No negative picture for F-16s from the US: Turkish FM
Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said they see no negative picture in the process of acquiring F-16 fighter jets from the United States.
“There is a relatively positive atmosphere in our relations with the U.S. Problems will likely be resolved, relations will be improved,” he said speaking to the NTV broadcaster on June 4.
“Our talks on the F-16 were very positive. U.S. President Joe Biden also said that he favors giving the F-16s to Türkiye, but the approval must be passed by Congress. Several senators in the Democratic Party oppose this. However, we do not see a negative picture at the moment,” Çavuşoğlu added.
President Joe Biden on June 30 said that the United States should go ahead with the delayed sale of F-16 warplanes to Türkiye but said Congress needs to approve.
“We should sell them the F-16 jets and modernize those jets as well,” Biden said, adding there was “no quid pro quo” of linking the sale to Türkiye’s approval for Finland and Sweden entering NATO.
A plan to equip Türkiye with state-of-the-art U.S. F-35 stealth fighters fell through after Türkiye bought Russia’s S-400 anti-aircraft missile system, something Washington saw as potentially threatening the security of the F-35 program.
In October last year, Türkiye requested Washington to buy 40 Lockheed Martin-made F-16 fighters and nearly 80 modernization kits for its existing warplanes.
In March, the State Department sent a letter to some members of the U.S. Congress who had opposed the sale, saying “appropriate” U.S. defense trade ties with Türkiye would serve U.S. interests.
The minister reiterated Türkiye’s disappointment with U.S. support for the YPG group in Syria.
“We have repeatedly expressed our disappointment with the U.S. aid to the YPG. When it comes to national security, it doesn’t matter who says what,” Çavuşoğlu said stressing that Türkiye does what is necessary within the framework of international law when it comes to its incursions into northern Syria.
“Russia and the U.S. have no right to say anything to Türkiye. We are not satisfied with every step taken by Russia. But we’re being pretty transparent about it,” he added.
Türkiye will ensure that other NATO members will participate in the memorandum of understanding signed in Madrid with Sweden and Finland, said Çavuşoğlu.
If Sweden and Finland do not keep their promises regarding the fight against terror groups, then Türkiye will take steps accordingly, he said. The memorandum of understanding is a starting point he said and noted that neither of these two countries could enter NATO if the decision is not ratified by the Turkish parliament.
Elaborating on the normalization process between Türkiye and Israel, the minister noted that the government change in Israel would not have a negative effect on bilateral relations. “Elections will begin in October. Then we will start the ambassador appointments,” he said referring to the upcoming elections in Israel.
Türkiye and Israel started to work to mutually appoint ambassadors, Turkish and Israeli foreign ministers earlier announced. Türkiye had a rapid process of normalizing ties with both Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, but the talks with Cairo did not yield immediate results, Çavuşoğlu also said.
Mutual will and steps should have the same momentum for both sides for normalization as soon as possible, he noted.
Meanwhile, Presidential Spokesperson İbrahim Kalın met with U.S. Senator Lindsay Graham on June 2.
According to the Presidency Spokesperson’s statement, bilateral political and economic relations, the fight against terrorism, cooperation in the defense industry, Ukraine-Russia War, Black Sea grain shipments, Syria, Aegean-Mediterranean and other regional issues were discussed during the meeting.
The statement said that Türkiye-U.S. relations should progress based on mutual respect and understanding, and on a ground based on common and strategic interests. It was stated that cooperation in the field of the defense industry and making progress on the F-16 will serve the interests of the two countries.