• Erdogan blames US envoy for 'sacrificing' Ankara-Washington ties

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has blamed outgoing US Ambassador John Bass for the deteriorating relations between his country and the United States, saying Washington is “sacrificing” its relations with Ankara.

“Let me be very clear, the person who caused this is the ambassador here. It is unacceptable for the United States to sacrifice a strategic partner to an ambassador, who doesn't know his place,” Erdogan told provincial governors in the capital Ankara on Thursday.

He added that the United States was hiding a US Consulate General staffer, suspected of affiliation with a movement led by Turkish opposition cleric Fethullah Gulen, in the city of Istanbul. Ankara accuses the US-based opposition figure of having masterminded last July’s coup attempt

Erdogan further noted that Turkey stood by its decision to suspend issuing Turkish visas in the United States, in response to Washington's visa services suspension in Turkey.

If the US does not accept the Turkish Republic the way it is, "then we do not need you," he pointed out.

“We are not a tribal state. We are the state of the Republic of Turkey and you will accept it. If you don’t, then sorry, but we do not need you,” Erdogan said.

The Turkish leader also criticized Washington’s hesitation to sell arms to Ankara while providing weapons to a “terrorist organization” for free instead, a reference to the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

The SDF is led by the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), which Ankara views as a terrorist organization over its alleged links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

On October 8, the US Embassy in Turkey suspended processing non-immigrant visa applications on the grounds that it needed to “reassess” Turkey's commitment to securing American diplomatic personnel.

Turkey then suspended non-immigrant visa services at all Turkish diplomatic missions in the United States in a tit-for-tat move. 

On October 4, Turkish authorities arrested a US Consulate General staffer in Istanbul on charges of contacts with members of the Gulen movement.

Turkey’s official Anadolu news agency reported that the man worked as a contact officer at the Consulate General, and made contacts with former police chiefs Yakup Saygilı, Nazmi Ardiç, Mahir Çakallı and Mehmet Akif Üner, all linked to Gulen’s movement.

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Oct 12, 2017 14:15 UTC
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