President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday questioned the sincerity of the US strategic partnership with Turkey following a recent visa row.
The row was sparked on 8 October, when the US Embassy in Ankara announced the suspension of non-immigrant visa services for Turkish nationals, following the arrest of a local employee at the US Consulate in Istanbul, prompting a tit-for-tat response from Ankara.
“Who said this? The ambassador in Ankara. Who is this ambassador? If he [the ambassador] can just say ‘we suspended the visas’ in a paragraph on behalf of the great US, then I will have to reconsider the strategic partnership,” he said, at the closing session of the Turkish Radio and Television Corporation (TRT) World Forum in Istanbul, referring to the outgoing US Ambassador John Bass.
Metin Topuz, a US consulate employee, was arrested last week over alleged ties to the Fetullah Gullen Organization, the group behind last year’s defeated coup attempt in Turkey.
Ankara accuses US-based Fetullah Gulen of orchestrating the defeated coup which martyred 250 people and wounded nearly 2,200.