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U.S.-Turkey Relations: A New Partnership Report of a CFR-Sponsored Independent Task Force

Speakers: Madeleine K. Albright, Chair, Albright Stonebridge Group; Former U.S. Secretary of State, Task Force Co-Chair, Stephen J. Hadley, Senior Adviser for International Affairs, U.S. Institute of Peace; Former National Security Adviser, Task Force Co-Chair, and Steven A. Cook, Hasib J. Sabbagh Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies, Council On Foreign Relations (CFR), Task Force Project Director
Presider: Gary Rosen, Editor, Review, Wall Street Journal
May 8, 2012, New York
Council on Foreign Relations

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ANYA SCHMEMANN: Good afternoon, everyone. If you could find your seats, please, we'll get started.

Good afternoon. Thank you all for being here. I'm Anya Schmemann, director of the council's task force program, and it's my pleasure to welcome you all to this special event to release the independent task force report on Turkey. This task force was chaired by Madeleine Albright, Stephen Hadley, who join us today along with senior fellow Steven Cook, who is the project director and primary author of the task force report.

Secretary Albright has taken time from her very busy books tour. Glad to have you here. I also wanted just to say a word to congratulate you, Secretary Albright, on the recent announcement that you will be receiving the Medal of Freedom from President Obama. Congratulations. (Applause.)

So why Turkey? When we embarked on this project a year ago, there was some tension in the U.S.-Turkey relationship, and the Middle East faced uncertainty and turmoil. Indeed, at every task force meeting, we had to take stock of dramatic new developments and adjust our course. Turkey has made significant strides over the past decade, becoming more democratic, more prosperous and more modern. Prime Minister Erdogan is popular at home and abroad, and Turkey now plays a greater role in the Middle East and beyond as the Arab uprisings continue to unfold. The U.S.-Turkey relationship is currently strong, but there is room for deepening and solidifying ties.

Let me say just a few quick words about CFR's task forces before we turn to this panel to explore some of those issues. Task forces include diverse groups of experts, provide analysis and recommendations for policymakers and others. Task forces are nonpartisan. They're independent. CFR takes no institutional position on issues, and task force members are responsible for the content of their reports. The reports are consensus documents. This means that members endorse the general policy thrust and judgments reached by the group, though not necessarily every finding or recommendation.

The task force members are listed at the end of the reports. And a number of them have joined us here today. So thank you for being here, and thank you for your contributions. Of course, many others were involved in this effort. I especially want to thank our hardworking staff, Alexander Brock and Kristin Lewis.

And I'm pleased to now turn things over to Gary Rosen of The Wall Street Journal, who will guide this discussion. Thank you.

GARY ROSEN: Thank you.

Thank you, Anya.

So I'd like to welcome all of you to this discussion of the Independent Task Force on Turkey report. And a few preliminaries. I'd ask that you take a moment, please, to turn off your phones, BlackBerrys, other buzzing, beeping devices you may have in your pocket. They wreak havoc with our sound system. So if you could take care of that before we get started.

And I'd like to let you know that our discussion today is very much on the record and that you should leave this meeting and go promulgate this task force to everyone you know with an interest in Turkey.

So our panelists today are well-known to you. The co-chairs of the task force have a long history in American foreign policy and defense. Former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright is one co- chair of the task force. And as Anya said, she has a new book out, called "Prague Winter," which is a memoir of her family's experience during World War II and is at better bookstores everywhere as we speak.

Stephen Hadley, our other co-chair, has a long career in national security and defense, most recently as national security adviser to George W. Bush, and he is now a senior adviser for international affairs at the U.S. Institute of Peace. Finally, the task force project director, Steven Cook, on the end, is a senior fellow for Middle Eastern studies here at the council and an expert on Arab and Turkish politics.

So I thought we would start off, Steven, Steven Cook, with just some backdrop here on sort of the essential fact about Turkey and Turkish politics over the past decade, which is the rise of the AKP, the AK Party. Now, when this was happening a decade ago, it created a great deal of nervousness in the West. This was a party with an obviously religious orientation in a key ally which for a very long time had been built on these Kemalist principles of secularism and of a turn toward the West.

So now a decade on, right, with seeing what the AKP is like in power, what could we say about its principles and what sort of political movement it is?

STEVEN COOK: Well, thanks very much, Gary. And thank you all for joining us here this afternoon.

Let me just say, before I answer Gary's question, a special thanks to both Secretary Albright and Mr. Hadley. This has been an amazing experience for me to work with you both. Secretary Albright, this is our second task force together, and it's been -- it's been absolutely terrific, and I've learned a ton. And I won't tell tales out of school, but it was absolutely great to travel in Turkey with the two of you, no complaints at 4:00 in the morning when we had to get up for early flights to Ankara from the two co-chairs. So it's been a tremendous experience. So thank you very much.

Just very quickly, on the rise of the Justice and Development Party, Gary, you're quite right. This did cause a certain amount of nervousness a decade ago. But let's fast-forward from the time that the Justice and Development Party first came to office in November 2002 to September 2011, when Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan arrived in Cairo. I was there at the time. And one of the most important things that Prime Minister Erdogan said at the time was he spoke about the importance of secular politics in pious countries.

