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Meaningful visit
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15:52, April 08, 2009

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On April 7, US President Barack Obama's two-day visit to Turkey came to an end. During a speech he made to the Grand National Assembly of Turkey on April 6, Obama reiterated that the US supports Turkey's request to join the EU and appreciates the reforms that Turkey has made to achieve this goal. Turkey is a bridge connecting the West with Islamic countries. The media noted that the fact that Obama selected Turkey as the first Islamic country to visit following his taking office demonstrates the importance of US-Turkey relations, with far-reaching significance.

First of all, Obama is committed to improving relations between the US and Islamic countries which have been damaged by the Iraq War and the US' partiality towards Israel.

Second, Turkey is a hub connecting Eurasia and the Middle East, and also an important channel for oil transport to Europe. Its strategic location is crucial to the US. Today, US' military bases in Turkey have become an important channel to transport weapons, equipment and personnel to troops in Iraq. Once the US starts its large-scale troop withdrawal from Iraq, this channel will be indispensable. In addition, the US will not be able to carry out its new strategy in Afghanistan without the help of Turkey.

It is noteworthy that recently Obama, in spite of opposition from Germany and France at the EU-US summit repeatedly supported Turkey's accession to the EU. He made it clear that "Turkey is a critical ally, and an important part of Europe." On the one hand, he listed and appreciated the great progress Turkey has made in political reforms; on the other hand, he euphemistically urged Turkey to continue to work hard in aspects such as freedom of religion, freedom of speech, rule of law and social justice, and minority rights, and hoped that Turkey holds a positive stance in the negotiation between the Greek and Turkish Cypriots.

Mark R. Parris, former US Ambassador to Turkey, believes that the key to improving US-Turkey relations is to "activate" the prospect of Turkey joining the EU. Omer Taspinar, director of the Turkey Project at Brookings, holds the view that it is crucial to US policy in the Middle East as well as to the energy security of the West that a stable, pro-West Turkey becomes a member of the EU, while a Turkey moving away from the West would be a disaster for the US and Europe.

By People's Daily Online

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