The strained relationship between Turkey and the United States will “either be fixed or completely broken,” Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu has said, speaking ahead of US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s key visit to Ankara this week.
“Ties with the US are at very critical point. We will either fix these relations or they will break completely,” Çavuşoğlu told reporters in Istanbul on Feb 12.
“We want concrete steps [from the US]. Missing trust needs to be restored. The reason for that missing trust is the US,” he said, Hurriyet Daily reported.
On a tour to the Middle East, Tillerson will pay a visit to Ankara on Feb. 15 and 16 where he will hold talks with Çavuşoğlu and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Separately, US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis and Turkish Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli will meet in Brussels on Feb. 15 on the margins of the NATO ministerial meeting.
These talks come as bilateral strains mount between the two NATO allies over a number of issues, including Washington’s continued alliance with the People’s Protection Units (YPG) in northern Syria. Turkey launched a military operation into Syria’s Afrin district against the YPG and senior officials have repeatedly vowed a follow-up incursion into the Manbij area, where US troops are stationed alongside YPG militants.
“Our demands from the US are clear and have already been conveyed. We no longer want to hear about promises, we want to hear about concrete steps. Trust needs to be rebuilt so we can start to talk about some issues. US actions are the reason behind the loss of trust,” Çavuşoğlu said.
“We will evaluate all this during Tillerson’s visit,” he added.
Turkey wants the US to cease cooperation with the YPG, a group that Ankara considers a terror organization due to its links with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). It also wants a halt to all deliveries of weapons and military equipment, and for all weapons already delivered to the group to be taken back, while insisting on the withdrawal of YPG militants from Manbij to the east of Euphrates, as promised by US administrations since 2016.