Nuland says Turkey, US agree on larger strategy but may differ in tactics

Nuland says Turkey, US agree on larger strategy but may differ in tactics

US Assistant Secretary of State for Europe and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland has said that the US and Turkey always agree on "larger strategy" but that the two allies may sometimes differ in their tactics Today`s Zaman reported.

Nuland's remarks came in response to a question implying that Turkish-US relations have been strained since the Gezi Park protests that swept Turkish cities this summer.

"The alliance between the US and Turkey is absolutely vital, not just for the two of us and our security, but now as an engine around the turbulent region. ... We are not always going to see perfectly eye to eye on the tactics, but we always agree on the larger strategy. So it's a matter of maintaining that open dialogue on what has to be done," said Nuland during a speech she delivered at the Atlantic Council on Wednesday, her first public address since taking office.

Nuland went on to comment on democratic developments in Turkey, saying that the US "obviously stands on the side of those Turks who want more openness, more press freedom, want accountable government." She added that US officials will never be shy about expressing their thoughts. "The beauty of our alliance is we can be honest when we disagree," Nuland maintained.

Praise for Turkey's role in peace negotiations on Cyprus

The US assistant secretary of state also praised efforts by Turkey and Greece to solve the Cyprus issue by mediating reunification talks between the leaders of the Turkish and Greek Cypriots.

"We also appreciate the support of Turkey and Greece for a mutually acceptable settlement between the parties. Today, both the leadership and shared interest are in place for a comprehensive settlement; this moment must not be squandered," said Nuland.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and Greek Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos agreed in late September that special representatives from the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (KKTC) and Greek Cypriot administration would make visits to Turkey and Greece. Turkey will receive the Greek Cypriot president's special representative, Andreas Mavroyiannis, and the KKTC president's special representative, Osman Ertug, will be hosted by Greece. The representatives from Cyprus are expected to be received by the respective undersecretaries of the Turkish and Greek foreign ministries.

Nuland said the US is "impressed" by the commitment of the two Cypriot sides, led by Greek Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot President Dervis Eroglu, in recent months to working together for a "truly bi-zonal, bi-communal federation on the island."

The leaders of both sides of the island will most likely meet in November to hold reunification negotiations in the hopes of finding a comprehensive solution for Cyprus' future. Cyprus has been divided between the Greek Cypriot south and Turkish Cypriot north since 1974, when Turkey sent troops to the island in the aftermath of a Greek-inspired coup that sought to unite the island with Greece. In 2004, a UN plan to reunite the island, backed by Turkey, collapsed because it was rejected by the Greek Cypriots in a referendum. Talks between the Turkish and Greek Cypriot leaders to reach an agreement on a reunification plan have failed to produce any breakthrough.

"A settlement [between Greek and Turkish Cyprus] will have benefits far beyond the island. It will also have a profoundly positive effect across the Eastern Med and on NATO-EU relations," added Nuland.

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