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"Politicians from Turkey and the U.S. comment two countries relationship and current problems, foresight future relations... Presidents, Prime  Ministers, Ministers and Members of Parlement  all speak to TURKOFAMERICA, share their experiences and views with our readers. All exclusive interview from Ankara and Washington, D.C...  

 

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Spokesperson Ned Price:“The long-standing position of the U.S. remains the same


U.S. State Department Spokesperson Ned Price stated that U.S. supports efforts to reduce tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean, including continuing talks between Turkey and Greece.

In his daily press briefing, Price answered a journalist's question about the impact of the renewal of the defense cooperation agreement between the U.S. and Greece on Washington's policy in the Eastern Mediterranean and Turkish-American relations.

Spokesperson Ned Price said, "We support the efforts to reduce tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean, including the continuation of exploration talks between Greece and Turkey."

Price said, "As a matter of principle, we encourage all countries to resolve maritime border issues through peace and dialogue according to international laws. As you know, the U.S. does not take a stand on how other countries should find a solution to their maritime border disputes."

During the telephone briefing, another journalist asked about President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's statements that signal an operation in Syria. The same issue was raised during the department's briefing yesterday; Ned Price replied similarly as well today.

"We condemn the cross-border attack against our NATO ally Turkey; we express our condolences to the families of the Turkish national police officers who have lost their lives in Syria. This, from our perspective, has been another important occasion as we underline the importance of maintaining cease-fire lines and halting cross-border attacks," said Price and he stated that all parties must maintain and respect cease-fire zones to enhance stability in Syria, and to work towards a political solution for the conflict.

Secretary Blinken's Support Letter to Greek Prime Minister 
 
Secretary Antony Blinken sent a letter to Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis after signing the 3rd. US-Greece Strategic Dialogue and 2nd. bilateral Mutual Defense Cooperation Agreement (MDCA).Secretary Blinken highlighted that US “remains committed to supporting Greece’s prosperity, security and democracy.”

75th UNGA President Bozkır: 83 Heads of state and 55 Prime Ministers expected to attend this year's UNGA

75th UNGA President Bozkır:  83 Heads of state and 55 Prime Ministers expected to attend this year's UNGA

Volkan Bozkır, President of the 75th United Nations General Assembly, whose term of office ends next week, evaluated his one-year term at the press conference. Bozkır said that he carried out his presidency in the most challenging period caused by the pandemic.

He will hand over his duty to Maldives Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdulla Shahid, elected as the president of the 76th UN General Assembly on September 14; Bozkır also stated that despite all the challenges and the negatives, the General Assembly fulfilled its duties during his term.

Bozkır also expressed that the UN General Assembly discussed various draft resolutions in 101 meetings; 320 resolutions were taken, high-level meetings were held, and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres's term of office was extended during his term.

"The UN is the only global power standing during the pandemic."

Stating that he continued his duty in the deserted corridors of the UN due to the pandemic and that the meetings were held in a virtual environment for a long time, Bozkır said, "Frankly, I did not like these virtual meetings. It was quite different from the one-on-one and face-to-face meetings we are used to, but it was necessary due to the conditions of the period we went through." Bozkır noted that the UN is the only international organization that could survive despite all the adverse conditions.

"People trust the UN, but they must see reciprocity."

Bozkır stated that when he was in charge and went to the Middle East to see the situation of the refugees on the site and also to the Caribbean due to the hurricane, in all the countries he visited, people applauded when they saw the UN flag. "I respect all the flags of all countries, but the most respected flag in today's world is the UN flag. I have personally seen this on the official visits I have done. People like the UN. The UN has to do so much more for these people."

Stating that the UN should realize the affection and trust of people, Bozkır criticized the global organization for not standing by people enough when necessary. Bozkır said, "The UN steps in after the crises are faced, not before. The UN has the capacity to intervene before crises arise in the world. It needs to demonstrate this capacity. The UN must prevent these crises instead of sending the Peacekeeping Forces."

