After meeting with Foreign Minister Antony Blinken in Washington on January 18, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu met with academics and business representatives from different think tanks at the Embassy residence.
Steven Cook, who attended the meeting, answered the questions of VOA Turkish.
Stating that he was pleased to be invited to the meeting, Cook said that in the speech of Foreign Minister Çavuşoğlu, the USA showed optimism about the sale of F-16 warplanes and modernization kits to Turkey.
“THERE IS A GENERAL AGREEMENT THAT TURKEY SHOULD BUY F-16”
Stating that Çavuşoğlu tried to explain to a group of influential people that the relationship between the USA and Turkey continues to be important for the USA, despite its problems, Cook said, “There is a general agreement that Turkey should get the F-16. It is the broadest and most abstract. “At that level, I think that’s probably true,” he said.
“THE FOREIGN MINISTER OF FINLAND IS CORRECT TO RECOMMEND THE SUBMISSION OF THE NEGOTIATIONS”
Cook said, “It is clear that President Erdogan and AKP will expand this week’s Qur’an burning incident before the elections. So there is a precedent for this. They based most of the 2019 local elections on the Christchurch massacre in New Zealand. So I think they will act on these identity issues. And the suggestion of the Finnish Foreign Minister to suspend the negotiations is correct in my opinion,” he predicted.
“THE EXTREMELY CONTESTIVE ELECTION ENVIRONMENT CAN BE EXPECTED IN TURKEY”
According to Steven Cook, however, the urgency of expanding NATO to Sweden and Finland has passed. The reason for this is that the poor performance of Russia in Ukraine makes the security issue in Europe, excluding Ukraine, from being an emergency. For this reason, it can be expected that the negotiations will be interrupted and an extremely contentious election environment will pass in Turkey.
“I DO NOT BELIEVE THE ADMINISTRATION WANTS TO GIVE ERDOĞAN A VICTORY BEFORE THE ELECTIONS OR BECOME A SUBJECT OF THE NEWS ABOUT THE ELECTIONS IN TURKEY”
For this reason, Steven Cook said that the White House will not enter into a “fight” with the sale of F-16s, with Turkey or with Congress on any issue, or with powerful members of Biden’s own party. “I don’t think he wants to give Erdogan a victory before the elections or become a news item about the elections in Turkey,” he said.