February 27: Talking Turkey

Turkish foreign policy has been marked by a very proactive outlook to our neighborhood and aims to reintegrate Turkey back into regions where we were present for centuries.

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February 26, 2009 21:52
2 minute read.
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letters 88. (photo credit: Courtesy)

 
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Talking Turkey Sir, - Barry Rubin's "America, look behind you! Turn around! Turn around!" (February 24) was very misleading on Turkey and the upcoming local election. He warned that if the current government won the election, Turkey would be encouraged to go in the direction of "Islamic extremism." The March 29 election is much more about the maturing of our democracy than anything else. Also, it is seen as a referendum on our government's foreign policy since 2007. Turkish foreign policy has been marked by a very proactive outlook to our neighborhood and aims to reintegrate Turkey back into regions where we were present for centuries. We are aware that coming into the region means taking over more responsibilities. We are not shy of that. The talks we hosted between Israel and Syria for more than a year are only one example of these new responsibilities. Interpreting Turkey's delicate neighborhood policy as a sign of Turkey becoming "Islamist extremist" not only fails to appreciate the constructive role Turkey has been playing in the region but also reflects the failure to recognize new regional realities. Turkey's foreign policy establishment is much more sophisticated than Mr. Rubin's very simplistic charge that Turkey is "switching to the radical camp" suggests. When we started to engage with Syria in 2003, we received similar criticism. Today we see that most of our European and American allies understand the wisdom of this policy. I am confident that our approach to the Palestinian issue will go through a similar evolution. The only agreeable part of Mr. Rubin's piece was that "what happens in Turkey is the most important political event in the Middle East since the Iranian revolution 30 years ago." Indeed, Turkey's consolidation of democracy, its historic engagement with the European Union, its growing regional consciousness and proactivism in its neighborhood is a historic process. Turkey's allies should embrace it and engage with Turkey rather than complain about it. SUAT KINIKLIOGLU AK Party Deputy Ankara Judah P. Benjamin Sir, - A small comment on David Geffen's "This protection they shall have" (February 10): The article, while historically correct, failed to mention one of the most important Hebrews of the Civil War: Judah P. Benjamin - maybe because he was no friend of "old Abe." In fact, this New Orleans banker became the first Jewish member of an American president's cabinet. Judah Benjamin was secretary of state to Confederate presidentJefferson Davis. After the Civil War he relocated to England, where he served as the Royal Counselor. He died in Paris, never having returned to his New Orleans home. JAMES E. NICKELS, JR. Terre Haute, Indiana Mixed troubles Sir, - Re "Dubai: I don't buy it" (Letters, February 24): Should an Orthodox Jewish sportsman reach the finals, it would be a personal decision whether to play on Shabbat. It reminds me of the Scottish athlete Eric Liddle, who refused to run in the 100-meter race in the 1924 Paris Olympics, as it fell on his Sabbath (depicted in the movie Chariots of Fire). The Dubai debacle, hopefully, has shown that politics should not ever reach the service court, cricket pitch, rugby ground or anywhere else that sportsmen (and women) meet. SALLY SHAW Kfar Saba

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