Erdoğan: Turkish base stays as long as Qatar wants

Turkish President says demands by Saudi-led bloc unrealistic

Turkey will not close its military base in Qatar, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said told French media Wednesday.

The closure of the base would happen under one condition, Erdoğan told the France 24 television network.

“Unless Qatar wants it, we will not do it,” Erdoğan said.

A defense agreement in 2014 between Ankara and Doha required Turkey to establish a base in Qatar, at the request of the Qatari government.

Erdoğan said the same terms were presented to Saudi Arabia for Turkey to build a base in the kingdom but Riyadh wanted time to think it through.

The Turkish base in Qatar was built but Saudi Arabia now wants to get rid of it.

“If Qatar has such a request of us, of course we will no longer remain in a place where we are not wanted,” Erdoğan said.

“Why do they not ask the same thing for CENTCOM? Because the Americans have also a base there, the French have a base there,” Erdoğan said of the American command responsible for the Middle East, north Africa and central Asia. “We remain loyal to our agreement with Qatar and we own up to it until the end.”

Turkey does not want the Qatar situation to widen into a Gulf regional crisis and has asked Saudi Arabia, as the strongest country in the region, not to allow it to develop into an even bigger crisis.

A list of demands by Saudi Arabia and its allies, which included the closure of the Turkish base in Qatar, to restore diplomatic ties with Qatar are unrealistic to the sovereignty of a state, Erdoğan said.

“When it comes to this list of 13 items: That simply will strip a state of its quality of a state — Qatar a state” and are not acceptable under any circumstances because they are challenging the state function of Qatar, Erdoğan said.

Erdoğan said he has not lost hope for a solution to the crisis but the West and Turkey are not in support of the stance by the Gulf countries, and he knows Qatar fights terrorism and no one should be misled or have the wrong impression on that issue.

On June 5, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE, Bahrain and Yemen abruptly cut diplomatic ties with Qatar, accusing Doha of meddling in their domestic affairs and supporting terror groups.

Mauritania followed suit shortly afterward, while Jordan downgraded its diplomatic representation in Doha.

Saudi Arabia also sealed its land border with Qatar, geographically isolating the tiny Gulf state.

Doha has denied the allegations and described the moves to isolate it as “unjustified”.