About the Author: James Jeffrey serves as the U.S. Ambassador to Turkey.
I’m waiting for Secretary of State Clinton to arrive at Ankara’s Esenboga airport. So, I have a moment to reflect on how Turkey has developed and how our relationship has evolved. I’ve spent much of the last 27 years working in Turkey or on issues related to Turkey. Since my first tour in Adana in 1983, I’ve witnessed Turkey’s economy take huge strides, her democracy mature and her society grow to take on the challenges of the 21st century.
A visit to Ankara so soon after taking over at the State Department shows that Secretary Clinton recognizes the importance of our bilateral relationship. We have been allies and friends for over 50 years and we have faced numerous challenges together, side by side. Today, our relationship is more important than ever. We are working jointly to defeat the PKK, achieve peace in the Middle East, help Afghanistan recover, bring a lasting solution to Cyprus and make sure that Iraq becomes a reliable neighbor in the region.
When Secretary Clinton steps off the plane tonight, it represents an opportunity to renew our commitment to the values our two countries share, and explain to the Turkish public why the Turkish-American partnership matters. Everyone in our Embassy is excited about this visit. The cars are in place, the media is waiting, and the plane is landing. It’s time to begin.