Turkish PM hails US visa move, calls for Gulen’s extradition

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses members of parliament of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in Ankara on Tuesday. (AFP)
Updated 08 November 2017

Turkish PM hails US visa move, calls for Gulen’s extradition

ANKARA/ISTANBUL: Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim on Tuesday described the US’ move to partially resume issuing visas in Turkey as a positive step, but said Washington should extradite a cleric blamed for last year’s failed military coup in Turkey.
“The limited reissuing of visas between the United States and Turkey... prior to our visit can be seen as a positive development,” Yildirim told reporters before leaving for the US, where he is due to meet US Vice President Mike Pence.
The US said on Monday it would resume “limited visa services” in Turkey after getting what it said were assurances about the safety of its local staff. Washington halted issuing visas at its missions in Turkey last month, citing the detention of two local employees.
Turkey said it would match the move, relaxing a visa ban of its own that was instituted last month in retaliation against Washington. However, Yildirim reiterated Turkey’s stance that it had not offered assurances to Washington.
“Both countries are states of law, and procedures are being carried out in accordance with the law. Negotiations regarding the offering of assurances to the United States or vice-versa would breach the principles of laws of state,” he said.
In May, a translator at the US consulate in the southern province of Adana was arrested and, more recently, a US Drug Enforcement Administration worker was detained in Istanbul. Both are accused of links to last year’s coup attempt. The US Embassy has said the accusations are baseless.
Turkey has been angered by what it sees as US reluctance to hand over the cleric Fethullah Gulen, who has lived in Pennsylvania since 1999 and whom Ankara blames for orchestrating the coup. US officials have said courts require sufficient evidence to order his extradition.
Yildirim said Gulen’s extradition would be discussed during his visit, as well as the fate of some Turkish citizens arrested in the US — a reference to the wealthy gold trader who was arrested over Iran sanctions evasion last year and an executive at a state-owned bank arrested this year.
“We have strong evidence that Gulen was behind the July 15 coup attempt and we want his extradition. We want the concerns we have regarding the cases of our citizens arrested in the United States to be eased,” Yildirim said.
“They also have similar requests, and diplomatic channels are being used for discussions, we are both seeking a way out.”

Arrest warrants
A Turkish prosecutor has issued detention warrants for 53 active sergeants over alleged links to Gulen, state media said on Tuesday.
Twenty of the suspects have so far been detained in the operation across 12 provinces, state-run Anadolu Agency said. Thirty-three other soldiers were currently being sought, it said.
The Interior Ministry said on Monday that nearly 700 people had been detained over the previous week on allegations of ties to what Ankara calls the “Gulenist Terror Group.”
Some 50,000 people have been arrested since the failed putsch in July and around 150,000 dismissed or suspended, including soldiers, police, teachers and public servants, over alleged links with the movement of the US-based cleric.


Macron slams Turkey’s aggression in Syria as ‘madness’, bewails NATO inaction

Updated 9 min 27 sec ago

Macron slams Turkey’s aggression in Syria as ‘madness’, bewails NATO inaction

  • EU Council President Donald Tusk said the halt of Turkish hostilities as demanded by the US is not a genuine cease-fire
  • He calls on Ankara to immediately stop military operations,

BRUSSELS/ANKARA: Macron critizes Turkey's aggression in Syria as "madness', bewails NATO inaction

France’s President Emmanuel Macron has bemoaned Turkey’s offensive into northern Syria as “madness” and decried NATO’s inability to react to the assault as a “serious mistake.”

“It weakens our credibility in finding partners on the ground who will be by our side and who think they will be protected in the long term. So that raises questions about how NATO functions.”

EU Council President Donald Tusk said the halt of Turkish hostilities is not a genuine cease-fire and called on Ankara to immediately stop military operations in Syria.

Dareen Khalifa, a senior Syria analyst at the International Crisis Group, said the cease-fire had unclear goals. 

There was no mention of the scope of the area that would be under Turkish control and, despite US Vice President Mike Pence referring to a 20-mile zone, the length of the zone remains ambiguous, she said.

Selim Sazak, a doctoral researcher at Brown University, believed the agreement would be implemented and the YPG would withdraw.

“The agency of the YPG is fairly limited. If the deal collapses because of the YPG, it’s actually all the better for Ankara,” he told Arab News. “What Ankara originally wanted was to take all of the belt into its control and eliminate as many of the YPG forces as possible. Instead, the YPG is withdrawing with a portion of its forces and its territory intact. Had the deal collapsed because of the YPG, Ankara would have reason to push forward, this time with much more legitimacy.”