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State Department welcomes the efforts by President Gul and others to calm the situation

In regards to the ongoing protests in Turkey, Spokesperson Jen Psaki said the State Department “[welcomes] the efforts by President Gul and others to calm the situation. We’re hopeful that that will have an impact on the country and think that’s a positive step.”

Psaki said in regards to the scheduled phone conversation between U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu that they would discuss a range of issues including Syria, but “the Secretary will also express his concerns about police actions in Turkey and some of the reports we’ve seen from on the ground.” Read the full excerpt below: 

QUESTION: Turkey?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: What’s your assessment as of today? I think protests are still going on in some cities.

MS. PSAKI: They are. We continue, of course, to follow the events in Turkey closely and with great concern. I would also point you to the fact that there have been broad concerns expressed by our allies and many leaders in the region about what is happening there. We talked about this a little bit yesterday, but let me just reiterate that we’re very concerned about the excessive use of force by police in several instances and endorse calls for a full investigation. And we also welcome the efforts by President Gul and others to calm the situation. We’re hopeful that that will have an impact on the country and think that’s a positive step.

And finally – and I know you’ve asked about this, Arshad, and others have as well – the Secretary – I’m not sure if the call has happened yet, but he was scheduled to speak with Foreign Minister Davutoglu this afternoon. I expect they’ll talk about a range of issues including Syria, where they work very closely together on, but also – the Secretary will also express his concerns about police actions in Turkey and some of the reports we’ve seen from on the ground.

QUESTION: It’s going to be the first phone conversation between the highest levels between two countries?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we’ve been – our Ambassador, of course, in Turkey has been in close touch at the – at high levels with Turkish authorities, so it depends on how you define that. For the Secretary, yes, this is the first call – he’ll be expressing this with the Foreign Minister.

QUESTION: It’s the first call since the riots, in other words?

MS. PSAKI: That’s correct. I’d have to check if they spoke over the past couple of days, but this is one of the topics he wanted to discuss with him today.

QUESTION: Can you make sure that either we here get a readout or that the travelers on the road —

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: — get a readout when that has happened?

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: Do you believe that – looking back over the past four days, do you believe that the Turkish Government has been very heavy-handed in quelling the demonstrations?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I don’t want to make an evaluation of that. There’s going to be, of course, an investigation. We have expressed great concern about what we’ve seen as excessive use of force by police on the ground. They’ll be looking into that. We encourage all parties to encourage calm in the country, but I don’t want to make an evaluation like that from here.

QUESTION: So you have consistently called for people’s right to demonstrate and so on —

MS. PSAKI: Of course.

QUESTION: — peaceably and so on, but in fact, the Turkish Government is accusing those who are demonstrating of being traitors or being foreign agents and so on.

MS. PSAKI: Yes, I’ve seen those reports, and we would encourage all Turkish authorities to focus on calling for calm, and an effort – focus their efforts on bringing about that in the country.

QUESTION: And today, Deputy Prime Minister, who is acting as a Prime Minister since the Prime Minister’s out of country, criticized Mr. Kerry and U.S. stance, and especially he said that the – making parallel between Arab Spring and what’s going on in Turkey is wrong and —

MS. PSAKI: I would have to look more closely at his exact comments, but I would stick firmly with where we are, which is a belief that people have the right to peacefully protest, a concern about what we’ve seen in terms of some cases of excessive use of force, a call for an investigation and encouragement of all leaders there to call for calm.

QUESTION: Can I ask one more on this?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Other than the calls by Ambassador Ricciardone, have there been any other calls, for example, by the relevant Assistant Secretary or Under Secretary Sherman or Deputy Secretary Burns to Turkish officials about this? Or to your knowledge, it has all been the Ambassador to Turkish authorities, and then now, prospectively, the Secretary’s call?

MS. PSAKI: Well, the information I have available is the Secretary’s call, which I mentioned, and the – I mentioned the Ambassador and other Embassy officials. I don’t have reports of other calls. I don’t want to tell you they definitively haven’t happened at this stage. I’m happy to look into that more closely for you.

QUESTION: Would you mind?

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: Thank you.