For Turkish Ambassador Osman Faruk Logoglu, work never stops these days. He has been at the epicenter of high-stakes diplomacy and bargaining between Ankara and Washington aimed at securing his country's approval of U.S. plans to put troops in southeastern Turkey for deployment in a war with Iraq.
Logoglu said in an interview Monday that his working day now goes beyond its normal 12 hours. The daily drill starts at 7 a.m. He listens to National Public Radio and watches CNN, Fox and other networks before reaching the embassy at 8:30, where he scans Turkish television news via satellite.
By 9, having read his cables and brushed up on the latest in talks between Turkish and U.S. negotiators in Ankara, he tackles the telephones "to push and nudge things forward." That is followed by conversations, interviews and meetings with officials at the White House, the National Security Council, the State Department and many others.
"This is a two-way street," he said. "I work as much on Ankara as I do on this side. The perspective in Ankara is very different from the one here, and I have to sensitize people there to what the thinking here is. It can all be very subtle."
The payoff for him is that "each day has surpassed the previous one in terms of excitement and thrill, as well as urgency, but the most critical days were on February 19th and 20th," when a broad agreement was forged between the two governments -- with a few outstanding questions -- to allow U.S. troops to be based in Turkey.
The ambassador said recent decisions have been difficult for Turkey. He quoted the cabinet spokesman as saying some ministers "felt very uncomfortable with the ongoing negotiations. It is not a done deal yet, though we are close to a deal. The big, big question is what the parliament is going to end up doing." Under Turkey's constitution, lawmakers must give final approval to any deal that would bring foreign troops. A request was sent to parliament yesterday, and a vote is expected soon.
"The parliament is a sovereign body, and each member will make his or her judgment," Logoglu said. "There is no way to predict the outcome." However, the leader of the ruling Justice and Development Party, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, yesterday called on his party's legislators to cooperate.
On Feb. 6, Turkish lawmakers voted overwhelmingly to allow the United States to renovate Turkish bases for use in a war. But the coming vote on basing a proposed 62,000 troops on Turkish soil and sending Turkish troops abroad will be more difficult, Logoglu predicted, and depends on completing economic, political and military draft documents under discussion.
Turkey is asking to receive oil on favorable terms, not just from Iraq but other nations. "The United States should see to it that Turkey does not suffer as a consequence of rising oil prices," the ambassador said. "I am not sure this will be an element in the final draft, but rising oil prices is one of our concerns. No way does this imply any claim on Iraqi oil." The financial part of the proposed agreement calls for billions in grants and loan guarantees to be disbursed in "well under six months and a matter of weeks, not months or a year," Logoglu said.
The political draft addresses Iraq post-Saddam Hussein "if and when we get to that point, in terms of respecting the territorial integrity and unity of Iraq and allowing all ethnic groups there to have an equal opportunity and say in the structuring of the new Iraq," he said, describing Turkey's preferences. "It also should stipulate that no one group lay special claim to any of Iraq's natural resources, such as the oil fields in Kirkuk in the north."
Logoglu said Turkey's decision to cooperate with the United States on Iraq stems from a shared desire to apply U.N. Security Council Resolution 1441 and to disarm Iraq. He expressed hope that future Security Council discussions on whether to approve the use of force in disarming Iraq will produce consensus. "My preference is no war, but you have to prepare for a very likely scenario," he said.
More Pressure on Hussein
Buoyed by her party's recent electoral successes, Angela Merkel told an overflow crowd at the St. Regis Hotel on Monday night that "nothing would be worse than [Iraqi President] Saddam Hussein's success once again to split the democratic nations of this world."
Merkel, leader of Germany's opposition Christian Democrats, used a dinner forum organized by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation to urge those opposed to war to "increase pressure on Saddam Hussein, not decrease it." She said decreased pressure "makes war more likely," a reference to Iraq's tendency to waffle on disarmament demands when discord arises between certain European countries and the United States.
Merkel, who is minority leader in the German parliament, said, "Peace is a supreme goal, and every effort should be made to keep it, but on no account should we trade the peace of the future for the deceptive peace" of the present.
She upbraided the United States for failing to back the Kyoto treaty on climate change and for imposing 30 percent tariffs on some steel imports last year.