On Thursday, November 12, APCO Worldwide hosted General James L. Jones, former National Security Advisor, current chairman of the American-Turkish Council and president of Jones Group International, for an APCO Forum Presents executive breakfast discussion. APCO Forum Presents is a series of roundtable events in our Washington, D.C., office featuring notable global leaders and business experts sharing their insights, experiences and industry knowledge with select invitees. In a discussion entitled, “The Importance of the U.S.-Turkey Relationship,” General Jones provided an intimate understanding of the commercial, security and cultural factors driving events in Turkey and the region today. As a former National Security Advisor, NATO Supreme Commander and current chairman of the American-Turkish Council, General Jones is uniquely positioned to analyze the U.S.-Turkey relationship and is an expert in understanding the potential trajectory of events in the region.
Our discussion with General Jones was incredibly important and timely since Turkey is the upcoming host of the G-20 summit, EU aspirant and critical strategic partner of the United States for maintaining peace and stability in the Middle East. Despite significant areas for U.S.-Turkish cooperation on security and commercial issues, substantive growth and investment in the bilateral relationship has slowed. This has only been worsened by recent events. After the worst single terrorist attack in Turkey’s history in Ankara on October 10, a cloud of uncertainty and pessimism hangs over this critical NATO ally and Muslim-majority democracy.
Turkey’s national elections on November 1 saw a surprisingly decisive victory for the ruling Justice and Development Party of President Erdoğan. An important process in itself, the elections took place just two weeks before Antalya hosts a critical global summit. As G-20 host, Turkey will bring together the presidents and heads of state of the world’s largest economies. This will serve as a forum for President Erdoğan, Prime Minister Davutoglu and Turkish business leaders to convince international investors that Turkey is a key market for business.
As our discussion with General Jones highlighted, this is a critical time for business and policy leaders to understand Turkey and the changes it will undergo in the near future, including:
- The value of the U.S.-Turkey relationship: General Jones began the discussion by highlighting the significance of the relationship between Turkey and the United States and emphasizing that it is one that the United States needs to get right. Specifically, General Jones mentioned the crucial geostrategic position Turkey holds as the lynchpin between East and West, as well as its unique role within the NATO alliance which has incredible value to the United States.
- Commercial diplomacy: General Jones stressed that he felt the United States and Turkey should approach its relationship though the lens of commercial diplomacy. This includes public and private actors supporting business partnerships and promotion between both home and host countries. General Jones explained that by conducting diplomatic relations with Turkey through commercial diplomacy, the United States would help align the critical interests of the private sector in not only Turkey, but also the United States.
- The private sector: General Jones emphasized throughout the discussion the importance and receptivity of the private sector of Turkey, as well as its eagerness to partner with American companies, stating that “the welcome mat is there for U.S. companies in Turkey.” General Jones continually highlighted that Turkey places significant value in the success of its private sector, along with seeking to align the goals of the private sector to those of Turkish foreign policy moving forward. In his closing remarks, General Jones expressed his belief that the private sector could prove to be the bridge between Turkey and the United States.
With an office in Istanbul in 2009, APCO Worldwide shares our distinguished speaker’s commitment to the U.S.-Turkish relationship and belief that Turkey plays a critical global role. Thank you to General Jones for his critical leadership and service throughout his career and to all participants who were able to join us.
For more information about APCO Forum Presents, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.