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Media Briefing: CFR-Sponsored Independent Task Force Report on U.S.-Turkey Relations

Speakers: Madeleine K. Albright, Former U.S. Secretary of State, Task Force Co-Chair, Stephen J. Hadley, Former U.S. National Security Adviser, Task Force Co-Chair, and Steven A. Cook, Hasib J. Sabbagh Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies, Council On Foreign Relations
May 8, 2012, New York
Council on Foreign Relations

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ANYA SCHMEMANN (director, CFR Task Force Program): Hi. I'm Anya Schmemann. I'm director of CFR's Task Force Program. Thanks for joining us today. Sorry to keep you waiting, but we've had a busy day.

I'm here with our co-chairs, Secretary Albright, Stephen Hadley -- I think -- (inaudible) -- introductions, but I believe you do have their bio information -- and my colleague Steven Cook, who is a senior fellow at CFR and the (project ?) director -- (inaudible) -- this report. The report -- (inaudible) -- partnership.

A few quick words about CFR task forces. CFR task forces are independent. The Council on Foreign Relations takes no position on issues. Task Force members are asked to endorse the consensus, saying that they endorse the overall thrust of the report findings and recommendations, though not necessarily every finding or recommendation.

The list of task force members is on the back. It was a consensus document, meaning that they all did agree (on this ?) report. This report, this project has been -- this report is the product of a year-long study. We actually began, I think, last May.

MR. : May 19th.

SCHMEMANN: And we also had the opportunity to visit, assemble in Ankara during the process. And I think you all have the press release, as well, which summarizes some of the main recommendations.

I think some of you were at the meeting we just held with CFR members and others, and some of you haven't. So don't worry about repeating yourself because it'll be new for -- (inaudible).

MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: OK, that's never been a problem. (Laughter.)

SCHMEMANN: I'd like to ask -- actually my colleagues -- (inaudible) -- just a few words -- (inaudible) -- the report, and then we'll just go right to questions.

STEVEN COOK: Great. Well, thank you very much, Anya.

And thank you to all for coming and your interest in the report, and thanks to the co-chairs for a great forum and intellectual experience.

I think there is a number of points that we felt was extraordinarily important in bringing out the report. One, that this is a new Turkey. This is a very different country from the country that AKP -- when AKP won the election in November 2002. It is, if not a democracy, clearly democratizing, more representative, economically successful and a country that is more engaged in the region around it than ever before.

The -- I think the second point that we wanted to bring forward is that there is tremendous opportunity for the United States to work with this new Turkey, that there is a confluence of interest in important regions of the world in which the United States has assets that can brought to bear, that Turkey can bring assets to bear and that we can work together to achieve both of our interests. I think it's -- the third point is that in order to develop this envisioned strategic relationship, this new partnership between the two countries -- and I'd turn to the five points that we make at the -- at the very beginning, if I can find them -- apologies -- about -- they're actually on the press release -- pardon me, Steve --

MS. : (Off mic.)

COOK: -- (inaudible) -- I have a (little ?) aversion of -- the points about equality and mutual respect -- (inaudible) -- interests, confidentiality and trust, close and intensive consultations, avoidance of foreign policy surprises, and recognition and management of inevitable differences between Washington and Ankara.

And then finally -- and I'm sure the chairs will have other items to add to the importance of the report, but from my perspective, I think that the report adds badly needed context to what's been happening in Turkey over the course of the last decade.

The debate in Washington, to the extent that it has existed over the course of the last decade, has boiled down to: Is Turkey is leaving the West? And we wanted to make the point that not only is Turkey not leaving the West, it never had any intention of leaving the West, that it's well-integrated in the West. But that does not mean that Turkey is not going to explore its interests in other parts of the world, and that the rise of the Justice and Development Party, which is a party of Islamist roots, but does not mean -- is not inconsistent, I should say, with democracy and economic development and good strategic relations with the United States.

