News / Europe

Syria Dominates Talks During Kerry's Turkey Visit

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, left, enters a news conference with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu in Ankara, Turkey, on March 1, 2013.U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, left, enters a news conference with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu in Ankara, Turkey, on March 1, 2013.
x
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, left, enters a news conference with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu in Ankara, Turkey, on March 1, 2013.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, left, enters a news conference with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu in Ankara, Turkey, on March 1, 2013.
Dorian Jones

The new U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry held talks with his Turkish counterpart Friday during a two-day visit to Turkey. The talks were dominated by the conflict in Syria.
 

With Turkey sharing a 900-kilometer border with Syria and sheltering nearly 200,000 refugees from Syria, Kerry's trip underlines the importance of the NATO ally to Washington.


Secretary Kerry, speaking at a press conference with his Turkish counterpart Ahmet Davutoglu, praised the Turkish government's humanitarian effort and re-iterated his condemnation of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government.


"Minister Davutoglu and I and our international allies agree there is no legitimacy with a regime that commits atrocities against its own people," Kerry said.


Turkey, once a close ally of Syria, has joined the U.S. in supporting the oppostion to Assad, and has given shelter to Syrian rebels and to nearly 200,000 refugees along its volatile border.


But Turkey and the US differ on how to support Syria's opposition.


Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has called for a more robust stance by the international community over Syria, including the creation of safe havens and arming the opposition forces. The U.S. and other Western nations have mostly focused on humanitarian aid.


Sinan Ulgen, head of the Istanbul-based research institute Edam, says the offer this week by Washington of non-lethal aid to Syria does not go far enough.


"It will certainly be perceived as a step in the right direction, but ultimately not fulfilling Ankara's aim of convincing the U.S. to provide stronger military aid including lethal weapons. But at least it is a step in the right direction. Ankara will continue to nurture hopes that it will eventually shift its stance on aid of lethal weapons as well," Ulgen said.


During the Ankara press conference, Kerry raised concern over arming rebels, arguing it is difficult to prevent weapons from falling into the hands of militants who could use them on Western targets.


Political columnist Kadri Gursel of the Turkish newspaper Milliyet says Ankara believes the concerns are exaggerated and that groups such as Al Nusra Front, which was designated by the U.S. as a terrorist organization, are playing a positive role in fighting the regime.


"I think the Al Nusra front will never be labeled as terrorists by Turkey. In the Syrian context, the Al Nusra Front -- if not publicly stated -- is not an illegitimate partner, because they are struggling against an illegitimate dictatorship and foreign fighters are welcomed in this struggle against the Syrian regime," Gursel said.


The visit was somewhat overshadowed by the Turkish prime minister's remarks about Zionism. Erdogan earlier this week called Zionism a "crime against humanity" - remarks that have been widely condemned both internationally and by Secretary Kerry:


"We found it objectionable. But that said, Turkey and Israel are both vital allies of the United States and we want see them work together in order to go beyond the rhetoric and change this relationship," Kerry said.


Ties between Israel and mostly Muslim Turkey have been frosty since 2010, when Israeli marines killed nine Turks in fighting aboard a Palestinian aid ship that tried to breach Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip. Secretary Kerry is pressing for a rapprochement. But for now, observers warn there appears to be little chance of an improvement in relations.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs