Duvar English – Reuters
Turkey said on June 24 that a book by former U.S. national security adviser John Bolton had “misleading” and “manipulative presentations” of the conversations between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and U.S. President Donald Trump.
Turkish Presidential Communications Director Fahrettin Altun said on Twitter that Erdoğan and Trump had made great efforts to mend ties between the two countries and that Trump “has done a lot more listening to a key NATO ally than some of the previous administrations.”
“It is clear that the goal of this mischaracterizations and falsehoods are driven by domestic political considerations as well as personal gain. Turkey is not surprised by manipulations against our President Erdoğan but we will call out such misleading characterizations,” Altun said.
In his book, Bolton wrote that Erdoğan gave Trump a memo saying Turkish state lender Halkbank, under investigation by the office of the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York for violating Iranian sanctions, was innocent.
“Trump then told Erdoğan he would take care of things, explaining that the Southern District prosecutors were not his people, but were Obama people, a problem that would be fixed when they were replaced by his people,” Bolton wrote.
Geoffrey Berman was forced to step down as U.S. Attorney for the district last weekend. The office has also been investigating Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudolph Giuliani.
Altun said Erdoğan advocates for Turkey’s priorities at every opportunity “both publicly and privately,” including the Halkbank issue, extradition of the followers of the U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen and the issues of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and its Syrian affiliate People’s Protection Units (YPG).
“President Erdoğan, at every opportunity, clearly outlines Turkey’s priorities and advocates for them vigorously. He has done that on issues such as the FETO members’ extradition, the PKK/YPG, and the Halkbank case both publicly and privately,” Altun said, using the official name of the Gülen movement.
“These issues between the US and Turkey have been lingering since the Obama administration. In fact, President Trump has done a lot more listening to a key NATO ally than some of the previous administrations. We have seen it only natural for him to do so,” he added.
The Halkbank case has been one strain between Ankara and Washington, which in recent years have also been at odds for various reasons including policy differences in Syria and Turkey’s purchase of Russian missile defence systems.
U.S. prosecutors accused Halkbank and its executives of using money servicers and front companies in Iran, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates from 2012 to 2016 to evade U.S. sanctions on Iran. A status conference is scheduled in the case for June 30.
“President Erdoğan has worked with several US presidents in his tenures as our Prime Minister and President. He has always been straightforward with them and said the same things privately and publicly. Fair and objective analysts attest to this fact,” Altun said.
“We are confident that the US-Turkey relationship will survive such efforts and even thrive at the end. President Erdoğan will continue his frank, honest, and straightforward conversations with the US President Donald Trump,” he added.