On October 13, 2017 the Global Policy Institute convened a panel of experts to discuss the current state of US-Turkey relations and the possible way forward. The participants were: Jennifer Miel, Executive Director, U.S.-Turkey Business Council, US Chamber of Commerce; Mustafa Tuncer, President, MUSIAD USA; and Dr. Andrew Wyner, Dean, BAU International University. Paolo von Schirach, President of the Global Policy Institute moderated the event.
The panel discussion focused on the negative impact on business people, bilateral trade, exchange students and tourists of the recent decision on the part of the U.S. Embassy in Ankara and the U.S. Consulate in Istanbul to stop issuing non- immigrant visas to Turkish citizens who apply in Turkey. The Turkish Government reacted with a similar ban affecting U.S. citizens willing to travel to Turkey.
This “visa crisis” takes place in a context of difficult relations. The Turkish Government is seeking the extradition of Fetullah Gulen, the Turkish preacher who lives in Pennsylvania, accused by Ankara to be the mastermind of the failed coup of July 2016. Besides, Turkey is also strongly opposed to military assistance provided by the U.S. to the Syrian YPG fighters accused of being closely associated with the outlawed PKK, a Kurdish terrorist organization operating in Turkey.
The panelists agreed that, all these frictions notwithstanding, the U.S. and Turkey are old NATO allies. They share concerns regarding peace and stability in the Middle East and beyond.
The experts concluded that this old Washington-Ankara connection should provide a strong enough base to reach an agreement that will end this “visa crisis”. Very valuable people to people connections which encompass business relations, large numbers of Turkish students pursuing degrees in the United States, and tourism are at stake.