President Recep Tayyip Erdogan recently likened the Netherlands to "a banana republic”, called for international organisations to impose sanctions on the Dutch government, and accused countries in the West of “Islamophobia.”
Speaking in the European Parliament on Tuesday, Adam Shub, the Charge d’affaires of the US Mission to the EU, expressed alarm over both Erdogan and recent developments in Turkey.
Shub told members of the parliament’s powerful foreign affairs committee that, “The things he has been saying are concerning as are the curtailment of press freedoms in Turkey. These need to end.”
He added, “However, we also need to remember that Turkey has been, and remains, an important Nato ally and has also shouldered the burden in the migration crisis in Europe.”
His comments come amid a sharp decline in relations between the EU and Turkey in recent weeks.
Shub, who has held the temporary position since Anthony Gardner stepped down as US ambassador at Christmas, also told the committee he hoped the upcoming Brussels conference on Syria would be a “good opportunity” to assess the situation in the war-torn country.
He said, “It is a good chance to assess political progress and the humanitarian needs there.”
The appointment of a permanent ambassador to the EU remains mired in controversy with combative US economist Ted Malloch, appearing to still be the frontrunner despite the furore over his potential selection.
Malloch says he has been interviewed for the job but has incensed many in Brussels with what are seen as vehement anti EU comments.
Speaking in the same debate, British Conservative MEP Charles Tannock said he hoped that the “campaign rhetoric” of President Trump would now cease. He added, “All the signs are that it will be a thing of the past.”
He also told Shub that he “regretted” that, since Trump’s election, the US had pulled out of multi-national trade agreements and that the trade deal between the EU and US now appeared to be at an end.
Tannock, a member of the European Parliament’s European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) group, also expressed concern over the possibility of a US withdraw from the Paris climate agreement, saying such a decision could worsen the world’s migration crises.
Tannock told the committee, “Given the recent antagonistic approach of the US, maybe the time is now right to start building fences with Mexico.”
Speaking in a separate debate, the parliament’s new president Antonio Tajani said he had personally been “offended” by Erdogan’s comments.