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