Answering the question of a journalist regarding what he will do after this, Bozkır stated, "I am still a member of the Turkish parliament. I am appointed to this duty temporarily for a year."

"The UN does not pay a salary to the presidents of the General Assembly."

Bozkır also mentioned the challenges faced by the people elected to the presidency of the UN General Assembly once they arrive in New York City, saying, "You are not getting paid because you are the president of the UN General Assembly. Your rent is not covered. I think the UN should pay a salary. The first problem you face when you are appointed to this position is that you do not have health insurance in your new country of residence. If the people appointed to the position come from a small country, they face challenges because they cannot receive a salary from the UN. Some of the presidents of the General Assembly who find themselves in this situation have to resort to other remedies. I trusted my own country for this duty. I was sure that Turkey would support me both on financial issues and since I did not have health insurance."

Which leaders will come to New York for the 76th UN General Assembly?

It is not yet clear how many world leaders will physically be there and which countries will attend the high-level meetings that took place on a completely virtual basis last year due to the pandemic.

The US called for the country leaders who will attend the high-level meetings of the General Assembly to be held this year to either attend via video conference or to keep the number of delegations at a minimum if they plan to attend physically. It was announced that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan would be in New York between September 19 to September 22 in order to attend the 76th UN Security Council.

Bozkır responded to a question regarding this attendance as such: "We wish for an utmost level of attendance of leaders to the General Assembly. The UN General Assembly is the most democratic platform in the world where leaders can express themselves, but there is also the issue of the host country. The US holds the opinion that attendance should be through video conferences. We cannot tell them to come and attend physically in this case. As of now, 83 presidents and 55 prime ministers are planning to come to New York. Twenty-six leaders will join via video call. Twenty-three countries are expected to be represented by their minister of foreign affairs."

Biden and Erdogan agreed on Afghanistan

US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan announced that Biden and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan agreed in their meeting in Brussels at the beginning of the week that Turkey should take a leading role in securing Kabul International Airport.

Briefing reporters by phone about Biden's meetings in Europe, Sullivan said that Biden and  Erdogan talked in detail about a possible Turkish mission to ensure the airport's security after the Resolute Support Mission ended, and they agreed that they would work together.

Sullivan said that they are developing a plan to implement Turkey's offer for the Kabul International Airport.

"The clear commitment from the leaders established that Turkey would play a leading role in securing Hamid Karzai International Airport, and we are now working through how to execute just that," Sulivan said.

Sullivan pointed out that Washington has a plan B in case Turkey is unable to provide security assistance or the assistance is limited.

Last week, a Taliban spokesperson, referring to the 2020 agreement that calls for the withdrawal of US troops, said that Turkey should also respond to the call.

Sullivan added that Biden and Erdogan did not agree on the S400 issue, which is one of the most severe crises between the two countries.

Journalist, Ali Cinar

Biden and Putin Met Face-to-Face for the First Time

In their first face-to-face meeting, President Joe Biden and President of Russia Vladimir Putin agreed to restart arms control negotiations and reassign their ambassadors, whom they both had recalled earlier this year.

The meeting, which was held in Villa La Grange, a lakeside town in the Swiss city of Geneva, lasted less than 4 hours. However, Biden's advisers predicted that the session would last much longer.

After the meeting, both leaders held a press conference.

"We agreed to start a dialogue on arms control."

President Biden said that they discussed the details of the next steps of arms control and emphasized that critical infrastructures should not be exposed to such cyberattacks. He added that they talked about cybersecurity for a long time.

"If Navalny dies, the consequences of that would be devastating for Russia."

Noting that Russia's moves regarding cyberattacks have damaged their reputation in the global arena, Biden said that he asked Putin how he would feel if Russia's oil reservoirs were attacked by ransomware. Biden warned that the consequences of the death of Russian opposition leader Navalny could be devastating for Russia.