SCHMEMANN: OK. Well thank you for that overview. I think we'll just go right to questions. If you could just let us know --

STEPHEN HADLEY: I'd like to add one thing which I think is important to supplement to these points.

SCHMEMANN: Please.

HADLEY: A fourth point we make very clearly in the report is we're very clear-eyed and unsparing about the criticisms and concerns people have about press freedom, about rule of law and apparent politicization a little bit of -- and perhaps criminalization, as the report says, of political differences. The concerns that have been raised -- and we offer some suggestions as friends of Turkey of how these concerns that the international community has and that many Turks have can be addressed by the government, using, for example, the opportunity to prepare a new constitution.

So we're both bullish on the new Turkey, encouraging of a new relationship with Turkey, the United States, but we're also clear that this not yet a deep democracy, not yet a mature democracy. Democracy is a journey, not an end state, and there are things that Turkey needs to address. And we encourage the government to address these concerns and -- (inaudible) -- suggestions as to how they might do that.

(Cross talk.)

ALBRIGHT: (Inaudible) -- I think -- happy to answer questions.

SCHMEMANN: OK.

So if you could just let us know who you are and who you represent, that would be helpful. And you know, just again, a reminder, our topic today is Turkey, so I do hope that we can stay on topic.

Yes, please.

QUESTIONER: I'm Kathleen Foster from Fox News. I see that your report touches on Fethullah Gulen. And I'm wondering, what kind of influence does he have now? How much of a concern is he? And is there -- is there any reason for concern about the charter school that he runs here in the United States?

MS. : (Off mic.)

COOK: Well, sure, I'm happy to answer that question. I also -- afterwards, feel free to talk to my research associate Alexander Brock, who is responsible for writing the section of the report on Fethullah Gulen under my supervision.

This is -- one of the reasons why we felt strongly about including an appendix on Gulen is that there is a lot of debate about who he is and what he represents. We wanted to lay out that debate in a clear and concise way. Obviously, you can write books about this issue.

I think that when we come down to it, there are people in Turkey who obviously believe that he's -- you know, he has goals that are antithetical to their own vision for Turkey. But the school -- we would be less concerned about the schools that he runs if there wasn't, to some extent, a certain kind of -- I don't want to use the word "conspiratorial," but a secretive nature about the organization, about himself.

But overall, I think the concern about Gulen in Turkey is based on one or two quotes from TV interviews that he gave over a decade ago that opponents of the Justice and Development Party have sought to use against the AKP and tie Fethullah Gulen to the government.

I think that there is -- a lot of people have a lot of opinions about Gulen but not a lot of information. And I would encourage you, if you haven't already done so, to take a look at that appendix that tries in a brief way to provide a little bit of historical context about who he is and what he's up to.

But again, there is -- there is a question. I'm not going to whitewash it. There is a question, because there is a certain secretiveness about the organization. But the -- to some Turks, he's the most dangerous man in the world, who is seeking to undermine the country. I think that there is -- there isn't evidence of that.

QUESTIONER: And there's no concern about the schools that he's running here, things that are being --

COOK: Well, the subject of our report is Turkey. I think that, you know, there was an education task force that was chaired by Joe (sic; Joel) Klein and Condoleezza Rice. Maybe they touched on the Gulen schools here in the United States, but that was not our focus.

SCHMEMANN: All right. Any questions? Yeah.

QUESTIONER: I'm with the Turkish -- (inaudible). So thank you very much. I just want to ask you some point -- that there was tension between Turkey and U.S. in the past -- this was also mentioned during your conversation here when the Turkish parliament didn't want Turkey to enter -- sorry -- didn't want U.S. to enter Iraq. And afterwards, during the years, there was tension about Iranians' nuclear program, and also this came to the U.N. Security Council. Turkey has given -- has vetoed the sanctions. And also there was this flotilla incident with Israel, which I think made relations between two countries a little bit difficult.

