Er­do­gan accuses US of ‘sac­ri­fic­ing’ re­la­tions with Turkey

Oman Daily Observer - - FRONT PAGE -

ANKARA: Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan on Thurs­day said the US was in dan­ger of “sac­ri­fic­ing” its re­la­tions with Turkey, as he blamed the Amer­i­can envoy to Ankara for the cri­sis in re­la­tions be­tween the Nato al­lies.

“It is the am­bas­sador here who caused this,” Er­do­gan told a meet­ing in Ankara, re­fer­ring to the out­go­ing US envoy in Turkey, John Bass.

“It is un­ac­cept­able for the United States to sac­ri­fice its strate­gic part­ner like Turkey for a pre­sump­tu­ous am­bas­sador,” he said.

The dispute erupted last week when Turkey ar­rested a Turk­ish em­ployee of the US con­sulate in Is­tan­bul on sus­pi­cion of links to Gulen, a USbased preacher who Ankara blames for last year’s failed coup.

In re­sponse, Wash­ing­ton halted is­su­ing non-im­mi­grant visas from its mis­sions in Turkey, prompt­ing Ankara to hit back with a tit-for-tat move.

Ap­pear­ing to have no re­grets de­spite the row, Er­do­gan said Turkey was “fully be­hind its de­ci­sion” on the visa sus­pen­sions.

Although Turk­ish of­fi­cials blamed the am­bas­sador for the spat, the State Depart­ment said Bass had been op­er­at­ing with the full au­thor­ity of the US gov­ern­ment.

Bass is due to leave Turkey at the week­end after he was named the US envoy to Afghanistan ear­lier this year.

“If the giant Amer­ica is ruled by an am­bas­sador in Ankara, what a shame,” Er­do­gan said. On Mon­day, Turk­ish prose­cu­tors sum­moned an­other lo­cal em­ployee work­ing at the US con­sulate in Is­tan­bul.

Er­do­gan on Thurs­day claimed that he was hid­ing in the con­sulate, but Bass had de­nied this the day be­fore, telling re­porters: “No one’s hid­ing at any of our fa­cil­i­ties.” Turk­ish au­thor­i­ties this week de­tained his wife, his son and his daugh­ter.

Turk­ish Jus­tice Min­is­ter Ab­dul­hamit Gul said the man cur­rently in po­lice cus­tody made a re­quest the day be­fore to see his lawyer and would meet with them on Fri­day.

“There had been no re­quest un­til yes­ter­day (Wed­nes­day),” he said.

Er­do­gan said the US re­sponse to the ar­rest of the con­sulate em­ployee was “un­fair” and “dis­pro­por­tion­ate”, and urged for com­mon sense.

Ankara wanted to open a new page in re­la­tions with the US un­der Trump but a spate of is­sues have raised ten­sions, in­clud­ing the US re­fusal to ex­tra­dite Gulen and Amer­i­can sup­port for Kurds in Syria.

Er­do­gan said that Turk­ish po­lice forces would no longer use guns made by US-based arms man­u­fac­turer Sig Sauer and would “take steps” to­wards us­ing Turk­ish-pro­duced weapons in­stead.

“From now on our po­lice depart­ment... will not and should not use Sig Sauer weapons,” he said.

Last month, the US gov­ern­ment froze arms sales to Er­do­gan’s body­guards after Turk­ish se­cu­rity of­fi­cials clashed with Kur­dish protesters in May fol­low­ing a meet­ing be­tween Er­do­gan and Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump.

The move blocks a deal with Sig Sauer for $1.2 mil­lion (1.1 mil­lion euros) worth of small arms.

— AFP

Turk­ish Pres­i­dent Tayyip Er­do­gan gives a speech dur­ing his meet­ing with provin­cial gover­nors at the Pres­i­den­tial Palace in Ankara.

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