Pennsylvania a key in U.S. - Turkish relations

Leaders from across the globe descended on Manhattan this week for the 71st United Nations General Assembly. As the term of Secretary General Ban Ki Moon concludes and the world community grapples with unprecedented challenges, the year's gathering takes on added importance.
The two nations I hold most dear will take center stage in New York. The critical alliance between the country of my birth, Turkey, and my adopted country, the United States, faces a difficult road ahead, but lessons can be learned from history. As a proud Pennsylvanian, I value historical lessons and wisdom from our Founding Fathers.
U.S.-Turkish friendship dates to 1831, when President Andrew Jackson established formal diplomatic relations with the Ottoman Empire. With the founding of Turkish Republic after World War I, President Calvin Coolidge recommitted to robust bilateral relations in a rapidly changing Middle East. Beginning in 1952 and prominently throughout the Cold War, Turkey has been a NATO ally, standing shoulder to shoulder with the Pentagon. Trade volume between the United States and Turkey has grown to from $10.8 billion in 2009 to $19.1 billion in 2014. 
Headquartered in Pennsylvania, my company contributes in our small way to strengthening this unbreakable alliance.  With organic produce picked from 1.5 million Turkish trees growing in the Mediterranean sun, we import each year more than 1,000 containers into the Port of Elizabeth, N.J. We then bottle and package organic juice, fruits, berries and nuts for distribution to store shelves in more than 40 states.
Unfortunately, Pennsylvania over the last few years has featured prominently in U.S.-Turkish relations. Indeed, this summer — after a failed coup in Turkey — the word "Pennsylvania" has been uttered at dinner tables, board rooms, television studios and rally stages across Turkey. The president of Turkey has called for the U.S. to extradite exiled preacher Fethullah Gulen, who lives in Saylorsburg, Pa.
The tragic events of July 15 not only fully thrust "Pennsylvania" into Turkish vernacular, but also claimed the lives of two dear friends. The coup against a democratically elected government shook not only me, but the entire U.S.-Turkish alliance to its core.
I leave it to Turkish and American government leaders to further discuss the fate of Fethullah Gulen and the future of his "exile" in Pennsylvania. What is clear is that this one situation has negatively affected not only U.S.-Turkish relations during a critical time in the war on terror, but also cast a dark shadow across our commonwealth just as U.S.-Turkish trade volume is poised to continue its exponential growth. 
I trust that in the discussions on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, U.S. government leaders will remember the maxim of the first U.S. Secretary of State, Thomas Jefferson: "Information is the currency of democracy." 
Turkey is a democracy. Turkey is a critical ally in every sense of the word, not least of which commercially. Government leaders earnestly trading this currency — candidly discussing what really happened on July 15 and what connections exist to Pennsylvania — is in the best interest of everyone. 
Murat Guzel is founder and CEO of Nimeks Organics headquartered in Bethlehem.