The U.S. wants to cooperate with Turkey not only on Libya and Syria but also in many other areas, including the Mediterranean, the Black Sea and the Caucasus regions, Turkey’s foreign minister said on June 9.
In an interview with state broadcaster TRT Haber, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said Ankara is approaching an upcoming meeting between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his U.S. counterpart Joe Biden with a positive agenda, adding his country has received similar signals from Washington.
A face-to-face meeting between the two leaders is scheduled to take place on the sidelines of a NATO summit in Brussels on June 14.
Çavuşoğlu also talked about Turkey’s purchase of air defense systems, underlining that “if the U.S. does not guarantee Patriot [missiles], we can get air defense systems from our other allies.”
On Turkey’s relations with France, he said the French trade minister will visit Turkey.
“We will take important economic steps together in the upcoming period, as well as strengthen our bilateral relations,” he said.
He said the NATO summit to be held next week is of great significance in that the organization’s document on its 2030 vision will be discussed.
Çavuşoğlu also drew attention to U.S. sanctions on Turkey, the support Washington provides to the YPG terrorist organization active around Turkey’s border with Syria and the U.S.’s attitude toward the FETÖ, which is responsible for the attempted coup in Turkey in 2016, as well as disagreements between Washington and Ankara over Turkey’s acquisition of Russia’s S-400 air defense system.
“We see that the U.S. is willing to work with Turkey in many strategic fields. We have been observing this with all of our contacts, including Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Biden,” Çavuşoğlu said.
“How are we going to solve these issues? Will we be able to strengthen cooperation while repairing future-oriented relations?”
On the issue of the FETÖ terror group, Çavuşoğlu said Turkey has certain expectations but has not received a signal that they will be met by the U.S.
He added that his contacts and the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) told him they have seen FETÖ’s “dark face.”
“They make good use of technology and people. We have seen many illegal activities committed by them in many fields, from visa smuggling within the US to money laundering,” Çavuşoğlu said he was told.
FETÖ and its U.S.-based leader Fetullah Gülen orchestrated the defeated coup of July 15, 2016 in which 251 people were killed and 2,734 injured.
Ankara also accuses FETÖ of being behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police and judiciary.
Concerning the S-400 defense system that Turkey purchased from Russia, Çavuşoğlu reminded the audience that NATO’s secretary-general had previously said the allies could purchase any desired defense industry product from any desired country.
He noted that the U.S. does not approve of the S-400 system for being against NATO systems, and continued: “We made the offer for a technical committee, but they did not accept. Because they, too know their claims are not right.”
Çavuşoğlu said French President Emmanuel Macron requested a meeting with his Turkish counterpart Erdoğan as part of next week’s summit.
“It is being scheduled as well. There will be meetings held with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis among other leaders.”
Stating that negotiations between Turkey and France have begun despite disagreements, he said “France now wants to have talks over Africa as well, which is good. We do not regard anyone as rivals. We do not compete in Africa.”
Çavuşoğlu commented that contacts and dialogue result in less issues in dispute.
Touching on Israel’s ongoing violent attitude towards Palestine, Çavuşoğlu said: “In order for relations between Turkey and Israel to continue normally, Israel should desist from aggressive policies.”
He avoided commenting on the formation of the new government in Israel, noting that commenting on a country’s domestic affairs would not be a right act, and underlined what matters is how the new government will meet the expectations of Turkey and the international community.
Çavuşoğlu said Israel should avoid any steps that would harm the two-state solution, adding “a permanent peace is only possible through a two-state solution.”
“I hope the new administration, the new government, if it is to be formed, will not resort to inhumane means against international law which have been adopted so far during the rule of [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu but prefers permanent peace.”
He added that only under these conditions can Israel have Turkey’s help and support.