New talks planned after Mevlut Cavusoglu, Anthony Blinken met in Brussels on sidelines of NATO foreign ministers’ meeting
After brief talks, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Wednesday that he and his US counterpart plan to hold a more comprehensive meeting in either the US or Turkey.
“We agreed with the US secretary of state to hold a broader meeting in either the US or Turkey,” Cavusoglu told reporters in Brussels.
Cavusoglu’s remarks came after he met with Anthony Blinken on the sidelines of a NATO foreign ministers’ meeting. He said today’s meeting lasted less than an hour.
Stressing that they had a constructive meeting with Blinken, Cavusoglu said there are differences of opinion between the two sides on certain issues.
The presence in the US of members of the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), which plotted a coup attempt in Turkey, and the US support for the YPG/PKK terror group have negatively affected the bilateral relations, he said.
Turkey has long sought the extradition of FETO ringleader Fetullah Gulen, a US resident who was behind the defeated 2016 coup attempt in Turkey. It has also demanded that the US cut ties and support to the YPG/PKK, a terrorist group the US has worked with in northern Syria to fight Daesh/ISIS. Turkey has argued that using one terror group to fight another makes no sense, citing the YPG/PKK’s threat to Turkish security.
He said they also discussed all aspects of the situation in Syria, the stability of Iraq, and supporting the new government in Libya.
Conference on Afghanistan
Underlining that Turkey wants to host a conference on Afghanistan in April, he said Turkish officials would meet with all parties to decide on a date.
Stressing that the meeting in Turkey is not an alternative to the negotiations in Doha, he said: “We do not want an alternative platform to Doha, we want to hold a supportive meeting.”
He also expected a memorandum of understanding between the Taliban and the Afghan government.
On Turkey’s purchase of the Russian S-400 defense missile system, Cavusoglu reiterated that Turkey has already purchased the system and the deal was concluded.
He ruled out reversing the decision but repeated Turkey’s offer to set up a commission with the US to clarify any technical issues.
Turkey has a positive attitude towards meeting its air defense needs from its allies in the future, he added.
The US has claimed the Russian system poses a threat to NATO weapons systems.
Turkey says its efforts to buy missile defense from the West were rebuffed, and also that the S-400 and NATO systems would not be integrated, so there is no threat.
Relations with EU
Highlighting the importance of increasing dialogue at every level, Cavusoglu said he himself and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan have increased their contacts with their European counterparts.
The Turkish foreign minister emphasized that concrete steps are required for the sustainability of positive relations with the EU.
He said these steps include updating Turkey’s 1995 Customs Union with the EU, visa liberalization and the refugee deal.
Underlining that the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean had a negative impact on the progress of the relations, he said Turkey has proposed to the EU a joint conference on the issue.
The EU promised to enhance political and economic cooperation with Ankara as part of a 2016 deal by accelerating Turkey’s EU membership talks, modernizing the EU-Turkey Customs Union and allowing visa-free travel for Turkish nationals within the Schengen area.
But several EU members, including France, Greece and the Greek Cypriot administration, blocked closer cooperation with Turkey because of bilateral difficulties and tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Although the EU pledged to open new chapters in accession talks, Turkey’s EU membership process has effectively come to a standstill in recent years.
Turkey has criticized European partners for not fully implementing the 2016 agreement and backing away from political commitments.