Turkey has two main demands from Trump administration to mend ties with US: FM
Turkey has two main expectations from the incoming administration of U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, Turkey’s foreign minister has said, naming them as the extradition of Fethullah Gülen, the alleged mastermind of the July 2016 coup attempt, and the cessation of cooperation with Syrian Kurds against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
“We believe that the new administration [of U.S. President-elect Donald Trump] will not continue the same mistakes [committed by the outgoing administration of Barack Obama]. We have two main expectations. First, the extradition of the head of FETÖ [Fethullahist Terror Organization] as soon as possible. Second, ending cooperation with the YPG [People’s Protection Units], an affiliate of the PKK [Kurdistan Workers’ Party],” Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said in an address to Turkish ambassadors gathered in Ankara for an annual conference on Jan. 9.
The theme of this year’s conference is “Toward 2023: National Values and Global Objectives.”
Recalling that the fulfillment of the two expectations would have great importance in regards to Turkish-U.S. relations, Çavuşoğlu said: “Turkey and U.S. are two strategic partners who have capabilities and power to create positive impacts over a wide region. We believe this cooperation must be preserved.”
Relations between Turkey and the U.S. have been suffering from serious differences over the status and role of the Syrian Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its armed wing, the YPG. Turkey recognizes the group as the offshoot of the PKK and therefore as a terrorist organization.
Trump will take over U.S. presidency from Obama on Jan. 20.
July 15 coup attempt was against Turkish diplomacy as well
Declaring the July 15, 2016, coup attempt as the “most treacherous act” against Turkey, its people and its democracy, Çavuşoğlu said: “This coup attempt also targeted our foreign policy. The fight against FETÖ, the perpetrator of this coup attempt, is one of the top priorities of our foreign policy.”
Turkey has engaged in around 9,000 diplomatic actions since coup, the minister said, thanking Turkish ambassadors for their comprehensive work against Gülenist structures abroad. Çavuşoğlu underlined once again that the possible extradition of Gülen would be closely followed in this new era.
More friends, fewer foes
Reiterating the motto Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım introduced to Turkey’s new foreign policy – “more friends, fewer foes” – Çavuşoğlu said, “The main frame of this understanding is that ‘Our region will be peaceful so that we can continue to deal with our own business.’” Turkey’s efforts on this front will continue, he added.
EU should fulfill promises
Çavuşoğlu also delivered important messages to the European Union, calling on Brussels to fulfill its promises to grant visa-free travel to Turkish nationals. “EU leaders should see this point: Turkey has made its own contribution to the EU’s peace and security today. An EU without Turkey will be incomplete,” he said.
The EU should stick to universal values and maintain its promises to Turkey, he said. “Our expectation from the EU is to grant visa liberalization, remove artificial obstacles in front of Turkey’s accession and show a determined stance against terror organizations.”
Turkey’s foreign policy is so rich that it cannot be squeezed between “Schengen and Shanghai,” he said, meaning Ankara is not in a position to make a choice between the EU and the Russia- and China-led Shanghai Cooperation Council.
‘We are focused on Astana’
On ongoing efforts to reach a solution to the ongoing Syrian unrest, Çavuşoğlu said Turkey was now focused on the upcoming Astana talks between the Syrian government and the opposition.
“We are expecting to have a result that will be complimentary to the Geneva process,” he said. The Astana talks will take place on Jan. 23 and the U.N. is planning to continue the process in Geneva under the U.N. Security Council Resolution 2254.
Explaining that Turkey’s cross-border operation into Syria was continuing near al-Bab, the minister said, “We will hopefully clear al-Bab from these bloody-handed terrorists” – a reference to ISIL.
No concession on principles in ties with Russia
Turkey’s recent reconciliation with Russia has yielded results on regional issues and bilateral economic issues, but good ties with Moscow do not mean Turkey will abandon its principles on issues like Crimea.
“Our dialogue with Russia is helping to directly address many issues. But we are not giving any concession on our principles. We support the territorial integrity of Georgia and Ukraine. We do not accept the annexation of Crimea,” he added.
Tribute to slain Russian envoy
In the opening ceremony of the conference, Çavuşoğlu respectfully recalled the assassination of Russian Ambassador to Turkey Andrey Karlov on Dec. 19, saying, “The loss of Ambassador Karlov is a mutual pain and loss of Turkish and Russian people.” Karlov was shot dead by a police officer at an art show in Ankara. Police are still investigating the incident.