So do you think that this report has a name in -- I mean, now, when you look at the context, relations -- the crisis in Syria seems to bring two allies together more because they are -- their interests seem to be in parallel. Do you think this report -- (inaudible) -- in a way, to bring these two allies together now? Because this report is being released now, but not two years ago, not three years ago, when the issues were kind of more difficult.

ALBRIGHT: Well, first of all, I think that, as we all said -- is that there are always interesting and complicated relationships between allies. I mean, we both can speak to that. Even, you know, with our best friends the British or whatever, there are always some issues that kind of you don't agree on everything. Every country has its national interest.

I think that there is no question that there have been ups and downs in the relationship. But our sense is that this is a relationship which is not as asymmetrical as it has been in the past, that there are many, many areas where Turkey and the United States think alike or have similar approaches and that the kind of discussion that now goes on not only at various levels, but between Prime Minister Erdogan and President Obama, are ones of two leaders and two countries that begin to try to look at how to solve problems together.

That does not mean that there will not be various areas where we don't agree. And I think one of the things that I think might have led to the creation of this task force was exactly trying to figure out what the issues were a couple of years ago and also begin to look at how different Turkey is now than it was. And so one of the areas that we specifically wanted to have in this report -- and we moved it up, frankly, in the writing of it -- is what are the areas of confluence between Turkish and American relationships and where are the areas that we can work together.

And I do think in some respects, the Turks have changed their minds on issues. I think they did in some ways on -- because they saw the evolution of the issue in Syria, or they have seen different relationships in Iran. And so we are both vibrant countries, and I think we both have recognized that there are areas where cooperation of our two countries is a solution or a movement in the right direction of problems.

HADLEY: Yeah, we've come from almost a decade of difficult relations with Turkey. You know, the Iraq was difficult. The post-Iraq situation did increase some of the risk to Turkey because of the PKK. I think that issue was addressed when Prime Minister Erdogan and President Bush got together in 2007, I think it was. I think there's been a lot of progress under the Obama administration. I think President Obama and Prime Minister Erdogan have really shepherded that relationship.

I think some of the problems we got into with respect to Iran was in part because sort of the relationship got out ahead of our understanding of the relationship. And I think one of the reasons we have those principles that Steven read at the beginning was I think if the two countries had respected those principles with respect to each other, we would have avoided the problem that came up in the U.N. over Iran. And that's why we think it is so important for people to step back, understand that it's a new relationship, understand that the rules have to change a little bit, and then, as the secretary said, the enormous potential for cooperation.

And Syria, I think, is front and center. I think that is a real opportunity for Turkey and the United States to get it right in terms of their relationship together as they approach that difficult issue.

COOK: Let me just add very quickly that the origin of this task force comes out of that difficult summer of 2010, when suddenly in Turkey -- when with regard to Turkey, if you went to meeting in Washington, you had to reveal what your convictions were one way or the other. There was a debate about Turkey that wasn't real to what was going on in Turkey. And we felt that it was important to bring together a group of experts on Turkey and related fields to -- experienced -- (inaudible) -- people and make a statement about the future of this relationship.

SCHMEMANN (?): Yes -- (inaudible).

QUESTIONER: (Inaudible) -- Italian Newspaper -- (inaudible). The report is about the U.S.-Turkey relation, but of course the relationship with Europe is also very instrumental, or the relationship with the Western (bloc ?). Do you regret the state of the dialogue between European Union and Turkey? Do you think it still makes sense to reopen the dialogue for the entrance of Turkey in the European Union or it's over then, kind of a --

ALBRIGHT: Well, things have moved. I personally regret it. I mean, I had said earlier that as secretary of state I had made clear that I thought it was a good idea for the EU and Turkey to have -- to develop a relationship and I was told to mind my own business. But the bottom line is that I think that the accession -- there is a process that is slow. There have been various times that members of the European Union have made clear that the -- some who didn't want it, some who think it's too slow.

