Turkish foreign minister slams former US Secretary of State Pompeo’s allegations in book

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Thursday slammed Mike Pompeo, who served as US secretary of state under then-President Donald Trump, over his allegations on Türkiye in a recently released book, calling his claims "unreal information."

In a joint news conference with Thailand's Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai in the capital Ankara, Cavusoglu said: "First of all, there is unreal information, as I might say in diplomatic language, or you might also define it as a lie. There's an exaggeration, there's a double standard."

On the US support for the terrorist group YPG/PKK in northern Syria – a longtime bone of contention in the Turkish-US ties – Cavusoglu added: "The support they have given to terrorism, which is a serious crime in the US, I think there is also serious disinformation in order not to face a judicial process."

The PKK is listed as a terrorist organization by Türkiye, the EU and the US, and is responsible for the deaths of 40,000 people, including women, children and infants. The YPG is the terrorist PKK's Syrian branch.

The US claims it partners with the YPG to fight Daesh/ISIS, while Türkiye says using one terrorist group to fight another makes no sense.

Criticizing Pompeo's claim that the Turkish Armed Forces lack the ability to defeat Daesh/ISIS, Cavusoglu said: "For one thing, this is not a fact, (the idea) that we first engaged with the YPG/PKK during the Trump administration. It started during the term of (President Barack) Obama. Therefore, that was not their decision first and foremost."

He continued: "Secondly, the only NATO army which took part in hand-to-hand fights against Daesh/ISIS terrorists is the Turkish army. We eliminated more than 4,500 Daesh terrorists both in Syria and Iraq."

As the Turkish army was eliminating Daesh/ISIS terrorists, "the US during the term of Pompeo, together with the YPG/PKK terrorist groups, sent Daesh/ISIS members to Afghanistan by first getting them on the bus in Raqqa and that region and then on the planes," he said.

These are the "ones responsible for the terrorist attacks in Afghanistan today, so I'm talking about the attacks of Daesh/ISIS and al-Qaeda," Cavusoglu said, adding the Turkish army cleared an area of 8,000 square kilometers (3,089 miles) of the terrorist groups YPG/PKK and Daesh/ISIS to support the territorial integrity of Syria.

Erdogan's 2019 meeting with Pence to deescalate situation in Syria

Speaking about Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's meeting with the US then-Vice President Mike Pence in October 2019 to deescalate the situation in Syria, Cavusoglu said they came to Türkiye to ask it to pause Ankara's cross-border operation against terrorists.

Erdogan first held a one-on-one meeting with Pence before the meeting between the delegations, he said.

"While we were waiting with Pompeo in a different room, Pompeo was uneasy with the fact that the meeting was taking so long and he asked to enter the room, but I said to him that one of them is the president and the other is the vice president. So if they need us, they will summon us. So, due to the protocol, I warned him that it wasn't appropriate to enter," Cavusoglu explained.

Later, Türkiye and the US reached a deal, he said, adding that it was also released to the media. "But at the end of the day, they did not fulfill the responsibilities arising out of the joint declaration and they have shown that they are not honest with their declarations," Cavusoglu said.

Ankara and Washington reached a deal in October 2019 to pause Türkiye's Operation Peace Spring in northern Syria for 120 hours to allow the withdrawal of YPG/PKK terrorists from a planned safe zone, but Türkiye said the US did not fulfill its promises.

On Pompeo's professed dislike for a video about the defeated 2016 coup by the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO) in Türkiye, Cavusoglu said: "We experienced the images in the video that he called disgusting. The FETO terrorist organization killed 251 citizens that night."

He added: "We understand from his Twitter post on that night against our president which he later deleted that he supported the coup attempt. That's why he's uncomfortable with the video. Those images show how we defeated the putschists."

FETO and its US-based leader Fetullah Gulen orchestrated the 2016 defeated coup in Türkiye, which killed 252 people and injured 2,734 others.

Cavusoglu added that it was the US which disrupted the US' policy of balance on Ankara and Washington, saying Pompeo “put forward these allegations to get votes from the Greek lobby in the US when he hopes to run for president in the next elections."

Commenting on Pompeo's 2020 visit to Türkiye to only meet with Patriarch Bartholomew I, the Istanbul-based leader of many of the world's Orthodox Christians, Cavusoglu said Pompeo "asked me to meet him at the patriarchate in Istanbul. My answer was very clear that if you want to meet me, come to Ankara."

Also highlighting Türkiye's progress in the field of religious freedoms, he said: “We always give all kinds of support to the patriarchate."

Bilateral relations between Türkiye, Thailand

On the ties between the two countries, Cavusoglu said Ankara and Bangkok signed the second joint action plan covering 2023-2028 to establish a strategic partnership.

"With the action plan, we foresee to develop our relations with concrete steps in many areas" spanning from economy to culture, energy, security cooperation, he said.

Cooperation in the field of security is always on the agenda of the two countries, Cavusoglu said, adding: "The presence of FETO, especially in Thailand, still continues. We conveyed our requests to our friend today regarding the extradition of some FETO members to Türkiye."

Pramudwinai, for his part, praised Ankara's efforts to establish peace in Ukraine, saying not only Thailand but the whole world is following these efforts.

He said his meeting with Cavusoglu was "productive," as the main area of their discussion was strengthening trade and investment relations.

He also highlighted the importance of finalizing the free trade agreement, saying that they will continue to work on the issue and free trade agreements will also contribute to their partners.

The security dialogue is one of the important topics between Ankara and Bangkok, Pramudwinai said, and they will continue to address important issues in bilateral relations.

Source: Anadolu Agency