Wilson Center To Study Future Of U.S.-Turkey Relations

Southeast Europe Project Announcement

Jun 13, 2005

The Woodrow Wilson Center Southeast Europe Project will undertake a major research project, led by Senior Scholar Ian O. Lesser, on "Re-Shaping the U.S.-Turkish Strategic Relationship," to identify key problems in U.S.-Turkey relations, determine whether a renewed strategic relationship is of interest to the U.S. and Turkey, and offer policy recommendations to repair, revive, and rebuild bilateral ties between the two allies. The eighteen-month research project, which starts September 1, 2005, is being underwritten through early 2007 with a major grant from the Smith Richardson Foundation.

"The U.S.-Turkish relationship, historically based on common perceptions of regional and international threats and interests, has undergone severe stress in recent years," said John Sitilides, Chairman of the Southeast Europe Project's Board of Advisors. "Dr. Lesser's extensive background and policy expertise on U.S.-Turkey issues can illuminate the path for visionary leaders in government, business, civil society, and the military in the U.S. and Turkey in managing issues and solving problems in Iraq, Iran, Syria, Russia, Cyprus, and the Caucasus. The Southeast Europe Project and the Wilson Center look forward to creating the framework for effectively engaging policy audiences in the U.S., Turkey, and elsewhere."

"Turkey and the U.S. continue to share substantial regional and global interests, with many important interactions at the official and unofficial levels, but the context for cooperation has changed dramatically, requiring a very different and more realistic approach to strategic cooperation," said Dr. Lesser. "Key strategic aspects of the relationship have yet to move beyond the logic and patterns of cooperation developed during the Cold War. Policymakers on both sides need a better understanding of the opportunities and limits in the bilateral relationship, and a new menu of options for revived cooperation in support of the strategic concerns of both sides."

Dr. Lesser is President of Mediterranean Advisors LLC. He was Vice President and Director of Studies at the Pacific Council on International Policy in Los Angeles (the western partner of the Council on Foreign Relations) from 2001-2004. For over a decade, he was a senior political scientist at RAND, specializing in strategic studies and Mediterranean affairs. In 1994-95 he was a member of the State Department's Policy Planning Staff, where his responsibilities included southern Europe, Turkey, North Africa and the multilateral track of the Middle East peace process.

The Southeast Europe Project promotes scholarly research and informed debate on the full range of U.S. political, commercial, security, and cultural issues and interests in the eastern Mediterranean, southern Balkan, and adjacent regions. Its research and public affairs programs focus on regional and functional issues centered on Greece, Turkey, Cyprus, and Bulgaria, with particular attention to European Union enlargement, NATO realignment, and the advancement of democracy in the new geopolitical landscape of the 21st century.

The Smith Richardson Foundation contributes to important public debates and helps address serious public policy challenges facing the U.S. through its International Security and Foreign Policy Program, aimed at assisting the U.S. policy community to develop an effective national strategy and supportive foreign policy. The program supports policy-relevant security studies research that helps define and analyze important new challenges in today's security environment, and illuminates critical political and economic developments affecting U.S. interests in Europe, the former Soviet Union, East Asia, and the Middle East.

For more information, please contact Andri Peros, Program Specialist at the Wilson Center Southeast Europe Project, at 202-691-4310.

Experts & Staff

  • Christian F. Ostermann // Director, History and Public Policy Program; Global Europe; Cold War International History Project; North Korea Documentation Project; Nuclear Proliferation International History Project
  • Emily R. Buss // Program Assistant