ANKARA – Turkey and the US have agreed to use direct channels of dialogue effectively and regularly, befitting the two allies and strategic partners, the Turkish president said Monday.
Speaking at a news conference in Brussels, Belgium after a NATO summit, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said “there is no issue that cannot be resolved in Turkey-US relations,” adding “the areas of cooperation are wider and richer than problem areas.”
Erdogan and US President Joe Biden held a closed-door meeting during the summit. The two leaders met for the first time since Biden took office in January.
Biden also said in a separate press conference that he had a “very good meeting” with his Turkish counterpart.
The Turkish president said he exchanged views with Biden, with whom he has a long-standing friendship.
“We evaluated the steps that can be taken to fully realize the economic potential between us, taking into account the new opportunities that will arise after the [coronavirus] pandemic,” Erdoğan said, highlighting the importance of reviving the existing bilateral cooperation and regional consultation mechanisms between the two countries.
Noting that his meeting with Biden was positive for relations, Erdoğan said he invited the US president to visit Turkey, adding Biden will probably visit the country soon.
Responding to a question about Turkey’s purchase of Russia’s S-400 missile system, Erdoğan said: “We expressed the same thoughts on the S-400s to President [Biden] as we had before, [and] also expressed the same thoughts about the F-35s.”
“Of course, all these efforts do not end here today. In the next process, our foreign ministers and defense ministers will meet their counterparts to work on this process,” he said
Erdoğan also said that Turkey clearly expressed at the NATO summit that the support given to the PYD/PKK terror group should be ended.
Recalling the recent terrorist attack by the YPG/PKK on a hospital in Afrin, Syria that killed at least 14 civilian patients and injured dozens, Erdoğan said this terror act is enough to show the bloody, dirty and ugly face of the organization.
Underlining that Turkey has expressed its priorities, sensitivities and justifiable expectations, especially in the fight against terrorism, he said there is a distorted understanding that classifies “good terrorists” and “bad terrorists.”
“It is clear that such an ambivalent attitude will not end terrorism. On the contrary, it will encourage terrorist organizations,” he stressed.
On Afghanistan, Erdoğan said US support in diplomatic, logistical and financial matters is crucial if the Turkish troops in Afghanistan are asked not to leave the country.
Noting that the reality of the Taliban cannot be set aside, he said: “We can continue our talks with them in different steps.”
On alliance relations, Erdoğan expressed hope that all NATO allies will show full solidarity with Turkey by putting aside shallow political calculations.
NATO should take an active role where the alliance’s security umbrella is needed, from the Mediterranean to the Black Sea, from Europe to Asia, he noted.
“Both the decisiveness and responsibilities of NATO have increased in the maintenance of global stability. Member states should uphold their founding principles and strengthen the alliance,” he added.
Important decisions were taken regarding the NATO 2030 process, which will constitute the roadmap of the alliance for the next 10 years, he said, adding they took decisions to strengthen NATO’s political and military dimensions.
MEETINGS WITH OTHER NATO LEADERS
On his meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron, Erdoğan said Turkey and France agreed to continue bilateral talks in “serious solidarity.”
According to Erdoğan, Macron told him as “a friend” that “it’s out of question for me to be against Islam.”
Pointing to the large Muslim population in France, Erdoğan said Macron expressed his sensitivity on the issue.
Erdoğan also said that Turkey and France will continue to work together to tackle conflicts in Libya and Syria.
On his meeting with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Erdoğan said they mutually emphasized the importance of bilateral and regional cooperation as friends, allies and strategic partners and expressed the will to continue it.
With German Chancellor Angela Merkel, he said they had a comprehensive exchange of views on bilateral and regional issues during their face-to-face meeting.
Erdoğan said he had a “good meeting” with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who he told not to involve third countries or parties in the Aegean or other regions.
Stressing that he and Mitsotakis decided to maintain dialogue channels between Turkey and Greece, Erdoğan said steps should be taken mutually to support the positive agenda between the two countries.