UNITED STATES-TURKEY RELATIONSHIP; Congressional Record Vol. 164, No. 126
(Extensions of Remarks - July 26, 2018)

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[Extensions of Remarks]
[Pages E1090-E1091]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]



                          HON. ELIOT L. ENGEL

                              of new york

                    in the house of representatives

                        Thursday, July 26, 2018

  Mr. ENGEL. Mr. Speaker, the United States-Turkey relationship 
continues to deteriorate. Turkey has long been an important American 
ally and key NATO member. However, this relationship has frayed in 
recent years, and I increasingly question whether Turkey's autocratic 
ruler, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is truly committed to his country's 
relationship with the United States.
  I must first express my profound disappointment in the Turkish 
court's verdict last week against American Pastor Andrew Brunson. While 
yesterday's step to move him from a Turkish prison to house arrest is a 
step in the right direction, it is still not enough. I call on Turkey 
to release Mr. Brunson, who has committed no crime, and return him to 
his family. I make the same call in support of NASA scientist Serkan 
Golge as well as other United States citizens and U.S. Mission local 
employees who are wrongly held.
  Two years ago, this month, a failed military coup took place in 
Turkey. This was a traumatic experience for the Turkish people, as it 
would have been for the citizens of any country. There is no doubt that 
it has been a challenge to effectively deal with this situation. 
Nevertheless, I remain deeply concerned about the Turkish government's 
response which has led to curtailing personal liberty and press 
freedoms and, in many cases, suspending or ignoring the rule of law. 
While the State of Emergency has expired, President Erdogan continues 
to crackdown on suspected opponents. Such actions are inconsistent with 
Turkey's international commitments to organizations such as NATO and 
with its aspiring European Union membership.
  In my experience, America's partnerships are strongest when our 
friends and allies are fully committed to democratic values. Among the 
challenges in our relationship with Turkey are the Turkish government's 
constraints on freedom and democracy. I believe that removing these 
constraints will substantially benefit both the United States and 

[[Page E1091]]

  I've heard the argument that because Turkey lives in a dangerous 
neighborhood, it must take bold actions to preserve its own security. 
There is no doubt that Turkey faces threats from an array of terrorist 
groups, a murderous Syrian regime headed by Bashar al-Assad, and other 
destabilizing influences across the region. But the best way for Turkey 
to meet these challenges is in partnership with the United States and 
other NATO allies.
  This is why I am supremely alarmed that Turkey is considering 
purchasing a Russian air-defense system rather than a NATO air-defense 
system. The operation of a non-NATO system puts the security of NATO 
members at serious risk and is inconsistent with the spirit of the 
alliance, not to mention interoperability among NATO member states. The 
Alliance understands Turkey's desire for air defense and wants to help, 
but Ankara's continued stated intention to acquire the S-400 is an 
obstacle to NATO's ability to assist and sends a signal that Ankara 
wants to break away on core defense issues.
  In the time left before Turkey potentially makes a serious 
miscalculation, there is a key fact to highlight: the United States has 
offered Turkey two air and missile defense systems, including the 
Patriot PAC-3 system, which would fulfill Turkey's defense needs, but 
ultimate receipt and delivery of the Patriot is contingent on Turkey 
cancelling the S-400 deal. For these reasons, I, like many of my 
colleagues, remain willing to work with Turkey in order to support its 
purchase of a NATO air defense system.
  But, I want to be clear: Turkey must demonstrate its commitment to 
its relationship with the United States and NATO. It can do so by 
taking the steps I previously noted, including releasing Mr. Brunson, 
Mr. Golge, and others; enhancing Turkish personal freedoms and 
promoting the rule of law; and acquiring a NATO, rather than Russian, 
air-defense system. No doubt, the United States has other important 
differences with Ankara, including its difficult relations with Israel, 
its occupation of Cyprus, and its improving ties with Moscow. But, 
should Turkey pursue the course I've outlined, it would represent an 
important step toward patching up some of our key differences.
  Like many of my colleagues, I wish that our relationship with Turkey 
were on better footing. Turkey has been a strong NATO partner for 
decades. For the good of both the United States and Turkey, NATO, and 
the region, we must work to improve this relationship.