By Ilhan Tanir, Washington DCAt 36th Annual Conference on US-Turkey Relations, a verbal duel took place between Turkish Ambassador to Washington DC, Mr. Serdar Kılıç and Undersecretary of State of US for political affairs Mr. Thomas Shannon. Although such a fiery exchange of words between two countries’ diplomats is hardly seen before, the fact that the duel took place yesterday at Trump International Hotel in Washington DC was even more ironic.
During the working lunch, Turkish Ambassador to Washington DC, Mr. Serdar Kılıç took the stage, claiming that Turkey is one of the very few in the region where democracy is functioning well while reminding how US media covered the coup attempt on July 17th, 2016 and how US media described Turks as flock of sheep, who defended her democracy. Increasing the level of his criticism against US media and some think-tank agencies, Mr. Kılıç further claimed that Turkey is falsely blamed of assisting ISIS and that her recent Euphrates Shield operation against ISIS is omitted.
Ambassador Kılıç: They were blind to Turkey and the Free Syrian Army
Secondly, Ambassador criticized USA for their cooperation with YPG for Raqqa operation and expressed the difficulty in understanding of rationale put forth by the USA that they have no other alternatives in the region other than YPG for this operation since both Turkey and Free Syrian Army are already well positioned on this front. He noted that this partnership of Turkey and FSA has recently had the very successful operation again ISIS during Euphrates Shield operation. He also cautioned that the short-term tactical agreements between USA and YPG could result in long term strategical grievances in the region.
Within his speech, he added to say that the trade volume between USA and Turkey needs to be increased.
Turkish Ambassador: “YPG is an existential threat to Turkey’s national security and stability”
Describing the partnership between USA and YPG as a strategical mistake, Mr. Kılıç mentioned that US can not and must not be a partner to a terrorist organization. He also pointed out that YPG is an existential threat to the national security and stability of Turkey. He said that how USA is partnering with YPG sounds no different from Turkey partnering with Al-Nusra against ISIS.
Kılıç: We were disappointed with inadequate security measures taken by the US law enforcement.
Lastly, the Ambassador complained about the criticisms on Turkey not being respectful to the freedom of speech, recalling the most recent event occurred in front of Turkish Residence. Stating the fact that there is a vast separation between being respectful to the freedom of speech and to the solidarity with terrorist organizations, the Ambassador expressed the disappointment of Turkish officials with US secret service’s inadequate measures. He also added that what happened in front of Turkish Residence is regarded as a solidarity with terrorists, not as freedom of speech.
Shannon: State of Emergency got to be lifted ASAP
Undersecretary of State of US, Mr. Thomas Shannon took the stage right after Ambassador Kılıç and his turn of harsh criticisms one after another towards Turkish government began. Mr. Shannon is known to be the head of the team who is investigating the events took places in front of Turkish Residence. Mr. Shannon offered some fewer criticism than Ambassador Kılıç but his criticisms came along with some hard warnings.
Undersecretary State of US: Turkish secret service details aggressive behavior is very ‘deplorable”
Shanon started with the necessity of increasing trade volume between USA and Turkey, then continued with the fact that the relationship between two countries does not solely rely on the mutual benefits but also on the values, expressing how shocked the US was at the coup attempt last summer, and praising how ordinary Turkish people defended their democracy at that time. Immediate after his appraisal, he emphasized how concerned the US is the brawl took place at Turkish Residence when President Erdoğan was visiting. Shannon reminded that such kind of demonstrations are under the protection of the US Constitution and regarded the violent attacks on the peaceful protesters as ‘deplorable’. In the meantime, he thanked Ambassador Kılıç for his efforts to calm the situation.
Shannon: Turkey has to lift state of emergency ASAP
Pointing out the potential in the increase of trade volume between USA and Turkey, Mr. Shannon had a direct response to President Erdoğan’s statement on the indefinite state of emergency. Erdogan stated over the weekend that he will not lift the state of emergency and will use till get peace and serendipity.
Shannon emphasized that US would like to see the state of emergency to be ended as soon as possible in order for Turkey to show her self-confidence in political stability and national security. Moreover, he added that such a move will also indicate Turkey’s openness to trade. Shannon cautioned that any challenging impact on the rule of law does not only scare the investors but also harms trade and investors, making it very difficult to increase the trade volume between the two countries.
While it is as abnormal as possible when US officials as guest speakers criticize the host of such conferences, the matter of the fact that how Turkish ambassador criticized US can also be seen as abnormal.
Translated by WHatti team from the Turkish version.