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Interview with Turkish Ambassador — Published in The American Interest

February 14th, 2012

Bellum senior editor Tristan Abbey has a new piece in The American Interest — a conversation with Namik Tan, the ambassador from Turkey to the United States. A sampling:

“We can talk to anyone and everyone you can think of”, he said proudly. “We can talk to everyone in our region. When you go into Iraq, we can, for instance, talk to every single individual group”, regardless of race and ethnicity. “Even if they don’t talk to each other, they talk to us.” Turkey has relations with the Israelis and with the Palestinians, and even within the Palestinian construction, between those in the West Bank and those in Gaza. “This gives us some special unique ability, really, to make our own contribution to regional peace and stability.”

Tan continued: “Even if we wanted to, we could not just distance ourselves from any of those issues, in terms of engagement. We need to engage with these problems.” In this context, engagement doesn’t necessarily mean intervention, the way two armed forces might engage each other on the battlefield. It refers to diplomatic contact, economic dealings, and other types of “softer” contact.

Turkish engagement, though, is not “out of a sort of an ambitious type of policy or perspective”, he added, “but because of the fact that if we do not engage with those problems, or if we are not proactive in responding to certain challenges, before those problems blow up in real terms, then we are the party which feels the heat, no one else.”

Read the rest here.

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