Turkey’s government condemned Republican presidential candidate and Texas Governor Rick Perry for saying the country is ruled by “Islamic terrorists” and should possibly be kicked out of NATO.
U.S. presidential candidates should be “more knowledgeable about the world and more careful in their statements,” the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in an e-mailed statement today. “Turkey was a NATO member when the governor was a mere two years old.”
The Republican Party, where Perry is vying to become its candidate to challenge President Barack Obama, doesn’t employ the governor’s “unfortunate” views, Turkey said. Perry’s “weak” support in primaries shows the common sense of the U.S. electorate, according to the statement.
“Many would perceive” Turkey to be run by Islamic terrorists, Perry said in the first of two Republican Party primary debates in South Carolina yesterday. Some view Turkey’s leadership as terrorist because of their support for Hamas and the Gaza flotilla, Perry advisor Victoria Coates said, according to ABC television.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan drew criticism from U.S. Republicans in 2010 after supporting an attempt to break Israel’s sea blockade of the Gaza Strip. Nine Turkish activists were killed by Israeli soldiers. He also hosted leaders of Palestinian group Hamas, recognized as terrorists by the U.S. and European Union. Erdogan, whose party is rooted in an Islamic movement ousted from power by a military-led campaign in 1997, says he is seeking to boost democracy in Turkey, including religious freedoms, as the country pursues membership of the EU.
“Not only is it time for us to have a conversation about whether or not they belong to be in NATO, but it’s time for the United States, when we look at their foreign aid, to go to zero with it,” Perry said.
South Carolina holds its primary on Jan. 21. Perry came in fifth in the Iowa caucuses on Jan. 3 with 10 percent of the vote after once holding the lead in national opinion polls. He finished sixth in New Hampshire on Jan. 10 with less than 1 percent of the vote.