Speaking from the floor of the U.S. Senate on May 10, Senators James Lankford (R-Okla.) and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) offered harsh words for Turkey and a Turkish court for its handling of EPC Teaching Elder Andrew Brunson’s trial.
In his 7-minute speech, Lankford said Turkey should follow the example of North Korea and release American hostages they’re holding.
“When Turkey—a NATO ally—is behind North Korea in how they are handling humanitarian issues, Turkey has moved to a very bad spot.”
He also discouraged Americans from doing business with or traveling to Turkey.
“If you’re doing business in Turkey, you cannot guarantee the safety of your employees any longer,” he said. “If you are traveling to Turkey, you cannot be guaranteed safety … they can sweep up anyone for any accusation and hold them for any length. That is not just theory—that is being proven by a pastor being held for a year and a half in Turkey with false charges.”
Tillis told his Senate colleagues that he would rather talk about “how we help Turkey take the fight to the terrorist organizations that are threatening their homeland” and “work more with Turkey to identify ISIS leaders, detain them, and make that region safer” but “now I am at a fork in the road.”
“Right now, I’ve only got one position to take,” Tillis said. “That is to put Turkey on notice for their bad actions as a NATO ally and for their bad actions towards American nationals in the country of Turkey.”
Tillis emphasized the need to discuss the future of the U.S.-Turkey relationship.
“Our relationship is with a nation that is, for the first time in NATO history, holding American hostages as a NATO ally,” he said. “I’ve got to take things in a different direction because it’s my responsibility as the Co-Chair of the Senate NATO Observer Group and as the Senator from a state who has a citizen in prison for 580 days.”
Click here to watch the 15-minute presentation from Tillis and Lankford to the Senate in Washington, D.C.