No one has the right to test Turkey, Davutoğlu says in reply to Kerry
'We take our own decisions and will do what is necessary in order to protect our national interests,' PM Davutoğlu said in an interview late Sept 22.No one can have the gall to “test” Turkey, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has said in reply to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry after the latter said the “proof would be in the pudding” regarding Ankara’s willingness to join the fight against jihadists in Iraq and Syria.
“No one can give a test to Turkey, as if it was not doing what is necessary. We take our own decisions and will do what is necessary if this decision is a must to protect our national interests,” Davutoğlu said in an interview late Sept. 22.
Kerry had stated that the United States was expecting Turkey to step up in the fight against ISIL now that the country had secured the release of 49 hostages that were held by the militants. Davutoğlu said the issue was discussed with U.S. Secretary of State and Defense Minister Chuck Hagel during a recent visit to Ankara.
The prime minister cited some foreign media reports and said they were giving the impression that Turkey was “being tested and had to prove itself.”
“Everybody should know – something that I also told Mr. Kerry when I was the foreign minister – that Turkey does not have to prove anything. Turkey has always displayed that it can take a decisive attitude in line with facts that it believes in. They witnessed how Turkey was attentive even at times when [our] allies did not take enough care for some of our sensitivities,” Davutoğlu said.
No one can associate the issue with the Turkish hostages and say, “Let’s see what Turkey will do,” he said.
“It’s us that will make the decision of what we’ll do, and we have not made that decision at the moment,” he said.
If the intention is to launch a joint strategy in the region, “then Turkey is not a country that will be given an exam paper, but rather a country that will be discussed as an equal,” Davutoğlu said.
“We have our concerns, our national interests and priorities. We can sit down and discuss all these with them,” Davutoğlu said, adding that so far Ankara had always been in such dialogue with U.S. officials.
“In this sense, Kerry’s reported remarks are not on a sound ground with regard to his relations with us,” the prime minister said.
“As our priority regarding the hostages has been met, now our point is to adopt a perception which will maintain peace and stability in the region. Taking the fight against ISIL, against terrorist organizations in general, as a principle, we are right in asking to see the post-struggle [vision against ISIL] and seek a common ground on which the parameters of this [vision] will be maintained,” he said.
ISIL “should be cleared out, since these groups are a threat to all,” Davutoğlu said, but stressed that if this was achieved in a way that opens the floodgates for the Syrian government, then similar groups would show up under different guises.
Elaborating on the Sept. 20 operation to release the Turkish hostages, Davutoğlu said the people used as intermediaries fit into a “grey zone,” such as a scholar of Turkmen origin or an esteemed tribal leader who are both respected by the militant group.
One of the militants who had sympathy for Turkey helped Ankara with information on the hostages, but he was killed by the group when revelations about his provision of information were revealed, Davutoğlu said.