Erdoğan says he is ‘likely’ to meet Biden in Glasgow with F-35 top on agenda

Erdoğan says he is ‘likely’ to meet Biden in Glasgow with F-35 top on agenda

Erdinç Çelikkan – ANKARA

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said he would meet his U.S. counterpart, Joe Biden, on the margins of the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow.

“The agenda for Rome and Glasgow appears to have changed. We are likely to meet in Glasgow instead of Rome,” Erdoğan on Oct. 26 told journalists on board his return flight from a trip to Azerbaijan.

Erdoğan said he will discuss with the U.S. leader the $1.4-billion payment plan for the F-35 fighter jets that Washington refused to deliver to Turkey after Ankara purchased Russian-made S-400 defense systems.

The most important subject in this meeting would be the F-35 issue, he said, noting that there are signals from Washington to deliver the F-16 warplanes in return for Turkey’s money paid for F-35 programme.

“There is some information we receive at the lower level. Some information about giving us F-16s… The information we received is that there is a plan to pay for this with them. Is this true or not; we will learn from them. At the highest level, of course, it would be appropriate for me to talk to Mr. Biden. If so, we will have reached an agreement accordingly,” Erdoğan stated.

Top Turkish, US officials discuss bilateral ties

The meeting, which would be the two leaders’ second since Biden was elected president, comes as Turkey seeks compensation after Washington kicked Turkey out of its F-35 fighter jet programme for buying the Russian missile defence system.

The meeting would also come hot on the heels of a new diplomatic spat that saw Erdoğan threaten to expel the U.S. and nine other Western ambassadors over their statement regarding the release of a jailed Turkish businessman.

His threat to expel 10 ambassadors was not “a show of strength to someone, it just meant that the ambassadors working in Turkey do not interfere in Turkey’s internal affairs,” Erdoğan said.

He stressed that ambassadors do not have any authority to intervene in the internal affairs of the host country.

“Moreover, an ambassador working in Turkey should know that Turkey is not a tribal state. The ambassador working in a country like Turkey, which has such an ancient history, must know very well what will lead to where. If they do not know this, we have reminded them of Article 41 of the Vienna Convention,” Erdoğan said.

Elaborating on a U.S. embassy statement that calmed down the diplomatic spat, the president said, “Since America’s ambassador was also involved in this, [U.S. President John] Biden probably showed kindness and the first statement came from them. As a matter of fact, when the statement came from the United States, this issue was finalized also with the other nine [embassies] affiliated with the issue, Erdoğan noted.

The president also refuted U.S. media reports that Erdoğan stepped back after the new statement of the relevant 10 countries which previously made a call for the release of Osman Kavala.

“How did I take a step back? I am on the offensive,” he said, emphasizing that he never had such an attitude on any issue.

The embassies of the U.S., Canada, Netherlands, New Zealand, Finland, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, France and Germany issued a joint statement on Oct. 18 to call on Turkey to urgently release Kavala who has been behind bars since 2017 although he is not convicted.

The embassies called on Turkey to follow the rulings of the Council of Europe, which has warned that it would launch disciplinary proceedings against Ankara “in the event that [Kavala] does not get released before” the human rights body’s next meeting on Nov. 30 - Dec. 2.

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) called for Kavala’s release in 2019.

However, the U.S. embassy in Ankara and several others later said they maintain compliance with Article 41 of the Vienna Convention that stipulates the diplomatic principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of the host state after Erdoğan’s call for the expulsion of 10 ambassadors who issued a statement on the Kavala case last week.

Turkey will “do its part” after seeing the steps of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, which oversees the implementation of the ECHR decisions, regarding Kavala, Erdoğan said.

Turkey would do what it believes in after the Council of Europe decides on its proceedings regarding Kavala at its next meeting late November, he said.

“If the council goes its way, let it do so,” he said, noting that Ankara would monitor the decisions of the Council, and ECHR, and would decide what to do.

“Whatever it takes, we will do it. As the President of the Republic of Turkey, as long as I am in this office, I will do my duty perfectly. I do not care what this says, what that says; I never look at them,” he stated.

He also elaborated on a parliament vote for a motion to extend the mandate for cross-border operations into Iraq and Syria on Oct. 26. The no vote of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) was in line with their “nature,” Erdoğan said.

“Would you expect anything different from these… The votes that the CHP and HDP would give were already clear. They did the requirement of their nature. We continue the fight against terrorism not with their support, but without their support. From now on, we will continue our fight against terrorism with the same determination,” he stated.