Written by Staff Writer at CNN Los Angeles, for CNN
Considered the gold standard for the very best of Turkish hospitality, the palace of a once-maligned Turkish dictator known for tortured political murders and media censorship is now one of the country’s most closely-guarded diplomatic symbols.
Hereditary Crown Prince Binali Yildirim, heir to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan , visited the Ottoman-era palace — a vestige of Ottoman power — on the eve of a two-day state visit to the Turkish capital earlier this month.
Kabul, Tora Bora and Katmandu: the Middle East’s top 10 iconic landmarks
The building, known as Fort Bulur, is a looming reminder of the grip the Ottoman Empire once had on Turkey’s national identity. Built on the peninsula of the Sea of Marmara, it’s located in one of Turkey’s most critical security hotspots.
It was seized by Turkish troops during a 1954 invasion of Iran, one of the Turkish leader’s many overseas adventures.
Turkey’s political identity, once confined to the vast majority Kurdish majority — particularly in the North Anatolian region — now extends far beyond the borders of the East and South Anatolian regions. And by extension, the state of Turkey.
Mosques in Istanbul are not only predominantly Muslim but also Arabic and the leading site for communications in the region. Lutfi Ulukaya, CNN
The crown prince’s visit underscores the increasingly complex relationship between the Crown Prince of Turkey and the United States that has always been at the heart of Turkey’s efforts to bolster its own diplomatic power in the region.
The US stands to profit greatly from any new economic and energy contracts that might result from a move for peace between Turkey and Syrian Kurds. The two neighboring states have clashed on military, ideological and political grounds over the last year and a half, particularly as the Kurdish insurgency in Turkey has gone onto an unprecedented spin, with the resurgence of terrorist attacks across the country.
Foreign Office in #UnitedArabEmirates welcomes His Highness President Yıldırım for an official visit to #Turkey – visit is third since 2011 pic.twitter.com/XX57a8KsQO — مريم (@UAEIN) December 25, 2018
American firms, meanwhile, could find it easier to implement their business plans if, after years of uncertainty, Turkey was no longer considered a flight risk, the Ankara Post reported.
When Yıldırım visited Turkey for the first time in 2011, as defense minister, it was largely viewed as a triumphant moment.
And in 2014, Erdogan visited the United States where he asked US President Barack Obama to cancel a scheduled bombing campaign against ISIS in Iraq. It was widely seen as a bid to pressure the United States into lifting a travel ban that Turkey’s president had imposed on the United States in 2012, in response to what he believed to be discriminatory treatment against his country by the United States.
The Turkish president is no stranger to hot-button issues on the foreign front.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Getty Images
As President, Erdogan has actively promoted his own brand of Islam, Turkey’s staunchly secular democracy, and a more aggressive posture towards the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), long despised by Turkey.
For Turkey’s most vibrant and dynamic media, those issues invariably shape the international agenda.
If Turkey builds any bridges in Washington, they go through CNN instead of any Turkish media outlet.
Turkish Journalists Association suspends activities in Turkey over Yildirim visit
And as stories of corruption continue to grip Turkey’s institutions and headlines condemn his rise to power, Erdogan continues to modernize his country.
Turkey has been added to the OECD’s Human Development Index for the first time.
And an American journalist was recently barred from covering President Yıldırım’s visit — he was awarded an important US passport but deported when his request was declined.