Turkey wants to improve cooperation with the United States on a “win-win” basis, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said, striking a conciliatory tone amid strained relations between the two NATO allies.
“As Turkey, we believe our common interests with the United States far outweigh our differences in opinion,” Erdogan said in televised comments on Saturday, adding that Ankara wanted to strengthen cooperation through “a long-term perspective on a win-win basis”.
“Turkey will continue to do its part in a manner worthy of the allied and strategic partnership ties between the two countries,” he said, adding Turkish-US ties had been “seriously tested” recently.
Ties between Turkey and the US have been strained over a host of issues in recent years. In December, the US sanctioned Turkey for its purchase of Russian S-400 defence systems.
Turkey has said it wants improved ties under US President Joe Biden, but has called on Washington to end its support for the Kurdish-led People’s Protection Units (YPG) in Syria, and accused it of siding with fighters who it says executed 13 Turks in northern Iraq this month.
Ankara has been infuriated by US support for the Kurdish fighters in Syria, whom it considers “terrorists”.
The US has also criticised Ankara over its record on human rights and freedoms. The new US administration also swiftly rebuked Turkey by urging the release of jailed prominent civil society leader Osman Kavala and criticising homophobic rhetoric in a crackdown on student demonstrators in recent months.
Furthermore, a New York court will in May start a trial of Turkey’s state-owned Halkbank over allegedly evading sanctions on Iran, potentially inflicting a heavy economic blow on Turkey.
In a phone call this month marking the first official contact since Biden took office, Erdogan’s foreign policy adviser, Ibrahim Kalin, told US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan the S-400 dispute needed resolving.
Turkey’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Mevlut Cavusoglu and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken discussed the S-400 dispute and other disagreements during their first call.
Turkey has hired Washington-based law firm Arnold & Porter to lobby for its readmission into the F-35 jet programme, where it was a buyer and manufacturer, after it was removed by the US over the S-400s.
Washington’s claim that the defence systems pose a threat to the F-35s is rejected by Ankara.