Republican presidential candidateTexas Gov. Rick Perry speaks during the South Carolina Republican presidential candidate debate. AP photo
Texas governor and U.S. presidential hopeful Rick Perry suggested it might be time to kick Turkey out of NATO, calling the country's leaders "Islamic terrorists."
Perry made the remarks during Fox News' South Carolina debate, website Mediaite.com
Moderator Bret Baier reportedly mentioned Turkey's ruling "Islamist" Justice and Development Party (AKP) and outlined the increasing murder rates of women, declining press freedom in the country and deteriorating relations with Israel
Cyprus since the AKP came to power and asked Perry if he believed Turkey still belonged in NATO.
“Obviously when you have a country that is being ruled by what many would perceive to be Islamic terrorists, when you start seeing that type of activity against their own citizens, then ... not only is it time for us to have a conversation about whether or not they belong to be in NATO
but it’s time for the United States, when we look at their foreign aid, to go to zero with it,” Perry said, adding that Turkey "moved far away from the country it once was in the 1970s," when Perry was stationed in Turkey as a pilot.
The report said Perry's response "might surprise many" and mentioned Turkey's longstanding alliance with the U.S. in NATO, citing an article from the Washington Post that defined Turkey as "a critical diplomatic partner engaged in a working relationship that is one of the most important but least discussed developments shaping [2011’s] change in the Arab world.” Turkish Foreign Ministry condemns Perry's remarks
The Turkish Foreign Ministry released a statement that "condemned" the remarks of the U.S. Republican presidential candidate.
"It is expected of people aiming for a responsible position like the United States presidency to know more about the world and to be careful about what they say," the statement read. "Turkey became a member of NATO
when the governor was 2 years old. Turkey is an important member who has contributed immensely to the Transatlantic Organization's struggle and shall remain as one."
The statement also described the Turkish political leadership as "globally respected."
"It's been shown by the low support he received ahead of the presidential race that Perry's unfortunate remarks are not taken on by the Republican voters," the statement ended by saying. "The United States has no time to lose for names who fail its allies."