has been, and remains, an essential ally to the U.S. Turkey is the only country in the MENA region that is a NATO member. Turkey holds one of the largest armies of all NATO members, is a Muslim majority nation, a democracy, and is strategically located. In this context, Stearns emphasized the need for greater person-to-person relations with Turkey, especially considering the number of complications present today that have the capacity to worsen relations.
Ambassador Matthew Bryza, a nonresident senior fellow with the Atlantic Council’s Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center and Global Energy Center, stated there is no clear picture on how to fix this relationship today in light of all the issues already discussed. Nevertheless, Ambassador Bryza expressed confidence Turkey would not shift into Russia’s orbit. Historically, Turkey has associated itself, and its identity, with the Middle East, Anatolia and Europe, and never with Russia. Moreover, Bryza believes Turkey’s geopolitical agenda stands firm with NATO.
Mark S. Hall, an award-winning producer and director of movie “Killing Ed,” a film discussing the corruption and corrosive influence of the Gulen movement, discussed the Gulen movement’s chain of taxpayer-funded charter schools in America. Currently, 72,000 students in the United States attend Gulen-affiliated schools with the U.S. government granting $729 million a year to help fund the 167 Gulen charter schools in America. Hall stated the schools have political friends at the local, state and federal level who do their biddings, allowing the Gulenist schools to take advantage of the system. Hall noted the growth of the charter schools particularly is troubling, especially in middle-America where their growth has been exponential with law enforcement and state legislatures doing little to stem the discrimination of the Gulenist schools. Moreover, under the Trump administration, there has been a strong theme of education privatization, helping Gulenist schools thrive. In addition, FETO allegedly spends a lot of money investing in U.S. politicians. Congressman Stearn attested to Halls points, stating U.S. politics is too heavily influenced by money, which is needed for campaigns. In this context, Hall believes professors, journalists, and politicians in the U.S. are all financially influenced by the Gulenist movement, indicating a failure of the system to control the spreading of an outside force.
Mujeeb Khan, a Fulbright research scholar in the Persian Gulf, identified and further explained the nature of the Gulenist movement. Khan stated FETO is a rigidly hierarchical movement and highly coordinated in nature. Khan stated there is “overwhelming circumstantial evidence” the coup was orchestrated from the top of the Gulen movement. Nevertheless, there is no smoking gun to validate this position. The establishment of a ‘Truth and Reconciliation Committee’ is an important priority for Turkey because it can bring the country together and eliminate the scope for guilt by association while also strengthening the Turkish constitution, Khan said.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu advanced the anti-Gulenist rhetoric, arguing the coup wanted to destroy the constitution and the foundations of the Turkish state. Specifically, Cavusoglu argued FETO remained an underground organization for so many years so that it would be able to infiltrate all aspects of society.
House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee: Examining the Presidents FY 2018 Budget Proposal for Europe and Eurasia
The House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, and Emerging Threats held a hearing to review the State Department’s 2018 Fiscal Year budget submission for the Europe and Eurasia region. Chairman Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) stated the president’s budget proposed a 46 percent reduction of the for Europe and Eurasia, with the government’s decision to reduce spending having created a divide within the political landscape. Nevertheless, he emphasized how this is an opportunity for fresh thinking on how to solve problems and on the need for strong U.S. diplomacy. The discussions revealed the importance of the U.S. to use its diplomatic hand to enact change and stability in Europe, rather than military might, especially in the Ukraine region. This would help stem the backsliding of democracy and persistence of frozen conflicts and secure a prosperous region. The threat the Kremlin poses to the regional security of Europe, and in turn, to U.S. national security, also received plenty of discussion.
Ambassador John A. Heffern, principal deputy assistant secretary, Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, outlined the United States’ four main goals in Europe which remain: countering Russia’s pressure and malign influence in the region, supporting front-line states, specifically Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia; supporting stability and resilience in the Balkans, and defeating ISIS and other terrorist organizations. As a result of the proposed budget cuts, Ambassador Heffern stated the most effective programs and measures will have to be prioritized and cuts will have to be made in many areas.
The hearing placed emphasis on the need for the United States to maintain a sustained commitment and engagement to Europe and Eurasia. Specifically, Chairman Rohrabacher stated Ukraine and Russia must be brought back into the economic market and into the European Union, especially as the U.S. played a big role in the destabilization that took place in Ukraine.