Ambassador says Turkey will help combat terror

Rajeev Mehta

As the only predominately Muslim nation to send troops to Afghanistan, Turkey holds a unique place in the post-Sept. 11 world, said Faruk Logoglu, the Turkish ambassador to the United States, in a speech Friday to about 100 people in Harris Hall.

Logoglu also discussed diplomatic relations between Turkey and the United States, as well as Turkey’s role in the fight against terrorism in his 25-minute speech.

The Turkish Student Association organized the event “to give the American audience an exposure to Turkey’s special position in the world as a Muslim country in the Middle East and Europe,” said the group’s president Firat Incioglu, a McCormick senior.

Turkey sent troops to Afghanistan in the belief that even religion cannot justify terrorism, Logoglu said.

“This is not a fight against Islam,” he said. “It is against terrorism.”

After denouncing the tie made between terrorism and religion, Logoglu said a comprehensive international effort would serve as the strongest ammunition in the fight against terrorism.

“War on terrorism requires a sustained effort on the part of the international community,” Logoglu said.

Fighting organized crime such as drugs, arms and human trafficking is essential to combating terrorism effectively because those activities “nourish” a terrorist spirit.

“Terrorism doesn’t thrive on its own,” Logoglu said.

He attributed Turkey’s success as a democratic nation to its emphasis on the separation of religion and state.

Turkey’s secular educational system is the critical difference that makes the country a functioning democracy, he said.

“Turkish children are not brought up as Muslim, but rather to participate in a modern, high-tech society,” Logoglu said.

During the question-and-answer period, Logoglu said Turkey stands in solidarity with the United States and will support the U.S.’s position with Iraq.

Many analysts have speculated that Iraq and Saddam Hussein will be the next target in the war against terrorism.

“When the U.S. makes up its mind about what they will do in Iraq, we will put our heart on the table, and we will act in the manner of our alliance with the U.S.,” Logoglu said.

“But we will also act according to our national interests,” he added.

At the Turkish food reception that followed the speech, Logoglu said another important diplomatic topic is economic relations between Turkey and the United States. He suggested topics of trade, investment and tourism where he said the countries’ relationship is the weakest.

Between bites of baklava and lahmacun (turkish pizza with ground beef), students said they had a variety of reasons for attending the speech.

“I’ve become friends with a bunch of Turkish kids on campus,” said Jim Hughey, a McCormick senior. “Their interest in Turkey is pretty strong, and it has worn off on me.”

Though many students said they enjoyed the speech, some said they would have liked to hear more about the economic concerns in the fight against terrorism.

“It was informative in some questions, and not so much in others,” said Shabir Abadin, a Weinberg junior. “I wanted him to tackle questions about Islamic organizations and businesses in Turkey or even here that have been shut down and have had their assets frozen, and how effective that has been in countering terrorism.”