Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will meet US President Donald Trump next week in New York on the margins of a UN meeting. The meeting comes with relations at an all time low.
Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and US President Donald Trump in New York will meet next week despite the increased tension between the two states.
Turkey’s relations with the US started to sour in 2014 after Washington decided to arm YPG militants in Syria.
Turkey says that the group is simply a Syrian extension of the PKK, a terrorist designated organisation that has waged an armed campaign in Turkey for the past 30 years that has resulted in more than 40,000 being killed.
It is designated as a terrorist organisation by both Turkey and the US as well as the EU.
Ties between the two countries are at their lowest ebb in recent times.
These are the six main topics that the two presidents are likely to discuss.
The US support for the YPG
The US sees the YPG as a valuable partner in the fight against Daesh in Syria, while Ankara describes the US decision to arm the militant group as “a mistake”.
Erdogan said he did not want to see the US supporting a terrorist organisation, especially on Turkey's southern borders.
Ankara hoped the US would change its stance on the YPG after Barack Obama, but the Trump administration has increased its support for the militant group.
Erdogan is expected to discuss the issue with Trump once again in their third meeting after Trump took office in Januray. Erdogan is expected to ask the NATO ally to end its support for the YPG, which holds a vast amount of land in northern Syria, bordering Turkey.
Kurdish independence referendum in Iraq
They will also discuss the announcement of independence referendum by Kurdish Autonomous Region in north Iraq which is concerning for Turkey as it also might trigger a similar move by the YPG in Syria.
The US State Department made a statement sharing Turkey's concerns about unified and federal Iraq, while saying it appreciated the "legitimate aspirations" of the Kurds in northern Iraq.
Northern Iraq's Kurdish Regional Authority announced they will hold a referendum on independence on September 25 despite concerns from Iraq's neighbours and a US request to postpone it.
Both Turkey and the United States are opposed the referendum.
Fethullah Gulen case
Extradition of Fethullah Gulen, the Pennsylvania-based leader of the FETO organisation would be another leading topic in Erdogan's meeting with Trump meeting.
Gulen has been in self-imposed exile in the US since 1999. He is accused of orchestrating the failed coup on July 15 by Turkish authorities and they are demanding that he be extradited back to Turkey.
Gulen has denied all accusations.
Erdogan says that Turkish Ministry of Justice sent several files of evidence to Washington proving Gulen's involvement in the attempted coup.
Gulen holds a US green card obtained with the help of three reference letters, one of which is from a former US ambassador to Turkey and the other two from ex-CIA officials.
However, the US Justice Department said it was investigating the files and the extradition would have to be decided by the courts.
Trials of Turkish citizens
Two Turkish citizens, one Turkish-Iranian businessman and one deputy general manager of the state bank, have been arrested over charges of violating US Treasury Department sanctions on Iran.
Ankara has asked the US to immediate release the two, saying they don’t have obligation to the US law and they breached no international law.
The tension between the two countries over this issues has escalated recently when the US widened the investigation.
Last week, in an indictment the New York prosecutor accused former Turkish economy minister Zafer Caglayan of trading gold with Iran. A warrant for his arrest has been issues.
Erdogan criticised the decision to issue an arrest warrant, saying "it is purely political”.
“There are very peculiar smells coming from this issue,” Erdogan said.
“I told Obama and his administration that we won’t be part of the sanctions against Iran," he reminded.
Erdogan will have the chance to discuss the case with Trump in a face-to-face meeting.
Purchase of Russian S-400 missile systems
Turkey last month inked a deal with Russia to buy S-400 missile defence system, a deal that left the US-led NATO block questioning how future relations would be affected.
NATO officials describe the deal as “concerning”, saying the Russian systems would be incompatible with their infrastructure.
Greece, a NATO ally and EU member country, bought Russian the S-300 batteries in 1997 and tested them in 2003.
The agreement of S-400 purchase comes in the eve of Erdogan's travel to New York and is expected to be discussed during their meeting.
Erdogan’s indicted bodyguards
A grand jury in the US indicted 15 Turkish security officials with charges of “attacking peaceful protesters” during Erdogan’s May 2017 visit to US.
Erdogan’s personal security bodyguards clashed with pro-PKK protesters vicinity of the Turkish ambassador’s residence in Washington. After exchanging punches and kicks, several protesters, including a security official, were slightly injured in the incident.
Turkish officials, on the other hand, criticised the US security of inability to prevent pro-PKK protesters get close to Erdogan in Washington. Turkish government spokesman said Erdogan’s “bodyguards did what they had to protect the president”.
Erdogan will travel to the New York with other security guards and is expected mention the case to Trump.