I think that in many ways the process does go on, but Turkey has kind of begin -- begun to see itself in a much larger context. And we operate with it as partners, either through NATO or generally, and that we see them as -- we believe they should have and that Europe should have a relationship with them, but is no longer the kind of central aspect of many parts of the relationship.

But I personally would hope that the talks in some ways -- that the accession process would continue. But it's now -- I guess you don't call it accession; it's a slower process and opening up various chapters. But I think the EU is going to have to look at a number of different issues to do with their process.

HADLEY: And one of the things we recommend in the report is that, while the United States does now for several administrations and should continue to support Turkey's entrance into the EU, our advice to our friends at the EU and it's theirs (sic) decisions to make, that they don't let that -- the difficulties in the accession process freeze across the board the relationship between the EU and Turkey. But there are a lot of opportunities for collaboration between the EU and Turkey, particularly for example in the Middle East, dealing with the Arab Awakening and Europe really makes a mistake not trying to develop its relationships with Turkey diplomatically, economically and every other way, notwithstanding that the accession process is kind of on life support for the moment. And that's, again, our recommendation that we make to our EU colleagues.

QUESTIONER: Hi, I'm Katie MacFarlane with Fox News. When you look at the U.S. -- the objective of the United States to develop a better relationship with Turkey, did you also look at Turkey's relationship -- bilateral relationships with, say, Russia and China, and whether those interfere with any improvement of relations with the United States?

ALBRIGHT: Well, we didn't look at it that particular way. We saw --

QUESTIONER: What did you look at? Yeah.

ALBRIGHT: Well, what we did was to -- this is about U.S.-Turkish relations and trying to figure out what the best approach was, some of it processwise, some on issues specifically. So then as we looked at issues, we did look at various areas where we could act together. We did not talk about China particularly. I mean, we -- generally, but we did have a general discussion about Russia and -- in connection some to the Syria issue.

But we -- what we were looking at was basically how this country that is dynamic both economically and politically, geographically located in a unique place, and what role it can play not only in the immediate neighborhood, but generally what their larger footprint is. So that was the way we looked at it.

HADLEY: And I would just say, you know, as Steven said in the earlier session, you know, you don't want to look at the past through rose-colored glasses. There were ups and downs with U.S.-Turkish relations for 40 years, notwithstanding the closeness of the relationship of being in NATO. But we have been long-standing allies for 40 years in common institutions.

And I don't think -- and again, we didn't address it, but I think the secretary would agree -- I don't see China or Russia as a barrier to U.S.-Turkish relations. I don't believe the Turks view it that way. I think -- in fact, my guess is -- my guess is that a strong U.S.-Turkish relationship in some sense will make it easier for Turkey to have relations with China and Russia.

But in any event, a strong relationship, we think, is in the interests of both countries. And there is a robust agenda where Turkey and the United States can work together, with other parties as well, in ways that advance the interests of both countries.

COOK: Katie, let me point you to a part of the report that I think is -- while it doesn't make for a great press release or a story but I think it's extraordinarily important, and that is we spent some time on some process-related recommendations about how to deepen the relationship at the institutional, at the working level, because clearly the relationship between President Obama and Prime Minister Erdogan is a good one. They spoke 13 times last year. Secretary Clinton and Foreign Minister Davutoglu spoke many more times than that.

The idea is to take where we are now, remove the personalities and institutionalize that relationship, so that moving forward, when these people ultimately leave office, whenever that may be, we can continue on with a new partnership and a new relationship, so that -- and that will help us in those five critical principles that we think should be upheld in the conduct of the relationship. But I think it will benefit all of us. And as Mr. Hadley just said, it'll almost make it easier for the Turks to have good relations with some of these other countries.

QUESTIONER: Yes. So in other words, get beyond -- that we have friends, that we have interests there.

ALBRIGHT: Yes.

MR. : Exactly.

QUESTIONER: Can I follow on that?

SCHMEMANN: Please.

