US, Turkish ministers exchange criticisms at NATO talks

US, Turkish ministers exchange criticisms at NATO talks

US, Turkish ministers exchange criticisms at NATO talks

Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo exchanged criticisms at a NATO ministerial conference on Dec. 2 after the latter strongly criticized Turkey.

Pompeo reportedly accused Turkey of playing into the hands of NATO’s rival Moscow by buying the Russian S-400 missile defense system despite the allies’ opposition.

He urged Ankara to behave more like an ally, accusing it of thwarting efforts to build unanimity for necessary reforms, according to those taking part, the senior participants of the meeting told AFP.

A U.S. spokesman would not confirm or deny the details of Pompeo’s participation in Tuesday’s foreign minister’s videoconference, but several well-placed sources described the exchange as heated, the agency reported.

“His intervention was quite short but very clear,” the senior official told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity to describe a closed-door diplomatic discussion. Another source familiar with the talks said the exchange was “punchy.” The official U.S. State Department readout of the meeting did not mention Turkey, but Pompeo has been critical of Ankara in recent weeks.

In return, Çavuşoğlu gave a strong response to Pompeo who has a short tenure left after the U.S. elections, expressing Turkey’s position, daily Hürriyet reported, quoting anonymous participants of the meeting.

Çavuşoğlu said Turkey purchased the S-400 systems because the U.S. did not sell Patriot systems to Ankara. On the issue of the dispute in the eastern Mediterranean, the minister said that the side that did not agree to dialogue was Greece.

The purchase of S-400 was not an option but an obligation, Çavuşoğlu stated, adding that the real question that should be asked was “why the U.S. left Turkey unanswered for the sale of Patriot systems to Ankara for the last 10 years?”

He also noted that Washington’s faulty approach was confirmed by U.S. President Donald Trump as well.

Çavuşoğlu also reacted to the comments of Pompeo on the issues of Libya and Nagorno-Karabakh as he attempted to characterize it as an ally that fueled the conflicts.

Ankara is positioned next to the legitimate government in Libya, and if one is talking about a political process in Libya, this was possible thanks to Turkey, the minister said.

Pompeo showed an attitude parallel to Greece’s thesis on the eastern Mediterranean that claims that Turkey has a provocative act, daily Hürriyet reported.

While Germany acts as an impartial mediator on this issue, the U.S. supports the maximalist claims of Greece and Greek Cypriots, Çavuşoğlu said.

Çavuşoğlu also emphasized “the wrongness of the U.S. approach to terrorist organizations.” He recalled Turkey’s fight against the ISIL in Syria and criticized the U.S. support to the YPG group there.