Yıldırım calls on new US administration to ‘take steps to break anti-American feelings’ in Turkey
Hande Fırat - ANKARAAs President-elect Donald Trump prepares to enter the Oval Office, Turkey has voiced three key demands from the new U.S. administration: The extradition of Pennsylvania-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen, ceasing support for Syrian Kurdish groups, and taking steps to counter anti-American feelings in the Turkish society.
“The new U.S. administration has to take three concrete steps to mend ties with Turkey,” Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım told reporters at parliament late on Jan. 18.
“First, it has to extradite the leader of the FETÖ who has ruined our relationship. Legal process should be expedited,” Yıldırım said, referring to Gülen, believed to be the head of what the government refers to as the “Fethullahist Terror Organization (FETÖ),” blamed for the bloody coup attempt in July 2016. Ankara officially demanded Gülen’s extradition after the coup attempt but has yet to receive a positive response.
Turkey’s second demand from the U.S., according to Yıldırım, is putting an end to supporting and shipping arms to the Syrian Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its armed wing the People’s Protection Units (YPG).
“You can’t eliminate a terror organization with the cooperation of another terror organization. This is not something a state would do. The U.S. has been our partner in NATO for decades. The fight against terrorism should not be made with the wrong partners. They should ally with Turkey. We are hearing that the new administration also holds this view,” he added.
Turkey and the U.S. soured relations in the last year because of the latter’s engagement with the PYD in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), although the Turkish government considers the Syrian Kurdish group as the offshoot of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and therefore a terrorist organization.
“We have said almost everything about the PYD. They cannot say that they don’t know about it. Now, the U.S. is seemingly more positive on [Turkey’s] Euphrates Shield Operation and fight against the DAESH,” the prime minister said, using an Arabic acronym for the ISIL.
‘Correct the anti-American feelings in Turkish society’
“The Turkish people have a very negative perception on the U.S. at the moment. We are expecting some visible steps to correct this perception, which further deepened after the July [coup attempt],” Yıldırım also stated, without detailing what these steps could be.
The prime minister said the Trump administration had invited his advisor İhsan Durdu to attend the inauguration in Washington on Jan. 20, expressing his belief that ties between the two allies will soon be normalized.
“Their messages are not negative. I think their approach [on Turkey] will change. I also believe that the U.S. administration’s negative stances on the Syria and Iraq policies will also be changed. They say their influence in the region has diminished. They say they will work closer with Turkey on these issues. This is good,” Yıldırım added.