On visa row, Turkey's president says US ambassador created incident, strategic partnership shouldn't end due to him
Turkey's president on Thursday said Ankara’s “strategic partnership” with Washington shouldn’t end due to an “impertinent” ambassador, laying the blame for the countries’ row at the envoy’s feet.
"I am saying this clearly and vividly, it is the ambassador here that created this incident. It is unacceptable for the U.S. to sacrifice Turkey's strategic partnership for an impertinent ambassador. It is impossible for us to say 'yes' to this," President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told a gathering of provincial governors in the capital Ankara, referring to outgoing U.S. Ambassador John Bass.
Erdogan added: "What a shame if the great United States of America is being governed by an ambassador in Ankara. Because this is the position they are holding. They should have said, 'You cannot treat my strategic ally this way, you cannot act this way.' But they couldn't say this."
The U.S. Embassy last week announced the suspension of non-immigration visas in Turkey following the arrest of a Turkish employee at the U.S. Istanbul Consulate, prompting a tit-for-tat response from Ankara.
Erdogan said Turkey had merely reciprocated the U.S. move by suspending non-immigrant visa operations at diplomatic missions in the U.S.
“We are absolutely not the side that escalated the problem,” he said urging the U.S. to act with restraint.
Speaking about the arrest of Metin Topuz, a Turkish employee at the U.S.’ Istanbul Consulate, Erdogan said: “The local personnel at the U.S. Consulate do not have diplomatic immunity and Turkey was simply following judicial practices laid down in the Vienna Convention [for diplomatic relations].”
US support for FETO
The president said multi-dimensional plots were being hatched against Turkey, in which Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), PKK and Daesh terror groups were playing their parts.
Turkey accuses FETO of orchestrating last July’s defeated coup attempt in which 250 people were martyred and nearly 2,200 injured.
He added: “When we request for weapons and offer to pay you, you say [the matter will go to the] Congress, but you are giving terrorist organizations weapons for free.”
Turkey says the U.S. provides arms to PKK/PYD terror group in Syria to fight against Daesh.
"Who would believe that the terror corridor at our southern border is actually to fight Daesh? That is a lie. The terror corridor is there only to attack Turkey," he said.
More than 1,200 people, including security force personnel and civilians, have lost their lives since the PKK -- listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S., and the EU -- resumed its decades-old armed campaign in July 2015.
"We are a state dating back to centuries; we are not a tribal state. We are the Republic of Turkey and you will accept this. If you do not accept it, then we do not need you," he said referring to the U.S.
He added that the Turkish security forces would no longer use U.S.-manufactured weapons.
"We will take steps to use our own guns from now on," he said.