Turkey, US in di­a­logue to sal­vage ties from mess Am­bas­sador Bass left be­hind

Daily Sabah (Turkey) - - Front Page - Ozan Cey­hun

A re­lease is ex­pected soon in Ankara-Washington ten­sions, which emerged after Turkey’s ar­rest of a U.S. Con­sulate em­ployee over his links to FETÖ and re­sulted in a mu­tual sus­pen­sion of visas, as Am­bas­sador Bass, whom Turkey re­gards as re­spon­si­ble for the ten­sions, will leave within days

THE U.S.’S de­ci­sion to sus­pend visa ser­vices at its mis­sions in Turkey is likely to be re­versed in the com­ing days after the de­par­ture of out­go­ing U.S. Am­bas­sador John Bass (L). Prime Min­is­ter Bi­nali Yıldırım hinted yes­ter­day that strained ties be­tween Turkey and the U.S. would nor­mal­ize soon. “We hope that re­la­tions be­tween the two al­lies will re­turn to nor­mal soon,” he said in an ad­dress to pro­vin­cial gover­nors in Ankara on Wednesday. In line with Yıldırım’s re­marks, Bass also ex­pressed his hope of find­ing a way out of the prob­lem soon. “We are com­mit­ted to con­tinue our con­ver­sa­tion, which is al­ready un­der­way, be­tween the two gov­ern­ments. Our hope that we will be able to re­solve this mat­ter quickly,” Bass, who is ex­pected to leave Ankara this week­end, told jour­nal­ists yes­ter­day in the cap­i­tal. Diplo­matic sources who are fa­mil­iar with the is­sue ac­knowl­edged that there is an on­go­ing diplo­matic ef­fort to re­solve the visa prob­lem, in- di­cat­ing that restor­ing re­la­tions be­tween the two coun­tries would take place after Bass’s de­par­ture. For­eign Min­is­ter Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu spoke with U.S. Sec­re­tary of State Rex Tiller­son yes­ter­day as part of ef­forts to nor­mal­ize ties. Turk­ish of­fi­cials have con­demned the long-time U.S. diplo­mat for what they say is his role in the cri­sis. Bass’s de­par­ture has been viewed as a pos­si­ble way to­ward nor­mal­iza­tion of U.S.-Turk­ish ties, as Bass has irked Ankara sev­eral times since his ap­point­ment by for­mer U.S. Pres­i­dent Barack Obama.

Turkey is not like it used to be. Those who do not ac­cept this and at­tempt to in­ter­vene in the coun­try’s in­ter­nal af­fairs amid aims to bring back the old Turkey should end this and get used to the new Turkey. I sur­mise that the U.S. is the lead­ing voice in con­fronting this prob­lem, as U.S. of­fi­cials seem to in­sist on per­pet­u­at­ing the mis­takes of for­mer U.S. Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s ad­min­is­tra­tion, try­ing to rule Turkey as they did in the old days when Turkey was con­trolled by junta regimes fol­low­ing the 1960, 1971 and 1980 mil­i­tary coups. As such, the U.S. had a bitter farewell din­ner on Mon­day. The U.S. Em­bassy in Ankara or­ga­nized an event to bid farewell to U.S. Am­bas­sador John Bass, whose term is about to end. Not a sin­gle politi­cian or state of­fi­cial from the gov­ern­ment or the op­po­si­tion par­ties at­tended the event. Jour­nal­ists at the event also crit­i­cized Amer­i­can diplo­mats for not invit­ing the me­dia out­lets they re­gard as pro-gov­ern­ment, de­spite claim­ing to be the rep­re­sen­ta­tives of free­doms. For the first time in Turkey, a U.S. am­bas­sador has be­come per­sona non grata.

The rea­son for this sit­u­a­tion is not merely the lat­est sus­pen­sion of visa ser­vices in Turkey. It must be noted that the Turk­ish pub­lic does not be­lieve that the U.S. is in­no­cent with re­gard to its role in the July 15 coup at­tempt. In­ves­ti­ga­tions into sev­eral peo­ple work­ing at the U.S. Con­sulate in Is­tan­bul are on­go­ing, as their links to the Gülenist Ter­ror Group (FETÖ) have been re­vealed. Me­dia cov­er­age has claimed that one of these de­fen­dants has con­fessed. In any case, the truth will sur­face soon. The Turk­ish pub­lic is not sur­prised by such de­vel­op­ments, as the ma­jor­ity of peo­ple in Turkey be­lieve that the U.S. has more links to FETÖ than have been re­vealed thus far, sur­mis­ing that so far, the truths that have been re­vealed are only the tip of the ice­berg.

