White House Spokesperson Jay Carney answered questions in regards to the ongoing protests in Turkey on June 3. Carney reiterated the full support of the United States for full freedom of express and assembly, including right to peaceful protest, expressed that the U.S. concern over reports of excessive police violence, and called for an investigation of these events. Read the full excerpt below:
Q Thanks, Jay. I wanted to get the White House’s response to what’s happening in Turkey right now, particularly Erdogan questioning the legitimacy of the protestors in what seems to be an increased police reaction to those protests.
MR. CARNEY: Thank you for the question. We continue to follow the events in Turkey closely and with concern. As we stated from the outset last week, the United States supports full freedom of expression and assembly, including the right to peaceful protest, as fundamental to any democracy.
We believe that the vast majority of the protestors have been peaceful, law-abiding, ordinary citizens exercising their rights. The United States has serious concerns about the reports of excessive use of force by police and large numbers of injuries and damage to property. We call on these events to be investigated and to urge all parties to refrain from provoking violence.
Q Has the President spoken with Erdogan since these protests started?
MR. CARNEY: He has not. I have no calls to report. I refer you to the State Department for any outreach that they might have had with the Turks, but no calls from here to report.
Q And just more broadly, given Turkey is important to so many of the issues that the U.S. deals with in that part of the world, how key is stability in Turkey to the President?
MR. CARNEY: Turkey is a very important ally. And look, all democracies have issues that they need to work through and we would expect the government to work through this in a way that respects the rights of their citizens. I think that we continue to work with Turkey on a range of issues — as a NATO ally and as a key player in the region — and we look forward to doing that.
Q To follow up on Turkey, does the unrest in Turkey make it harder to deal with the Syria situation?
MR. CARNEY: Well, we work very closely with Turkey on the situation in Syria, with our allies and partners in the region, and we’ll continue to do that.
I believe, as I said, that the — we expect and we believe that the Turkish government will appropriately work through this situation. We call on the events that occurred to be investigated and urge all parties to refrain from provoking violence. And we think that the right of free expression and assembly, those rights are fundamental to democracy.
And we have concerns about some of the response, but we certainly expect the Turkish government to work through this.