ISTANBUL: US lawmaker criticizes Turkey’s foreign policy

Hurriyet, Turkey
Feb 26 2010

US lawmaker criticizes Turkey’s foreign policy

Friday, February 26, 2010
Ã`mit ENGÄ°NSOY
ANKARA – Hürriyet Daily News

As a leading American lawmaker accuses Turkey of planning a major
realignment of its foreign policy, the U.S. secretary of state says
that Washington and Ankara continue to share a vital partnership and
common strategic interests.

`I am very concerned with the direction of Turkey. It seems to me, at
least, that Turkey is contemplating a fundamental realignment,’ Steve
Israel, a Democratic representative from New York, said at a
congressional hearing Thursday.

`With respect to Iran, Turkey has exhibited irresponsible behavior in
my view, undermining international efforts to slow Iran’s march to
nuclear weapons, defending Iran’s position,’ Israel said, according to
a transcript of a hearing by the House Appropriations Committee’s
State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs Subcommittee on next
year’s budget.

The U.S. congressman criticized Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip
ErdoÄ?an and his government, blaming them for the worsening ties
between Turkey and Israel, and accused Turkey of `continuing an
illegal occupation in Cyprus’ and `denying the Darfur genocide.’

Ironically, Israel was one of the few Democratic lawmakers who
staunchly defended Turkey against an Armenian `genocide’ bill debated
in the House of Representatives in 2007. One Washington analyst said
his recent remarks may reflect the growing frustration of many U.S.
politicians over the growing Turkish-Israeli tensions.

Clinton’s response

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, however, said that the United
States and Turkey are working together from the Balkans to
Afghanistan. `We believe we share a vital partnership, common
strategic interests and, of course, membership in NATO,’ she said.

`With respect specifically to Iran, Turkey shares a long border with
Iran,’ she added. `It has a lot of cultural and religious ties; a lot
of commercial ventures with Iran, and it has access to many of the
Iranian decision makers.’

Noting that Ankara opposes Tehran’s acquisition of nuclear-weapons
capability, Clinton said: `We have worked very hard to move the
government of Turkey to a point where it will assist us in pressing
Iran to respond to our demands. With respect to Israel, Prime Minister
ErdoÄ?an, based on humanitarian grounds, criticized Israel’s closure of
Gaza.’

The U.S. secretary of state added that Turkey and Israel were both
trying to get their relationship back on track.

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