One “thank you” from the US falls far short of recognizing Türkiye's singular importance for Washington, said the country’s top diplomat on Saturday.
Citing the historic grain deal reached this July in Istanbul, which unblocked Ukrainian exports to the world, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said: "In foreign policy areas, when we look at US priorities, Türkiye remains not one of the most important actors, but the most important actor. So the US should not belittle Türkiye's importance by just saying 'the grain deal is done, thank you’."
Clearing hurdles and addressing disagreements between the two countries benefits both sides, Cavusoglu told members of the Turkish American community in Los Angeles, California.
Turning to the Türkiye-US Strategic Mechanism established last October, he said the two nations should resolve issues, and boost cooperation, which he said "is the goal.”
"We need to take concrete steps too," he added.
- 'Türkiye was the focus'
Cavusoglu also said Türkiye was the focus during talks with his counterparts on the sidelines last week of the UN General Assembly, adding that most of them spoke highly of Turkish efforts in the Russia-Ukraine crisis, including the grain deal and a recent prisoner exchange.
Some 60% of world conflicts including Afghanistan and Syria have been happening around Türkiye, he said, adding: "We're working to minimize the iimpact of crises.”
Last October, meeting in Rome, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his US counterpart Joe Biden agreed to establish a strategic mechanism that promotes high-level dialogue and addresses issues on which Türkiye and the US do not fully agree, along with issues they are working on.
During a visit this April to the Turkish capital Ankara by Victoria Nuland, US under secretary of state for political affairs, the Türkiye-US Strategic Mechanism was launched.
Turkish-American relations have been strained in recent years due to US cooperation with the terrorist group YPG/PKK in Syria, its failure to extradite the wanted ringleader of the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), disagreements over Türkiye’s purchase of Russia’s S-400 air defense system, and Washington's sanctions on Türkiye.
FETO and its US-based leader Fetullah Gulen orchestrated the defeated coup in Türkiye of July 15, 2016, in which 251 people were killed and 2,734 wounded.
In its more than 35-year terror campaign against Türkiye, the PKK – listed as a terrorist organization by Türkiye, the US, and EU – has been responsible for the deaths of over 40,000 people, including women, children, and infants. The YPG is the PKK’s Syrian offshoot.
The US has said it is cooperating with the YPG/PKK in northern Syria to fight the terrrorist group Daesh/ISIS, but Turkish officials say using one terrorist group to fight another makes no sense, morally or otherwise.
Following his US visit, Cavusoglu will head to Tokyo to attend the state funeral of Shinzo Abe, the late Japanese premier.