11.13.19

Peters Calls for Appropriate Measures to Prevent Violence During Erdogan’s Visit, Accountability if Turkey Causes Damages

Senator Expresses Concern with Erdogan’s Visit, Turkey’s Destabilizing and Appalling Actions in Syria

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Gary Peters (MI) today expressed concerns about Turkish President Erdogan’s visit to Washington, D.C. and asked the Trump Administration to provide a detailed accounting of the financial cost for security associated with his visit. Peters’ request follows violent confrontations by President Erdogan’s security detail during past visits, including assaults of U.S. security officials, civilians and journalists.

Peters, who serves on the Armed Services Committee and is Ranking Member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, called for Turkey to be held accountable for any damages if Erdogan’s security detail engages in another confrontation and he again sounded the alarm on Turkey’s destabilizing and appalling actions in Syria.

“Although we should not host President Erdogan at all due to these ongoing events, at a minimum we must ensure we are prepared for the risks involved,” Peters wrote. “We must take every precaution possible to protect peaceful protesters, journalists, and security officials…I am also concerned about the financial burden associated with hosting President Erdogan due to his violent security detail…Turkey should also be held responsible for the cost of any damages to U.S. property or personnel should an episode of violence occur. U.S. taxpayers should not be forced to pay when Turkish officials come here and break the law.”

Full text of the letter is below and here.

November 13, 2019

Dear Secretary Pompeo and Acting Secretary McAleenan,

I am writing to express my concerns about President Erdogan’s visit to Washington, D.C today. When President Erdogan came to Washington in 2017, his security detail assaulted U.S. security officials and attacked civilians during a brutal and unnecessary confrontation outside of the Turkish Ambassador’s residence. This followed his 2016 visit to Washington, when his bodyguards tried to physically drag journalists away from the Brookings Institution. Given this pattern of aggressive behavior and disregard for our right to free speech and assembly, I have serious concerns about costs to the American taxpayer and public safety hazards associated with President Erdogan’s return.

There will likely be heightened media and protest activity surrounding President Erdogan due to Turkey’s destabilizing military operations in Syria. Turkey’s incursion against our Kurdish allies is completely unacceptable. That is why President Erdogan has drawn global condemnation. I am appalled that Turkish-backed militants were recently recorded by U.S. surveillance targeting innocent civilians in northeastern Syria, according to a new report from Wall Street Journal. Although we should not host President Erdogan at all due to these ongoing events, at a minimum we must ensure we are prepared for the risks involved. 

We must take every precaution possible to protect peaceful protesters, journalists, and security officials. I urge you to take appropriate measures to prevent another confrontation, including by deploying additional security personnel and minimizing the chances of President Erdogan’s security detail coming in close contact with demonstrators. I am also concerned about the financial burden associated with hosting President Erdogan due to his violent security detail. I ask that you provide me with an accounting of the total cost, including the cost of deploying additional security personnel. Turkey should also be held responsible for the cost of any damages to U.S. property or personnel should an episode of violence occur. U.S. taxpayers should not be forced to pay when Turkish officials come here and break the law.

I look forward to your response to this letter with the information requested within 30 days.  

###