And I think if you trace back over the course of the previous decade, the Justice and Development Party has done everything that it can, while it has at times been under siege from other political forces in the country, trying to forge, within the contours of Turkish secularism, a more democratic, open country that -- in a predominantly Muslim country. And I think one of the signature achievements of the Justice and Development Party is creating an environment that may be safer and easier for Turks to explore their Muslim identity, in contrast to the way it was before.

So you did have in -- specifically in the early years, in 2003 and 2004, Justice and Development Party of Islamist Patrimony pursuing more democratic and open politics. They are an interesting twist on their predecessors who railed against the West. Justice and Development, under Tayyip Erdogan and Abdullah Gul, who's now the president, sought to join the West as a way of protecting themselves and their core constituency from the dangers of being pious Muslims in the public sphere in Turkey.

Of course there have been problems over the course of the last decade and which we're very clear about in Turkey. Turkey is a country that is democratizing, but it's not yet quite a consolidated democracy. There's a need for a deepening of democracy. And that is essentially the backdrop for this extraordinary last decade of politics and Turkey essentially rediscovering the world around it.

ROSEN: So to take this a little bit further -- Madam Secretary, maybe you want to comment on this -- the great -- the great tension in Turkish politics has always been between political parties, elected leadership and the military, the (deep ?) state in Turkey, which traces back to its founding by Ataturk and we've seen a rebalancing of that. In recent years, does it seem to you that the AK Party has moved in a -- in a positive direction? What did you find in your discussions with Turkish political leaders, security experts and others about their sense of where that relationship was going?

MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: Well, thank you and let me thank -- we -- the two Steves. It was really terrific. And I think also the members of the task force, as Anya said, is a consensus group, and we had terrific discussions, and I think it is an amazing subject.

So -- but first of all, let me just say I think that something -- to build on what Steve said, what I found interesting in the AKP Party was, one of the reasons they won -- perhaps the major reason -- is they actually did constituency services. They were close to the people, not just in Ankara and Istanbul but out in the countryside, and developed different kinds of relationships than the Ataturk parties and the military. So I think that is a basis -- they didn't usurp power, they didn't impose themselves, and I think that is a very important part.

The other part really was -- is that at various times that I've been involved with Turkey, what happened was people kept talking about the fact -- the constitution guarantees the role of the military. Then when you get into it a little more deeply, the constitution was written by the military. So that is one of the parts that really was something that we in the West got used to, the kind of role that the military was playing, and just kind of accepted that as a statement of fact.

The other part, I think, that needs to be pointed out -- and it's really nice not to be a diplomat anymore, but basically the opposition parties were feckless in many ways and so kind of a sense -- and very polarizing. So you're dealing with a society that has an entirely new position in the world, given kind of the distribution of the geostrategic situation, that has a party that was elected because it really did do constituency services, a military that to some extent was beginning to be discredited for a number of different reasons, this deep state aspect of it, and then also the polarization of the society. And so I think all those play into it.

There -- also, what is out there that I think anybody that's been to Turkey knows is the continued glorification of Ataturk.

I mean, we all have pictures of George Washington in our offices or whatever, but the bottom line is Ataturk is everywhere.

And so there is that combination of all these different kind of threads and the growing modernization of a country in a great geographical region. The only way -- I was there last summer with my grandchildren, and my -- they put it all in one sentence. We had -- we slept in Europe, and we had lunch in Asia. And I really do think that is a determinant of (parthood ?).

ROSEN: So Stephen Hadley, if you look at Turkey and its accomplishments over the past 10 years, and especially in the -- we haven't discussed this yet -- economically, I mean, with a growth rate that, at least in the last year, you know, has rivaled that of China, this impressive growth in income, in gross domestic product, do we see the development here of a model that others in the region might imitate, I mean, both in terms of politics to accommodate a kind of social conservatism that everyone sees in these Arab and Muslim societies, but also to show a way forward in terms of development?

STEPHEN HADLEY: That's a good question. Let me respond to it. And let me just add my thanks to the task force members for their participation, to Madeleine Albright, who is a wonderful co-chair -- and anytime I can work with her, I will certainly do it in the future -- and to the council. As we were talking before, there's so much division and dissent and partisanship. It is important that there are organizations like the council that run these bipartisan efforts to show a responsible center. And I want to thank Richard for your leadership in continuing these kinds of efforts.

I think "model" is probably too strong. I think the Turks many times don't want to be a model. The revolutions in the Middle East are being made by the people in the Middle East, and they're going to define their own futures.

But what Turkey's offers is an example of a party that, while an avowedly Islamist party and stood for the proposition that there needed to be more space for religious expression in the society, and had a constituency that supported that view, nonetheless was very successful at appealing to a broad cross-section of Turkish society with an agenda of modernization, of economic reform and a more assertive role for Turkey in the world.

And they were able to, over the course of their early reforms, broaden their support in the society. They have won multiple elections. And one of the problems is, in some sense they've -- almost too successful, and there is not the kind of robust opposition that you always need. You know, parties in power after 10 years tend to probably err on the side of over-aggressiveness. We need a viable opposition to be a check on power. And one of the problems of the AKP, as it's been so successful, there is not as viable an opposition check as there should be.

