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News Analysis: U.S.-Turkish "model partnership" in jeopardy over conflicting issues

ISTANBUL, March 23 (Xinhua) -- The so-called "model partnership" between Ankara and Washington is not strong enough as it used to be, experts said here on Monday.

More than 70 U.S. senators recently wrote to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to urge the State Department to immediately address issues of the intimidation of journalists and censorship of media by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's administration in Turkey.

Experts speaking to Xinhua argued that with the letter of the senators over the worsening democratic credentials of Turkey, the two countries' relation has reached a new deadlock.

"Obama's 'model partnership' concept is not any stronger now," said Gencehan Babis, analyst at International Relations and Strategic Studies.

He said American senators' letter in which they expressed concerns over the freedom of press in Turkey "is something that should be taken serious."

Turkey has long been facing with severe criticism and concerns among the EU countries and U.S. over the worsening conditions of freedom of press.

On Dec. 14, in a latest operation against anti-government media institutions and journalists, the editor in chief of Zaman daily newspaper and the CEO of Samanyolu Media Group was arrested.

Both media institutions belonging to U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen's Hizmet movement have been critical of Erdogan and the ruling Justice and development Party AKP.

The two countries' relation has also been damaged over the Syria issue when Obama administration announced recently that U.S. could negotiate with Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime to stop Islamic State's advent in the Middle East.

The two countries haven't reached a consensus in taking a common stand on the issue. "Turkey put itself in a very difficult position in Syria insisting on toppling the Assad regime," said Turkey's former ambassador Murat Bilhan.

"Ankara couldn't take a step back from its current standpoint anymore," he added.

In the meantime, the U.S. has discovered that Turkey's model of being a "democratic, Islamic country" couldn't be enforced in the Arab spring countries, Babis said.

"The regimes that have been supported by U.S. in some Arab countries have turned out to be instable structures. Therefore, in the changing Middle East equation, the relation between the two countries should be redefined," he said.

According to Bilhan, the general election that will be held in June in Turkey and the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide will be critical in determining the future of the relation between the U.S. and Turkey.

"The big political picture in Turkey is quite complicated for the moment. The election is quite important and has the potential to affect long term future of the country and its relation with the U.S.," he said.

As for the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide that will be commemorated on April 24, "any statement that would come from the U.S. has the potential to increase the tension between Ankara and Washington even more," Babis said.

On April 24, Armenia is set to commemorate the Armenian genocide, which witnessed the deportation and deaths of more than 1.5 million Armenians during World War I.

However, Ankara has long been denying the mass killings of Armenian by the Ottoman Empire, claiming that it was the natural consequences of the war itself and the inter-ethnic violence.

However, a group of U.S. congressmen has introduced a resolution that labels the killing of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire as genocide.

According to Bilhan, the reshuffled U.S. congress and its new members are not the sympathizer of Turkey. "Therefore, we have to see what their next reaction will be for the 100th anniversary of the so-called Armenian genocide," he said.

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