Turkey’s frustration is bigger than US: Foreign minister
Turkey’s disappointment regarding the Trump administration’s stance is much deeper because it has not taken into account its ally’s national security concerns, the Turkish government has said in response to a statement from a White House official that United States President Donald Trump is frustrated Turkey has not released pastor Andrew Brunson.
“The president has a great deal of frustration on the fact that pastor Brunson has not been released as well as the fact that other U.S. citizens and employees of diplomatic facilities have not been released,” said White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders in a statement on Aug. 14.
“The U.S. or any other country should not just focus on their own frustrations. They should also take into account our frustrations [with regard to their policies]. We also have frustrations,” Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu told reporters on Aug. 15 in response to a question on Sanders’ statement.
Turkey and the U.S. are in historically low bilateral relations because of the continued detention of the pastor, which was kicked off by political and economic sanctions by Trump in early August.
For Çavuşoğlu, however, the U.S. decision to ally with the People’s Protection Units (YPG) in Syria, a group Ankara considers as terrorist, and to arm them, is a bigger source of disappointment for Turkey.
The U.S. inaction on Turkey’s extradition request for Fethullah Gülen, the leader of the Fethullahist Terror Organization (FETÖ), who Ankara blames for the coup attempt in July 2016, is another source of frustration for Turkey, he said.
“Now, they are even trying to protect FETÖ members in third countries. Why do they support them? Because they love traitors or because they love Turks, Muslims? We only tell the truth and say what we see. You should not just see it from your perspective,” Çavuşoğlu said.
The minister called on the U.S. to respect the judicial processes and to put an end to the idea that their objectives could be achieved by pressure or punitive actions.
Deeper frustration in Turkey
“If we are to talk about frustration, we should underline that Turkey’s frustration is much deeper,” said presidential spokesperson İbrahim Kalın, echoing Çavuşoğlu’s remarks on Turkey’s own frustration with moves by the U.S.
“So far, we have never observed concrete steps by either the Obama or Trump administration in meeting Turkey’s legitimate and immediate national security concerns while they come to a point to fully break ties and lose a country like Turkey for just one pastor,” Kalın said.
The spokesman recalled the U.S. had pledged real time intelligence against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) but he was not sure whether it has been provided.
No sanctions on F-35s
In the meantime, both Çavuşoğlu and Kalın explained the signing of the Pentagon bill delaying the transfer of F-35 aircrafts to Turkey for 90 days should not be considered as a sanction.
“Turkey is not just purchasing F-35s but a part of this project. It made its payments for the project. Turkey will have to resort to legal action if these aircrafts are not delivered. We hope this will not happen,” Kalın said.
The Pentagon budget bill includes a section on Turkey’s purchase of F-35s and obliges the Defense Secretary to issue a report on ties with Turkey and on the impact of Turkey’s procurement of the Russian S-400 air defense systems over the security of American weapon systems.
Çavuşoğlu, for his part, recalled that two F-35s have already been given to Turkey and that Turkish pilots are in a training program.
“In practical terms, this bill has no effect,” the foreign minister said, informing that these aircrafts will be operational two years later.
“Our advice to the U.S. is not to use these as a tool. This seriously tarnishes U.S. credibility. No country in the world is without alternatives and helpless. Every nation is honorable and needs to be respected,” he said.