Tuesday, August 02, 2016

US: We urged and encouraged our friend Turkey to observe the rule of law

DPB #135
Briefer: John Kirby, Spokesperson

Observe to rule of law
QUESTION: Turkey President Erdogan is now saying that Turkey’s friends are standing with terrorists and coup plotters. His government has now, it says, submitted a second document to the United States explaining why Gulen needs to be immediately arrested. And there’s a delegation of Turkish lawmakers in town visiting Justice, DHS, and over here. I’m wondering if you’ve got anything to respond to these comments, especially about that – if – essentially, they’re saying if the United States doesn’t hand over Gulen, then the United States is supporting terrorists and coup plotters and it could endanger the strategic alliance.
MR KIRBY: Well, look, I think, again, we very strongly condemn the failed coup. We’ve strongly rejected any attempt to overthrow democracy in Turkey. And we support, as we’ve said from the very beginning, the democratically elected government there. Turkey remains a NATO ally. They remain a key partner in the coalition to defeat Daesh. I think you saw that General Dunford, the Joint Chiefs chairman, was just recently there and had good, constructive meetings and came out of those meetings and publicly commented about the positive tone of those discussions. Incirlik remains open to U.S. aircraft to conduct strikes against Daesh in Syria and we look for that cooperation to continue.
We’re mindful that this was a serious coup attempt and that Turkey has put in place measures to investigate and to try to bring those responsible to account. All along, from the very beginning,
we’ve also urged and encouraged our friend Turkey, as they do this, to observe rule of law and to preserve confidence in their own democratic institutions. And we’re going to stay committed to that partnership going forward.
So I’ve seen lots of comments out there, and again, just like before, I’m not going to respond to every bit of rhetoric. But again, I can assure you that Turkey has no better friend than the United States. We want to see Turkey emerge from this strong and democratic and surefooted.

Erdogan slamming US
QUESTION: But you mentioned General Dunford’s visit and his comments and his message to the Turkish officials that he spoke with. you talked about how he spoke of a positive tone of these discussions, and yet less than a day afterwards, the president of the country not the joint not the Turkish joint chiefs chairman, not the Turkish prime minister, but the president of the country, the commander-in-chief makes these comments. Does that not dishearten you at all? I mean, is this message – this message that you guys are trying to send doesn’t seem to be getting through. Isn’t that a problem?
MR KIRBY: I can’t speak for President Erdogan or his comments. I can only speak for us and - -
QUESTION: I know. Aren’t you – and my so my question is: What are you not does this not dishearten you? Does it not make you annoy you or bother you that your good friend, ally, democratically elected President Erdogan that your send your Joint Chiefs of chairman of your Joint Chiefs of Staff over there to make nice with his people and to explain your position, and yet the next day, he comes out and trashes you again?
MR KIRBY: Well, look --
QUESTION: That’s not a problem?
MR KIRBY: Matt, what matters is the partnership that we have with Turkey going forward, and certainly in the practical, tangible ways that partnership can be realized such as going after Daesh in Syria and the support that we continue to get from Turkey in that regard.
President Erdogan, as the sovereign head of state of the Government of Turkey, is certainly free to express his views and his frustrations as he sees fit. We respect his right to do that. We’ve also been open and honest that even before the coup, we didn’t agree with Turkey on everything. So we’re going to stay committed to having the dialogue going forward, and that dialogue is happening. I mean, our ambassador, John Bass, is still working hard every day in Ankara to reach out to his counterparts and to talk about these developments as they go forward.

2nd Documents for Extradition
QUESTION: Do you know anything about the second document that was mentioned that the Turks have talked --
MR KIRBY: No, I have not heard about a second document. And again, I’d refer you to Justice Department on all questions about extradition.

QUESTION: But President Erdogan is going to Moscow in one week. Do you read anything in this visit?
MR KIRBY: You’d have to talk to President Erdogan about his travel habits and his plans. I don’t know. I mean, again, sovereign heads of state are – have every right and responsibility to conduct bilateral relations as they see fit.

QUESTION: President Erdogan is quoted, at least in our story, as saying, “I’m calling on the United States: what kind of strategic partners are we that you can still host someone whose extradition I have asked for?” Do you regard the – what you are aware of as so far having been transmitted by the Turks – I’m not asking about the second batch, if there was a second document. Do you regard that as an extradition request?
MR KIRBY: As I understand it – and now I’m getting into an area really that it’s not for the State Department to comment on. So I’m going to obviously refer you to Justice. But as I understand it, they are in receipt of documents. I do not know how many; I do not know in what number of batches they’ve come in, nor do I know the content. And as I understand it, they are still analyzing those documents, and I don’t believe that a judgment is made one way or the other yet in terms of whether it’s formal extradition. I do want to make two points -- 

QUESTION: Formal extradition request. 
MR KIRBY: Right.
MR KIRBY: Yes. A couple of points. It can be, as I said before, a lengthy legal process, the task of extradition. And as you know, we don’t typically make it a habit of speaking to specific cases. Now, this one was obviously unique, given the circumstances. It was unavoidable that we would have to address it, given the very public calls for it by the Government of Turkey. So we have had to do that. But I don’t want to set an expectation up that we’re going to be able to give you a blow-by-blow of the process as it works its way through.

QUESTION: Well, except that they keep yelling about it and talking about it in public, and if that forced you to talk about it the first time, I think it – you’re going to have to – you’re going to keep getting the question, whether you’re prepared to answer it or not.
MR KIRBY: No, I’m -- 

QUESTION: Anyone else has --
MR KIRBY: -- fully prepared – look, I know I’m going to get – continue to get the question. But again, it’s a process, and we’re going to try to preserve the sanctity of it. And while I understand that it’s going to keep coming up here, I just want to set the expectations as low as possible that I’m going to be able to provide a very detailed rundown every single day of the progress of it.
QUESTION: You succeeded.
QUESTION: Two very quick questions.
MR KIRBY: Yeah, you’re going to have to be real quick, because I got to get going.

QUESTION: Very quick. Today also President Erdogan said there has not been a single Western officials visited me after General Dunford. I was wondering if you have any visitors going to Turkey from U.S. Government any time soon.
MR KIRBY: I don’t have any other travel to speak to, other than the chairman’s trip --

QUESTION: And second very quick question is that it has almost been three weeks since the coup attempt, and you said that you want Turkey to observe the rule of law. Do you think so far Turkey’s action not --
MR KIRBY: I’ve also said I’m not going to characterize every action that they take. I’m not going to start doing that today. We our ambassador, John Bass, is working very closely with his counterparts in Ankara, talking through what the developments are and the decisions that the government is making. And I’m going to leave it there for today. 

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