Turkey is not without alternatives: Presidential aide
Turkey is not a country that can be easily dispensed with, said the Turkish presidential spokesman on July 31.
“Everyone should know. It may be the [F-35 fighter jets] or other issues. Turkey is not without alternatives,” said İbrahim Kalın, responding to U.S. threats to impose sanctions or halt weapons sales to Turkey.
“The U.S. using threatening language, using an ongoing legal issue as an excuse is unacceptable,” Kalın told reporters at the presidential complex.
“Everyone has to respect the ongoing legal procedure on the Pastor Brunson issue,” Kalın said.
Turkish-U.S. relations soured after President Donald Trump threatened to impose sanctions on Turkey over American Pastor Andrew Craig Brunson, who was arrested in December 2016 on terrorism-related charges.
His charges include spying for the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) -- listed as a terrorist group by both the U.S. and Turkey -- and the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETO), the group widely believed to be behind the defeated coup attempt in Turkey of July 2016.
The U.S. Congress has also tried to halt the sales of F-35 jets, citing the arrests of U.S. citizens in Turkey and Turkey's purchase of Russian S-400 missile defense systems.
Pointing out that both sides signed contracts for the sale, Ankara has responded that even if the F-35 sale were cancelled, Turkey has other alternatives.
Kalın also said that Turkey is not expecting the recent tensions to have a negative effect on the roadmap between the two countries for the northern Syrian city of Manbij, and that they have not.
“The Manbij plan continues to be implemented as designed. It has a certain calendar and elements. These are being carried out step by step,” he added.
“Our fight against against terror threats originating from Syria will continue with determination.”
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will announce his 100-day action plan on Aug. 3, Kalın announced.
He added: “A strategic plan for the 2019-2023 period will be prepared by November.”