May 24 2018

Turkey's "trend is wrong," says Pompeo

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has criticised the direction of Turkey's foreign policy at a Senate hearing, saying that the United States' NATO ally's "trend is wrong."

Pompeo touched on Turkey in response to a question during Thursday's Senate hearing, during which a Senator characterised Turkey's actions, including what he called cooperation with Russia and attacks on Kurds, as "(undermining) the NATO alliance." 

"The trend is wrong, to be sure," responded Pompeo. "Their actual possession of S-400 creates multiple challenges between us and Turkey, Turkey and NATO. We are pressing diplomatically to make it clear we're trying to offer them alternatives as well. We're trying to do things that encourage them to come back. They're obviously still a member of NATO. I hope that their actions will prove to be more consistent with what NATO's primary objectives are."

Pompeo called for Turkey to “rejoin” the North Atlantic Treaty Organization by acting in a way consistent with the alliance during a House hearing on Wednesday, and added that he had not yet made a decision on the delivery of F-35 fighter jets to Turkey.

Turkey is set to purchase as many as 100 of the latest generation stealth fighter, though a proposal lodged in U.S. congress to temporarily halt weapons sales may yet frustrate the sale.

Pompeo was asked again during Thursday's Senate hearing if the F-35's delivery to Turkey would be a good or bad decision, and responded that the sale was still “very much a live issue.” 

Turkey signed a contract with Russia in December of last year to buy the S-400s, which are expected to be delivered as early as next year, much to the dismay of officials in Washington. Numerous U.S. lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have called on the administration to cancel, suspend or modify the F-35 order should Ankara go ahead and purchase S-400 missiles from Russia as planned. 

On May 8, a bill was proposed to the U.S. Congress, calling for a report on U.S.-Turkish relations and demanding the suspension of U.S. weapons sales to Turkey until the report’s publication.