Commercial disputes threaten shaky Turkey-US relations 2 Riyals • Vol. XLV No. 294 • 16 pages
The already rocky relationship between Washington and Ankara is further threatened by two new disputes over telecoms and pharmaceuticals.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recently warned Turkey against using equipment made by Chinese telecoms giant Huawei, which is seen by the US and other countries as a tool for Chinese state espionage — thus threatening bilateral military relations — and already has access to a substantial amount of data in Turkey, where 4.6 million mobile users have a Huawei ID.
Jonathan Katz, senior fellow at the German Marshall Fund of the US, said Pompeo’s warning should not be seen merely as “symbolic” and that Turkey “will need to take Secretary Pompeo’s concerns and warnings seriously.”
Meanwhile, US Ambassador to Turkey David Satterfield stated in an online trade conference on Sept. 23 that Turkey’s state-run hospitals owe
American pharmaceutical companies around $2.3 billion and warned that any prospect of nonpayment or a request for a reduction is likely to dissuade US companies from operating in the Turkish market. “This is not a direction which serves the interests of Turkey,” Satterfield said.
Murat Emir, deputy leader of Turkey’s opposition, the Republican People’s Party (CHP), claimed on Thursday that the government had requested a 60-percent reduction in the amount owed and said Ankara is “undermining the country’s prestige.”
Turkey expert Matthew Goldman, from Istanbul’s Swedish Research Institute, said it is likely
Turkey’s ties with China will continue to harm US-Turkey relations for some time.
In terms of the pharma crisis, Goldman said: “The fragility of Turkey’s public finances is unfortunately highlighted by this case and it can no longer count on goodwill in Washington to help sort it out.”
Pompeo warned Turkey against using equipment made by Chinese telecoms giant Huawei, which is seen by the US and other countries as a tool for Chinese state espionage — thus threatening bilateral military relations — and already has access to a substantial amount of data in Turkey.