Türkiye's foreign minister calls former US Secretary of State's claims as full of "exaggeration" and "double standard" and criticises his views towards PKK and FETO terror groups.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has slammed Mike Pompeo, who served as US secretary of state under then-President Donald Trump, over his allegations against Türkiye in a recently released book, calling his claims as "lies".
In a press conference in the capital Ankara on Thursday, Cavusoglu said Pompeo's book contains "exaggeration" and "double standard".
"First of all, there is unreal information, as I might say in diplomatic language, or you might also define it as a lie."
On the US support for the terror group YPG/PKK in northern Syria – an ongoing bone of contention in Turkish-US ties – Cavusoglu added: "The support they have given to terrorism, which is a serious crime in the US, I think there is also serious disinformation in order not to face a judicial process.”
The PKK is listed as a terrorist organisation by Türkiye, the European Union, the UK, and the US. It has been responsible for the deaths of 40,000 people, including women, children, and infants. The YPG is the PKK’s Syrian branch.
The US claims it partners with the YPG to fight Daesh. But for Ankara it "makes no sense" to ally with a terror group to fight another terror group.
Cavusoglu also dismissed Pompeo’s claim that the Turkish armed forces lack the ability to defeat Daesh terror group.
"The only NATO army which took part in hand-to-hand fights against Daesh terrorists is the Turkish army. We eliminated more than 4,500 Daesh terrorists both in Syria and Iraq," Cavusoglu said.
As the Turkish army was advancing against Daesh, "the US during the term of Pompeo, together with YPG/PKK terrorist groups, sent Daesh members to Afghanistan by first getting them on the bus in Raqqa and that region and then on the planes," he said.
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These groups, Cavusoglu said, are the "ones responsible for the terrorist attacks in Afghanistan today, so I'm talking about the attacks of Daesh and Al Qaeda."
He said the Turkish army cleared an area of 8,000 square kilometers (3,089 miles) of territory of both the Daesh and the YPG/PKK in support of the territorial integrity of Syria.
Speaking about Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's October 2019 meeting with the US then-Vice President Mike Pence to de-escalate the situation in Syria, Cavusoglu also recalled an incident when Pompeo tried to disrupt the meeting between the two leaders.
"While we were waiting with Pompeo in a different room, Pompeo was uneasy with the fact that the meeting was taking so long and he asked to enter the room, but I said to him that one of them is the president and the other is the vice president.
"So if they need us, they will summon us. So, due to the protocol, I warned him that it wasn’t appropriate to enter," Cavusoglu said.
As a result of that meeting, Türkiye and the US reached a deal to pause Türkiye's operations in northern Syria for 120 hours to allow the withdrawal of YPG/PKK terrorists from a planned safe zone.
"But at the end of the day, they did not fulfill the responsibilities arising out of joint declaration and they have shown that they are not honest with their declarations," Cavusoglu said.
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FETO's failed coup
On Pompeo's professed dislike for a video about the defeated 2016 coup by the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), Cavusoglu said: "We experienced the images in the video that he called disgusting. The FETO terrorist organisation killed 251 citizens that night."
"We understand from his Twitter post on that night against our president which he later deleted that he supported the coup attempt. That's why he's uncomfortable with the video. Those images show how we defeated the putschists," he said.
FETO and its US-based leader Fetullah Gulen orchestrated the defeated coup, which killed 252 people and injured nearly 2,200 others.
Cavusoglu added that it was Washington DC which disrupted the American policy of balance on Türkiye and the US, adding that Pompeo “put forward these allegations to get votes from the Greek lobby in the US when he hopes to run for president in the next elections."
Commenting on Pompeo's 2020 visit to Türkiye to only meet with Patriarch Bartholomew I, Cavusoglu said Pompeo "asked me to meet him at the patriarchate in Istanbul. My answer was very clear that if you want to meet me, come to Ankara."
Bartholomew I is the Istanbul-based leader of many of the world’s Orthodox Christians.
Cavusoglu, however, was quick to point out that Türkiye's is continuing to uphold religious freedoms, and is extending "all kinds of support to the patriarchate."
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