So if you're a Muslim Brotherhood party in the Arab world, you -- and they are clearly looking at the AKP as a party that has been successful in delivering economic benefits to their people, commanding broad support while still being an Islamic party that stands for a role of -- a greater role of religion in societies. And so a lot of these parties are looking to the AK Party as an example of how it might be done in their own societies. And it's good for us that there is such an example out there for them to look at.

ROSEN: So I wonder, Madam Secretary, I know you've been very involved over the years with the National Endowment for Democracy, the Community of Democracies, in talking about ways in which societies might move toward more liberal and democratic politics. I mean, we see in Turkey all of these terrific examples of liberalization, but at the same time, these worrisome trends with respect to press freedom, with how dissent is handled. What was your sense of those issues when you were there visiting because I know there are concerns among some that consolidation of the AKP has made it very difficult for dissenters and critics in the press to make known their views. Is that -- is that a concern that's shared in Turkish society?

ALBRIGHT: Well, let me say that, as one looks at kind of measures of where democratic societies are going and various issues that come up, I think Steven Cook had said basically democracy is a -- not an event; it is a process, and it is an evolutionary one even in our own country after 225 years. So the bottom line is that part has gone on, and I do think that in the overall form of measuring, they -- the Turks are pretty high up there.

One of the things -- I'm chairman of the board of the National Democratic Institute; Maurice Tempelsman's one of our board members -- and we have had very interesting discussions generally about, what is democracy? And everybody says elections -- necessary, but not sufficient. What is absolutely essential is the existence of an opposition party for the reasons that you've said. It provides accountability and allows the people a choice. But there also are certain basic elements: the rule of law and freedom of the press and generally ways that the society is made a part of it. And I do think -- we stated this in the report -- is there are areas here where there's a lacking aspect of it, and I think people have been concerned about the detention of journalists for a variety of undisclosed reasons.

There is also issues to do with the military, where one could make the argument that it's unclear what they were up to, but it does seem to go pretty far, and then -- and other problems that have to do with the length of the legal process and an uncertainty about rules generally and the sense also of how free voices really kind of fit into the system.

So I -- there are issues, but as I said, people could say that about any number of them. And we have very specifically pointed out where we think they could do a better job.

One of the things, though -- and let me just say this -- that was a tone in our whole task force report -- Turkey is now a very important partner in a whole series of national security issues, and part of what had been going on is kind of a sense that we were being patronizing towards them in any number of different ways. One of the things we wanted to signal in this report is that it is inappropriate for us to say, you know, our way or the highway, or our democracy is the only way to go about it.

And so we very specifically talked -- Turkey is a member of the Community of Democracies. When we started it -- that was during the Clinton administration -- what we talked about was that democracies could help each other by working on trading best practices. And so one of he things we say in the report is that it would be a good idea for Turkey to take advantage of its membership within that club to kind of see where various of the lacunae could be filled.

ROSEN: So Steve Hadley, to take off from that, I mean, what this change in Turkey's internal politics has meant is that in certain ways, it's a less predictable ally; that we can't assume Turkish support for different initiatives in the way we once could, I mean, most notably, during your time at the National Security Council, when we were seeking permission from the Turks for a northern route for the invasion of Iraq, and after a vote of the parliament, that was rejected.

So what has this change meant in terms of our relations with the Turks, in terms of what our needs in terms of national interest need to be focused on, how we need to think, going forward, of this relationship with an evolving ally?

HADLEY: Our report really makes three points that speak to that issue, and I'm going to do them in reverse order. The last one is the one that Secretary Albright talked about. This is a society in transition. It is not yet a deep and mature democracy -- not surprising -- and it has more to do. And we are unsparing, I think, in being clear of the questions that have been raised about Turkey's democracy and making recommendations as a friend of Turkey for what needs to be done to address them.

But in addition to that, we make two very important points. One, it is a new Turkey, for all the things we've talked about. It is a very different place than it was 10 years ago. And that requires a new relationship between the United States and Turkey. And we talk about what that is. Turkey was never really a client state of the United States. But there was an expectation about the United States, particularly during the Cold War. We had an expectation that if we led, Turkey would follow. And most of the time Turkey thought it was in their interest.

This is a different Turkey. This is a Turkey now that is one of the five or six most important countries in the world, that has a very important independent role to play in the Middle East, in the Caucasus and Central Asia.

And they can be a terrific ally of ours and partner of ours in those areas, but that will require both Turkey and the United States to see the relationship differently -- as equals, as working intensively at all levels and deep into our organizations to develop common strategies and common approaches; to not surprise each other; to develop a relationship of trust, and work together to solve common problems.

If we can do that, it will be very much in Turkey's interest and in our interest. So it needs to be a new relationship. It can be a very productive relationship and one that benefits both Turkey and the United States, but we're going to have to do things a little differently. And one of the things we say is that Turkey needs to be moved up to the point where it is one of our closest allies.

And that -- you know, when the president has to make some phone calls to announce a new policy, I think it used to be in most administrations the phone call to Turkey probably got to be number 10 to 12 on the list, and maybe you delegated to the secretary of state or the national security adviser. Turkey now needs to be, you know, in the top six and it needs to be a call from the president of the United States. That's a symbol of, I think, what this relationship needs to be.

