PRESIDENT ERDOGAN; Congressional Record Vol. 165, No. 181
(Senate - November 13, 2019)

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[Pages S6576-S6577]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []

                           PRESIDENT ERDOGAN

  Mr. LANKFORD. Mr. President, the United States is always grateful to 
receive heads of State from around the world. Heads of State from 
around the world come to the United States because they know we are 25 
percent of the world's economy. We are the most powerful military in 
the world. We are the most moral Nation in the world in how we manage 
freedom of the press, freedom of speech, and freedom of opportunity for 
all people within our country. When we see a problem in our country, we 
work to address that.
  So with that, we are welcoming another head of State to the United 
States today, President Erdogan of Turkey. Turkey has been a long-
standing NATO ally. NATO was formed in the late 1940s. Turkey and 
Greece were the first two countries that came into NATO after its 
formation in the 1940s. Turkey has been a member of NATO since 1952. We 
have a very important military base based in Turkey, Incirlik Air Force 
Base. It is key in the war against terror in that entire region. Turkey 
hosts the largest Syrian refugee population. Turkey has been very 
engaged in NATO, filling all of its billets and all of its 
requirements. They have worked to be a good partner. They have 
partnered with us in not only the War on Terror in multiple different 
countries in the regions, but they have been very faithful to engage 
with NATO as a whole.
  But something is happening in Turkey that I hope President Trump and 
President Erdogan had a very frank discussion on because since 2016, 
President Erdogan of Turkey is shifting Turkey away from NATO toward 
Russia, toward a more authoritative regime, changing their Constitution 
to give more power to Erdogan and to whoever his successor is--if there 
is a successor to Erdogan, if he doesn't maintain power and keep it 
forever from here on out.
  There was a mayoral election in Istanbul that Erdogan didn't agree 
with, and so he declared it null and void and forced another election 
in Istanbul, hoping to get the outlook he wanted, but the Turkish 
people actually voted even more so against Erdogan in the next election 
in Istanbul, putting in someone who directly opposed Erdogan and his 
  President Erdogan recently imprisoned an American pastor who had 
served more than 20 years in Turkey, serving people of all faiths and 
all backgrounds in the beautiful city of Izmir. He rounded up Andrew 
Brunson with tens of thousands of other people whom President Erdogan 
and his government considered a threat, and most of them they have been 
held without charges for years now. There are thousands of people right 
now who are still awaiting their day in court from the 2016 coup. Not 
knowing if any of these folks were actually connected to the coup, they 
rounded up teachers, journalists, law enforcement individuals--just 
everyone they could round up that they had any suspicion of and 
imprisoned them and said: We will bring charges to you later. Thousands 
are still waiting for ``later.''
  I happened to be in Turkey in December of 2016 to personally meet 
with the Ministry of Justice in Ankara to talk about Andrew Brunson, an 
American swept up in that time period who had nothing to do with the 
coup that happened in 2016. President Erdogan solely had the ability to 
get him released but held him for years with all kinds of wild 
accusations against an American missionary who had been there for 
  Turkey continues to be able to focus on the Kurdish Syrians just 
south of their border. I have to tell you, there are a group of the 
Kurds whom I understand President Erdogan should be attentive to. There 
is a certain group called the PKK. The United States also considers 
that Kurdish group terrorists and have for decades. That particular 
group of Kurds who are in Syria have traveled into Turkey and carried 

[[Page S6577]]

car bombs and have killed hundreds of people in terrorist attacks in 
Turkey. President Erdogan has every reason to pay attention to that 
particular group of Kurds, and I understand his frustration that the 
United States partnered with them to take out ISIS, but the fact was, 
Turkey would not come across the border to help us take out ISIS, and 
so we found partners who would take on ISIS with us--and they did.
  Now Erdogan wants to push those folks back. His methods are quite 
brutal in the process. When we went into Afghanistan, we understood 
that all Afghan people were not our enemy--the Taliban was, al-Qaida 
was. That was our enemy, and they found their way among the 
populations. We were exceptionally careful when we went into 
Afghanistan to protect the Afghan people, yet find ways to take the 
battles to the Taliban and to al-Qaida. Erdogan's methods were to come 
across the border with tanks and heavy artillery and start shelling 
cities in Syria, knowing there were some PKK in those villages, and so 
they just shelled them all. Erdogan and some of his thugs also came 
across with some of the other groups who were working with the Turks. 
We also have footage of them taking prisoners and shooting them beside 
the road and leaving their bodies there. These people had already 
surrendered. They were people who had already been handcuffed, and they 
executed them beside the road. That is a war crime that we should 
follow up with, and I hope President Trump had a very frank 
conversation with President Erdogan about following up on war crimes.

  Just to add to all of our difficulties right now with President 
Erdogan, in the past couple of years, he has shifted his attention 
toward Russia and has now completed a purchase of a Russian air defense 
system. They are the very first and only NATO country ever to purchase 
Russian military equipment. That equipment is not interoperable with 
the rest of NATO. This is Russian equipment that is specifically 
designed to take the fight to the F-35. Turkey believes it is going to 
purchase the F-35 from the United States, and they also believe they 
can purchase the S-400 from Russia and have them side by side. Well, 
they are wrong. Years ago, Congress passed the Countering American 
Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, commonly known as CAATSA. It was a 
very clear message to anyone who buys Russian military equipment that 
there are sanctions coming to your country, and it is clear. We have 
applied those sanctions in the past, and those sanctions need to be 
applied to Turkey now.
  In addition to that, Senator Shaheen and I have partnered together to 
pass a bill to block Turkey from taking any of the F-35s--not trained 
in the equipment, not simulators, no F-35s can go to Turkey. If they 
are interested in buying Russian air defense systems, they understand 
clearly what that means because we have made it clear to the Turks for 
2 years now: If you buy Russian equipment, you cannot also have the F-
35. President Erdogan was aware of that. His administration was aware 
of that, and I hope President Trump made it clear to him today, as 
clear as this Congress has made it clear, on a bipartisan basis, that 
Turkey cannot have the F-35 and also have Russian military equipment at 
the same time. That is incompatible. We will continue to make that very 
clear in the days ahead in our legislation, and I believe a vote will 
not even be close to send a message to Turkey that we are interested in 
maintaining our friendship and our NATO ally, but our NATO ally needs 
to make a decision if they are a NATO ally or if they are a Russian 
ally because those two are not congruent.
  I hope that was the conversation that happened today. We will find 
out in the days ahead, but even if it was not, I hope President Erdogan 
and the Turkish Embassy hears it clearly now. This Congress would look 
forward to partnering with Turkey again in the future, as we have for 
decades in the past. We have had an economic relationship, a military 
relationship, and a genuine friendship with Turkey, but we do not know 
who Turkey is anymore. We don't recognize the Turkey of today from 
Turkey 5 years ago. We would never come to your country and beat up 
protesters in the street as President Erdogan's security thugs did last 
year in the United States. We would never do that to your country. We 
would never counter NATO just to spite you, and we would certainly stay 
aligned with a friend who has been a friend for decades.
  To the Turkish people, our beef is not with you. Our frustration is 
with the regime that is currently directing your country away from its 
traditional allies. We continue to reach our hand out to the Turkish 
people, and we continue to say to President Erdogan: This can be 
different in the days ahead, as it has been in the past, but some 
things need to change, and we are not the ones who walked away.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Oklahoma.