U.S. says Erdoğan’s rhetoric does not help U.S. goal of Turkey being a strong ally


The United States said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s accusations that Washington was engaged in a political coup plot to undermine his government did not help the U.S. goal of having a stable, democratic and reliable ally in Turkey.

Turkey’s relations with the United States have reached a new low over a series of disputes. Erdoğan said on Thursday that Turkey would no longer extradite terrorism suspects to the United States. On Friday, the government responded to U.S. State Department warnings about travel to Turkey by cautioning its citizens about the safety of going to the United States.

But the strongest words came from the Turkish president on Tuesday. “At the moment, as you know, the case in America is a sign of a political coup attempt. This is an operation to squeeze Turkey on the economic point by FETÖ, the CIA and the FBI,” Erdoğan told his parliamentary party.

FETÖ – the Fethullahist Terror Organisation - is the name Turkey gives to the Fethullah Gülen movement, followers of the reclusive U.S.-based Turkish preacher blamed for carrying out the July 2016 failed coup attempt.

Washington’s failure to immediately extradite Gülen is one of the big bones of contention between the two countries, as is U.S. backing for Syrian Kurdish forces and a New York court’s conviction of the Turkish banker for helping officials bypass sanctions on Iran.

Asked about Erdoğan’s accusation of a U.S. plot against Turkey, U.S. Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Steve Goldstein said: “It’s in our natural, national interest for Turkey to be a stable, democratic, prosperous, and reliable ally. We don’t believe language as you indicated moves that, helps us move to that goal.”  

After the briefing, Goldstein told Ahval on the record that it was “not the case” that the U.S. government was plotting against Erdoğan’s administration.

The United States, Goldstein told a news conference, has “long supported and continues to support Turkey’s democratic development because we believe that respect for the rule of law, judicial independence, and freedom of the press are sources of Turkey’s strength and expand our potential for partnership.”

Pressed on whether there could be a communication issue between the two countries since, despite repeated U.S. assurances, Erdoğan and other Turkish leaders continue to accuse the United States, Goldstein said: “We believe that the government of Turkey could be a strong ally to the United States and communication with all nations is important.”

Surprised, one reporter responded: “Could be?  I mean, aren’t they a strong ally?”

“They’re a NATO ally,” said Goldstein. “A NATO ally.  Absolutely.”

“Are they a strong ally?” a reporter asked.

“Yes, they’re a strong ally. But there’s always work to be done with each, as we work with each nation. And they tell us their concerns and we tell nations our concerns, and we work together to try to reach agreement.“