Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s visit to the United States was so strapped for time that he could barely even breathe.
The main cause of visit was to participate in the 62nd United Na-tions General Assembly meeting.
But the fully packed program gives hints of the beginning of a new era in Turkey’s political relations with the US and the revalued strategic importance of Turkey by the White House.
In particular the Nabucco pipeline, energy demands of European countries, safety and control of energy resources in Middle East and Caspian regions, Iran’s threats and the catastrophic position of the US in Iraq have forced American policymakers to renew the US approach to Turkey.
It seems Turkey will play a different and important role in the Middle East after this visit.
When checked or compared with the programs of other leaders, Erdoğan’s visit to the US seems to have been organized brilliantly and clear-sightedly.
The visit goes beyond its basic purpose — participating in the 62nd UN General Assembly meeting — and spills over into the main centers of American mercantilism, American policy centers and to the outstanding politicians of the world.
During his tight program, Erdoğan delivered a speech on Monday at a high-level UN meeting on climate change and addressed the UN General Assembly on Friday.
He also participated in a reception hosted by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Monday and had talks with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Portuguese Prime Minister Jose Socrates, Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt and Austrian Chancellor Alfred Gusenbauer.
Erdoğan continued on Tuesday and had bilateral talks with Ger-man Chancellor Angela Merkel, Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi and Colombian President Alvaro Uribe Velez.
On Wednesday he attended opening session of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), struck the gong to announce the start of trading and met NYSE executives.
The next day he took the floor at a meeting held by the Foreign Relations Council and on Friday he was part of a panel discussion organized by the Clinton Global Initiative on “Building a Multiethnic Global Society” and received Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) Secretary-General Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu.
And within this fully packed program he spared time to meet with the executives of the leading US companies at a meeting hosted by Coca-Cola.
Like Erdoğan, Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan also had a very full and well-organized schedule.
Babacan delivered a speech on Thursday at a meeting held at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, where he discussed foreign policy and global affairs, including the Cyprus issue, the presence of the ter-rorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in northern Iraq, PKK attacks on Turkey and the tense Turkish-American relations as a result.
He talked about Turkey’s reform process and the country’s target to become the 10th largest economy worldwide by 2023 by increasing foreign investment and the rapid growth rate.
Referring to the Cyprus problem, Babacan stressed the unfair and inhuman isolation of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (KKTC), giving examples of how it is still ongoing.
Meanwhile Babacan held talks with representatives of Jewish as-sociations such as the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) in Chicago, where representatives said they are opposing the bill on the incidents of 1915. It now is very clear that the enactment of the bill by the US Congress will definitely have a serious impact on Turkey-US and Turkey-Israel relations.
The strategic partnership between Turkey and the US has the strength to adapt itself to the changing conditions. Since Turkey is one of the rare countries having good relations with both Israel and Arab states, the US seems to have changed its vision for the Middle East, relying strongly on Turkey as a dependable and trustworthy ally to become a party to the settlement of problems in the area.
When Erdoğan and Babacan’s abovementioned programs are studied in detail the fact surfaces that a new era in Turkish-American relations is already in full swing.