ROSEN: So Steven Cook, on this theme of how to deepen this relationship, what are some of the institutional changes that might come about? Because it feels as if at the lower staff levels, department levels and what not, there isn't the level of cooperation that we need moving forward.

COOK: It's a great question, Gary. Just to start off on something that Mr. Hadley said, this is a relationship that is clearly changing.

And when we think about the U.S.-Turkey relationship, we should recognize the fact that even during the dark days of the Cold War, when we stood shoulder to shoulder with each other, this was not always an easy relationship. It's easy to get lost in, you know, standing together in Korea and the Cold War, but there was Cyprus, there's the constant neuralgia of the Armenian issue, there's a whole host of issues that have divided us, and there are going to be issues that divide us in the future. And that's why we need to institutionalize the relationship in ways that we haven't.

And the starting point is that relationship that President Obama has with Prime Minister Erdogan. But those two gentlemen may not be in office for much longer; they may be in office for a lot longer. But it needs to go beyond their personalities, needs to be deepened down. And in the report, we call for intensive kind of dialogue down to the assistant secretary level and their Turkish counterparts, for Turkish ambassadors and American ambassadors to work together in the field, whether it's in the Middle East, or Turkey's opened a string of embassies in Africa, we can be partners in building capacity there as well, and in having strategic dialogue between people at that lower working level. We do do something in which our policy -- we have policy planning meetings with the Turks and other close allies. We need to continue to work those channels so that we know and they know where we stand on a variety of issues.

I think that very often -- and I think the two co-chairs can attest to this -- very often at the highest level there is coordination, but as you get down the chain, those working levels, there's more difficulty. And I think one of our most important process-oriented recommendations was to try to deepen this relationship from the top down, so that regardless of the personality of the president and the prime minister, regardless of their relationship, this relationship continues to work, the bureaucratic gears continue to turn on them.

ROSEN: Let me ask a final question before we open it up to members here, of either of our co-chairs. One of the -- one of the ongoing issues in Turkey's relationship with the West has been this frustrating experience of applying for EU membership. And it seems like the report recognizes that on both sides there's a recognition now that this isn't going to happen any time soon. No one wants to declare it done and over, but there is this sense that things are moving in a different direction.

So how does that change affect our relationship with Turkey? Does that represent an opportunity for the United States to establish a firmer and more intimate relationship, or is that just an issue now that we've left behind with troubles in the EU, with developments in the Middle East over the last year? Is the EU issue dead?

ALBRIGHT: Well, let me say when I as secretary we did talk about the fact that it would be good if Turkey were a member of the EU. The Europeans told me to mind my own business. So -- but the bottom line here is, is that, I think, the Europeans have made a huge mistake. And partially it has to do with their own politics and their own demography and a variety of aspects. There now are those who say that the reason that the Turks have turned toward the East, which I would dispute, but is that they were shunned by the West.

The other thing I do think happened was that the Europeans kept moving the goal post. There is no question that the accession process has been in some ways useful to Turkey on some of the issues that we talked about, in terms of human rights and a variety of ways of dealing with some of the legal aspects.

I don't think it's totally -- overtaken by events, because the bottom line is there are certain aspects of the accession process that are going on.

But -- and for -- I speak for myself on this. For the U.S., I think that we should be developing our relationship with Turkey, whether they are in the EU or not, or whatever is happening to the EU.

I also do not think it's right to say that they've kind of turned their back on everything. They are playing everywhere, in Africa, a variety of places. And I think we need to build our relationship on the fact that they provide a very good partner in dealing with a variety of other places in the world, and not just focused only on the EU part of it.

HADLEY: I think we should not give up on the accession process. I agree it's bogged down, probably will be for the foreseeable future. But the United States should continue to -- consistent with recognizing it as a European decision, we should nonetheless advise our good friends in Europe how valuable we think Turkey would be in the EU. But as Secretary Albright said, we should also develop our own relationship with Turkey. And we've also argued in our report that while accession continues to be on the table, the EU should, outside of that accession process, develop a more intensive and broader relationship with Turkey.

In some sense, because the accession process seems frozen, the relationships between the EU and Turkey are frozen. That does not necessarily have to be. And it -- on a number of the recommendations we have, it's not either/or. We, for example, recommend that Turkey and the United States explore a free trade agreement. But that free trade agreement, if we had our way, would be embedded in a U.S.-EU European free trade arrangement, which we desperately need to strengthen -- (inaudible) -- between the United States and Europe. So we can, in some sense, pursue these in a way where they're complementary not competing and don't require a choice.

COOK: Let me just add very quickly that this question about EU membership also feeds into this question about is Turkey leaving the West.

And I think it's a debate that's really no longer worth having. Turkey is institutionalized with the West through NATO. It is institutionalized in the EU in extraordinary ways. But what we're seeing in Turkey is not a tilt to the East.

What we're seeing is a 360 degree foreign policy that in many ways represents a normalization of Turkish foreign policy. And I think the determinants of that foreign policy is a more democratic Turkey where public opinion matters in new and different ways, a Turkey that is pursuing economic opportunity beyond its traditional trading partners, although the bulk of its trade remains with Europe, and the end of the Cold War, even 20 years after the fact, has made -- allowed Turkey to pursue opportunities in ways that it wasn't able to anymore -- any -- previously.