QUESTIONER: (Inaudible) -- from Fox News. I'm sorry there's so many of us here today. (Cross talk, laughter.)

QUESTIONER: Wow!

QUESTIONER: Yeah. Actualy, we're encircling the operation. This is a takeover.

QUESTIONER: We all have our own interests, and I'm here as (a son ?), as a Turkish-American who once covered Turkey quite a bit.

Can you speak to any concerns you might have about the AKP and its consolidation of power, particularly in the way it's handled the media? Quite frankly, why should we trust it?

HADLEY: Well, we do talk about that very explicitly in the report. And one of the things we say -- very explicit in the report -- as friends of Turkey, not trying to be lecturing Turkey, that the AK Party would do itself a big favor if it would release these journalists and if it would deal expeditiously and move through the system these cases that have been brought against the -- under the so-called Ergenekon conspiracy; that that is in the way. To the extent Turkey is proud of what it's accomplished and in terms of democratization, economic progress and its great -- greater role in the world, that is -- that record is blemished by what has happened with respect to those representatives of the media and in terms of Ergenekon, and we really urge them to revise it.

Secondly -- and along the lines we described. Secondly, we point out that the revision of the constitution is an opportunity to build in checks and balances and protections for exactly those kinds of contingencies. So we're very -- we think we're very clear about it, that it is a problem, that it needs to be addressed, and we make some concrete suggestions as to how it should be addressed.

QUESTIONER: If I may follow, do you see any signs that there is any movement? Because it -- a lot of people argue it's actually going the other way.

HADLEY: Well, the report is just out today. And I'm sure after Turkish authorities read the report, it will cause them to -- look, this is a work in progress. And I have to say, so far, we have not seen the kind of progress we would hope for. And that's one of the reasons we thought it was very important, in a report that is very positive about what Turkey's accomplished, we also be very clear that there is an unfinished agenda.

And part of the problem is, you know, it is a problem with the AKP Party -- and we've said this -- been in power 10 years, you know, and power has temptation. And that is why it's very important that there be a system of checks and balances. And it is also why in every democracy there needs to be vigorous opposition parties to place a check on central authority, particularly in a case where, as the AKP Party, it has been so enormously successful in terms of maintaining power for 10 years.

So, again, our emphasis is also on the institutions of Turkish democracy, checks and balances, and the desire to get a healthy strong opposition, which every democracy needs and we address that in our report -- (inaudible).

SCHMEMANN (?): The report takes some time to explore -- (inaudible, audio interference) -- a few words about the role of AKP and how to think about it.

COOK: Well, I don't need to lecture Turkish Americans on how to think about the AKP. I think the -- I'd make two points. One, on this question of press freedom, we -- as Mr. Hadley pointed out, we spent some time dealing with this issue, and we spent some time dealing with issues related to backsliding on the reforms that AKP has promised or has undertaken. And we were very clear that the press freedom issue is one of those big issues that needs to be tackled head on.

In terms of -- in terms of the Justice and Development Party, I think that -- you know, your question is, can we trust it? You know -- and Secretary Albright said in the general meeting earlier that, you know, some people think that the AKP had some sort of, you know, secret agenda. Well, they've now been in power for 10 years. I think by now we would know what that secret agenda might be; I think they've been pretty faithful to what their agenda is.

I think the problem is, is that there are some leaders, some figures within the AKP that have illiberal tendencies, and that's why it's important to institutionalize democratic gains through a new constitution with proper checks and balances to hold the Turks accountable, to hold the AKP accountable on its own rhetoric --

MR.: Right.

COOK: -- about building a more democratic -- (inaudible) -- order in Turkey.

ALBRIGHT: I think what is interesting is to look at how and why the AKP government -- and I have spent a lot of time on Turkey, both in office and out -- and basically they were providing constituency services --

MR.: Right.

