During a diplomatic conference in Ankara, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan made some unusually chipper and western leaning comments regarding incoming American President Donald Trump. Addressing ambassadors and other dignitaries, Erdogan and his Foreign Minister (or “henchman” if you prefer) made it sound as if Donald Trump was really his sort of guy and someone who would be ready to work with him far more than the current administration. Given Erdogan’s recent decent into tyranny and despotism, I’m certainly hoping he’s wrong. Still, he was at least setting the table for the opening moves in the diplomatic dance to come. (Business Insider)
President Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday he believes Turkey’s dialogue with the United States will gain pace after President-elect Donald Trump takes office and that they will reach a consensus on regional issues.
Relations between Washington and Turkey – a NATO ally key to the U.S.-led fight against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq – have deteriorated sharply since a failed military coup in July…
“I believe we will accelerate dialogue when Mr Trump takes office. I believe we will reach a consensus with Mr Trump, particularly on regional issues,” Erdogan told Turkish ambassadors gathered in Ankara for an annual conference.
Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu earlier told the envoys that he believed Trump would not make the same mistakes as the outgoing U.S. administration in relations with Turkey.
Their Foreign Minister seems to have some rather peculiar ideas as to what they’re expecting from Trump. For one thing, he wasted no time in saying that he expected that the United States would extradite cleric Fethullah Gulen from Pennsylvania and send him to Turkey. At that point, Gulen’s life expectancy would likely depend entirely on how long they planned on torturing him prior to his execution. Cavusoglu also expressed “confidence” that President Trump would end our relationship with and support for the Kurds, which the Erdogan government sees as being a sign of our supporting terrorist activities carried out by the PKK.
This may be one of the first real tests of Trump’s mettle on the foreign affairs front and I’ll be watching closely. (Particularly considering how much time we’ve spent tracking Erdogan’s aspirations toward tyranny here at Hot Air.) Donald Trump spent a lot of time during the campaign talking about making better deals with foreign powers and holding a firm line in terms of putting America first. Before there are any words exchanged with the President of Turkey, Trump needs to establish some ground rules.
First of all, it should be made clear that there will be no high level discussions of any sort until Andrew Brunson is released from prison and is back in the United States. And while they’re on the subject, Erdogan can release Ece Heper back to Canada as well. I’m not unrealistic enough to expect Trump to be able to force Erdogan’s hand entirely and have him give up his ambitions to power in his own nation, but he at least needs to come clean on any and all Americans (as well as any of our allies) inside of Turkey right now. And he can also forget about having us turn over Gulen.
Once that’s done, Trump can begin a higher level dialogue about where we go from here, Erdogan’s long term intentions and how Turkey fits into the actual battle against ISIS and other regional threats. If our new President can manage all of that then I will be impressed and gain some hope for the future on the foreign policy front. But if he caves and just begins giving away the store to Erdogan or fails to address the situation at all it’s going to be a very bad sign of things to come.