How the Turkish Parliament can help Turkey-US relations

Well organised collaboration between US Congress and Turkey's parliament can help bridge misunderstandings.

Within one month, US Congress has sent Joe Biden's administration three separate letters targeting Turkey. Specifically, the letter to President Biden, signed by 54 senators, and the letter to the Foreign Affairs Minister Antony Blinken, signed by 183 members of the House of Representatives, sent the message: "We stand by you for your decisions regarding Turkey."

Interestingly, the opposition against Turkey in the Turkish Caucus Group, which consists of 86 members, has begun to grow bigger. Hence, whether Democrat or Republican, members of Congress are criticising Turkey, starting their sentences with "Yes, Turkey is an important NATO ally, but . . . ."

And some have even discarded Turkey.

Despite being a member of the Turkish Caucus Group, Gregory Meeks, chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, grimaces whenever Turkey is concerned. Robert Menendez, chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, is known as a Turkophobe. Although Menendez, Democrat, seems to be disputing Biden's administration on some issues (e.g., the Iran nuclear agreement, relations with Cuba, the deployment of US military forces in foreign countries), it can be said that he shares the same opinions as Biden's team when it comes to Turkey.

So, on what issues are members of Congress united against Turkey on Opposition to Turkey's S-400 purchase; non Delivery of F-35s; continued support for the PKK terrorist organization, and its Syrian branch the YPG; support for the alleged Armenian Genocide; human rights and freedom of the press.

On the other hand, although some members of Congress say that Turkey should be removed from NATO, it is necessary to point out that a few members of Congress still insist that Turkey should not be lost at any cost and never be pushed towards Russia.

Recently, lots of PR-focused delegations from the Turkish Parliament have been arriving in large groups through last-minute arrangements. In my opinion, this is a huge mistake. It is not possible to have an effective dialogue with 86 members of Congress within the Turkish Friendship Group.

So what should the Turkish Parliament do to establish a better dialogue with Congress and enable stronger collaboration?

First Turkey must demonstrate the Turkish Parliament's supra-party stance on national issues to Congress, with small delegations from members of parliament's Foreign Relations Committee that undergo planned, results-oriented visits to Washington, DC. They should invite foreign policy and military committee members of Congress to Turkey, conduct meetings between Turkish deputies and the American press and think tanks. Also, a Turkey-US Interparliamentary Friendship Group should form a joint technical working team with the Turkish Friendship Group, which has an equivalent in the US.

What's abundantly clear is that a negative perception of Turkey persists not only in Congress but also in the Biden administration. This is why the Biden administration is implementing a "wait-and-see" policy with Turkey.

Indeed, should Turkey continue with its acquisition of S-400s from Russia, it is probable that other CAATSA sanctions will also be implemented. Therefore, trust and continuous dialogue are of the utmost importance in relations between Turkey and the US.

NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg stated that NATO countries such as the US, Turkey, and Britain protect all wings of the European Union, which are not members of NATO, and that "this is extremely important for Europe's defense. Turkey has borders with Syria and Iraq. Its role is great against Daesh and international terrorism."

One hopes that problems between the US, which has the largest army in NATO, and Turkey, which has the second-largest army in NATO, can be solved within this powerful alliance.