Turkey Hews to Conciliatory Track With West After Erdogan Pivot

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Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Turkey is “ready for a healthy relationship” with the U.S. despite differences over a wide range of issues, buttressing the conciliatory stance adopted by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Turkey’s rhetoric has shifted in recent weeks, with Erdogan pledging to implement a reformist agenda at home, fix the economy with orthodox measures and prioritize better ties with Western allies after years of disagreements. Ankara is at odds with Washington over issues including arms trade with Russia and American backing for Kurdish militant groups in Syria.

Below are some of the highlights of Cavusoglu’s remarks to reporters at an annual briefing in Ankara, the Turkish capital.

  • Turkish and American officials are in technical talks on Russian S-400 air defense missiles. Turkey wants a bilateral working group to be established to decide whether the missile defense system is a threat to NATO allies’ military capabilities
  • Ties with France can once again normalize if the government in Paris is “sincere” about fixing the relationship. Despite opposition to expansion within the European Union, the bloc can make progress with Turkey on key issues such as visa-free travel
  • Turkish opposition claims that an extradition treaty with China was signed solely to receive Covid-19 vaccines are baseless; Uyghurs living in Turkey will not be victims of any political calculation aimed at currying favor with Beijing
  • A change in Israel’s “aggressive” policies is necessary to have a sustained improvement in ties. The United Arab Emirates’ policies toward Turkey “are absolutely not friendly” and efforts to mediate with the Gulf country “haven’t done any good”

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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