Monday, March 28, 2016

US: regrettable that Turkey closed journalists trial to public or media

DPB # 51
MONDAY, MARCH 28, 2016

Briefer: John Kirby, Spokesperson

My Qs and As w Spoox Kirby: 

QUESTION:  Turkey?
MR KIRBY:  Just once when I call on you I would love to hear you say something other than that.  Is that gonna happen?
QUESTION:  I hope.
MR KIRBY:  Yeah.
QUESTION:  One day.  (Laughter.)
So for few --
QUESTION:  Mozambique.  (Laughter.)
QUESTION:  For few days --
MR KIRBY:  And then ask a question about Turkey.

US: such a ridiculous claim and charge that I’m not going to dignify it with an answer.

QUESTION:  For few days in Turkey, media known to be close to current government have been accusing U.S. Government for attempting to overthrow Erdogan government.  These allegations and claims have been voiced by at least half a dozen newspapers and dozens of other reportings.  My question to you:  Does the U.S. Government --
MR KIRBY:  Are we trying to overthrow the Government of Turkey?  Is that your question?
QUESTION:  -- try to overthrow the Erdogan government?
MR KIRBY:  It is such a ridiculous claim and charge that I’m not going to dignify it with an answer.
QUESTION:  Fact that these are the media known – like Soviet’s Pravda – is very close to Erdogan government, there is no way the editorial can be run without President Erdogan and the government’s knowledge.  How do you comment with a ally country’s – this kind of allegations to another ally country?
MR KIRBY:  I’m not sure I understand what allegation you’re talking about.  The allegation that --
QUESTION:  That overthrowing --
MR KIRBY:  -- because they’re run by the government, they have to editorialize pro-government comments or the allegation that we are trying to overthrow the Erdogan government?
QUESTION:  These allegations of overthrowing Erdogan government coming directly from the media very close to the President Erdogan, who’s supposed to be here tomorrow or the other day.
MR KIRBY:  I don’t care who it’s coming from.  It’s ridiculous and it doesn’t merit a response by the United States of America.
Back here.

QUESTION:  Just one more.  I am so sorry, just one more.
MR KIRBY:  This one’s on Mozambique, though, right?

QUESTION:  Next time, hopefully.  Over the weekend – last Friday about 10 diplomatic missions visited journalist trial on Friday --
MR KIRBY:  Yeah.
QUESTION:  -- including, I believe, American diplomat there --
MR KIRBY:  Yes, that’s right.
QUESTION:  -- and the President Erdogan have been basically saying that this is not your business.  Would you comment on that?  Do you stand by by your diplomatic -

US on Can Dündar & Erdem Gül case: we regret that this case is now being tried in the public - in private without the public or media or diplomatic access.

MR KIRBY:  Yes, and there were U.S. representatives at the opening of this particular trial.  And that’s completely in keeping with standard diplomatic practice – to observe and report on political, judicial, and other developments in host countries.  This was not only not the first time, but it darn sure won’t be the last time that we observe these kinds of judicial proceedings. 
Personally, we regret that this case is now being tried in the public --
QUESTION:  Closed.
MR KIRBY:  I’m sorry, in private without the public or media or diplomatic access.  So that’s regrettable.  And number three, and you’ve heard me say this before, we continue to urge the Turkish Government to abide by its commitments enshrined in its own constitution to the fundamental principles of democracy, including due process, judicial independence, and freedom of expression, including freedom of the press.
Okay.  Yeah, you had one on Turkey back there?
MR KIRBY:  Both of you guys?
QUESTION:  Oh, I don’t know.
QUESTION:  No, I don’t.  My question will be on Iraq.
MR KIRBY:  Oh.  Well, then I’m not going to go to you now.
Go ahead.
QUESTION:  Thank you. 
MR KIRBY:  I’m waiting for Mozambique.

QUESTION:  So Turkish President Erdogan will be in D.C. this week and President Obama has no plans on a one-on-one meeting.  From the State Department point of view, has the relation with Turkey changed since his last visit to D.C. in 2013?
MR KIRBY:  Well, I think the short answer to your question is no, but I mean, I’m not aware of back in 2013 how we characterized it.  Look, they’re a NATO ally, a strong partner in the counter-Daesh coalition.  And in about 12 minutes, I’m going to have to get upstairs because the Turkish foreign minister is going to be here for a bilateral meeting with Secretary Kerry.  This is a very important bilateral relationship to us.  We take it very, very seriously as we know the Turks do as well.  There is an awful lot to talk about.  We’ve talked before that we don’t always agree on everything; media freedom is one of them.  But that’s the strength of a healthy relationship when you can disagree and still have productive discussions about the things that you – that are common threats and challenges, such as terrorism, such as Daesh.  So we look   forward to the discussions going forward.
QUESTION:  And how about the way they’re handling the situation with the Kurdish separatists?  How is the U.S. regarding that? 
MR KIRBY:  The Turkish separatists?
MR KIRBY:  You mean – are you talking about the Kurdish fighters on the other side of the --
MR KIRBY:  Look, there’s no doubt we’re going to talk about the situation in Syria and about that stretch of border that continues to provide an avenue for foreign fighters and supplies to get to Daesh across their border.  But obviously, the Turks have concerns about this and we continue to look forward to having discussions with them and engage with them on those concerns.  I mean, we – we understand there’s – they still have those concerns.  Our view, and I’ve said this as recently as last week – we don’t accept semi-autonomous, self-declared zones inside Syria.  That’s not going to change.  But we’ll see how the meeting goes and I’ll certainly give you a readout after it’s over, but this is not a new topic of discussion.  It’s not a new issue – area of concern by Turkish authorities, and we look forward to continuing to have a dialogue with them.

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