Turkey Questions - State Dpt, January 9th - #Corruption
US: No one above the law
Q: No, I've got one on Turkey, though.
MS. PSAKI: OK.
Q: Could we go to the situation in Turkey where there's been a building political crisis? Erdogan sacked -- Prime Minister Erdogan sacked about 700 police officers, yesterday there were moves to try and curb some of the powers of the country's leading independent judicial body, and today there's more moves to impose strict controls on the Internet. I wondered if you could give us a broad kind of overview of the U.S. position on this.
MS. PSAKI: Well, you're right, and as you pointed to, it's been ongoing and there have been different developments each day. In our conversations with all stakeholders in Turkey, we continue to make clear that the United States supports the desire of the Turkish people for a legal system that meets the highest standards of fairness, timeliness and transparency in civil and criminal matters where no one is above the law and where allegations against public figures are investigated impartially.
You are familiar with our view on freedom of speech and freedom of media, which we've expressed as needed and expressed annually in our report as well, and we're certainly communicating that directly to the government.
Q: At what level? From whom in this building?
MS. PSAKI: I don't have any readouts or updates on calls from Washington, but certainly, it's being communicated on the ground.
US: Turkey remains a key ally
Q: So are there concerns that this could lead to instability, and what is a key U.S. ally in that region?
MS. PSAKI: You're right that Turkey is and remains a key U.S ally, and we're not going to get ahead of where we are now. We've expressed our concerns about some of the events that are happening on the ground directly, publicly and privately, and we'll continue to do that.
Q: But I mean, this -- there has been since the summer, really, all of this political unrest and a lot of violence related to how Prime Minister Erdogan has been treating the opposition. Do you -- do you think that this makes Turkey a less reliable ally if there's so much chaos in the country and they are diverted dealing with this domestic instability?
MS. PSAKI: Well, Elise (sp), certainly -- I would not qualify it that way from the United States government. We express concerns when we have them, as I just did in this case. We've had them in the past, and when we've had them in the past, we've expressed them, but Turkey remains an important ally. It remains a country we work closely with on a range of issues, and when we have concerns, we'll make those known.
Q: I didn't say it wasn't an important ally. I'm asking about the reliability in terms of, you know, the stability of the government, the security of the government, whether, you know, they are too preoccupied with their own domestic chaos to be a reliable and productive partner with you in other arenas.
US: We won't make prediction about Turkey's reliability
MS. PSAKI: Well, I don't think we want to make a prediction of that. As you know, Turkey is -- will be participating in a range of discussions about Syria and the crisis in Syria. They're obviously an important partner on that. We work with them on other issues. So --
Q: So you have seen over the last, what, six months that this political instability and chaos and, you know, periodic violence in Turkey has not affected your business with them?
MS. PSAKI: We've continued to work closely with Turkey. And obviously, we've expressed concerns about issues going on domestically as we see fit.
Q: Yes, on Turkey, do you consider Mr. Erdogan a leader who respects democracy? Since he dismissed judges and prosecutors, since he put more than 1,000 journalists in jail, is he a leader that respects democracy, you think?
MS. PSAKI: Well, I will say that when we have concerns about his actions, we express those. And that's something I have just done today.