So I think the point and what we should look at is here is this economically successful, democratizing country that has a fair amount of international respect in important places, and as a result, it's a critical strategic partner of the United States. Debates about whether it's leaving the West or East doesn't serve anybody's interest. It's -- fills up op-ed pages -- apologies to The Wall Street Journal -- but it's not --

ROSEN: (Inaudible.)

COOK: It's not a real -- it's not a real debate.

ROSEN: Very good.

Well, I'm sure there are lots of questions out here among members. I would ask that you please raise your hand and wait for me to recognize you. And when you ask your question, say who you are and where you're from. And maybe most important of all, try to be concise and to the point. No one has ever complained that a question from the membership here was too short. (Laughter.) So with that, if there are questions.

Sir.

Yes, right here. And please wait for the microphone to come to you. Yes, sir.

QUESTIONER: Thank you. I'm Dan Sharp with the Eisenhower Foundation. I want to ask you a question about the projecting the threads in society, to use your term, Madeleine, into the future.

During the three weeks that I traveled throughout western Turkey last year, most of what I heard was very consistent with your report, but I heard of two other trends that caused some concern. One had to do with controls on access to higher education and the other on the demographic trends.

Let me be specific. While we were there, it was disclosed that the government had taken a key to the entrance exam for higher education and given it only to Islamists and not to secularists. And when confronted with the facts on this, the prime minister made the extraordinary statement, yes, that's true, but it didn't cause any change in the results. So I'd be interested in your view about the trend of government trying to overwhelm the tradition of secularism with Islam.

The second one that concerns me is demographics. What we heard was that increasingly the birth rate among the Islamists is higher than that of the secularists and therefore that the long-run trend will be increasing support for Erdogan's effort to use the constitution and other means to overwhelm the Ataturk tradition of secularism.

HADLEY: I would -- two things on that: Obviously this is a troublesome practice. Interestingly, one of the things we focused on in our report is the speech that I think Steven mentioned when Prime Minister Erdogan went to Cairo and basically had a formula. And you ought to read the speech; it's interesting. And I won't do justice to it, but basically he said -- in the face of this recent revolution in Egypt and the emergence of the Muslim Brotherhood, he said the state needs to be equidistant from all religions and equidistant between religion and nonreligion.

Now, that's a very useful principle not only, as our report points out, for the countries in the Arab awakening, but also in Turkey.

And Turkey is now going to have a new constitution. And you know, it is an opportunity, for example, to enshrine that kind of principle in the constitution. It is an opportunity also to get the balance between the civilian and the military right, where the military institution is respected, has its proper place, but is subservient to civilian authority.

So one of the things we say in this report is the constitution process, which the AKP is championing, is an important opportunity, if it is conducted in a transparent and inclusive way, to strike the right balance on some of these issues. And that's why Secretary Albright is right. The community of democracies can, as a friend of Turkey, participate in this process.

So there -- these are tough issues, the religion -- the relationship between the state and religion, getting the right relationship between the military and the state. Our country has been at this for a couple hundred years. There -- and so there are opportunities to get it wrong. The constitution can be an opportunity to help Turkey get it right.

ALBRIGHT: Can I just add to that, I think that all from the very beginning when AKP won and over the last few years, there's been this discussion as to whether they had a hidden agenda, that they are -- would -- looking at different ways to make sure that it becomes a completely Islamic state. I think they're very conscious of that, and they are -- and they're not monolithic either, frankly.

I mean, I think that there probably some elements of it, but in terms of Prime Minister Erdogan and the people around him and President Gul, one really gets the sense that they are very much on line with the speech that was given, that that is part of it.

The other thing, I think there are other methods to begin to make clear that it would not be a great idea. One of the things -- Secretary Clinton asked me to run something called Partners for a New Beginning, which is built off of President Obama's Cairo speech in terms of different relationships with Muslim communities. And the way that we work is that we have an American steering committee but then we have local chapters, and we have one in Turkey.

And the issues that we work on are economic empowerment and then education, science and technology and people-to-people exchanges. And then -- those are the vertical pillars. And the horizontal ones are how to get women and youth involved. So it's some of the issues that you're dealing with. I think we do have -- it's not ours to tell them what to do, but I do think that there are trends that we point to that we think are troublesome. And the new constitution, we think, is one of the vehicles to do that.

I do think that -- Prime Minister Erdogan made this point at some stage when I was on a panel with him, and he said, in Europe they're not afraid of religious parties -- Christian Democrats, you know. They have not called themselves a Muslim party. I think they're very conscious of the milieu in which they are playing on this, and that in the long run -- and the fact that Erdogan made the kind of speech he did, I think, is very important.

COOK: Let me just emphasize one thing that Secretary Albright said. It -- this is a country that's 99.8 percent Muslim. And you -- when you talk to people from the Justice and Development Party, I think we -- you know, when you talk more Islam, more religion in the public sphere, that shouldn't be surprising, given the overwhelming majority of people in the country are Muslim.

And importantly their vision is not one of theocracy; it's one along lines -- their model used to be Switzerland until you couldn't build minarets in it there anymore. Their model is really the United States, where someone could pray, pursue their -- in any way that they want without fear of retribution. And for years, Islamists in Turkey were regarded as reactionaries, which clearly the Justice and Development Party -- (inaudible). So you may see an Islamization of institutions in Turkey, but you're not seeing the emergence of theocracy.