A new cold war would not serve anyone's interests.

Stating that the last thing Putin would want is a cold war, President Biden emphasized that it is not in anyone's interest to start a new cold war.

Putin: "We had a pragmatic dialogue."

Stating that it is difficult to say whether relations with the US will improve or not, Putin said that there is a "glimmer of hope" to build mutual trust. There was not an invitation to visit from Moscow or Washington.

"We will start consultations in cybersecurity."

The Russian leader indicated that Washington and Moscow would start consultations in cybersecurity and pointed out that most of the cyberattacks against Russia are carried out by the US.

In addition, it was announced at the press conference that both countries would return their ambassadors to their posts.

Here is the  U.S. Media Headlines after the meeting:

•They continued to argue even while easing the tension.

•There were no winners or losers; everything was the same.

•No noteworthy objectives were announced.

•There could be a reduction in nuclear weapons and cyberattacks.

•Time will show how successful the meeting was.

•They both played to internal politics.

Journalist, Ali Cinar

Wendy Sherman:"Productive Discussion in Ankara"

The Biden administration paid their first high-level visit to Ankara. US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman arrived in Ankara. Sherman made a statement to the Turkish media and talked about the Erdogan-Biden meeting expected to be held on June 14th. Sherman said, "I believe this summit is very important in terms of emphasizing the positive aspects. The President will express the concerns, especially Turkey's direction in terms of human rights and democracy. Turkey is a strategic and world-renowned power. We are working very closely. We are working together with Turkey for world order and ensuring that every party abides by the global rules regarding Afghanistan and Libya affairs".

'The purchase of S-400s is causing problems within the NATO alliance.'


The US Deputy Secretary stated, "We have offered alternatives for S-400 sanctions imposed on Turkey. Now it's up to Turkey to decide", and added:
"The purchase of S-400s is causing problems within the NATO alliance. We have offered an alternative. Now, they know well what they must do. I hope we will find a common path. This technical detail is not a big thing; it's not political. Turkey is aware of the situation and knows what actions it must take. We have also discussed how these actions will be taken. This will be Turkey's decision."
 

'The sole purpose of the relations with YPG is to defeat ISIS.'

Sherman said, "The sole purpose of the US-YPG relations is to defeat ISIS."
Explaining the recent Syrian elections and their expectations for the forthcoming term, Sherman said, "Non-genuine elections are not acceptable. We stated that Russians had no intention to participate in the dialogue. This is for democratic elections, but it's for the best interest of Syrian people."

'Business Leaders are seeking predictability for investment.'

Having also talked about economic relations, Sherman explained Washington's view on Turkey. Sherman emphasized human rights and the rule of law and said, "Everybody is talking about a big potential, but businessmen are seeking predictability for cooperation. These are our main areas of concern."
'It's sad to see you withdraw from the Istanbul Convention.'

US Deputy Secretary of State also talked about Washington's view on Ankara: "President's decision to withdraw from the Istanbul Convention has been quite bad for women's rights. We are very saddened; such incidents create concerns."

In addition to Anitkabir, Wendy Sherman visited Turkey's President's Spokesperson Ibrahim Kalin, Turkey AmCham Board Members, Women, and LGBTQ Associations, as well as the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew,

Journalist, Ali Cinar

Pro-Palestine and pro-Israel protesters clash in New York

The verbal dispute between supporters of Palestine and those of Israel soon turned into a fight in New York's Times Square. Several protesters, including policemen, were injured, while many demonstrators were taken into custody.

The pro-Israel group supporting Israel and the pro-Palestine group protesting against Israel's attacks in Gaza and East Jerusalem clashed in New York's Times Square.

Pro-Palestine protesters suddenly got involved in the supporters of Israel's demonstration in Times Square. While there were only a handful of supporters of Palestine at the beginning, hundreds of people rushed to the square with Palestinian flags in minutes.

