We value our relations, Turkey is strategic ally, says US envoy
Sevil Erkuş - ANKARA
The United States highly values its ties with Turkey as a strategic ally, and these relations are important for both sides, the U.S. ambassador to Ankara said on Feb. 5.
“We highly value the relationship with Turkey in all of its dimensions. In the security relationship, Turkey is a valued and an essential NATO partner, a strategic ally,” U.S. Ambassador David Satterfield told a group of journalists.
Highlighting the significant economic and commercial ties, the ambassador noted that the U.S. has over $30 billion of investment in Turkey, while the bilateral trade exceeds $30 billion.
The envoy said his administration is obliged to implement the law adopted during the Trump administration for sanctions against Turkey that were imposed over Turkey’s purchase of Russian-made S-400 defense systems.
“The S-400 issue regrettably compelled the previous administration to execute the U.S. law and those sanctions under [Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act] CAATSA. We targeted those sanctions very precisely. We did not aim at affecting the Turkish defense sector as a whole. But rather specific licenses to [Turkey’s Presidency of Defense Industries] SSB,” Satterfield stated.
“We were compelled to take this step with regret. We had hoped well over a year that there will be a satisfactory resolution to the problem created by the Turkish acquisition of S-400s. In the end, it wasn’t possible. We implemented the U.S. law. As of the end of January, the national defense authorization act requires to order that CAATSA sanctions to be waved that Turkey not be in possession of the S-400,” Satterfield said.
The two allies could also focus on other cooperation areas if the problem is not solved, he added.
“I want to clarify here, there is no study group, working group nor will there be. This is an issue of execution of U.S. statute and U.S. law. We hope the issue of the S-400 can be resolved, but if it cannot be, we will continue to focus on all the areas of our cooperation that are not directly affected of by the sanctions put in place,” he said.
Elaborating on the new U.S. administration’s position in dealing with the YPG in northern Syria, the envoy said Washington’s policy has not changed on the issue.
Satterfield expressed concerns for recent comments that the U.S. was involved in the 2016 coup attempt in Turkey.
Referring to some recent comments on the LGBT community, he said wherever those statements are made, they “do not contribute to the understanding to support, to acceptance of those who may be different.”