Turkey-u.s. Relations in crisis: erdogan threatens washington

Turkish leader Erdogan threatens to close U.S. bases. Washington calls for more constructivism.

Leftists demonstrated in Istanbul back in 2010 against an Armenia resolution by the U.S. Congress Photo: Ibrahim Usta/AP

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also considers a closure of two bases for the United States possible in light of tensions between Washington and Ankara. "If necessary," Incirlik Air Base and the U.S. radar station Kurecik in Malatya province, which are used by the United States, could be closed, Erdogan said Sunday evening in an interview with A Haber radio.

In particular, if "measures such as sanctions" were to come into effect against Turkey, the appropriate response would be given, Erdogan said.

Last week, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu had already hinted that Turkey could deny the U.S. access to Incirlik and Kurecik in the event of U.S. sanctions.

U.S. senators are calling for sanctions against Turkey for its summer purchase of Russia’s S-400 missile defense system. The U.S. government fears, among other things, that Russia could obtain data on the capabilities of the U.S. F-35 fighter jet via the weapon system’s sensitive radar.

Ankara was a partner in building the fighter jet and planned to buy numerous aircraft. Because of the arms deal with Moscow, the U.S. has excluded Turkey from the F-35 program. However, tough sanctions have so far failed to materialize.

"We view the status of our forces in Turkey as a symbol of our decades-long commitment to work with and defend our NATO ally and strategic partner Turkey," a Pentagon spokesman told Deutsche Presse-Agentur in Washington.

"The department is committed to preserving that relationship while encouraging Turkey to pursue a more constructive policy on S-400, Syria and other areas of disagreement."

Relations between the NATO partners are also strained because, after the House of Representatives, the U.S. Senate has also recognized the massacres of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire as genocide.

A corresponding resolution had been passed on Thursday. Turkey protested sharply. Erdogan said Sunday that it was a political decision that was unacceptable.

During the First World War, Armenians were systematically persecuted and, among other things, sent on death marches into the Syrian desert. Historians speak of hundreds of thousands up to 1.5 million victims.

Turkey, as successor to the Ottoman Empire, admits to the deaths of 300,000 to 500,000 Armenians during World War I and deplores the massacres. However, it strictly rejects a classification as genocide.

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