Ankara seeks alternatives as US delays defense equipment: Turkish FM
Sevil Erkuş – ANKARA
“Unfortunately the U.S. has delayed giving us defense equipment we urgently need to fight terrorism because of ‘internal issues,’” an official Foreign Ministry booklet written to inform parliament said.
For this reason Turkey needs to solve the shortage by other means, and is looking to expand national production, said the ministry.
The U.S., which is home to the world’s most advanced technology, has been Turkey’s top supplier of defense equipment for many years, primarily because the two countries are both NATO allies, the defense said.
In September the U.S. Senate approved a measure that effectively blocked the U.S. government from selling weapons to security forces associated with Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
The amendment, which was approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee, is part of an on-going response to a brawl that broke out between Turkish bodyguards and protestors in Washington earlier this year, during Erdoğan’s ill-fated visit to the American capital.
Turkey’s policy of recent years has been to grow its domestic defense industry in order to reduce dependence on foreign suppliers. For this reason Ankara prefers technology transfer and joint production as it seeks to procure a long-range missile defense system.
Although the Turkish government has recently announced the completion of the purchase of Russian S-400 surface-to-air missiles, talks on the transfer of technology are still at the negotiating table.
Ankara is also discussing a further deal with a European consortium. “We are also making preliminary agreements with the EUROSAM consortium in order to develop, produce and secure our own sources of air defense systems,” Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli said.