Daily Sabah, Turkey
April 22 2015

ALI [email protected]_unal
PublishedApril 22, 2015

FM Mevlut CavuÅ~_oglu (L) meets Daily Sabah's Ankara representative
Ali Unal in Washington D.C.

FM CavuÅ~_oglu, who is currently visiting the U.S., said Turkey
wants to commemorate those who lost their lives in violence during
the waning years of the Ottoman Empire together with Armenia

Foreign Minister Mevlut CavuÅ~_oglu, who is currently visiting the
U.S., said Turkey wants to commemorate those who lost their lives
in violence during the waning years of the Ottoman Empire together
with Armenia. In an exclusive interview with Daily Sabah, CavuÅ~_oglu
claimed Armenian lobbies' constant efforts to coerce and threaten all
to push the issue of the 1915 incidents onto the agenda every year,
had created fatigue in Washington, adding that it was no surprise that
the number of U.S. representatives who signed a petition supporting
Armenian genocide claims was decreasing.

He said he perceived no untoward stance concerning Turkey during his
talks with U.S. officials. "Pope Francis and the European Parliament's
bizarre decisions created some waves, but there seems to be nothing
else," he said.

CavuÅ~_oglu also underlined the importance of the statement released
by the U.S. Council of Muslim Organizations, the largest umbrella
group of mainstream Muslim-American organizations, which argued
that characterizing the events of 1915 as genocide without proper
investigation by independent historians will damage the efforts aimed
at achieving reconciliation between Turks and Armenians. The group also
said that it shared the pain suffered by Armenians during this period,
but warned that all those who lost their lives during the upheavals
should be commemorated without focus on ethnicity or religion.

A statement released by Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu attracted
significant attention, CavuÅ~_oglu said, adding, "Our president [Recep
Tayyip Erdogan] had released a similar statement last year. Our
prime minister released a statement on the anniversary of Hrant
Dink's death. When people realize that Turkey doesn't reject the pain
Armenians suffered, they are surprised," and pointed out that this year
will be the first time Ottoman Armenians who died will be remembered
with a religious ceremony. "What we truly want is to commemorate
together with Armenia. Shared pain should unite, not divide. However,
Armenia is trying to take the easy way out and force through political
decisions. This won't resolve the issue. Our prime minister's statement
on the eve of general elections took courage and showed that Turkish
society has a similar stance."CavuÅ~_oglu admitted that his Washington
program was hectic, meeting with the leaders of American-Muslim groups,
members of the local Syrian community and visiting the Global Policy
Institute founded by Istanbul's BahceÅ~_ehir University. He also met
with representatives of the local Turkish community, which he praised
as united as never before.

He also paid a visit to the mosque and cultural center, whose
construction began in 2013 and will be opened by a ceremony with

His meeting with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry lasted two hours,
an hour longer than planned. The meeting was encouraging, CavuÅ~_oglu
said, explaining that they had an opportunity to discuss developments
in Syria in detail, including who controlled which region and what
can be done to help the Free Syrian Army (FSA).

CavuÅ~_oglu criticized the organized campaign to portray Turkey as
unwilling in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham
(ISIS). "Those who believe these claims say that ties between the U.S.

and Turkey are fraying. We have done our part against ISIS. We told
everyone that any fight against ISIS should include land operations.

We told the countries who criticized our determination, proving that
Turkey has done much more than those countries that failed to keep
their militants from going overseas. Secretary Kerry and President
Barack Obama are well aware of the true state of bilateral ties. The
phone conversation between our president and Obama was very positive.

We may differ in technical details, but our position remains the same."

CavuÅ~_oglu explained the tactical differences between Turkey and the
U.S. in ways to tackle ISIS were narrowing, and his meetings with U.S.

officials were very encouraging. "Turkey and the U.S. will sign an
agreement on sharing information on foreign fighters. Our U.S. Embassy
is currently negotiating the deal," he said.

Efforts to help the FSA continued, with KırÅ~_ehir being the current
center of training and equipping FSA members, he said. "The Ä°ncirlik
Base is used by drones for intelligence gathering. That's nothing new.

But for military operations launched from Ä°ncirlik, we need to know
what part of a comprehensive plan these operations will be. Without
an agreement on this matter, opening the base is not on our agenda."

The U.S. and other countries providing armed help to groups fighting
ISIS need to be aware of the danger of the weapons they give falling
into the hands of terrorists, CavuÅ~_oglu warned. "We are constantly
telling them of the danger. We saw what happened in Mosul. Once
ISIS took it over, the group was able to seize heavy weapons. We are
telling our American counterparts about the danger posed by handing
weapons to the PKK or PYD [Democratic Union Party]. They are aware."

On the issue of Cyprus peace talks, CavuÅ~_oglu said he believed there
was a chance peace talks could resume between the two sides once the
presidential elections in Turkish Cyprus come to an end.

He said the circumstances were suitable for discussions to restart.

When asked about one of the most sensitive issues, the extradition
of Fethullah Gulen, the U.S.-based leader of the Gulen Movement who
is accused of a range of crimes, including spying, infiltrating key
state institutions and efforts to topple the government, CavuÅ~_oglu
was succinct: "No comment."

Several reports by U.S. media outlets recently warned of a regional
nuclear arms race if Iran ever developed nuclear weapons, with Turkey
mentioned among countries that could develop such armaments. "We have
repeatedly said that Turkey has no desire to develop nuclear weapons
and is against any country in the region having them as well. Turkey
has not and will never acquire nuclear weapons."

During his visit to the U.S., no official asked him about the coming
June 7 parliamentary elections, CavuÅ~_oglu said, but added: "However,
I believe the U.S. has ordered such a public survey to see how things
stand in Turkish politics. My opinion is that they didn't ask me
because they have a good idea about the elections' outcome."