Notwithstanding very serious challenges, the United States and Turkey continue to share goals and interests across a broad range of geostrategic issues. The two countries continue to cooperate in certain fields, such as defense and counterterrorism. Despite the threat of tariffs and sanctions, trade relations continue with prospects for growth. Both Turkey and the U.S. also have mutual interests in promoting stability in the Middle East. Strategic reasons exist for the bilateral relationship to grow despite of challenges. What are these strategic reasons? What areas of cooperation exist? What are new areas of collaboration that can help to move the relationship forward?
With the start of a new U.S. presidential administration, the Hollings Center conducted a two-day virtual meeting to evaluate the state of the relationship and project possible ways forward. To create diversity of opinion and perspective, the dialogue was divided into two discussion groups. One featured a group of experts with decades of experience in the bilateral relationship and its facets. The second group contained rising next-generation analysts that could provide new perspectives.
Understanding the similarities and differences of different generational perspectives is important to a constructive, long-term relationship. Both meeting sessions highlighted the continued importance of the strategic relationship between these two countries, despite the numerous challenges currently facing the relationship. While the groups differed on specific causes for disagreement and how to start rapprochement, there was a consensus that while the relationship may remain difficult in the short term, there is room and opportunity for improvement. This interest exists on both sides, but it is important to take a realistic analysis of what can and cannot be done.
The Hollings Center for International Dialogue has hosted periodic meetings over the past decade to evaluate the state of the relationship between the United States and Turkey, and assess important points of cooperation and contention. In doing so, the Center strived to convene people in an open and impartial environment to allow for deliberation and creativity. Those dialogue meetings convened a wide range of experts working on key aspects of the relationship and included academics, think tank representatives, journalists, and NGO and government representatives. In each of these meetings, the Center aimed to provide a forum to present positions and discuss differences—with the long term aim of building productive relationships that could improve ties between these important allies. In turn, the outcomes of these discussions have proven informative and instructive to governmental and non-governmental actors on both sides, furthering mutual understanding.