In Turkey / Türkiye

Turkish PM rules out dialogue with PKK

Hurriyet Daily News, Aug 20, 2016

ISTANBUL – Turkey’s prime minister has ruled out dialogue with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), as he commented on a previous peace process. “We have nothing to talk about with the killers. We would not enter into a dialogue with a terror organization,” Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım told foreign media representatives on Aug. 20, as he added that the PKK had failed to put the previous peace process into good use.

“No one can tell us that we didn’t give any chance to peace. We did, but they couldn’t use it. They lost their chance. They used that period of calm to strengthen themselves,” he added.

Yıldırım also said that the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) should condemn the PKK. “HDP is an elected party. But they should say ‘‘we don’t recognize this despicable group’,” he added.

Meanwhile Yıldırım said that the PKK and the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ)[sic] met in northern Iraq, where the leaders of the PKK are based, once before and once after the failed coup attempt, believed to have been masterminded by the Gülenists, Fatih Çekirge from daily Hürriyet wrote in his column on Aug. 20.

“We’ve received intelligence and evaluations are being done. It was determinded that they’ve met. We found out that they met before and after the coup attempt,” Yıldırım reportedly said.

Biden, Turkish PM to discuss Syria, extradition of Gülen

Hurriyet Daily News, Aug 20, 2016

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım will discuss issues regarding Syria and the extradition of the U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen during Biden’s visit to Turkey, Yıldırım has said.

“Our relations with the U.S. are medium-sugar now. Biden is coming to Turkey to make the coffee sugary,” Yıldırım told foreign correspondents in Istanbul on Aug. 20, as he drew an analogy between bilateral relations with the U.S. and Turkish coffee.

“The U.S. is our strategic ally. Every family experiences problems. There are ones who want to ruin our relationship. We need to stop Gülen from being a problem,” he added.

Saying that Turkey sent 84 files before the July 15 failed takeover and four after it to the U.S. for them to extradite Gülen, Yıldırım said that he should initially be arrested in light of the mutual deal between Washington and Ankara on the extradition of criminals.

“We say that nothing [bad] should happen to a person so involved in these [failed coup attempt],” he added.

U.S. Europe commander in Ankara for Syria talks

By Emine Kart, Hurriyet Daily News, Aug 20, 2016

U.S. Army Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti arrived in the Turkish capital Ankara on Aug. 22 for a brief visit, during which he held discussions on the Syrian quagmire with the top Turkish commander. General Scaparrotti, who took command of the U.S. European Command (EUCOM) in May, has also been assuming a NATO hat, as he then also took over as the NATO Supreme Allied Commander for Europe.

He held talks with Turkish Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar in Ankara. A written statement on issues addressed during the meeting between the two top commanders was expected to be released by the U.S. military by the end of the day on Aug. 22.

Scaparrotti also held a closed-door meeting with Parliament Speaker Ismail Kahraman while in Ankara, the Hürriyet Daily News has learned from senior sources.

At the Turkish Parliament, Gen. Akar accompanied Scaparrotti as he visited the damage to the Parliament received during the July 15 thwarted military coup attempt. The U.S. general also visited the General Assembly hall, the same sources said.

Scaparrotti’s visit to the Turkish capital came just days before U.S. Vice President Joe Biden’s visit to Turkey scheduled for Aug. 24.

Confirming Biden’s visit over the weekend, the White House said Biden will meet with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Prime Minister Binali Yildirim during his visit, which will be the first by a high-ranking U.S. official since the July 15 uprising.

Yildirim was quoted by Turkish media earlier over the weekend saying that Washington’s attitude had “improved” on Ankara’s an extradition request for Pennsylvania-based Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, who is accused by Turkey of orchestrating the attempted coup last month.

Hectic cycle of visits in Ankara

Scaparrotti’s visit also came just days after Gen. David L. Goldfein, the chief of staff of the U.S. Air Force, paid a visit to the Incirlik Air Base in the southern province of Adana in order to inspect the U.S.-led coalition fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).  Aircraft from six countries, including U.S. jets, are contributing to the coalition from Incirlik.

Goldfein visited 39th Air Base Wing Airmen and their coalition partners at Incirlik to view firsthand the ongoing operations.

Incirlik Air Base, a strategic location situated in southeast Turkey nearly 70 miles from the Syrian border, has been flying counter-ISIL mission in Iraq and Syria since Aug. 12, 2015.

In early August, Incirlik hosted another senior U.S. commander as a visitor. U.S. Air Force Gen. Frank Gorenc, the commander of U.S. Air Forces in Europe, U.S. Air Forces in Africa and Allied Air Command, visited airmen at Incirlik to thank them for their work during his time as their commander. During the visit, Gorenc also met with NATO-linked Turkish partners.


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