ROSEN: Yes, right here in front.

QUESTIONER: Thank you. Hello, I'm -- (inaudible) -- with Security Council, the report. Madam Secretary, you started out by talking about the tense moment a year ago when you started your work that the U.S. and Turkey weren't at the best of terms and that was soon after Turkey had left the Security Council of the United Nations. And as far as I know, that period wasn't always as smooth as it could have been. So what would be your recommendation? I assume that Turkey will be back on the Security Council as an elected member before too long -- (chuckles) -- and there will be another administration that will have to work with Turkey in that context. What would you be recommending how to work with Turkey in the context of the Security Council of the U.N.?

ALBRIGHT: Well, having served on the Security Council, you can't get everybody to always agree with you, even your best friends and allies and that's what diplomacy is about. I think one of the things we went at in this report was to look at what U.S. national interests are and what Turkish national interests are and where there is a confluence of interests.

And what we found as a result of many discussions is that there are more areas in which we actually agree on things and can find common goals.

The part that I know from experience is you cannot tell countries how to vote on the Security Council. It's -- and there will be issues on which we differ. I think one of the things -- and it goes back to some of the points made here -- if we can institutionalize our relationship across the board, then often issues that become visible in the Security Council because the people are sitting there saying them would never come there, because they would have been dealt with at a different level.

I think the other things that people -- we were talking about how our government works. People do not realize how many thousands of decisions are made by the U.S. government every single day that don't kind of reach the level of boiling. And I think that that's where we need to work with Turkey more.

And what we're advocating is that there really is this whole area of confluence in our interests and that that's where we should be looking.

ROSEN: This gentleman right here no the aisle, middle aisle.

QUESTIONER: Stephen Blank. Can you tell us how the events in the Middle East -- the Arab Spring --have been perceived, say at both the elite and mass levels in Turkey, and how these events are affecting Turkey?

ROSEN: Take a whack at that?

COOK: (Off mic) -- the co-chairs, but I take my orders from you.

I think that the Arab Spring was tailor-made for Turkey at this moment. You had a region that seemed politically dead, is suddenly dynamic, looking for leadership.

That's not to suggest that Turkey will be a model for the Arab world, but if you talk to young Arab revolutionaries and activists, they say to you, you know, Iran offers us nothing; Saudi Arabia offers us nothing; at least in Turkey, we can look across the Mediterranean and look -- and see an economically successful country where they are building a democratic society, and that's something that we want in our own -- in our own countries. But of course, they will develop along their own historical particularities.

In Turkey, I think that there has been a general agreement about a more active, influential foreign policy, particularly in the Middle East. I think the Turkey press can often -- apologies to the Turkish press that's here -- that they can often get carried away with the idea that Turkey can be a model in the region.

And I think that the experience of both Libya and Syria and the Iranian involvement, to the extent that it exists in Syria, has injected some reality in the way in which Turks, both at the elite level and at the street level, look at the region. I think that the crisis in Syria, which had been a centerpiece of Turkey's approach to the Middle East, is a sobering experience for Ankara. And I think they -- and one of the unintended consequences there is driven -- where we had had -- where differences with Ankara has driven Washington and Ankara closer together on some of those issues.

But these are -- what's happening in the Middle -- in the Arab Middle East is unprecedented. And we can't expect -- we didn't -- we haven't handled it with as much depth as perhaps we would wish, and we can't expect that the Turks do -- would do the same.

The -- I think the issue is -- and the issue that we bring forward in the report is that there is an opportunity here for the United States, which has certain assets that it -- can be brought to bear when it comes to the Arab uprising, and Turkey, which has other assets that can be brought to bear to deal with the Arab uprisings, and hopefully bring -- together, we can bring about a soft landing in the region.

ROSEN: This gentleman over here.

QUESTIONER: My name is David Phillips with Columbia University. There was a historic breakthrough in Turkey-Armenia relations when the two countries signed protocols on normalization in October of 2009, but those protocols were never ratified.

When Secretary Clinton visited Yerevan on July 4th of 2010, she said the ball's in Turkey's court. What can be done to encourage Turkey to move forward with a ratification process? And with 2015 approaching, the centennial of the Armenian genocide, how would you advise the U.S. president to deal with that anniversary?

ALBRIGHT: Well, one of the things that we advise in the report is basically that the protocol aspect needs to go forward, that it was a real breakthrough. And that is one of the recommendations that we make very clearly, is that something has to move on that particular issue, and the region would be better off -- I mean, not just the Armenian-Turkish issues, but generally would be better off if that were dealt with.

We also kind of touch on the fact that it's not an American story to deal with Nagorno-Karabakh, but that is part of the issue also, is to begin to look at how the Caucasus deals. And so we think that this is one of the issues that is very high on the agenda, that has to be dealt with.

ROSEN: Yeah.

QUESTIONER: Evelyn Leopold, a journalist at the United Nations. And I'd love to know what your pin symbolizes after I ask the question.

ALBRIGHT: (Inaudible.)

QUESTIONER: I'm so used to seeing them.

Syria. Turkey is bearing the brunt of the Syrian uprising and it's got the most refugees. And how do you think it's going to -- what do you think it's going to ask of the United States, since I'm not sure we're going to do anything before November?

