Monday, March 31, 2014

Qs & As on Turkey Elections & F.Gulen w State Dpt. Spox

Daily Press Briefing Index
Monday, March 31, 2014
1:27 p.m. EDT
Briefer: Marie Harf, Deputy Spokesperson

Yes, Turkey.

QUESTION:  Like before the elections earlier this week, the way the United States has seemingly stepped up its criticism of Turkey ever since that corruption scandal started.  And then last week the White House criticized the Erdogan government of – for the Twitter shutdown.

MS. HARF:  As did I.

QUESTION:  Yeah.  As you did, right?

MS. HARF:  Mm-hmm.

QUESTION:  Did you, like, overestimate the power of Erdogan’s opponents?  Because the elections showed that he won a landslide victory.

MS. HARF:  Well, we’re obviously following the local elections in Turkey and would also note that final results have not yet been released.  Obviously, we would congratulate the people of Turkey for their participation in these elections.  And I am not going to comment further on the results of local elections or do any further analysis, particularly before they haven’t been officially confirmed by the higher elections council.

QUESTION:  There are some reports of fraud as well.  Are you aware of that and are you concerned?

MS. HARF:  Well, we’ve seen these reports; as we do around the world, obviously urge election officials to investigate any credible allegations of irregularities.  And I would refer you to the Turkish officials to speak more to that.

QUESTION:  Do you think President Obama will congratulate Erdogan for winning the elections?

MS. HARF:  I have no predictions about what anyone else might say.  I just know what I’m saying.

QUESTION:  (Inaudible) Turkey?

MS. HARF:  Yes.

QUESTION:  Right after the elections, Erdogan’s victory speech, he mentioned Pennsylvania several times.  That’s of course because there’s this Islamic – Islamist preacher there. 

MS. HARF:  Mm-hmm.

QUESTION:  So my question is, like, there has been so much talk that the United States and even the West in general are more in line with that – with Fethullah Gulen’s position on Turkey than Erdogan, and that’s why the United States has stepped up its criticism on Twitter, on like the corruption, and also regarding Erdogan’s handling of other (inaudible) issues.

MS. HARF:  Well, that’s ridiculous.  Regardless of whether this gentleman was living in Pennsylvania or not, it would still not be okay for the Government of Turkey to ban Twitter.  It would still not be okay for the Government of Turkey to crack down like they have on dissent.  Those things have nothing to do with the fact that one of their citizens is living in the Pennsylvania countryside. 

QUESTION:  Aren’t you more in position with, for example, Fethullah Gulen --

MS. HARF:  No.

QUESTION:  -- who is reportedly pro-Israel-Turkey relations --

MS. HARF:  Turkey’s a NATO ally.  Let’s be clear here.  Turkey is a close NATO ally.  We don’t always agree on everything, but we don’t agree on everything with anyone.  So forget about the gentleman living in Pennsylvania.  We have a bilateral alliance with the Government of Turkey.  We will speak out when we disagree.  We will speak out when we agree.  And it’s really up to the people of Turkey to make decisions about their government.  We – it’s not up to us, and any reports that we have any impact on that are just crazy.

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