White House Spokesperson Jay Carney reiterated importance of Turkey for the U.S., welcomed Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc’s more conciliatory tone, and once again, urged all parties to refrain from violence on a press briefing on June 4. Read the full excerpt below:
Q About Turkey — Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister recently said the crackdown on the protests have been excessive and unfair. He apologized to the protestors. Can you say, were there discussions between the administration, the United States and Turkey in this regard, and that may have swayed these comments which differ from those of the Prime Minister recently?
MR. CARNEY: I think it’s useful to check with the State Department on conversations that may have been held between State Department officials and the Turkish government. And I don’t mean to suggest that there were. I’m simply saying that, as I did I think yesterday, that I have no conversations from the White House to report. But we are obviously in regular contact with the Turkish government on a range of issues, and we have made clear our concerns about the excessive use of force that has been reported and had called on all sides to refrain from provoking violence. And we noted, obviously, the comments by the Deputy Prime Minister.
Q Did the more conciliatory comments suggest a lowering of the temperature, in a way?
MR. CARNEY: Well, we hope that, as we have made clear, that the Turkish government will handle this in a way that respects the rights of free speech and assembly that are elemental to democracies. And we welcome the Deputy Prime Minister’s comments apologizing for excessive force, and we continue to welcome calls for these events to be investigated.
Q Thank you, Jay. Back to Turkey. Do you think the unrest in Turkey will affect the long-term political, economic relation between U.S. and Turkey? Or is this just a minor bump in the road?
MR. CARNEY: Well, we’ve made clear our concern about the reports of the use of excessive force, and we welcome the comments by the Deputy Prime Minister about — that apologized for that excessive force. We call on all parties to refrain from provoking violence, and we continue to make known our opinion that these events should be investigated.
We have a very important relationship with Turkey. Turkey is a NATO ally. We are working with Turkey on a range of regional issues that are obviously of great importance to U.S. national security and to regional security, and we will continue to do that.
Q Okay, just on Turkey, please. If you are concerned about what’s happening in Turkey, why are you raising it on the ambassador level only and not on the level with the Secretary of State or the President?
MR. CARNEY: Well, I’d refer you to the State Department for conversations that we have with our counterparts in the Turkish government all the time. I just don’t have any conversations to report to you from the White House.