U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the United States and Europe need to work together to deal with Turkey’s “aggressive actions” over the past few months.
Pompeo spoke just ahead of a visit to Istanbul, which has sparked heavy criticism from the Turkish government because it does not include meetings with Turkish counterpart Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu or any other senior officials. Pompeo arrived in the city late on Monday.
“France’s President Emmanuel Macron and I agree that Turkey’s recent actions have been very aggressive,” Pompeo said in an interview with French newspaper Le Figaro on Monday.
Pompeo cited Turkey’s support for Azerbaijan in a conflict with Armenia over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh, which erupted in late September, as well as a recent intervention in war-torn Libya and a spat with Greece over territory in the eastern Mediterranean.
“Europe and the United States must work together to convince Erdoğan such actions are not in the interest of his people,” Pompeo said.
NATO member Turkey’s increased use of its military capability was a concern, he said.
Pompeo has embarked on a ten-day trip across Europe and the Middle East, including the stop in Istanbul, where he is meeting with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, the spiritual leader of the world’s Greek Orthodox Christians, to discuss religious freedom worldwide.
Turkey is the only country where Pompeo will not hold official meetings. He has scheduled talks with government officials in six other nations. The Turkish government has labelled the discrepancy as “disrespectful behaviour”.