What can be done with Trump and to what extent? - MEHMET ACET

What can be done with Trump and to what extent?

In paragraph three of statutory decree number 694, which was enacted on Aug. 25, 2017, it is stated:

"In cases required by national security or the country's interests, upon the request of the foreign minister, the proposal of the justice minister and the approval of the president, those arrested or convicted, with the exception of Turkish citizens, may be extradited to another country or swapped with those arrested or convicted in another country, on the condition that there are securities that they will not be penalized for their race, ethnicity, religion, citizenship, that they will not be held subject to derogatory penalty or treatment, or exposed to torture and maltreatment."

If we were to simplify this, we could say: If security or the country's interests are in question, those ruling that country have the right to use initiative regarding ongoing judicial matters, on the condition that the nature of the case is suitable.

As statutory decree number 694 was discussed and accepted in the plenary session on Feb. 1, 2018, it has turned into a settled law. Getting back to its relation to our topic: Even though this article has not been directly processed in the legal sense with respect to the pastor Andrew Brunson matter, it is a fact that "national security" or the "country's interests" are involved in terms of nature.

In this case, we need to accept that "a language" which does not weaken the statement that "the judiciary is independent," but also protects the contents of the above paragraph has become a necessity.

Otherwise, it means that from now on, the burden of taking initiative in matters that solely concern the political power's own domain of authority, will be on those running the country, not the judiciary.

Is it possible to turn over a new leaf with the US?

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's statement in the context of Syria and the east of the Euphrates, which was made at about the same time the judicial control condition regarding Brunson was lifted, must have drawn everybody's attention - as well as Erdoğan touching on the same matters in his tweet by "mentioning" U.S. President Donald Trump.

Perhaps it would not be wrong to interpret this approach as, "We are ready to cooperate, let's start from this case."

Then, after Trump thanked Erdoğan, he said that from now on Turkish-U.S. relations can move on to a better, in fact "great" place.

Now, let us see how these declarations of will can be interpreted. If we go back to early August, when the Brunson crisis broke out, there are examples showing that we can cooperate with Trump in many fields. For example, let us go back to the three-and-a-half-hour meeting on the evening of Feb. 15 between then-U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and President Erdoğan in Ankara.

We had shared in this column at the time that in that meeting, Tillerson brought up an instruction he received from Trump and said, "President Trump told me: We upset the Turks very much, go and have a meeting with them that will fulfill their demands."

Let it also be reminded that in those days, Tillerson said, "Whatever we do from now on, we will be doing it together with Turkey." Then, all the problem areas between the two countries were discussed, with a will to solve them all; commissions were established and the Manbij agreement had emerged of the Syria-related commission.

Also, let us add that Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuloğlu, whom I asked on a flight - before the Brunson crisis broke out - "How are relations between Trump and Erdoğan?" had said, "Trump does not want to ruin relations with Turkey. We know that he raised his voice from time to time saying, 'Why are relations in this state?'"

Until the pastor issue emerged, we know that Trump had certain oscillations regarding Turkey in the context of the support given to the Kurdistan Workers' Party's (PKK) Syrian affiliate, the People's Protection Units (YPG). For example, in his telephone conversation with Erdoğan in November, he guaranteed that "We will no longer provide weapons to the YPG," and said, "We no longer have any money to spend on the Middle East and will withdraw our troops from Syria."

Unfortunately, Trump assumed his former stance after the Brunson crisis. The idea to stop shipping weapons to the YPG, the decision to withdraw American troops from Syria were all renounced.

Our current problem is:

Since the Brunson crisis has been solved, will Trump go back to his previous position on Turkey?

If he does, new ground through which Ankara can open a channel and progress may emerge.

I am not claiming that this is easy to do, but if a cooperation can be made through Trump against the PKK formation in Syria, this will be worth much more than sending pastor Brunson back to his country.


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