Published on : 02/20/2023 – 07:28
The war in Ukraine but also the accession of Sweden and Finland to NATO will be on the menu of discussions on Monday during the first meeting between Antony Blinken and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in Ankara. Arrived in Turkey on Sunday, the head of American diplomacy visited the scene of the earthquake and announced additional aid of 100 million dollars.
This is the US Secretary of State’s first trip to Turkey since taking office two years ago. After visiting the site of the earthquake on Sunday and announcing additional aid of 100 million dollars for the victims, Antony Blinken is to meet with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday, February 20, in Ankara.
The conflict in Ukraine should be on the agenda. The United States recognizes a constructive role for its Turkish ally: since the start of the conflict on February 24, 2022, Ankara – which maintains good relations with the two capitals – has offered its mediation to end it.
The United States and Turkey, NATO allies, have sometimes strained relations, and their differences should be discussed during the meeting.
As a priority, the Turkish blocking of membership in the Alliance of Sweden and Finland, whose candidacies have been pending since May. Thursday, the head of the organization Jens Stoltenberg had even considered, during a visit to Ankara, that it was “now time” to integrate these two countries of Northern Europe.
Among other geopolitical issues, the potential sale of F-16 fighter jets promised by President Joe Biden to Turkey. The sale is being blocked by Congress in Washington over concerns over Turkey’s human rights record and threats to Greece.
Another point of contention, the Kurdish militia of the People’s Protection Units (YPG) which Turkey considers “terrorist” and which was one of the main forces fighting the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) with the air support of the international coalition led by the United States.
End of research
Antony Blinken’s visit also takes place in the context of the earthquake which struck Turkey and Syria on February 6. Fourteen days after this earthquake with a magnitude of 7.8 which devastated southern Turkey and northern Syria, the damage remains considerable and the toll very high: more than 44,000 people in total have lost their lives. , according to the latest data.
On the ground, 265,000 Turkish rescuers are working tirelessly, accompanied by nearly 11,500 rescuers from abroad. But Turkey announced on Sunday that it would put an end to the majority of this research.
No new survivors have been cleared from the ruins for more than 24 hours after the rescue of a couple in Antakya, capital of Hatay province, on Saturday, 296 hours after the quake.
The United States had deployed, the day after the earthquake, several search and rescue teams in Turkey, about 200 people, and released a first tranche of 85 million dollars in humanitarian aid.
On Sunday, Antony Blinken announced additional aid to the country. “We’re adding $100 million to help those in desperate need,” he tweeted.
Today, I am announcing plans for an additional $100 million to provide lifesaving aid in Türkiye and Syria through @StatePRM and @USAID. The United States will continue to stand with the Turkish and Syrian people.
—Secretary Antony Blinken (@SecBlinken) February 19, 2023
The head of the American diplomacy met his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu on the air base of Incirlik, in the south-east of the country before going to Ankara, where he must meet Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
It is from this base of Incirlik that part of the humanitarian aid, in particular American, is routed to the areas stricken by the earthquake, which is the worst disaster for contemporary Turkey.
The US Secretary of State then accompanied Mevlut Cavusoglu for a helicopter flight over the devastated province of Hatay, in the south-east of the country.
He also met in Turkey with representatives of the White Helmets Syrian rescue group, which operates in rebel-held areas in Syria.
After Turkey, Antony Blinken will complete his European tour in Athens where he will have a series of meetings on Monday evening and Tuesday with the authorities of this country, Turkey’s historic rival but also a partner within NATO.
Source: France 24