Erdoğan says course of US-Turkey ties ’does not bode well’
The current course of U.S.-Turkey relations “does not bode well,” President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Sept. 23, noting that he didn’t have a good start with U.S. President Joe Biden, who took power earlier this year.
In a briefing to Turkish journalists before he departed the United Nations General Assembly, Erdoğan highlighted divisions between the NATO allies over Turkey’s purchase of a Russian missile defense system and its consequent removal from the U.S.-led F-35 stealth fighter aircraft program.
“I cannot honestly say that there is a healthy process in Turkish-American relations,” the president was reported as saying in the Turkish media.
“Look, we bought the F-35s, paid $1.4 billion, and these F-35s were not delivered to us,” he said, stressing that Washington must “correct” this policy.
“Of course, we will do what needs to be done based on international law. We can’t accept that they are constantly imposing the S-400 on us. For us, the S-400 issue is finished. We cannot take a step back from here. America needs to place this in the right place in international diplomacy and relations. But so far, they haven’t been able to,” Erdoğan stated.
Turkey acts honestly, but America “unfortunately did not act honestly, it does not,” he said.
Erdoğan said he had worked well with all the U.S. presidents during his 19-year rule, but added, “I can’t say that we started well with Mr. Biden.”
“I hope that, as two NATO countries, we could treat each other with friendship, not hostility. But the current trajectory does not bode well,” he said.
Looking forward to his scheduled meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Black Sea resort of Sochi on Sept. 29, Erdoğan said they would discuss bilateral relations and Syria, particularly the situation in Idlib, the last rebel-held enclave remaining in the country.
Noting that they would only have a tete-a-tete meeting with Putin, Erdoğan added, “This will not be a meeting involving only Idlib. At the same time, we will discuss Turkey-Russia bilateral relations and the situation in Syria. We will talk to them about where we came from in Syria and where we will go in the next process. We will, of course, come to an important decision in Turkey-Russia relations.”
Stressing that Turkey and Russia are two important countries in the region, Erdoğan said, “We have not seen any wrongdoing in relations with Russia so far. When we look at the trade volume, we are in a good position and there is a constantly improving trade volume.”
“We are experiencing some difficulties from time to time in terms of moving the developments in Syria to a better position. But we can make up for this immediately with the steps we take.”
If Putin had not fully demonstrated his statesmanship in Azerbaijan, the issue would not have come out like this, he added.
“Hopefully, we will enter a much stronger and different period in Turkey-Russia relations,” the president said.
Erdoğan also addressed his call for reform of the U.N. and said he had proposed the “radical step” of removing the veto power of the Security Council’s five permanent members through an extraordinary meeting of the General Assembly “when necessary.”
Asked about the new Taliban government in Afghanistan, Erdoğan said it was unfortunate that an inclusive leadership had not been formed earlier this month, when the group revealed an all-male cabinet of hardliners.
“There are signals coming that there may be some changes, that there may be a more inclusive atmosphere in the administration,” he said. “If such a step can be taken, then we can move to the point of discussing with them what we can do together.”
“There is no such thing as solving the Kurdish problem. There is no such problem in Turkey. We have already solved this problem, we have overcome it, we have finished it.”
“It would be a shame if we were busy with this issue. So, whether [the interlocutor] is İmralı [island] or not is their problem. Let them continue this way. In other words, is it the [Peoples’ Democratic Party] HDP, is it this or that… We say that in this country, the [government-led] People’s Alliance is the only solution to this issue, and as the People’s Alliance, we continue the struggle for this solution,” he said, referring to the island where the illegal PKK’s leader has been jailed for over two decades.