U.S. offering reward for PKK officials not enough, says Turkish foreign minister

Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşuğlu on Wednesday criticised a move by the United States to offer millions of dollars in rewards for information on three senior members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), saying it was a positive, but insufficient step, pro-government Hürriyet newspaper reported.

The U.S. Department of State announced on Nov.6 that it was offering up to $12 million for Murat Karayılan, Cemîl Bayik, and Duran Kalkan, three are senior members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which Washington and Ankara both classify as a terrorist group.

Çavuşoğlu, speaking at a parliamentary committee in Ankara on Wednesday, said Turkey is working to ensure economic ties with the U.S. are not impacted by political issues between the NATO allies and Ankara is exerting efforts to get the U.S. Congress to drop bills targeting Ankara.

The U.S. Senate initiated to block sales of F-35 jets to due to Turkey's purchase of Russian S-400 defense systems, criticised for its incompatibility with NATO systems.

The Turkish foreign minister stressed Turkey is in close cooperation with the United States, the European Union and other parties to reduce the negative impact of U.S. sanctions on its relations with Iran.

‘’We are against U.S. sanctions.We are contact with all sides to minimise the likely negative effects of the sanctions on the people of Iran and all bilateral trade and financial relations,’’ Çavuşoğlu said.

The Turkish foreign minister also touched on the topic of visa exemption, noting efforts have begun to fulfill the remaining six criteria out of 72 for securing the Schengen visa waiver for Turkish nationals.

Noting that Turkey is prepared to face Cyprus and Greece with regard to drilling within the Cypriot Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), Çavuşoğlu said “We are taking all the necessary measures to protect our interests in the maritime region of Cyprus,” adding, “We want no-one to enter into any adventures.”

Turkey is objecting to Cypriot plans to exploit potential offshore gas reserves in the Mediterranean, saying the breakaway Turkish-Cypriot enclave in the north of the island, which is only recognised by Ankara, has a right to a share in the reserve.