The extreme safety measures of the New York City Police Department failed to prevent the clash between the two groups. While one side was chanting "Free Israel" and the other side "Free Palestine," the tension escalated in the blink of an eye. Insults turned into physical assaults.

"Takbir, Allahu Akbar," cries echoed in Times Square. Black Americans were, in particular, among the supporters of Palestine in addition to Muslim groups. The Jewish community and Indian groups came to the square to support Israel.

The Israeli flag was burned during the incidents. Many protesters were taken into custody after the New York police warned the two groups in order to ease the tension.

Sniffer dogs were also on duty in the square where the police used pepper gas to end the fight. Bike and mounted police officers alongside undercover police officers and helicopters were used to catch the protesters who started to flee the scene after the initial police response. A number of streets, including the 54th street where the Manhattan Police Station is located, were closed, and extensive security measures were taken. There were many injured in the incidents, at least four of them being police officers.

Incidents ended when the group dispersed after Palestine supporters held a mass prayer in Times Square.

Journalist, Ali Cinar

President Biden: "America is Rising Anew"

The U.S. President Joe Biden has addressed a joint session in Congress for the first time since taking office. President Biden declared that "America is rising anew" in his speech, in which he highlighted his economic plans.

The U.S. President has started his speech by saying, "It has been 100 days since I inherited a nation in crisis. I can tell you this after 100 days: America is advancing again by turning peril into possibility, crisis into opportunity, setbacks into strengths."

Highlighting the process made regarding the fight with the pandemic since his taking office, Joe Biden said, "Less than 1% of the seniors were fully vaccinated when I was sworn in. Approximately 70% of the seniors are vaccinated after 100 days." He also called for those who have not been vaccinated so far to get the vaccine.

-He explained the details of the family support plan.
-"Middle class" emphasis: "It is time for the wealthiest 1% of the American population to begin to pay their fair share."
-"We must prove America's adversaries wrong." said President Biden. He also stated that they have to prove the U.S. democracy works, solves the public's problems, and gives results.
-George Floyd and the police reform message
"We must work together to eliminate systemic racism in the criminal justice system and to restore the trust between the police and the people they serve," he said.

A message for China

Relations with China were also on the agenda of U.S. President Biden. He said that he clearly stated in his talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping that they do not want conflict with China and they will defend America's interests across the board.

"We can end cancer."
President Biden underlined that America should lead the world in the field of health and science. "I can think of no more worthy investment," said Biden. "Let's end cancer. It is within our power," he stated.

"Gun violence is an epidemic in America."


"I know how hard it is to make progress on this issue. I will do everything in my power to protect the American people from this epidemic of gun violence. But it's time for Congress to act as well." he said.

A first in American history

Behind the President of the U.S. for the first time sat two senior female government officials, Vice President Kamala Harris and the Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.

About 200 people watched President's speech due to the pandemic.
 
Polls after the President Speech:
 
CBS News-YouGov: 85% of viewers said they approved of Biden’s speech
 
A CNN-SSRS : 78% of respondents had a very or somewhat positive reaction to Biden’s speech
 
President Biden's first Congressional speech  drew 26.9 million viewers, according to figures from ratings company Nielsen. 45th President Trump's first speech at Congress had 47.7 million viewers in 2017.
 

Journalist, Ali Cinar

Two men indicted in attack on Turkish restaurant in Beverly Hills

LOS ANGELES  — A federal grand jury in Los Angeles indicted two Armenian American men on charges of conspiracy and hate crimes for allegedly attacking five people at a family-owned Turkish restaurant last year, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. The men allegedly stormed into the restaurant on Nov. 20 and attacked five people, including four who are of Turkish descent, prosecutors said in a press release.

