Friday, January 03, 2014

My Qs & As w/US State Dept. Spox on Turkey

Friday, January 3, 2014

QUESTION:  Turkey?

MS. HARF:  Mm-hmm. 

Corruption as "internal matter"

QUESTION:  Yesterday, Washington Post editorial was addressing the U.S. Government and saying that the Obama Administration should be pressing Mr. Erdogan to respect the rule of law and give police and prosecutors the opportunity to present their cases in court.  Do you agree with that, or what’s your reaction?

MS. HARF:  Well, we’ve continued obviously to follow the investigations going on in Turkey.  We’ve certainly over months and years made concerns known to the Turkish Government about freedom of the press, about some of the – freedom of – some of these issues that I think were mentioned there.  I don’t have any, I think, any further analysis on that other than to say we have a close relationship with Turkey.  We’ll keep raising these issues as we think it’s appropriate.  And again, this is an internal matter in Turkey, and we’ll follow it, but this is something for them to deal with.

QUESTION:  So you have been repeating some of the norms – universal norms here, transparency and judiciary and all that.

MS. HARF:  Mm-hmm.  And due process --

QUESTION:  Due process.

MS. HARF:  -- effective access to justice, all of that.  Absolutely. 

QUESTION:  So over three or four weeks that the hundreds of police officers and prosecutors also – the one that launched the case – removed from the case.  Do you think that the Administration’s handling the cases over the months is --

MS. HARF:  Well, I don’t have any comment on the specifics of the cases.  Obviously, we would reiterate again that we expect Turkey to follow and meet the highest standards for transparency, for timeliness and fairness in its judicial system.  But I don’t have any specific comments, again, on these cases.

Corruption is a plot hatched by the US?
QUESTION:  So last week the Prime Minister Erdogan basically said that this corruption case is a plot, is planned in the U.S. in April.  Did you guys hatch such a plot to overthrow the Turkish Government?

MS. HARF:  Absolutely not.  We find this attack baseless.  We’ve made it known to Turkish authorities our concerns about these kind of allegations regarding American officials just completely baseless.  Again, this is an internal Turkish matter.  We’ll keep following it, but don’t have much more on it than that.

The Gulen Movement behind?
QUESTION:  The Administration argues that there is planned movement.  It is an Islamist – the Islamic movement is behind these cases that tried to overthrow the government.  Do you know anything about this?  Do you have any comment on this?

MS. HARF:  I mean, I’ve seen some of those reports.  I don’t have a comment on it.  I’m happy to check with our folks to see if there’s more that we can share.

Current Turkey-US Relations
QUESTION:  Would you be able to define the current U.S.-Turkey relationship under the circumstances?

MS. HARF:  Well, I think broadly speaking, they are a very important NATO ally, as we know.  We work together on a host of issues very closely, including on regional issues like Syria and other issues as well.  I think as I said about a number of countries, the sign of a close partnership is the ability to speak frankly when you have disagreements, which we do.  And we’re focused on working together on all these issues going forward.  I don’t think I have much more analysis on the bilateral relationship than that.

QUESTION:  Any development on the U.S. ambassador so far?  Is he staying or is he --

MS. HARF:  I don’t have anything new to announce on that.  I’m happy to check, but I don’t have any update on that.

QUESTION:  And lastly, yesterday there were some trucks in Turkey confiscated and then let go.  Do you have anything – do you know anything about the trucks?

MS. HARF:  I haven’t seen those reports.  I’m not sure if they’re the same thing you’re asking about, but I’m happy to look into them. 

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