US aid cut prompts Turkish leader to delay US visit

By , Special to The Christian Science Monitor

President Kenan Evren's decision Monday to postpone his state visit to Washington is seen here as a reaction - and warning - to a series of United States congressional actions against Turkey. The Turkish announcement officially attributed the reason for the visit's postponement until August to domestic political reasons, including efforts to amend the Constitution. But senior government officials privately say the real motive was the ``recent negative developments recorded in Washington.'' Among other things, the US Congress proposed cutting aid to Turkey next year by $344 million.

US diplomats here say President Evren refrained from paying a visit to Washington, mainly to pass notice to the US, and particularly to the US Congress, that US-Turkish relations would be damaged if the US attitude is not changed.

For several days, the public here has been debating whether Mr. Evren should go to Washington - the first such visit by a Turkish head of state in 20 years. Most Turks say the trip should be called off.

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Observers say that recent domestic political developments, including the probability of early elections next fall, have served as a good reason to delay the trip until August.

``This will give Turkey a breathing space,'' a Turkish analyst said. ``By that time, we will see how things develop in Washington, if there is an improvement, the visit will take place. Otherwise it will most likely be called off.''

Analysts say Turkish resentment was sparked by:

Decisions by Senate and House foreign affairs committees to cut aid to Turkey from the proposed $925 million to $569 million, and to attach strings to aid intended to modernize Turkey's military.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee's recent embargo on US-made weapons used by Turkish troops in Cyprus and the committee's demand that troop strength be reduced if US aid is to continue.

Congressional decisions to restore the 7 to 10 ratio in aid to Greece and Turkey.

A House committee's recent approval of a resolution declaring April 24 as a day of national mourning in the US to commemorate the Turks' alleged massacre of 1.5 million Armenians during World War I.

The fact that Evren was not invited to address Congress during his visit, originally scheduled for late May.

US-Turkish relations appear to be deteriorating only months after ties were warming. In March, the two countries signed a ``side letter'' extending the ``defense and economic cooperation agreement'' until 1990. This ensured the US's continued use of a dozen military installations on Turkish soil in return for an increase in US military and economic aid to Turkey.

But Prime Minister Turgut Ozal's government decided, shortly after the US Congress's decision, to ``suspend temporarily'' the side letter. Although this does not mean the pact's termination, it reflects Turkey's reluctance to cooperate fully with the US until the US position becomes clearer.

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