ALBRIGHT: Want to start? And then we'll --

HADLEY: Syria's obviously a big -- I'll let the secretary talk about her pin. (Laughter.) (Inaudible.)

Syria's obviously a big issue between -- for all of us. And I think one of the things, it's proof of the basic thesis of the report. Turkey can't handle Syria without the United States, and I would argue the United States really can't handle Syria without Turkey. So this is exactly the kind of case where these two countries need to work together.

We've been struggling with this. And I think what we would say up here is really outside the purview of the report and it's really more personal views, and I wouldn't put it in the mouths of the members.

But I think between the United States and Turkey, my view is, there's consensus Assad needs to go, the sooner the better; the longer this crisis goes, the more militarized it becomes; the more of an opening for al-Qaida; it just gets worser and worser.

Second, that means we've got to increase the sanctions bite and the diplomacy. Third, we've got to get and strengthen the opposition, get it organized, get it to be inclusive, get it to be sending a cross-sectarian message to the people of Syria that the post-Assad Syria is going to be inclusive and there's going to be a place for everybody in it.

Why is that message so important? Because it's the kind of message that will finally break away the final pillars of the Assad regime from the regime, that is to say the military, the business class and the minority groups, Christians, Druze, Kurds and all the rest, who fear what life will be like with them -- for them under a post-Assad regime.

So we need to get a broadly inclusive opposition group sending a cross-sectarian message to all elements of Syrian society in saying, break with Assad now, and there's a place for you in a new Syria. That is terribly important.

I think as part of that, as Assad continues to kill his own people, my own personal view is that we need to make arms available, but in a careful way, arms available to arm groups that support this broad, inclusive, cross-sectarian opposition and to arms (sic) groups that themselves are going to support that message, because in the end of the day, we want the future of Syria determined by who has the most votes, not who has the most guns.

I think also, we need to begin now preparing for some kind of intervention. I am loath to say it. There are all kinds of downsides. But this -- but we may need it. And it will take some time to prepare both operationally and diplomatically because if Turkey is going to participate, they will need the protection, as will we, broad support within the region to the Arab League and the like, in order to make it effective.

So I would say that we need to begin preparing some kind of intervention now. And you know, my hope is that the prospect of that intervention plus the other things I've described about may bring that regime down before then so we don't have to do it. But you know, this situation where it just goes on and more hundreds and thousands of people get killed is just intolerable. And in the end of the day, people who are fighting for their own freedom deserve support of the international community and deserve the means to protect themselves.

ALBRIGHT: I think that Steve has described very well -- analyzed the situation. And as you know, because you covered me a lot on this -- is that it -- no one situation is exactly like another. But there are certain elements that are similar in terms of when and how do you gather the international community to help in terms of an issue like this? And there are aspects to go to the Security Council and wave that the -- I believe that the administration is mobilizing the international community on this.

So there are the Friends of Syria that are operating, and there are a variety of groups that are making sure that the sanctions regime, which is really quite an amazing sanctions regime -- I think we've learned a lot about sanctions since Iraq, where they were just comprehensive, without the smart sanction aspect, so that they -- a lot of individuals that have been targeted, businesses, and a very careful way of going about that.

And then also, just gathering public opinion on this, strengthening the opposition is a very important part. And maybe this kind of escaped people's notice, but according to Secretary Panetta and General Dempsey, the president has asked that in fact they begin to look at contingency planning. And so I do think that the system is moving in some way to make clear, as Steve said, Assad has to go, that there has to be a way for there to deal with the humanitarian situation. There already has been provision of humanitarian assistance, nonlethal assistance.

And the question is how to keep the international community mobilized. And then we've been asked the question -- I certainly have, because of the whole Kosovo experience -- is to what extent do you have to have Security Council mandate on it? What is the role of the Russians? I think that is also another important part of this.

We are about to enter a time of summit meetings of a variety of kinds. We've got the G-8, we've got the NATO summit, and this is all out there. And I think that it's worth looking at how the whole system moves on friends, sanctions, accountability, language, the role of the International Criminal Court, contingency planning.

MR. : Let me --

MR. : Our pin?

MR. : Oh.

ALBRIGHT: Oh, my pin.

MR. : Oh.

MR. : (Inaudible.)

ALBRIGHT: My --

MR. : I've heard this before.

ALBRIGHT: OK. Yeah. No, my pin I got in Turkey. And pomegranates are (life ?). Besides, I like it. So there you are. (Laughter.)

ROSEN: Let me try to find someone toward the back of the room. Here -- this lady right here.

QUESTIONER: Hi. My name is --

ROSEN: Oh, I'm sorry. I was calling on the woman with glasses behind you.

QUESTIONER: (Off mic.)

ROSEN: Sorry about that.

QUESTIONER: I'm sorry.

QUESTIONER: Thank you. Lauren Chivee from the Center for Talent Innovation. Madam Secretary and the rest of the distinguished panel, I wanted to ask about the role of women in Turkey and especially the emergence of the educated professional women in Turkey, their role in the evolving society and their economic power in the country, which seems to be at a critical crossroads. So we'd love to hear more about that.

