US, Turkey need each other: Deputy FM
WASHINGTON- Anadolu Agency
The U.S. and Turkey need each other, despite having differences over a few issues, Turkish Deputy Foreign Minister Yavuz Selim Kıran said on May 23.
Kıran spoke at a panel at New York's Harvard Club as part of a visit by a Turkish delegation to the U.S.
Earlier this week, the delegation, which includes Cağrı Erhan, a member of the Presidential Security and Foreign Policy Committee, and journalist and academician Bora Bayraktar, visited Washington, where they held discussions at the House of Representatives for two days on U.S.-Turkish relations as well as Turkey's silk road initiative called the "Middle Corridor."
Kıran highlighted a few issues between the two countries, including U.S. support for the PYD/YPG, the Syrian branch of the illegal PKK, and Turkey's procurement of Russia's S-400 missile defense system.
Tensions between the U.S. and Turkey have reached a fever pitch in recent months with Turkey set to begin receiving the advanced S-400 Russian surface-to-air missile system which Washington said will jeopardize Turkey's role in the U.S. F-35 fighter jet program and could trigger congressional sanctions.
In Syria, the U.S. has supported the PYD/YPG, despite Turkey repeatedly raising security concerns after the announced withdrawal of American troops from the country in February, saying the pullout would give room for the group- which is listed as a terrorist group by Turkey, the U.S. and the EU- to expand operations.
Another standing issue is FETÖ. Turkey has repeatedly called on the U.S. to extradite its leader, Fetullah Gülen, to Turkey to face trial for attempting to undermine the government by orchestrating the July 15, 2016 coup attempt.
"FETÖ is a big threat for us. Not only for us, but they are also a big threat for the countries they are active in," Kıran said.
Despite being divided over a few issues of national security and defense, Kıran said he was hopeful for the future of U.S.-Turkish relations.
Erhan, who is also rector of Altınbaş University in Istanbul, noted that Turkish-American relations are mostly based on military contacts and the two sides should engage more in other sectors in order to boost their alliance.
"I think we have to strengthen more bilateral academic, cultural and business ties," Erhan said.
Kıran also mentioned that U.S. President Donald Trump and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan agreed to work towards increasing the trade volume between the two countries to $75 billion.
Bayraktar, for his part, criticized the U.S. approach to the Middle East, saying that Washington gave special status to some countries over others.
He said the U.S.'s attempts to forge alliances with Saudi Arabia, Israel and the YPG/PKK "do not match the realities of the region.”