Department of State Spokesperson Jen Psaki reiterated on June 12 the U.S. concerns over the events in Turkey. Asked whether she was aware of any foreign conspiracies against the Erdogan government, Psaki said she was not. Read the full excerpt below:
QUESTION: Yes. There were big protests in Turkey, especially in Istanbul, Taksim Square —
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: — as the Americans watched through CNN all day. What was your assessment of the situation?
MS. PSAKI: Well, we, of course, continue to follow events in Turkey with great concern. We believe that Turkey’s long-term stability, security, and prosperity is best guaranteed by upholding the fundamental freedoms of expression, assembly, association, and a free and independent media, and we expect the Turkish authorities to uphold those freedoms – these fundamental freedoms as well. We’re troubled by any attempts to punish individuals for exercising their right to free speech, and we condemn attempts by any party to provoke violence.
QUESTION: So when you say you are troubled by punishment of any individuals for exercising their rights, do you have tangible evidence that someone got punished because of their protesting or —
MS. PSAKI: Well, there have been broad reports of arrests and there have been broad reports of violence. Again, these cases will be looked into, but broadly speaking, we’re, of course, concerned about that.
QUESTION: So it has been more than two weeks now these protests have been going on, and you urged Turkish Government to uphold these fundamental rights. How Turkish Government has been doing on this aspect for the last two weeks?
MS. PSAKI: Well, I’m not going to give a grade. We do welcome calls, of course, for calm, and support attempts to resolve this situation through dialogue, which I know there have been some attempts at, taking into account views from different spectrums. And we remain – we want all sides to resolve this through dialogue, and we remain concerned about any evidence of violence or attempts to repress freedom of speech.
QUESTION: Do you have any recent calls between here yesterday or today?
MS. PSAKI: Not since – I spoke about the Secretary, I believe, speaking with Foreign Minister Davutoglu a couple of days ago, but not since then.
QUESTION: Are you aware of any kind of foreign conspiracies against the Erdogan government to dislodge them? This is what the ministers of Turkey – several ministers of Turkey and high officials have been talking about.
MS. PSAKI: I’m not aware of that. I would point you to those who said it.
QUESTION: And one last thing on the – is (inaudible) now the Turkish police forces have been using this tear gas and pepper gas and all that. Obviously, apparently, mostly this gas being provided by the U.S. companies. Are you going to have any kind of – I don’t know what can you do, but do you think the government, U.S. Government, needs to extend precautions while selling this gas to Turkey or another country?
MS. PSAKI: Well, these cases will, of course, be looked into, which we fully support. And we remain concerned about any incidents of violence or use of force by police or others against protesters who are simply expressing their public views.