ALBRIGHT: I suppose I'm chosen for this. But let me just say I have found the following thing. I have over the years gone to Turkey, met with women's groups, and it is not an easy issue. I have gone, and most recently I had a meeting with women, half of whom were -- had scarves on and the other who were bare-headed. And so I was asked: What did I think? Should women have to wear scarves or not?

So I gave a typically American answer. And I said: choice. I happen to believe that's the word for everything to do with women. And the bottom line: Women should be allowed to choose. Both -- either the veiled or unveiled were mad at me. They said, that's a ridiculous answer. Can't you be on one side or the other? (Laughter.)

So I find, in some ways -- probably the men here think women are inscrutable anyway -- but I find the Turkish women really difficult in terms of trying to figure this out.

And I do think that this Partners for a New Beginning thing is an aspect of trying to get women more involved. I also think -- there's the following thing that I've learned over the years, is we cannot mirror-image what American women want and other women want. We have to support what they want.

But I do think that the Turkish women issue is a very, very hard one, because they don't agree with each other. And I still -- if I were asked again, I would say: choice. But it does make it difficult in terms of trying to sort it out. National Democratic Institute, we've had a number of programs on this. And I -- and that's the best answer that I can give you on it.

HADLEY: I'd just like to make a broader point based on what the secretary said. And I attribute it to a man named Marwan Muasher, who many of you, I think, here know --

ALBRIGHT: Yeah.

HADLEY: -- a former deputy prime minister and foreign minister of Jordan. And he made a point in a panel I was on, said the problem in this region is that neither Arab nationalism nor political Islam have a tradition of tolerance and inclusiveness. And he said, if there's one thing this region needs, it's tolerance and inclusiveness and the right of people to make their own choices. And I think he's on to something very important there.

And I think the secretary's answer was exactly right. What the United States needs to stand for is the proposition that the society that can be most effective and deliver to its people and give them freedom, is a society that is based on inclusiveness, pluralism and choice on political matters.

QUESTIONER: Hi. (Off mic.) (Laughter.) (Off mic.)

ROSEN: OK. I'm sorry. Could you wait for the microphone?

QUESTIONER: OK. My name's Denise Fletcher (sp). Mustafa Kemal Ataturk gave women the vote shortly after American women fought for the vote here. Turkish women have had access to higher education for a very, very long time. And as this gentleman mentioned earlier, open admission -- anybody who gets the highest points gets into the university -- has been a critical part of the Turkish education system.

What I would really appreciate is your thoughts on what this party has done to women's role in government and in business. Just would very much appreciate that. Thank you.

ROSEN: Steven Cook?

COOK: Well, I feel somewhat qualified to answer this question since I went to Vassar. (Laughter.) That's actually -- that's actually a way of zeroing out the clock. We know we have enough time.

But, listen, I think --

MR. : Very good.

COOK: -- there was -- a week ago or so there was an article in The New York Times, and it was Sunday, that had a front-page story about the status of women in Turkey. And it brought -- it highlighted a variety of statistics that, over the course of the last decade in which Turkey has made great strides in certain areas, that the status of women has actually fallen. And it -- the article was in many ways absolutely horrifying.

But there's also a question of why that has been the case. Is that a function of the AKP? Is that a function -- what -- there was no real sense of why that was happening and why it -- was it a causation or a correlation? What we do know is that women have long had the right to vote. They have been involved in the political and economic life of the country, and there is a sense among some of them that they are losing ground. And I think report is very clear that in these areas where there seems to be reversals or backsliding, that the United States along with Turkey's other democratic allies in the community of democracies has a responsibility as good allies to speak out on these issues. There is a Turkish saying, good friends speak bitterly to each other. And this is one of those issues in which we should be looking to them.

On this question of hijab versus women who are not covered, I don't think it is an issue of either-or. I think all women in Turkey are either experiencing greater opportunity and greater places to be or they are experiencing backsliding. (Inaudible) -- we should not get -- we shouldn't get sidetracked on this question. But it is one of those areas that is certainly a cause for concern. We don't want to tell the Turks what to do, and we don't want to tell the Justice and Development Party what they should do in that way in which we would reinforce the perception of asymmetries of power between Turkey and the United States.

But what we want to do is we want to point out the Justice and Development Party that their claims to be a liberal, modernizing, democratizing party that is going to transform Turkey and put it firmly on a democratic trajectory are at risk if they do not -- if they do not look out for this issue in particular as well, given the history of Turkish women previously being so deeply involved in the political, social and economic life of the country.

ROSEN: So we need to finish at 2 sharp, which means we have time for one very quick question. So I trust this gentleman right here on the aisle to do that for us.

QUESTIONER: Ben Ziren (ph) with a quick question: Did you get into, at all, the relation with China and how do you see that as playing out and is there a role for the United States?

COOK: No. (Laughter.) We end on time.

ALBRIGHT: (Inaudible) -- let me just -- we -- (inaudible) -- specifically on China. But I do think that we generally saw a much larger role for Turkey in terms of working on a whole host of strategic issues with us and seeing -- and we -- I happen to believe that the United States is stronger when it has partners working in a whole set of issues and when we can deliver messages together with other countries. And I think that that was -- we looked at it from that perspective.

MR. : Right.

ROSEN: Very good. Well, thank you for your questions and thank you for coming and let's thank our panel.

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