Interview With Turkish President’s Spokesman Kalin: Excerpts

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s spokesman Ibrahim Kalin spoke with Bloomberg on Saturday, amid lingering tensions with the U.S. over Turkey’s purchase of a Russian air-defense system. Below are excerpts from the wide-ranging interview in an Ottoman palace that also touched on ties with the European Union and the Arab world. His remarks have been edited for length.

U.S. Ties

Our relationship can function in a very constructive way where we can empower each other mutually and can address joint issues or concerns together.

A new strategic outlook means putting more emphasis on having good relations with Turkey because of Turkey’s geopolitical location and Turkey’s standing in the western alliance.

To have that relationship working for both sides, it has to be based on mutual respect and mutual interests. The U.S. side must understand Turkey’s national security concerns regarding the PKK. We want to see concrete action by our allies.

Russian Missiles

We can resolve these issues through constructive dialogue, by being open and candid, but the U.S. policy makers need to understand how serious these issues are for us. They go to the very heart of our national security concerns. Turkey’s S-400 decision wasn’t taken overnight.

We believe we can have the Patriots. We can have these S-400s that will not be integrated into the NATO defense system.

They say the S-400s pose a threat to the F-35 jet fighters and we said, let’s look at this from a technical point of view. They refused and then said it’s not a technical issue but a political issue. OK, so what is the political issue. The fact that we are buying this from Russia? Let’s talk about that and how we can address this issue together.

With Russia, there were some points of disagreement but we were able to manage all these issues by talking through constructive dialogue, why can’t we do the same with the U.S.? If another country comes to us with a maximalist position and demand you know, it’s either my way or the highway, that kind of attitude pushes you in other directions.

Arab World

A new chapter can be opened, a new page can be turned in our relationship with Egypt as well as other other Gulf countries to help regional peace and stability.

Egypt is an important country in the Arab world and remains the brain of the Arab World, is the heart of the Arab world.

We are interested in talking to Egypt on maritime issues in the eastern Mediterranean as well as other issues in Libya, the peace process and the Palestinians. We can address a number of these issues, we can lower tensions and that kind of a partnership can help regional stability from North Africa to the eastern Mediterranean.

EU

We have positive momentum right now in our relationship, we want to see more progress.

We have a much larger agenda with the EU then just exploratory talks with the Greeks. We have the updating of the migration deal. Everybody knows that it needs to be updated.

After five years things have changed and needs are still there. They are even deeper and we need to do more. It’s not just about money, by the way, that money doesn’t come into our coffers, it goes straight to the Syrian refugees, to non-governmental organizations and international organizations.

It’s just a matter of giving the Syrian people a sense of confidence and trust that they are not alone, that the world hasn’t turned its back on this people. Burden-sharing has been the missing part in this deal, and they know they need to do more.

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