July 26, 2018 - Issue: Vol. 164, No. 126 — Daily Edition115th Congress (2017 - 2018) - 2nd Session
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] UNITED STATES-TURKEY RELATIONSHIP ______ 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 Turkey. [[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. ____________________