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US-Turkey ties can normalize if US meets Ankara’s demands: Turkish FM
“If the United States wants Turkey-US relations to normalize, it would be conditional on President-elect Joe Biden’s ability to address expectations of the Turkish government on the policy of Syria, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavu?o?lu said on Dec. 17 in an interview with news broadcaster 24 TV.
On being asked whether the ties could normalize under the U.S. new elected president Joe Biden, Çavu?o?lu said that it would depend whether Washington would meet Turkish expectations on Syria policy and the extradition of a U.S.-based cleric, which Turkey accuses of orchestrating a 2016 coup attempt.
“If the United States thinks strategically, they need Turkey very much. They say this, but they must do what is necessitated by this,” he said.
Turkey could not be subjected to Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) sanctions as its acquisition predated the law, Çavu?o?lu said, adding that the decision was an attack on Turkey’s sovereign rights and would have no impact,
He also said Turkey would not turn back on its purchase of Russian S-400 missile defense systems and would take reciprocal steps after evaluating U.S. sanctions imposed over the acquisition.
“The S-400 deal was made before the CAATSA law, therefore, the law does not adhere to Turkey. We will not retreat,” he stated.
“If we were to step back, it would have happened by now,” he said, referring to the decision to acquire the S-400s.
“Now we are assessing the impact of these sanctions in great detail … and will take steps accordingly,” he added.
“It’s not important whether the sanctions are soft or harsh. Sanctions are anyway wrong,” the minister added.
“This is not in line with international law and diplomacy, and it is a politically and legally wrong decision,” the minister said, adding that the United States could have solved the dispute with common sense if it cooperated with Turkey and NATO.
The U.S announced sanctions earlier this week over Turkey’s procurement of Russia’s advanced S-400 system, under a U.S. law known as CAATSA, aimed at pushing back on Russian influence. The sanctions target Turkey’s Presidency of Defense Industries, the head of the presidency, and three other senior officials.
The penalties block any assets the four officials may have in the U.S. jurisdictions and bar their entry into the U.S. They also include a ban on most export licenses, loans and credits to the agency.
The sanctions come at a delicate moment in fraught relations between Ankara and Washington as Biden gears up to take office on Jan. 20, replacing Republican incumbent Donald Trump.
The U.S. had previously kicked Turkey out of its F-35 stealth jet program, saying their use alongside the Russian technology would jeopardize the safety of the fighter jets. Washington also says the Russian system would not be interoperable with NATO systems.
Turkey can normalize ties with France
Çavu?o?lu also said Turkey could normalize ties with France, but Paris must change its stance over Turkey’s military operations in Syria.
“Normalization with France may happen, but France should change its attitude towards us that it has assumed after Operation Peace Spring,” the minister said.
Citing to his recent phone conversation with French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, Çavu?o?lu said his colleague urged for “avoiding mutual accusations” between Ankara and Paris.
He said Turkish embassy officials in Paris would have a meeting on Dec. 17 on normalizing ties, and they would draw a road map in this bid.
Turkey has repeatedly traded barbs with France over policies in Syria, Libya, and Nagorno-Karabakh, and the publication of cartoons of Prophet Mohammad in France. Paris has led a push for EU sanctions on Turkey.”
Turkey arrests 23 FETO terror suspects
“A total of 23 people were arrested in Turkey for their alleged links to the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), the group behind the 2016 defeated coup, a security source said on Thursday.
Nine suspects were nabbed in southeastern Sanliurfa-based operations carried out by security forces across three provinces, said the source, who asked not to be named due to restrictions on speaking to the media.
The suspects were accused of being “covert imams” — senior FETO members — and of using ByLock, the terror group’s encrypted smartphone messaging app, the source said, adding a hunt for two fugitive suspects is underway.
Separately, a total of 14 suspects were arrested in eastern Erzincan-based operations across six provinces, security sources said on Thursday.
The suspects, including active duty teachers, lawyers, and civil servants were arrested following an investigation carried out by the Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office in the Erzincan province, it added.
The FETO and its US-based leader Fetullah Gulen orchestrated the defeated coup of July 15, 2016, which left 251 people martyred and nearly 2,200 injured.
Ankara also accuses FETO of being behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police, and judiciary.
Since the coup attempt, tens of thousands of FETO suspects have been arrested, including many in the armed forces, police, judicial system, and education sector.”