House Foreign Affairs Leaders Say Ankara Undermines NATO Alliance

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House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel (left) and Lead Republican Michael McCaul

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel (left) and Lead Republican Michael McCaul

WASHINGTON—House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel and Lead Republican Michael McCaul have released a statement on their deep concern over Turkey’s actions under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that endanger the NATO alliance, the broader region, and democracy and the rule of law in Turkey.

“We are gravely concerned by the threat Turkey’s increasingly provocative behavior poses to our decades-long bilateral relationship, to the NATO alliance, and to the region more broadly,” said Engel and McCaul.

While we continue to see real value in a strong U.S.-Turkey relationship, its destabilizing actions need to be more strongly addressed and the United States must work with its European and NATO allies and partners to continue to use all of the tools at their disposal to demand that Turkey reverse course. We strongly urge President Erdogan to put an end to Turkey’s provocative behavior so the United States and Turkey can once again enjoy a close and cooperative relationship built on mutual security interests, a strong commitment to NATO, and shared democratic values,” added the two Foreign Affairs Committee leaders.

“House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel and Lead Republican Michael McCaul unnecessarily hedge their criticism of Turkey by using the word ‘reportedly’ to qualify Turkey’s well-documented recruitment of foreign terrorist fighters to attack Artsakh,” said Armenian National Committee America Executive Director Aram Hamparian.

“Sadly, the rest of this statement – which does raise a series of very troubling Turkish offenses – is framed in terms of bringing Turkey back into the NATO fold – years after Erdogan stormed away from the alliance.  This fundamentally mistaken mindset among U.S. policy-makers must end. Turkey today is not an ally to be managed – with relentless excuses and endless appeasement – but rather an openly announced adversary that must be forcefully and firmly confronted,” added Hamparian.

Recent actions of concern by Turkey under President Erdogan include:

  • President Erdogan’s acquisition of the Russian S-400 missile defense system compromises NATO interoperability and undermines the alliance’s collective defense pledge, which demands our militaries and armaments can work together in the face of the threat posed by Russia. It also allows Vladimir Putin to continue to sow division in the alliance.
  • Turkey’s military operation in northeast Syria risked reversing critical gains by the United States and our local partners in the ongoing counter-ISIS fight and exacerbated the existing humanitarian crisis. Even now, Turkish-supported groups in northern Syria are accused of committing egregious human rights violations.
  • President Erdogan has also fanned the flames of other global conflicts, reportedly sending Syrian mercenaries to Libya and Nagorno-Karabakh.
  • In the Eastern Mediterranean, Turkey has surveyed for hydrocarbon resources in disputed waters also claimed by Greece, a NATO member, and Cyprus, a key transatlantic partner and EU member.
  • Erdogan has openly hosted Hamas terrorists in Turkey, including individuals designated by the United States for their terrorist activities.
  • At home, Erdogan’s government has undermined Turkey’s democratic institutions by consolidating his own power, undermining the independence of Turkey’s judiciary, and rolling back the democratic rights and freedoms of the Turkish people, including by targeting locally-employed staff at U.S. Consulates with baseless criminal charges.

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