Biggest problem with US is its support to YPG: Defense minister
The biggest problem between Turkey and the United States is the latter’s support to the YPG in northern Syria, Turkey’s defense minister has said, expressing his hope that the matter between the two allies can be resolved through dialogue.
“The biggest problem with the U.S. is the YPG. But the problems between Turkey and the U.S. can be resolved through dialogue,” Defense Minister Hulusi Akar was quoted as saying by daily Milliyet over the weekend.
The YPG is no different than the PKK, a designated terror organization by the U.S., the European Union and Turkey, Akar said, underlining that this fact is also well-known by Washington.
“They have to do whatever is necessary for the good sake of friendship and alliance. We expect our allies to understand this as soon as possible and to cut aid and support, especially arms and ammunition,” he stated.
Turkey and the U.S. have long been at odds because Washington’s continued partnership with the YPG in the fight against ISIL in northern Syria. The U.S. says it partners with the SDF, whose main component is the YPG, and stresses it is only an anti-terror tactical move.
With fears of the YPG creating a terror corridor on its southern borders, Turkey executed four cross-border operations into northern Syria over the recent years and announced that it will continue to protect its borders and citizens against the terrorists.
“Our stance on the PKK/YPG is clear. Wherever the terrorist, that’s our target. And this will continue until the last terrorist is neutralized,” the defense minister said, vowing everyone –even the supporters of these terror organizations, will see that in the future.
Talks on F-35s will happen soon
Other issues on the table with the U.S. are more about the cooperation and problems concerning the defense industry, including Turkey’s plans of supplying 40 F-16s from the U.S. as well as its expelling from the F-35 joint project due to its deployment of Russian S-400 air defense systems.
Talks over Turkey’s formal appeal for buying 40 new jet fighters and 80 modernization kits for its existing fleets are developing in a positive manner, Akar informed, stressing, “This will also contribute to NATO’s [security]. If Turkey is strong, NATO will be strong too. Turkey’s strength is the added value of NATO’s strength. We ask our NATO partners what will happen if you prevent Turkey’s power through direct or indirect embargoes.”
Talks over Turkey’s departure from the F-35 program are happening on another avenue, the minister said, and that the second meeting will take place in either late January or early February in the U.S.
“Six F-35s produced for Turkey are being kept in hangars. We are also discussing them,” he informed. Turkey says it paid $1.4 billion to the F-35 joint fighter program and asks to be reimbursed either in cash or through the sale of new F-16s.
Turkey seeks no tension with Greece
Responding to questions about strained ties with Greece, Akar reiterated that Turkey hopes to resolve all the differences with the neighboring country through dialogue and cooperation.
Recalling that Greece has recently deployed six Rafale fighter jets from France, the minister stated “They think they gain something by buying six used planes. The weapons they bought are too much for normal defense, too little for Turkey.”
Turkey has no maximalist aspirations and has no eye on any country’s territories, but some Greek politicians, academics and retired diplomats and soldiers continue to provoke the Greek people against Turkey, the minister noted.
“Now, they talk about [expanding the territorial waters to] 12 miles. Can that be accepted? Parliament, in 1995, had authorized the government to take all the measures, including the military means. We don’t want escalation. What we say is ‘Let’s altogether benefit from the richness of the sea’,” Akar stated.
Turkey will never abandon its right and not allow any country to breach them, the minister repeated.