President Biden's April 24th Statement and Echoes of His Statement

President Joe Biden officially recognized the massacre of Armenians in World War I as a genocide. He is the second President who recognized 1915 events as “genocide”. In a statement made on Holocaust Memorial Day, on April 22, 1981, former President Ronald Reagan commemorated the victims of the Jewish Holocaust. In his statement, Reagan said, "The lessons learned from the Holocaust, just like the Armenian holocaust prior to it and the Cambodian holocaust after it, must never be forgotten."

President Biden said:Each year on this day, we remember the lives of all those who died in the Ottoman-era Armenian genocide and recommit ourselves to preventing such an atrocity from ever again occurring. Beginning on April 24, 1915, with the arrest of Armenian intellectuals and community leaders in Constantinople by Ottoman authorities, one and a half million Armenians were deported, massacred, or marched to their deaths in a campaign of extermination.”

Turkey and Turkish American condemned the President statement on April 24th and shared their disappointed with White House.

Turk of America Journalist Ali Cinar interviewed prominent American Academicians who are expert on the issue and U.S. Turkey relationship.

Prof.Michael Reynolds, Princeton University

I don’t agree with what Biden said or did, but I think the biggest mistake is the one committed by Turkey, and that is to react to statement. The best thing Ankara can do, I think, is to say something along these lines: We respectfully disagree with the president of the U.S.A.’s assessment of Ottoman history. And leave it at that.

Yes, Biden made the declaration in part to slap Ankara and send a message about American displeasure with contemporary Turkey and its policies. He instrumentalized the issue, making something far from a brave statement of historical truth

But it is Ankara that makes this tactic effective when it reacts with fury. Biden bent over over backwards not to reference Turkey or Turks.

More broadly, Turkey should open the border with Armenia. Azerbaijan is ready for that, and it would be the best thing for Turkey, Armenia, and Azerbaijan.

 

Prof Edward Erickson , Antalya Bilim University

It is a mistake to politicize history simply to please a political party's base. As a registered Democrat, I believe that President Biden has made a bad miscalculation.

President Biden and the Democratic Party need the political capital that accrues from pandering to the Armenian and Greek communities in America. Adam Schiff, a California congressman who represents a district heavily populated by Armenian-Americans, is a powerful voice and advocate for Armenians and he has pushed the party towards recognition.

Were I a Turkish-American, I would "just let it go" for now. This is a battle that cannot be won in our lifetimes and Turks and Turkish-Americans might, instead, sponsor research and scholarship which investigates other views and interpretations.

Dr. Mark Meirowitz, Professor at State University of New York (SUNY) Maritime College and THO Advisory Board Member

Turkey should be proactive and request the implementation of the Turkey Armenia Protocols agreed to in 2009 by Armenia and Turkey, intended to normalize relations, which included the establishment of a historical submission of Turkish, Armenian, Swiss and other experts to do an impartial scientific review of the historical records and archives related to these events. This is needed to focus the world’s attention on Turkey’s willingness to do an objective analysis of these historical events.

Obviously since the recent conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh the road to reconciliation between Turkey and Armenia will be much more difficult

As far as Biden’s statement previous Presidents have issued virtually the same statement annually referring to the events in 1915 as “Meds Yeghern” the “great crime” in effect synonymous to the events in Armenia - except this time Biden uses the term “genocide”.

100 Bipartisan Members of Congress submitted a letter to President Biden asking him to take this stance by using the word “genocide”.
And Biden did so.

In light of the phone call yesterday and upcoming June meeting between Biden and Erdogan on the sidelines of the Nato summit, Turkey should not overreact and as stated above ask that this issue be handled objectively as contemplated by the Protocols. Turkey has bigger issues to deal with when Erdogan meets Biden

Prof.Herbert Reginbogin, Catholic University of America

Demonstrate sincerity about the tragic events of 1915 - 1923 by making all efforts to seek the truth about the injustice of the past that occurred during this time by having parliament pass legislation signed in to law that all public and private archives are immediately open to a international commission of Turk and International historians

similar to the Bergier Commission in Switzerland and the same type of legislation passed by the Swiss Parliament in the 1990s. This means no government interference and it is enough to start with Turkish archives and other archives can be pursued such as those in Armenia, but is then in Armenia's backyard to open their archives as would be the case of Turkey.

