There were a few crucial developments regarding the relations between Turkey and the US last week that didn’t get much mention in Turkish press.
The first development, which is of economic concern, involves the Turkish Conference that is normally held in Washington every spring. The conference usually attracts Defense and Aviation industry professionals. This year, however, the conference, sponsored by the American Turkish Council (ATC) was postponed due to “low attendance.” In the past, it was common to see a few ministers and secretaries of state from both parties, as well as top brass from the military at this conference. Its cancellation is alarming, since it shows the political relations between the two countries, following the economic ones, have also begun to take a hit.
The second development is even graver. The Democrats and the Republicans who do not seem to be able to agree on anything these days, including budget negotiations, had no problem reconciling when it came to proposing sanctions against Turkey. So much so that, a bill sponsored by Paul Lankford (R-OK) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) that would ban senior Turkish officials from entering the US was pulled out of the draft at the last minute. The senators later said they wanted to give diplomacy another chance to resolve the issue of American civilians being detained in Turkey.
Evangelical pastor Andrew Brunson is the first name that comes up in the list of detained American civilians He has been held in prison for the last 1.5 years with charges of aiding terrorist organizations PKK and FETO, and prosecution is adamant in a life sentence for him. All indications, including the recent revamped talks between the two countries point to a process that is similar to the recent one Turkey and Germany had regarding Deniz Yucel. Journalist Deniz Yucel was released from prison and privately transported back to Germany after Germany agreed to remove the economic sanctions it would impose in the form of blocked EU credits to Turkey.
We may expect to see a similar action taking place around Mr. Brunson.
Published in Turkish in https://www.sozcu.com.tr/2018/yazarlar/zeynep-gurcanli/abd-ile-papaz-pazarligi-2324408/