ALBRIGHT: -- at a time when the other parties were not. They have broadened their base from Istanbul -- (inaudible) -- Anatolia and the countryside, and the truth is that the elections in Turkey actually were free and fair. And so their -- I think they -- from their perspective, they can be proud of what they've done. And so I do think that all the things that both Stephen Hadley and Steven Cook said are very important in terms of kind of warning signs, and we made a point of saying that. But I think also one has to remember what happened here in terms of the lack of action of the opposition parties; a certain sense of, you know, entitlement without really looking at the changing face of Turkey. So there are a lot aspects to this, but it is something that we will continue to state, that is very much a part of this report.

And then talking generally about what makes democracies, one is freedom of the press and rule of law. So those are -- .

SCHMEMANN (?): (Off mic.)

QUESTIONER: Thank you. (Inaudible) -- from Novosti. (Inaudible) -- my question. A good partner in business and social life, (international ?) relations, is not always a good friend. So the United States and Turkey relationship, partnership, its importance is to grow to -- upgrade it to the friendship level, or in the international relations, the friendship, the true friendship between the countries are not so important?

ALBRIGHT: Well, I think they both are, frankly. But I think that basically -- I do not speak for the administration, but I do know that one of the things that the administration cares about and President Obama has talked about is the importance of partnerships with other countries; that it is -- in order to deal with whatever the international agenda is, that the United States, no matter how strong we are, need to have partners that we work with, and Turkey is right in the forefront of that because our interests are very similar. And I think that we are talking about how to evolve that relationship.

I do think also it is good if the countries are friends. What I find very interesting is the number of Americans that are now going to Turkey. There are an awful lot. It is, believe it or not, a vacation place of choice. I think people go to Istanbul as much as any place. I think there are an awful lot of business ties. And Prime Minister Erdogan, whenever he's come to the United States, makes it a point that he wants to have Americans involved in business in Turkey.

And so I think it is -- there is a friendship, and a fascination -- I think that may be a fair way to put it -- and there are a lot of Turkish-Americans. So I do think it's a -- .

HADLEY: Our report, though, tries to take an interest analysis and says -- and concludes that there is an overlap of interest between the United States and Turkey and it is in the interest of both countries to work in those areas to achieve mutually acceptable results.

Look, there's a lot of suspicion of the United States in the Turkish public. Truth is there's a lot of suspicion of Turkey in the American public. And our belief is that if these two countries will work together successfully to address areas of common interest, that will address and in some sense alleviate the suspicion in both countries of the other.

But I do think -- the original point that Steven made earlier -- we are building on a foundation of having been together for 40, almost 50 years in some very rough talks and having stood with one another through some difficult times, and that helps.

QUESTIONER: As you said -- I'm sorry, my name is -- (inaudible). I work for -- (inaudible) -- newspaper. You said it's a new Turkey, it's not like 10 years ago. (Inaudible) -- thinking inside Turkey for the democratization. In that point, in that time, European Union played very important role, but U.S. -- I mean United States stay all the time quiet to the Ergenekon issue. I'm wondering why United States stays very quiet in that very critical time.

SCHMEMANN (?): Would you like to try that?

COOK: Sure. Which critical time?

QUESTIONER: About the Ergenekon issue.

COOK: On the Ergenekon issue. Well, I think, quite frankly, the United States regards this as an internal matter, and I think that the -- let's be frank, the Ergenekon conspiracy is very hard to understand. It's a conspiracy within a conspiracy within a conspiracy; that it's been hard for even those of us who spend a lot of time watching Turkey understanding exactly what's happening in Ergenekon. And I think that given the fact that there is a certain amount of mistrust on the part of the United States and what its intentions are, after quite a difficult decade, that it was likely that the administration decided that this was not an area that it understood enough about in order to make a statement one way or another about Ergenekon.

It has become clear, however, that Ergenekon has become a vehicle for illiberal elements to go after their political opponents. There was something to the idea, going back to 2007, that there were people plotting against the government. Since that time, this investigation has mushroomed into this extraordinary conspiracy in which it has often been used merely to go after opponents of the government, who have done nothing other than speak out against the government. And that is how many of these journalists have actually ended up in jail, not because they were actually plotting but because they were speaking out.

