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US Spokesperson says relationship between US & Turkey is “complicated”

Ilhan Tanir, Washington DC

US State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert, during the press briefing on Tuesday afternoon, called the relationship between the US and Turkey as “complicated.”

Spokesperson, when asked about the assessment of the U.S. that whether Turkey is acting like an ally, said, “I think our relationship is – no surprise about this – it’s complicated” but then added that the arrests of US personel “certainly complicates matters.  I hope and I think we all hope, as a strong NATO ally, as a NATO partner, that we will get through this. US is optimistic.”

Spokesperson Nauert, just like last week immediately after the US suspended all non-immigrant visa services, on Tuesday afternoon once more asked Turkish government to show evidence for jailed 2 locally hired US Consulate staff. Spokesperson said, “the Government of Turkey has still not provided us the evidence.  The Government of Turkey claims that [2 US Consulate staff] were engaged in some sort of terrorist-type activities. That’s obviously a very serious charge.  We’d like to see the evidence on that.”

Several times during the press briefing, seemingly irritated spokesperson repeated the fact that US has not seen any evidence yet for the arrests and wants to see them if there is any.

Spokesperson also reminded that Deputy Assistant Secretary Jonathan Cohen is on travel right now in Turkey and he will “certainly plans to bring up [arrested staff] with local officials up there.”

Spokesperson, when asked if there is any progress towards solving the visa crisis, did not give a lot of good news and said that one of arrested “locally employed staff did finally have a chance to have a lawyer come visit him.  Beyond that, we have not seen much action.  We would like to see more of that.  We would like to see the evidence and we would like to see our other locally employed staff member see an attorney as well.  Okay?”

Senior US official: Turkish Government needs to reassure us

One US senior official, when asked if Turkey released 2 arrested US Consulate staff then that would trigger US to change its visa suspension policy, responded: “I dont wanna get ahead of ourselves. They need to reassure us that goal of the Turkish govt. not to go after US personel who are engaged with various parts of law enforcement acttiviy. These staff arrested doing this type of activity. Important part of their job was talk to community, pick up phone and call the police, to help US citizens.”

Official also called on Turkish Government: “Our major concern is two people, potentially 3 people work for US government, for our missions getting arrested. Why is Turkey doing that? Why Turkey is focusing on our staff? If they truly believe what they said that US personel are engaged with terrorism they need to bring evidence. [These are] big accusations to watch — absolutely then show us evidence. Summoning 3rd staff is raised our eyebrows…”


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