tv [untitled] August 2, 2011 3:24pm-3:54pm EDT
always acey that, and we always say we're optimistic and there's progress. i believe there actually is. it's complicated. there are several goths involved. there are several companies involved. we're in touch with all of them at top levels. i can tell you without betraying any confidences that secretary clinton raised this issue with the prime minister and foreign minister of turkey just two weeks ago. ambassador morningstar was along, we've been pushing. the prime minister went to aser buy january since then, i have -- to azerbaijian and i haven't heard the results of that. we're hoping in the next month there'll be an agreement by the concerns, the companies concerned to fill the pipeline, come to terms on traffic fees and those technical issues. we're working on it.
we're hoping. on missile defense, turkey did support, of course, the state -- nato state at lisbon, they support the nato effort to have a phase adaptive approach to radar system. we've moved beyond that generality to have detailed technical discussions and legal discussions with the government of turkey. we're hoping, not fully, they want to understand what this will mean for turkey in all its technical, political, legal, and security aspects how it will make turkey more secure as well as the rest of nato. and we believe we're addressing those questions in full and substantive detail. we hope that the turkish government will feel it has enough information to make a decision very soon. i'll be racing back there to try to find out more, where we are on that.
>> senator menendez. >> thank you, madam chairlady. condition garagelations to both of you on your nominations. ambassador, i enjoyed the last conversation we had, i want to pursue some items that developed since we speak. one is with reference to cyprus, as we know, the parties are engaged in pretty intense talks facilitated by the united nations secretary. i look at the developments and what's happening with the military, turkey, which is in my view been part of the challenge in getting to a solution in cyprus and i look at this new development and wonder how that affects the possibility of making some real progress. on the flip side, i look at prime minister's recent statements, which is to forget about what we were negotiating in the past, this is now a two-state solution, which is
different than a bicommunal federation and urging turkish sip reyots to multiply in greater numbers or expect to have more settlers from an tolea. -- from antolia. that doesn't seem helpful. can you give me your perspective on whether we'll be table achieve resolutionen of cyprus. are those facts complicating? opportunities? how do you see it? >> i wish i could do the diplomatic thing and say i'm optimistic and there's progress but i don't want to mislead. on the first part of your question, i don't believe the changes in the military leadership in turkey will make any difference one way or the other in terms of prospects for the solution we have been after
for so long in cyprus. i don't think it's entirely germane. the military is not calling the shots on this. on this policy of the government of turkey. as to the prime minister's statements, i would rather not parse his statements and say anything here that makes it any harder than it already is for the united nations secretary general special representative downer. he has succeeded in getting president -- the president and turkish community leader to commit to meeting with some frequency, i believe twice a week, from now into the fall, to press, press, press for the only shape of a solution that anyone has ever considered possible, certainly that we have, which is a bizonal, bicommunal federation. we continue to uphold and support that. again the secretary of state and assistant secretary gordon
raised this when they were in istanbul with the turkish leadership. >> but you do not believe that erilou could make his own decisions notwithstanding what the turkish government's views are? you think he could make independent decisions? >> i think the turkish government whants and believes is extremely salient. even since i've been back to turkey this time there have been tensions in the relationship between the community in northern cyprus and ankara. there have been protests back and forth. so they identify themselves as sip reyots, from my understanding -- as cipriots, from my understanding. tush irk cipriots, but cypriots. i wouldn't want to guess how
far he'd go to make a difference. >> i wasn't asking you so much about him but the assignment where you're at, turkey and its influence in this decision making process. from our perspective, i've been following this almost 20 years now, it's clear to me ta turkey has a significant influence into whether or not this issue is resolved or not in a way that's acceptable both to greek and turkish cypriots and the international community. i get a sense based on the prime minister's most recent statements that it's become more onerous, not less so, to achieve that goal. let me turn to another issue. which i'm sure you'll want to be diplomatic about. and that is the question of -- as our ambassador to turkey in this interrelationship with armenia.