But at least initially -- at least initially I think there were two impulses on the part on the United States. One, if Ergenekon was going to do what people thought it was going to do, which was uproot the Turkish national security state, well, then that would be good for Turkish democracy -- to uproot the deep state. As it has progressed, however, it has become extraordinarily difficult to figure out what is real and what is manufactured in that -- in that investigation.

HADLEY: And remember, in the early times -- 2007, 2008 -- it had to been seen through the lens of what was attempted in 2007 in terms of discrediting and maybe rendering illegal the AK Party.

MR. : That's right.

HADLEY: So in those early days, it was very difficult to figure out what was going on, because it wasn't as if there hadn't been a threat to the AKP party through the -- (inaudible) -- at that time.

SCHMEMANN (?): Jared and then Evelyn. Go ahead.

QUESTIONER: Yeah. Jared Anderson with AOL Energy. You know, the report talks about the new great game with regard to energy geopolitics in the Caspian basin. And I was just wondering, with all the gas that's been discovered in the east Med -- and what role the U.S. should play, perhaps, in this new phase of this great game of energy geopolitics?

COOK: I'll just say one thing, but then I'm going to defer to the secretary, who actually was a participant in the early days of that great game. But one of the things that's in this report that I think is important is the principle ought to be diversification of supply, diversification of routes, no choke points, no monopolies, so that there is a free and adequate flow of energy. And Turkey has an important role, as a link in that chain between oil and gas sources (in/and ?) Europe, to try to push in that direction. And the report talks about some things that have occurred recently that are encouraging in that regard.

But at the secretary's suggestion, there's a sentence in there that says the United States also has a role to continue to do it in the way that the secretary did actually when she was --

ALBRIGHT: I mean, what we had done when we were in office was do the Baku-Ceyhan line and a way of making clear that there would a freedom of passage, that it would not be blocked. And also, if you look at the geography of this, I mean, Turkey location-wise is crucial. I've gone to many meetings that kind of describe all the different spaghetti bowl of pipelines.

But also just recently, at a -- at a meeting that talked about the lines, the Black Sea and generally the combination of what the possibilities are -- and that the U.S. in many ways, you know, is not going to stand aside from this. It's not totally our story. But I think that the way that we began this, in terms of trying to make sure that there would be free passage and that Turkey could play a positive role in it.

COOK: Let me just add one quick thing here, because you mentioned the recent gas discoveries in the eastern Mediterranean. And of course, there was some concern a number of months ago about these gas finds and -- off the southern coast of Cyprus and the state of Israeli-Turkish ties and how that might factor into all of this. I think that, you know, initially everybody was quite concerned about what might happen and that this would require an American response in order to -- you know, now we would have to have even more of a naval presence in the eastern Mediterranean trying to deconflict these forces and so and so forth.

And I think that that is still a real possibility, and that Turks are now prospecting themselves for gas off the northern coast, but there is an opportunity here. And if these finds are as big as people make them out to be -- everybody needs energy. The Israelis need energy, the Cypriots need energy, the Turks need energy, Kurds need energy, every -- Europeans, everybody needs energy. And my understanding is if these things are as big as they are, rather than conflict, everybody's going to want to share in the windfall.

So there may in fact be -- or the revenue, whatever it is that results. Whatever it is, there might be an impetus here to actually share some of these, certainly on the -- on the island of Cyprus, that could perhaps, over a medium or a longer term, lead a pathway towards -- if not reconciliation, but change in the status of the relationship. And -- (inaudible).

SCHMEMANN: OK.

QUESTIONER: Thank you.

SCHMEMANN: I think we're reaching the end of our time. But I have one other question for your, and -- (inaudible).