Lawsuits in the US brought against a sovereign State like the Republic of Turkey are halted by the Department of Justice filing a Statement of Interest meaning that the U.S. government has a overriding reason in seeing such litigation move forward. Now that President Biden has announced his opinion that an Armenian Genocide occurred

the Dept. of Justice will very unlike file a Statement of Interest and the court will decide if such case has jurisdiction

in the federal court district where the civil lawsuit was filed. If the party has seeked justice in Turkey's civil courts or respectively can prove that he can find no such justice then the party representing the Armenian's will very like argue that the US court has jurisdiction under the US Constitutional provision referred to ACTA - Alien Claims Tort Act.

I think that it is an opportunity to work together to seek reconciliation for the injustices of the past. This was done in South Africa. It can also be a starting point for other historical conflict and injustice of the past including Armenia 1915.

Prof.Michael Gunter, Tennessee Tech University

President Biden is a good person who sincerely is trying to emphasize human rights. Unfortunately, in characterizing what happened to the Armenians as genocide he is being naïve and one-sided. Yes, we can all agree that the Armenians suffered terribly. And so did the Muslims! Neither side had a monopoly on good or evil. So to single out the Turks as somehow uniquely guilty, is not only naïve and one-sided, but unfair. Furthermore, to the extent that many supporters of the Armenian version of history also accuse Turkey of continuing genocide after WWI and even today regarding the recent war over Nagorno-Karabakh is risible. Anyone who knows his/her history, should be aware that after WW I, Turkey fought for its very existence against the Armenians in the east who were trying to conquer one-third of Anatolia, and the Greeks in the west who drove to within 50 miles of Ankara in their foolhardy attempt to resurrect the Byzantine Empire. And of course, just this past fall, Azerbaijan with Turkish support successfully regained 20 percent of its territory that Armenia had been occupying since the early 1990s when the Soviet Union collapsed. Azerbaijan had every right to fight to regain its occupied territory. Yet some Armenian supporters are calling this a continuance of Turkish genocide. Biden’s naïve statement today will give these people who seek to legitimize Armenian aggression against Azerbaijan encouragement. Furthermore, Biden’s misguided statement today ignores how what happened to the Armenians was part of a much larger historical process that began as early as the Greek rebellion in the 1820s, followed by uprisings against the Ottoman Empire in the second half of the 19th century that led to the deaths and ethnic cleansing of Muslims from the Balkans, a process that was renewed in the 1990s with Serbia’s violence against the Bosnians Muslims. Thus, the Armenian tragedy was part of a much larger historical process that Biden’s statement today simply ignored.

Turkey should not make a big deal out of Biden’s one-sided version of history and just shrug it off as it is not that important. Biden’s statement was only symbolic; it did not entail any sanctions as he has imposed against Russia. Remember that 40 years ago President Reagan also used the term genocide and US-Turkish relations survived. What is important are US-Turkish relations going forward. Already Biden and Turkish president Erdogan have agreed to meet privately at the next NATO meeting to be held in Brussels in June.

I think that if Turkey had not purchased the Russian air-defense system that the US claims could compromise US air power or used military power against the Syrian Kurds in Afrin or again to the east in October 2019, the US might not have been so prone to use the word genocide today.

Also I think the Armenian Lobby played a role in convincing Biden to use the word genocide, but not as much as most observers think. Rather Biden truly believes what he said and that by using the word, he will be promoting human rights and make such horrible events less likely to happen in the future. As I said above, Biden’s is a good person trying to promote human rights, but in this specific case he simply does not know his history, which should be left to the historians. Politicians should not pontificate about historical events they do not fully appreciate.

Journalist, Ali Cinar

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