Obama ‘applauds’ Turkey’s effort to find peaceful solution to Kurdish problem

Obama ‘applauds’ Turkey’s effort to find peaceful solution to Kurdish problem

Obama ‘applauds’ Turkey’s effort to find peaceful solution to Kurdish problem

US President Barack Obama. EPA photo

U.S. President Barack Obama has applauded the efforts of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to find a peaceful solution to the Kurdish problem.

“I applaud Prime Minister Erdoğan’s efforts to seek a peaceful resolution to a struggle that has caused so much pain and sorrow for the people of Turkey for more than 30 years,” Obama told daily Milliyet’s Washington representative, Pınar Ersoy, in an e-mail interview.

Turkey has launched a “peace process” aiming to end the three-decade-old conflict between security forces and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). For the first time in recent Turkish history, Turkish officials have openly held talks with the imprisoned leader of the PKK, Abdullah Öcalan.

“I believe that the proactive measures that the Turkish government is undertaking can lead to real progress. A peaceful resolution will not only improve the lives of millions of citizens living in the violence-torn regions of southeast Turkey, it will mean more security and prosperity for people across Turkey for generations to come. The Turkish people should know that the United States will continue to support – in concrete ways – their desire to close this terrible chapter and begin a new chapter of peace and security,” the president told the daily.

Embassy attack

Commenting on the attack on the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, Obama said it was an outrageous act of terrorism while underlining the cooperation between the two governments. “The attack on our embassy compound in Ankara was an outrageous act of terrorism for which there is absolutely no justification. This was a tragedy for both our countries. Our hearts go out to the family of Mustafa Akarsu, who gave his life to protect others, Turks and Americans. We are very grateful for the prompt response of the Turkish authorities, and the cooperation between our two governments has been excellent. We’ll continue to coordinate closely and do everything we can to bring the perpetrators to justice,” the president said. The suicide attack killed the embassy security guard and wounded a Turkish journalist.

Syrian crisis

On the Syrian crisis, Obama said President Bashar al-Assad’s regime will ultimately come to an end as it is weakening day by day. “We are very mindful that the days ahead will continue to be extremely difficult, for the Syrian people and the region. But we also know that the [al-]Assad regime continues to weaken and lose territory. The regime continues to suffer defections, while the opposition grows stronger. And make no mistake – the [al-]Assad regime will ultimately come to an end and the Syrian people will have the opportunity to decide their own destiny. That’s the future that we will continue to work toward, in partnership with Turkey and the international community,” the president said.

The U.S. president also praised Turkey’s role in solving the crisis and dealing with the massive influx of Syrian refugees. “We’ve taken all these steps in close coordination with the Turkish government, and I want to commend Prime Minister Erdoğan and the Turkish government for playing a leadership role in trying to [bring an] end to the violence and begin a political transition in Syria. I especially want to applaud the people of Turkey, who have shown incredible generosity in hosting more than 170,000 Syrians who escaped the violence and found refuge in camps in Turkey.”

Questions Obama has not answered


U.S. President Barack Obama answered seven questions among the 11 asked. The four questions he decided not to answer are as follows:

-Ankara’s economic and diplomatic ties with Iraq’s north is developing, while the relations with Baghdad are weakening. What is your opinion on this new picture and distribution of Kurdish Iraq’s oil to the world through Turkey?

- Turkey and the U.S. had different stances on Israel’s military offensive against Gaza, Operation Pillar of Defense. Premier Erdoğan accused Israel of being a terrorist state while you defended the operation as self-defense. Has this difference caused any harm to Turkey-U.S. ties?

- Prime Minister Erdoğan said in a TV interview that he is considering joining the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) as an alternative to the European Union. Is this a feasible choice for Turkey when ties with the U.S. are considered?

- The 100th anniversary of the 1915 incidents are close. Do you plan to back an Armenian Genocide bill or recognize the Armenian Genocide as you promised during your election campaign in 2008?