TURKEY AND SYRIA; Congressional Record Vol. 165, No. 181
(Senate - November 13, 2019)

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[Pages S6515-S6516]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




                            TURKEY AND SYRIA

  Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, now on another matter, today President 
Trump will host the leader of Turkey at the White House. Although I 
have expressed concerns about granting President Erdogan such an honor 
in light of his recent actions, I hope the meeting produces better 
behavior from this important NATO ally.
  We recognize Turkey's legitimate national security concerns about the 
destabilizing conflict in Syria. Indeed, no NATO ally has suffered more 
terrorist attacks or hosts more refugees than Turkey. Nevertheless, we 
have legitimate national security concerns of our own, and I know the 
vast majority of my colleagues share my concerns about Turkey's recent 
behavior.
  It is important for the region and the fight against ISIS that 
Turkey's incursion into Syria not further jeopardize the anti-terrorism 
campaign of the Syrian Democratic Forces. It is important for Turkey's 
80 million people that Turkey's Government moves to restore its 
democratic traditions--freedom of the press, religious freedom, respect 
for secularism and ethnic minorities, and a robust space for civil 
society. Despite the optimism from the

[[Page S6516]]

Obama administration and others that Turkey, under President Erdogan, 
would be a model democracy, in practice, these important values have 
suffered under his tenure.
  As the Turkish people's concern continues growing, it is troubling 
that the political space for them to express those concerns has seemed 
to shrink further. At the same time, the United States must recognize 
that the path to addressing our concerns involves working with this 
important NATO ally and aligning its interests with ours.
  Turning a cold shoulder altogether would be a major strategic misstep 
and would jeopardize our national security and our interests. We do not 
need Turkey to fall further into Moscow's orbit. I know my colleagues 
are looking to see whether a deal can be reached on the S-400 air 
defense system.
  I share my colleagues' uneasiness at seeing President Erdogan honored 
down at the White House, but I urge this body to remain clear-eyed 
about our Nation's vital interests in the Middle East and the fact that 
advancing them will mean strengthening our relationship with this NATO 
ally, not weakening it further.

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