Blinken calls Turkey 'so-called strategic partner' in U.S. Senate hearing

U.S. Secretary of State nominee Antony Blinken said that Turkey's actions as a NATO ally were “unacceptable”, referring to its purchase of S-400 missiles from Russia, during his confirmation hearing on Tuesday at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Blinken said the administration will "see if more needs to be done" with regards to the CAATSA sanctions that were imposed on Turkey in December by the State Department.

“The idea that a strategic - so-called strategic - partner of ours would actually be in line with one of our biggest strategic competitors in Russia is unacceptable,” said Blinken responding to a question from Senator Lindsey Graham on the S-400 purchase.

“I think we need to take a look to see the impact that the existing sanctions have had and then determine whether (there is) more that needs to be done,” he said.

For many years, Turkey has frequently adopted the phrase "so-called" to designate its critics. U.S. diplomacy has rarely used the phrase to address an ally country, said historian Axel Çorlu on Twitter.

Bob Menendez, ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, referred to the ''destabilising'' actions of Turkey in the region; in Syria, an exclusive economic zone near Cyprus, Libya and its most recent support for Azeri military engagement in the Nagorno-Karabakh war. The senator said that Turkey is also jailing more lawyers and journalists than any other country.

''Are we cleared eyed about Turkey under Erdogan?'' Menendez asked.

Blinken said ''the bottom line is Turkey is an ally that in many ways... is not acting as an ally should and this is [chuckles] a very, very significant challenge for us and we're very clear-eyed about it.''