Turkey wants to continue defense cooperation with Russia: Erdoğan
President Tayyip Erdoğan said on Aug. 27 that Turkey wants to continue defense industry cooperation with Russia, including on warplanes, following talks in Moscow with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.
Erdoğan spoke after the leaders visited an air show outside the Russian capital where Sukhoi Su-57 stealth fighter jets performed demonstration flights and the Turkish leader inspected aircraft.
In another step that could further strain ties with NATO ally the United States, Turkey took delivery on Aug. 27 of a second batch of Russian S-400 air defense equipment.
"We are taking positive steps in the defense industry sector with the delivery of the S-400 systems starting," Erdoğan said at a news conference alongside Putin.
"With that, in our meetings today we had the opportunity to discuss what steps we could take in various fields within the defense industry and what we could do," he added.
Putin said he and Erdoğan discussed cooperation on Russia's Su-35 jet and possible joint work on the its new Su-57.
"In my opinion, a lot has drawn an interest from our Turkish partners, not only from a purchase point of view but also from joint production," Putin said at the joint briefing.
"Erdoğan's visit has been an opportunity to discuss joint perspective projects not only in aviation but also in other domains such as the S-400," Putin said.
Regime attacks in Idlib not acceptable: Erdoğan
About the recent attacks in Syria's northwestern Idlib province, Erdoğan said the region faces a "humanitarian crisis" as more than 500 civilians were killed and more than 1,200 others injured since May in the Bashar Al-Assad regime attacks.
Turkey and Russia agreed last September to turn Idlib into a de-escalation zone where acts of aggression are expressly prohibited.
The Syrian regime and its allies, however, have consistently broken the terms of the cease-fire, launching frequent attacks inside the zone.
The de-escalation zone is currently home to some four million civilians, including hundreds of thousands displaced in recent years by regime forces from throughout the war-weary country.
"It is unacceptable that the regime spreads death both from land and air under the pretext of fighting terrorism," Erdoğan said.
He said Turkey can fulfill its responsibility within Sochi deal "if the regime ends attacks" there.
Erdoğan said Turkey is ready to cooperate within Astana format to ensure "tranquility" in Idlib.
"Our aim is to stop the bloodshed and to get our neighbor Syria a peaceful environment that it has been longing for eight years," he added.
Erdoğan said, however, Turkey has to protect its borders since the "harassment" from Syrian side continues.
Putin, for his part, said Russia understands Turkey's concerns over the security situation of its border with Syria.
"It [Turkey] needs to ensure its border security. This is Turkey's legitimate right," he added.
Putin also said that the situation in Idlib raises a "serious" concern, adding that Russia and Turkey have a common understanding on how to solve the problem as both countries support Syria's sovereignty and territorial integrity.
"Together with Turkey's president we have outlined additional joint steps to neutralize the terrorists' nests in Idlib and normalize the situation there and in the whole of Syria as a result," Putin said.
Putin promotes SU-57 to Erdoğan
Two leaders’ meeting took place at Zhukovsky International Airport in Russia where the MAKS-2019, an annual Russia aviation and space fair, took place. The meeting lasted one hour and 20 minutes.
Before the meeting, Erdoğan and Putin attended the opening ceremony of the MAKS-2019 fair.
The two leaders visited the fair site before the beginning of official talks. The Russian leader has introduced Russia’s sophisticated SU-57 aircraft to Erdoğan at a time when Turkey has been excluded from the F-35 project by the United States because of its decision to deploy S-400 air defense systems.
Ahead of the bilateral meeting, Erdoğan told reporters that he was "pleased" to visit the fair, both seeing the fighter aircraft and passenger planes.
He said Russia's steps taken in space aviation proves its position in the science area.
Apart from discussing politics, the leaders also made time for an ice cream break.