The American Hellenic Institute (AHI) has issued the following statement on the November 13, 2019 meeting between President Donald J. Trump and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the White House:

AHI takes tremendous exception with President Donald J. Trump’s description of Turkey as “…a great NATO Ally, and a strategic partner of the United States around the world” and President Trump’s praise of President Erdogan, stating, “I’m a big fan of the President.” President Trump also stated it was “a great honor” to have Mr. Erdogan present at the White House. To the contrary, it was not.  In total, the president’s remarks are an extreme disappointment.

Further, AHI rejects President Trump’s statement that Turkey’s partnership was “important to our destruction of the ISIS caliphate.”  It is clear that U.S.-allied Kurdish forces accomplished this task. Frontline reported, “…when ISIS was gaining ground in the northern Syrian city of Kobani in 2014, Turkey refused to send troops or allow coalition jets to use the critically important U.S. airbase at Incirlik.”

AHI applauds and echoes the position of Richard Haass, president, Council on Foreign Relations, who stated in a tweet that the United States should be reducing its “reliance on a Turkey that is an ally in name only…”  AHI’s record has been clear on how Turkey has been a failed ally of the United States since the Cold War.  Doug Bandow, a senior fellow at Cato Institute, authored a piece this week in The National Interest that Turkey is not worthy of NATO membership and would not be invited to join the Alliance today. Bandow’s piece begs the question of how can a country, in Turkey, that aligns itself with Russia and Iran, also be an ally of the United States?

Mr. Erdogan is an authoritarian leader who has purged academics, judges, and political and military opponents and jailed more journalists than any other country in the world, including North Korea. Turkey is a threat to the security of United States allies, such as Greece and Israel, and strategic partners, such as the Republic of Cyprus. There are numerous examples to cite. Turkey routinely violates U.S. arms control laws which require that U.S. supplied F-16s and other aircraft be used only for legitimate self-defense. Every time, without any provocative act by Greece, Turkey orders F-16s and other aircraft to fly toward Greek airspace and Flight Information Region (FIR) over the Greek islands in the Aegean Sea, Turkey violates U.S. law. Turkey drills in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of the Republic of Cyprus, an act which is unlawful under international law and which has been condemned by the U.S. and the European Union (EU). Turkey has enabled ISIS fighters to transit Turkish territory to sell oil and other products and provided other support to ISIS. Turkey openly supports Hamas and its policies which violates the security of Israel.  And Turkey’s purchase and acceptance of Russian-made S-400 missile defense system is a blatant threat to U.S. national security.

Instead of taking the opportunity to hold Turkey accountable for its countless illegal actions that have jeopardized American and allies’ security interests, President Trump stated publicly the United States would pursue a larger trade agreement with Turkey, in upwards of $100 billion.

The United States’ policy toward Turkey must not be one of appeasement.  Appeasement will only serve to embolden Mr. Erdogan further.  However, it is evident appeasement is President Trump’s policy of choice on Turkey—from President Trump’s invitation to Mr. Erdogan, to the language that praised Mr. Erdogan during the press conference, to the absence of any announced consequences for Turkey’s laundry list of violations of the rule of law.

Therefore, AHI calls on the U.S. Senate to follow the U.S. House of Representatives and pass legislation by a veto proof margin which holds Turkey accountable for its illegal acts. This is necessary because it is clear from Wednesday’s meeting that the Trump administration will not.