The Broader Middle East and North Africa Peace Initiative (BMENA) and other U.S.-sponsored regional programs should be pursued in partnership with local countries and not via fiat. Receiving little support from Europe, BMENA needs all the help it can get from the Arab world. With this in mind, the U.S. should work through existing regional institutions like the Gulf Cooperation Council when possible. For example, the U.S. might ask to be an observer at an upcoming Council meeting where it could plant the seeds for promoting democracy and economic development.
Build Bridges With Civil Society
The United States should encourage non-profit organizations to build bridges with civil society in Turkey. The U.S. government’s own efforts at “public diplomacy” have been received skeptically in Turkey and across the Middle East in recent years. We strongly believe that private groups such as Network 20/20 are in a better position to engage in credible public diplomacy that will lay the groundwork for solid bilateral relations as well as fostering mutual understanding among the citizens of both countries. For example, the effects of Network 20/20’s first visit to Turkey are already rippling through American society. The trip report is being circulated to the Network 20/20 membership and advisors, Turkish colleagues, policy makers in the U.S. and Turkey and interested publics in both countries. It is also being posted on the Network 20/20 web site (www.network2020.org). Individual members of the delegation have briefed Wall Street colleagues, law firms, the New York City Bar Association, universities and high schools, diplomatic missions, and international agencies. One 20/20 delegate will return to Turkey early in 2005 to produce a documentary film for PBS. Another delegate will spend the better part of a year in Turkey working with the youth group, ARI, to determine the needs and interests of Turkish youth in both urban and rural areas.
The Network 20/20 Turkish connection continues to thrive and will expand over time. Network 20/20 is creating a directory of Turkish Associates who will be able to communicate directly with Network 20/20 members via the Internet. We anticipate hosting a conference in the U.S. in the near future for Turkish counterparts. Several Turkish leaders who have traveled to the United States since the Network 20/20 trip have offered to address the full membership to keep the dialogue going. We anticipate that such two-way communication will increase in the future.