Secretary of State John Kerry told Turkey’s foreign minister that the U.S. has “absolutely no interest” in Turkey’s political affairs as the ruling Islamist party faces electoral trouble in Ataturk’s republic.
Polls in Turkey have indicated that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party would not have enough support to keep its majority if elections were held today. The main opposition, the Republican People’s Party, and the nationalists would gain ground against the Islamists as corruption scandals and crackdowns on free speech tarnish Erdogan’s government.
In Paris for talks on Syria, Kerry met with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and praised the Erdogan government for its help on the Mideast peace process, Syria, Iraq and more.
“We also have a strong supporter for the P5+1 process on Iran, and we appreciate Turkey’s influence there,” Kerry told reporters at a joint press conference with Davutoglu today. “We also talked about a relationship with Israel and the future relationship hopefully with Turkey, to try to continue down the road to get that on track.”
“We did also talk about the importance of both of our commitments to rule of law and to democracy and to the process of both of our countries respecting each other’s political process. And I think the minister understood and made it clear that the United States of America has absolutely no interest in being caught up in or engaged in or involved in the internal politics, the election process of Turkey. And we are not. And I think the foreign minister understands that,” he continued.
Protests erupted last year in Turkey over the path the Islamist government was taking the secular nation down. The killing of protesters by Erdogan’s police only fueled the discontent, but the Obama administration tried to stay out of it. Obama and Erdogan have been close.
“And so what is important is that we continue to value publicly and to make sure the people of both of our countries understand our commitment to the strength of the relationship between Turkey and the United States, two important allies, two friends who’ve worked very hard to solve problems, not create them,” Kerry said.
“And I’m grateful to the foreign minister for his categorical statement about U.S.-Turkey relationship with respect to issues of rule of law and democracy, our commitment to it, and our respect for the fact that the United States is not engaged in that kind of activity, and we need to calm the waters and move forward to focus on the things that both of us want to make a difference on.”
Davutoglu said U.S.-Turkey relations “one of the most structured and well structured relations in international relations.”
“And this has been the case for the – throughout the difficult years of Cold War and throughout the post Cold War years, when we worked together in Balkans, in Afghanistan, everywhere in the world. And this relation is based on mutual respect and a very close consultation in all fields,” the Turkish minister said. “And Turkish democracy is a very mature democracy. And in that sense, Turkish-American relation, with special reference to democratic values everywhere, not only in our countries but everywhere in the region and in Europe and everywhere, is the most important value. We will continue our cooperations, political cooperation, based on these common values and for the future of world where there will be peace and stability.”
Elections in Turkey are scheduled for August. Erdogan has accused international entities of fomenting the corruption scandal in order to bring down his government.