ANKARA - Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's overview of the Turkish foreign policy at the Brookings Institute on Friday included important criticisms on U.S. handling of the "war on terror" and the European Union. Nuclear powers must disarm first to tell Iran not to go nuclear. Erdoğan also said and warned certain lobbies could hurt Turkish-Armenian relations.
"U.S. support is essential for maintaining the dialogue initiated with Armenia. Steps taken during the new period must not hinder our efforts," Erdoğan said.
A resolution by the U.S. Congress that recognized mass killings of Armenians during the Ottoman era as genocide, which was later dropped, strained Turkish American relations last year.
"Lobbies must not take part in solving international disputes," Erdoğan stated, referring to the Armenian lobbies in the United States, who were promised U.S. President-elect Barack Obama would formally recognize the mass killings as genocide.
Erdoğan’s first meeting with the emissaries of Obama over the weekend at the G-20 summit in Washington D.C. was "perfect," according to one of the emissaries, Jim Leach, who simply said "we listened" to a question whether Obama sent Erdoğan a message.
’Disarm yourselves first,’ Erdoğan says
Erdoğan urged the "countries who ask Iran to drop its nuclear weapons scheme" to get rid of those weapons themselves first, Iran's nuclear row with the European Union troika, composed of Great Britain, France and Germany. "That country (Iran) tries to defend itself when faced with such demands, which is normal for any country," Erdoğan said.
Erdoğan said that Turkey’s advantage over the Troika on facilitating negotiations with Iran, which are currently stuck on the question of uranium enrichment, was the element of trust.
Erdoğan criticized the U.S. handling of the development efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan and noted that Turkey was doing a successful job in many hot regions of the world. "I am positive that some $500 billion is spent on Iraq and maybe more on Afghanistan. But on what all that money is spent, I do not know," he maintained. Erdoğan noted that Turkey was willing to contribute to international efforts in both countries. "We are ready to train Iraqi security forces," Erdoğan said. "It is Barack Obama’s will to determine a date for withdrawal from Iraq. I wish that it would be announced after preliminary preparations were concluded," Erdoğan noted.
"We do not give money to Afghanistan, but invest there. Turkey supplies the country with education and health services," Erdoğan said and added that Afghanistan as a long term commitment for Turkey.
Erdoğan also conveyed Turkey’s position on the European Union membership and the Cyprus issue to his audience, noting that the EU failed to honor its obligations towards Turkey on both topics. Turkey was promised "justice" on the divided island of Cyprus in 2004 but despite Turkey’s unreciprocated efforts to reach a solution, northern Cyprus is still being punished, Erdoğan stressed.