ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – US President Donald Trump’s nomination of Mike Pompeo for Secretary of State after his firing of Rex Tillerson has added to doubts about the future of Turkey’s already tense relations with Washington.
During a visit to Moscow, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Wednesday did not sound optimistic about his American counterpart to-be and demanded from him “to respect Turkey.”
“We do not want to comment on it, but whoever [they are], they need first to learn how to behave, approach, and respect us,” Cavusoglu said during a joint press conference with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, according to Reuters.
Cavusoglu’s remark appeared to be in response to a surge of recent reports in the Turkish media about Pompeo’s reaction to the 2016 failed coup against the rule of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Pompeo, a conservative Republican Representative for Kansas then, described Turkey as a “totalitarian Islamist dictatorship” in a tweet, tagging Erdogan’s Twitter account and likening his administration to the Islamic Republic of Iran as the coup was unfolding on the night of July 15.
Pompeo has since deleted his official Twitter account.
“We would like to work with the new secretary of state with the same understanding, with bilateral respect and understanding,” Cavusoglu continued.
Pompeo met with Erdogan in February of last year during a trip to Ankara as the Director of CIA to talk about the Syrian Civil War, the fight against the Islamic State (IS), and Washington’s continued support for the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) battling IS.
Cavusoglu also said talks planned between the United States and Turkey for March 19 could be delayed owing to Tillerson’s departure.
Tillerson visited Ankara last month and sat down with Erdogan for over three hours.
Cavusoglu said the two NATO allies would launch a series of diplomatic talks to settle the outstanding issues between them, namely American arming of the Syrian Kurds and Ankara’s long-time insistence of the YPG’s removal from the town of Manbij which the Coalition liberated in 2016.
No detailed statements were released by the Americans and the Turkish side.
For weeks, Turkish pundits and opposition politicians debated on what Erdogan and Tillerson spoke about and why the latter was alone in the meeting with no other US official, minute taker, or translator present.
Cavusoglu himself translated the hours-long conversation between the two.
On Wednesday, Erdogan revealed a part of what he told Tillerson.
“Why are you bringing [these weapons to YPG], I asked Mr. Tillerson. He said nothing, can you believe that?” He told an audience at his Ankara palace.
“Does America have a border here? What are they doing here? The US set up 20 bases in Syria. Why? One thinks it is [to contain] Turkey and Iran,” he continued during his speech.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany