Erdoğan disappointed by Obama, Putin
Mehmet Arslan - LOUISVILLETurkey has been left disappointed by economic and political ties with the United States during the waning days of President Barack Obama’s term, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said, expressing similar feelings about his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin.
“We were very hopeful when Mr. Obama picked Turkey as the first country to visit when he took the seat,” Erdoğan said, responding to journalists’ questions on mutual ties on a plane as he returned early from the United States, where he attended part of boxing legend Muhammad Ali’s funeral.
Erdoğan also recalled that the two countries also hoped to build a “model partnership.”
“Unfortunately our expectations did not come true. For example, in the economic fields, the ties declined instead of improving. Our expectations in foreign politics were also not fulfilled,” he said.
The president said the U.S. withdrew from Iraq as Obama had promised but moved from there to Afghanistan. Obama could not solve the Guantanamo prison issue, he added.
“We could not show a strong presence together on Syria and Iraq,” he said. One of the most prominent problems is the U.S. support for the Kurdish People’s Protection Unit (YPG), the armed wing of the Syria’s Democratic Union Party (PYD), in its fight against the Islamic State of Iraq (ISIL), Erdoğan said.
Turkey links the YPG to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and has pushed its ally to avoid any cooperation with it.
“They are losing half of their gun aid to them to DAESH,” Erdoğan said using another acronym for ISIL.
The Turkish people are also irked by the “sincere” photos of U.S. soldiers with YPG militants on the ground, he said. “These things upset us.”
But while commenting of the deadlock in Syria, Erdoğan said it was not right to blame Obama for everything.
“But of course I would expect a much stronger stance from Obama and I still do,” he said. “Your NATO ally faces a threat at its Syrian border. It disappoints Turkey when those who have assumed a role in this threat receive power from you.”
Another issue of discomfort is Russia’s outlook on Syria, the president said.
“Our friendship with Mr. Putin carried the mutual relations to a very advanced level,” Erdoğan said, adding that this totally changed after the downing of a Russian plane by a Turkish jet for allegedly violating the Turkish airspace in November 2015.
The president said Turkish trade volume with Russia was even higher than trade with the U.S. and that the goal was to reach $100 billion annually.
“I hope that the relations will recover soon and we will return to those old days even more strongly,” Erdoğan said.