QUESTIONER: Yes, Evelyn Mabel (sp). I've followed the Security Council very carefully, and I'm curious of -- we more or less humiliated Turkey. First of all, they wanted a meeting on terrorism, and the United States said, absolutely not; we're going to have it. And then their gesture toward Iran, which wasn't the smartest with Brazil -- we put down the resolution right in the middle of it and sort of said, get out of my way and, you know, you have nothing to do with this. It's not what we did -- we had the right policy -- it's how we did it.

And secondly, you haven't mentioned the Turkish treatment of the Kurds. And I'm just curious -- I'm sure it's somewhere in here, but --

ALBRIGHT: Well, I think that in looking at some of the issues that you've raised, they are -- make you ask exactly the question that you do: What exactly happened? And I don't know the answer to it. I have a sense that there were -- this does happen, misunderstandings about timing, and a variety of different ways that these things come about.

I do not believe that the United States is deliberately trying to humiliate Turkey. From everything that we know, there is -- and Steven (sp) mentioned this earlier -- the number of meetings that Prime Minister Erdogan and President Obama have, the number of phone calls that go back and forth, in a sense, a greater and greater recognition of Turkey's role. So I would put those down to misunderstandings.

On the Kurdish issue, we did in fact talk about the importance of getting a better treatment, generally understanding that some of the steps forward have been useful, but also problems in terms of the PKK. And so we raise it as an issue that is a -- one of the very serious problems generally in the way that Turkey handles its issues.

SCHMEMANN: All right.

Yes, last question.

QUESTIONER: Yeah, I'm Rozi Kanakil (ph), Turkish Hurriyet newspaper. There's a new debate now in Turkey whether the U.S. had pressures Erbakan government -- (inaudible) -- Erdogan, very active now. How do you call those days? Because U.S. had concerns toward Western (participation ?) with Iran, and it cut off the oil routes. How do you recall this -- I mean, because there's a really big debate now whether the U.S. has pressures Turkish army to force Erbakan government to resign.

SCHMEMANN: So looking back a little bit, let's also look forward as we just wrap up the session.

COOK: Can I answer that first?

SCHMEMANN: Yeah, go ahead.

COOK: I was not the secretary of state -- (laughter) -- when -- during the 28th of February process. But I don't think that the Turkish military needed the United States to tell them to undermine the Erbakan government. The Turkish military had its own very well-developed reason for why it wanted to see the Welfare Party fail. My recollection of the period was that the United States wanted to see Turkey develop in a democratic way. That has been a consistent policy of the United States, and it had been advocating, as Secretary Albright pointed out, for Turkey to join the European Union.

I think that the Turkish military actually didn't really need to engage in the 28th of February process because it was pretty clear that the Welfare government was incompetent and probably would have been turned from office. But the military's concern was that they were packing the bureaucracy with their own supporters, and that's why they (moved out ?). I don't think that there was any connection between Washington and the 28th of February process. And in order to support democracy, the United States has supported democracy, not authoritarianism. It doesn't make sense that the United States would do that.

QUESTIONER: And (was there any ?) concerns in the U.S. government of this?

ALBRIGHT: This -- which government?

QUESTIONER: I mean your -- or --

ALBRIGHT: No, I mean, let me just say I think that is an accurate version of it. It was not the easiest thing to deal with Erbakan. I remember having some meetings that were kind of like that. So -- but definitely, that is different from saying that the U.S. put pressure on --

HADLEY: And one of the things in the appendix at the back that Steven did talks about the rise of the AKP, one of the things that's very clear is the AK Party learned from the mistakes of the Erbakan government in terms of its domestic policy, but also in terms of its foreign policy and how to approach the United States. And they've been very smart about it. They learned -- (inaudible).

SCHMEMANN: So, with that, thank you very much.

ALBRIGHT: Thank you.

MR. : Thank you very much.

SCHMEMANN: (Inaudible) -- on the website. And if you have an additional question, you can be touch with my colleagues. (Inaudible.)

MS. : Thank you.

MR. : Thank you all very much.

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