Those who as­sumed that the old world or­der would con­tinue with­out er­ror with the elec­tion of Hil­lary Clin­ton were shocked by the vic­tory of Don­ald Trump in the U.S. pres­i­den­tial elec­tion. They have not eas­ily adapted to the new world or­der, the new U.S. or the new pres­i­dent. Ac­cord­ingly, Amer­i­can of­fi­cials and their diplo­mats have failed to catch up with the nov­el­ties in Turkey and the re­gion, which cer­tainly does not fa­vor the U.S.

Some of them en­gage in smear cam­paigns against Ankara, claim­ing that Turkey turned into an or­di­nary Mid­dle East­ern coun­try by leav­ing its for­mer state struc­ture be­hind, which does not make much sense. It is true that Turkey is no longer in need of the old and use­less weapons granted by the U.S. un­der the guise of mil­i­tary aid. Turkey has changed a lot, and it con­tin­ues to evolve. The coun­try now val­ues the devel­op­ment of an in­de­pen­dent de­fense in­dus­try. There­fore, Turkey can pur­chase S-400 mis­sile sys­tems from Rus­sia and or­der Pa­triot mis­siles from the U.S. as it wishes and make its own de­ci­sions, dis­in­ter­ested in the ob­so­lete sys­tems of­fered by NATO coun­tries.

Hope­fully, Euro­peans will get used to the new Turkey as well as the new world or­der and the new U.S. pres­i­dent. I am sure they are fol­low­ing de­vel­op­ments quite closely.

Turkey was once crit­i­cized for hav­ing prob­lems with all of its neigh­bors, al­though the sit­u­a­tion was not Turkey’s fault. This is even more ap­par­ent now. Turkey ex­erts the ut­most ef­fort to pro­vide peace in the re­gion. The coun­try does not presently have any prob­lem with Iraq, as it pro­vides full sup­port to the Iraqi cen­tral gov­ern­ment in its right­ful stance against Kur­dis­tan Regional Gov­ern­ment (KRG) Pres­i­dent Ma­soud Barzani in the wake of the in­de­pen­dence ref­er­en­dum that ef­fec­tively jeop­ar­dizes the ter­ri­to­rial in­tegrity of Iraq. The mil­i­taries of the two coun­tries are en­gag­ing in joint ex­er­cises. Turkey is also launch­ing joint op­er­a­tions in Syria with Rus­sian, Ira­nian and Syr­ian forces against Daesh and the PKK’s Syr­ian af­fil­i­ate Demo­cratic Union Party’s (PYD) Peo­ple’s Pro­tec­tion Units (YPG) mili­tia. Turkey is likely to be one of the clos­est neigh­bors of Syria in the fu­ture. The coun­try also main­tains close co­op­er­a­tion with Iran. In the af­ter­math of the pre­vi­ous cri­sis be­tween Rus­sia and Turkey that was trig­gered when a Rus­sian war­plane was shot down over Turkey, the two coun­tries had a rap­proche­ment and de­vel­oped closer ties. We are also on friendly terms with Bul­garia, an­other neigh­bor. As for Greece, al­though Turkey tries to avoid prob­lems with the coun­try, Athens hosted sev­eral FETÖ op­er­a­tives fol­low­ing the coup at­tempt, which un­der­mines GreekTurk­ish re­la­tions.

Turkey signed agree­ments with Ukraine worth mil­lions in eu­ros and form­ing close ties with Ser­bia. It also does not have any prob­lem with many EU coun­tries. Just like in Ser­bia, Turk­ish busi­nesses make sig­nif­i­cant con­tri­bu­tions to the economies of sev­eral EU coun­tries, in­clud­ing Ro­ma­nia and Poland.

In a nut­shell, EU lead­ers must look at the new Turkey from the per­spec­tive of these de­vel­op­ments and by over­com­ing bi­ases. Al­though the U.S. can­not man­age it, the EU can if they want.

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