Turkey’s Culture and Tourism Minister Mehmet Nuri Ersoy has demanded “concrete support” from the United States in the country’s fight against outlawed organizations, Turkish government-aligned Demirören News Agency reported on Wednesday.
The minister made the demand during a reception on Wednesday with U.S. Charge d’Affaires Jeffrey M. Hovenier.
However, several organizations defined by Turkey as terrorist groups are backed by the United States.
In his speech at the Independence Day Reception in the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, the minister stressed the strong alliance between the two countries and expressed his faith that they can overcome “current difficulties” to lay the foundations of a stronger partnership.
One of the most severe of those difficulties revolves around U.S. support for Syrian Kurdish militias, including the Peoples’ Protection Units (YPG) and its political wing, the Democratic Union Party (PYD), which aided the international coalition to defeat the Islamic State.
Ankara views both groups as terrorist organizations due to their links to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has engaged in a four-decade-long conflict with Turkey and is designated a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States, and NATO.
“We want to see more concrete support from our ally the U.S. in our fight against terrorist organizations like PKK, PYD, YPG and FETO who pose a direct threat to our country’s security,” Ersoy said, referring to a fourth organization designated as a terrorist group by Ankara.
Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) blames the Gülen religious group for a coup attempt in July 2016. In Turkey, the group is commonly referred to as the Fetullahist Terrorist Organisation, or FETO, after its leader, Fethullah Gülen, who lives in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania.
Despite the disagreements on Syria and Turkish anger over Gülen’s continued residence in the United States, Ersoy said the two sides were continuing to hold talks on key matters, and that stronger cooperation between Turkey and the United States would increase trade volume and improve relations in all areas.
Hovenier agreed that the two countries would find a way forward together, and said Ambassador David Satterfield, recently approved by the U.S. Senate, will be arriving in Ankara to assume his duties soon.
However, the U.S.-Turkish relationship will face a stern test this month, as Turkey prepares to take delivery of its order of Russian-built S-400 missile defense systems.
The United States says the purchase will endanger NATO defense capabilities and has listed repercussions Ankara will face if it goes through with the deal, including expulsion from the F-35 fighter jet program and sanctions under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).
U.S. officials have warned that CAATSA sanctions would prevent Turkey from achieving its aim of increasing trade volume with the United States to $75 billion.