from your view, has the united states ever denied the fact that there was an armenian genocide? >> i stand behind president obama's characterization of the tragic massacre, murder of a million and a half men, women and children marched to their deaths in 1916. i stand behind our characterization of that and our efforts of what we're trying to do. >> would you disagree with president obama's statements as senator obama? >> i would not disagree with the president in his characterization of this. >> would you disagree with vice president biden's characterization as senator biden? >> they're both my superiors and i would not disagree with
their comments. >> would you disagree with the secretary of state's characterization as senator clinton? >> i would not disagree with my secretary of state. >> you are wise beyond your years. each of these individuals, the president of the united states, the vice president of the united states, the secretary of state as the senator at the time from their respective states acknowledge e-- acknowledged the armenian genocide during their tenure as senator. it seems to me, madam chair that once again, i appreciate ambassador your responses, but here we are again, you know, playing an incredibly difficult set of circumstances where we have nominees to armenia going to armenian genocide commemorations and never being able to use the word genocide. we have our ambassador to turkey, an important turkey --
part to get beyond this and move forward for the future but if we can't acknowledge the historical facts we can't move on. and you have our president, our vice president, our secretary of state all who very clearly as members of this body recognized that there was an armenian genocide. it's difficult to understand how we move forward in that respect. very difficult how we put our diplomats in that respect. but i appreciate your answers. i have other questions but i see mr. ford is coming back at some point? >> he will be here for the second panel. >> all right, thank you, madam chair. >> senator casey. >> thank you. i thank you both our nominees for your service and your testimony here today. time is short and we are limited in the topics we can cover. but i want to start with ambassador ricciardioni, in the
sense that we are going to be talking later at some length about syria and the massacre going on there. and it's been my sense and i think it's a widely shared view that over a number of years, if not for more than a generation, but certainly within the last number of years, turkey has been able to play a significant role as a regional balancer of the power of the region. it's been very constructive at times in the region. this is one of those times when the world needs the help that turkey can provide as it relates to syria. these acts of violence against the people of syria are unacceptable. it's a regime that no longer has legitimacy at all because of those acts of violence. i guess i ask you, i know that
the prime minister has been clear and i think very strong in his statements as it relates to what's been happening in syria. i ask you to reflect upon and give us your sense of what turkey's perspective is on the violence, what turkey can do in the near term to put pressure on the regime and how turkey can be a constructive force within the region on this central question. >> senator, thank you for that question. we have been engaged with the prime minister directly, i personally have taken a message to him from president obama, the president has spoken with him, the secretary did just a couple of weeks ago. they have all had syria very
high on their scope because as i point out, as important as egypt and tunisia and libya all are in their transitions, turkey shares an 800-plus kilometer board we are syria. there are family relationships, an important trading relationship. any instability in syria could have direct security and economic repercussions on turkey's vital national interest. as we pointed out, senator, the prime minister back in june had spoken out against what he called the bar barity of the fourth brigade action in northern syria. just yesterday, the president spoke, i think, for all turks, responding to the images on turkish televisions of what was going on in hama by saying he was horrified and shocked and he even noted that necessary sanctions may be on the table.
this is moving forward. it's one thing when western countries express our outrage and talk about these things but when a neighbor as powerful as turkey says these things i have to hope that the syrian government will pay attention. i don't think i'd be betraying a confidence, i think the prime minister has made very clear in public a conversation with the senate delegation just about a month ago where among other times we pressed to find out what the turks were thinking. the prime minister made clear that it was very -- he was very upset, worried, concerned but he believed that turkey had to exhaust every other avenue to induce change and reform in syria and get them to stop the violence against their enpeople and listen to their people he admitted that they've been trying hard and had not been very successful. the united states, we find
ourselves in the same position, we've tried everything to encourage, press, pressure for reform: my colleague will speak to those efforts in a few minutes. we heard the president expressing turkey's sense that perhaps they've reached the end of that patience. we'll have to see. >> i also wanted to, i know there's more we could talk about, i wanted to move to the question of iran, we know that the iranian regime has been the subject of a broad array of sanctions and that's in the last year or so been a very positive step in the right direction. there's a lot of unanimity in the region about sanctions against the iranian regime. i ask you with regard to that question, how you assess or how you think the turks can help us
to enforce those sanctions to make sure that they're enforced by their government and make sure that they can be a constructive force in urging turkish companies and other businesses in the region to comply with and be -- not just comply with but to be cognizant of those iranian sanctions. >> thank you, senator. >> the turkish leadership at all levels are emphatic they oppose any iranian effort to acquire weapons of mass destruction. they point out they'd be the first victims not only of such a weapon but of a race for such weapons in the region, which they do not want to see iran unleash. they assert they are enforcing united nations security sanctions, including 1929 on
which they didn't vote. they have asked for specific help. they say the united states lost specific u.s. sanctions does not apply to turkey but acknowledge that turkish firms can be affected and turkish firms have to make a choice under our law as to whether to deal with america and american companies or iranian ones. we've asked them to go beyond that and help publicize what that means in technical detail. if banks or other companies want to do business with iran, help them understand, we're putting out this information, we at the u.s. embassy are glad to spread that information. we asked turkish regulators and government entities to, you know, point out, remind their companies the choices they're going to have to face and make the information further available in turkish to their companies.
we're working with them. >> let me say in conclusion, with regard to this, i associate myself with senator menendez's comments about that subject. i know, ambassador eisen, i don't have time to ask you a question, but i'll submit something in writing. i hope you know the high regard i have for you as well and i hope you know we have a lot of friends in pennsylvania. >> i want to thank the ambassadors for your service over the past year. i clarify that in my view you've all three served with distinction and advocate for your confirmation so you can continue in these strong leadership roles. i won't stay for the second panel so i wanted to particularly commend ambassador ford for demonstrating leadership and resolve by both personally going to and meeting with demonstrators and
protesters under difficult circumstances and in advocating for our values and interests as a nation. i hope it is clear that many in this body share secretary clinton's statement that president assaad has lost legitimacy to lead. as it relates to turkey, i'm concerned about recent events about what this weekend's resignation in military leadership really means, about the tension between the secular and military traditions in the modern turkish state and the increasingly islamist tendencies of some in the current administration and i'm concerned about turkey's relationship with israel. bam doss dor -- ambassador, you've chosen a particularly interesting post to return to, whether it's relations with cyprus work greece, the ongoing challenges in iran, in syria, the relationship with israel, there's plenty we could dedicate our time to.
i mean no disrespect to ambassador eisen who serves with one of our closest and best allies but turkey presents a lot to pursue. your point about the choices they must make is something i strongly support and appreciate senator casey raising the issue. i think it's important we engage turkish business. i'm grateful for your leadership in the u.s.-turkey business council and opening u.s. marks. but i would urge your aggressive engagement to the strength appropriate in clarifying our strong concerns as a nation about iran and its development. i was pleased to hear your response to previous questions. the prime minister is is engaged in a broad, multinational concern over crimes against humanity by the
assaad regime. i want to associate myself with senator menendez's questions about cyprus and ask you two questions, briefly, i may. what have you been able to do to promote religious freedom? what path forward do you think there might be for restoring the property and the theological seminary and what could we be doing to be a more effective partner with you in advocating for religious tolerance and openness in turkish society? and what's your view of the state of turkish-israeli relations. turkey was a vital ally of israel and it's my hope that recent changes may open a window for improved relations. i recognize this is a very difficult moment and getting past the difficulties of last year's flotilla incident are difficult. given the limitations of your role as a diplomatic
representative of the united states i welcome any insights you have for how to strengthen business ties and recognize they're a wonderful ally in afghanistan and iraq while pressing forward religious freedom and the importance of our strategic relationship with israel? >> senator, thank you for all those questions. let me start with religious freedom first and go on to israel. on religious freedom, i raised this question with all the leaders i've been privileged to see and i've made it a point to call on the community leaders as well. one of the community leaders -- i wanted community leaders' perspectives not only on property issues and not only with the greek orthodox, of course, but also the armenian community they have their own parallel source of issues and
i've gone into detail with them, learned the legal questions. think all have legal cases at one level or another in the turkish courts which they're prepared to take on to international courts. i don't want to betray their confidences but they are encouraged by the first ever contact they're having with high leaders of the state both substantive ones regarding their issues and then things that really matter in that part to have the world in particular, and that is honor and dignity and respect. they have had the first ever visits by high officials of the state to them, not them to their offices of the prime minister and governor, but governors are coming to them. that has not happened before. in anyone's memory at least in the modern history of the republic. when i raise these with high officials of the state they say why should you be surprise? we are not afraid of religion.
