Turkey’s ambassador to Beijing described China as Ankara’s most important alternative partner in an exclusive interview with Yeni Şafak daily. Turkey and China cemented security ties during a trip in early August by Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu in which he met with his counterpart Wang Yi.
“They claim that China is far away. No, it isn’t. Have you ever heard of the phrase “Far West?” Have you ever heard of the phrase “Far U.S.?” As if we are neighbors with the U.S. Such phrases toy with our perception. China has been labelled as the “Far East.” China is 8.5 hours from Turkey, while the U.S. is 10.5 hours. We are not obliged to trade with spoilt allies. It is our right to seek partners that abide by international trade rules, seek bilateral trade and do not intervene for their own sake. China is our most significant alternative in this sense. It would be our greatest earning to turn toward the Chinese market and open up our economy to the world’s second biggest market,” Emin Önen said.
“Articles in Chinese media said things like ‘The U.S. stabbed its ally Turkey in the back,’ ‘Can such an ally be trusted?’ and ‘Turkey’s economy plays a very important role in the global economy.’ The U.S. which does such things to Turkey, Iran and Russia could do the same things to other countries. The World Trade Organization (WTO) must take action. This situation is unacceptable for two friendly nations, let alone two allies. They must understand that the U.S. is not our only option for an ally. We prefer a strategic ally over an arrogant one. The period of Turkey being directed by the U.S. is long gone. Turkey is no longer the so-called sick man of Europe, but the man Europe needs,” Önen added.
Turkey and the U.S. are currently experiencing rocky relations following Washington’s imposition of sanctions on two government ministers for not releasing American pastor Andrew Brunson, who faces terrorism-related charges in Turkey.
Last Friday President Donald Trump ramped up his attack on Turkey by doubling U.S. tariffs on Turkish aluminum and steel imports.
Turkey in its turn increased tariffs on several U.S. products, including alcohol, tobacco and cars, according to a new presidential decree published Wednesday in the official gazette.
“The U.S. must first take a step back and look at where it went wrong. Turkey holds an important place not only in the region but also in the world. We have kinship relations with Europe, Balkans, Caucasus, Mediterranean, and Black Sea countries. When we look at all this, it is clear that there is no need to be under U.S. hegemony. A very valuable ally of ours has put us in a tough situation, and is thereby losing. This stance of the U.S. also triggers the distrust of all the countries of the world. It shakes all trade balances. While the U.S. is trying to punish Turkey with this move, it has caused a loss of confidence in the U.S. dollar across world markets. The dollar is no longer a safe currency for trading,” Önen said.
“When Turkey bolsters its relations with Russia, Iran, Malaysia, China and Indonesia in addition to Europe, the EU claims that the Turkey axis is shifting. Turkey is a country with strategic and trade importance. If they do not want to lose Turkey, they must open the door to equal partnership. French President Emmanuel Macron arrived in China and signed a $33 billion deal. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has visited China 11 times since she was elected. Britain has declared its relations with China as being in its 'golden age'. Do we not have to say Europe’s axis is shifting to these countries? They need to abandon efforts to hide this double standard and perception plots. China offers great opportunities for world trade, and Turkey does not need the input of other nations to evaluate this prospect,” Önen added.
“I see China as sharing a border with Turkey. China has investments in Africa and the Balkans, and we need cooperation with China around here. We are saying that we will work together with China, not against them. Turkey and China are partners that actualized a win-win policy on the Silk Road Project. Forty-five days of travel via sea will be reduced to 15 by railways, and this is an incredible gain in terms of trade. Turkey has fulfilled its role regarding the railway project and the rest is up to China. We will sign the project soon. Negotiations regarding a third nuclear central are also underway, which is a deal of $50 billion. Our President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Chinese President Xi Jinping have been re-elected for five years in their countries. Starting from the next five years, it is possible to make action plans spanning 20 to 30 years,” Önen said.