and very interestingly they follow our debates about personal freedom and religious freedom and they say, here's how you can understand this, american ambassador. in your country, you have in recent years made a distinction between freedom of religion and the context of freedom from religion. for too long in our modern republic, we focused on preventing the intrusion of religion in our national life and political life. we're quite comfortable to be observant muslims please don't call us islamists, by the way, they tell us, but to the extent someone is praying as a christian or jew, it really doesn't bother us at all. why should it? it's no threat to the state. on the contrary we're proud of our diversity and happy to have them do it. as to the property issues, let us take a fresh look at this and make sure that they get justice.
i'm hopeful, i don't want to overpromise but i dare to be hopeful that the seminary in particular will be resolved. it's his holiness' anniversary ofed or neigh this year, his 40th year as a priest and i know he'd like to see that resolved this year and we would too. on israel, i can't speak for israel. i spend time there, i have israeli friends, i don't claim expertise but i feel certain having discussed this at length with the prime minister and foreign minister and certainly the military leadership this all of these, whatever their feelings, misgivings, over the terrible flotilla incident last year, they understand that to influence events in the region, to be part of a more peaceful and prosperous region which is in their vital national
interest, they need to have a normal, fruitful, respectful, full diplomatic dialogue with israel and they want to get back to that. we've worked very much with both sides. we have reminded each side of the stake they have in the relationship with the other and neither side really needs any reminding. they know the importance of it. secretary of state has been working on this personally through her recent visit and otherwise, i dare to be hopeful that turkey and israel will figure this out and i hope to see a turkish ambassador back in tel aviv very, very soon. let me end there if i may. >> thank you for your hard work, mr. ambassador. it's a vital strategic relationship and i'm grateful for your service on maff of the people of the united states. >> thank you, senator. i have to go preside over the
senate in a few minutes but i did wan to raise one more question for am bsdor eisen before i go. critics of the obama administration's recent policy with russia have suggested that engagement with russia would come at the expense of our allies in central and eastern europe. i wonder if you could speak to the czech republic view of the administration's reset efforts with russia. >> i think that the czech republic has come to understand and appreciate the spirit of the reset with russia and the benefits that that confers not just for the u.s.-russian relationship but in the region. of course the president has made praug the centerpiece of these issue -- has made prague the center priest of these
issues, going to prague twice, i had the privilege to accompany him last year for the signing of the start treaty with president medvedev. i was very pleased, i think in a token of the -- and indeed more than a token, a recognition of the importance of these issues that my czech colleagues affirmatively embrace the so-called prague agenda. and took the bull by the horns and scheduled a conference, an international conference on the prague agenda. not long after i arrived in the czech republic to commemorate the one-year anniversary and the two-year anniversary of the president's speeches there. we had representatives from russia, from the united states, and from around the worldcom, including dr. gary seymour from the white house, one of the
principal advisors to the president on this these matters to think about what the long-term benefits can be for the region and the world. i think we've made good progress. i could give other examples. but i think we've made good progress on these grounds and it is important to have an ambassador there to help convey communications in both directions on this subject. i'm very pleased with where we are on the reset now. >> thank you very much. senator casey or senator coons do either of you have questioners in panel? i have a few other questions we'll present in writing for each of you and the record will stay open until close of business on friday for further questions from members of the committee. hearing no further questions, i thank you both again for your service and your willingness to continue to do this and hope we can get swift action from the senate and close this hearing and turned the gavel other to senator casey.