Turkey, France, Italy to resume talks for joint air defense system

Turkey, France, Italy to resume talks for joint air defense system

Turkey, France, Italy to resume talks for joint air defense system

Turkey, Italy and France will resume trilateral cooperation on defense, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi said on March 24, adding that the three countries will meet soon.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan met with the Italian prime minister on March 24 on the sidelines of an extraordinary NATO leaders’ summit in Brussels.

Speaking after the meeting, Draghi recalled that one of the cooperation platforms was created between Turkey, France and Italy in the past years but was later interrupted. “We have decided to reactivate this group, we will have a meeting between three countries soon,” he said.

Ankara made an initial deal with the French-Italian consortium on July 14, 2017, to develop Turkey’s national defense air systems and signed an agreement in early 2018 for an 18-month-long study to determine the needs and priorities for the potential joint production of an anti-ballistic missile system. The proposed system would be a more developed version of Eurosam’s current SAMP-T air defense systems.

The process was first interrupted after Turkey’s “Operation Peace Spring” into northern Syria in 2019, which was condemned by the French Parliament.

Talks with the Italian-French consortium came at a moment when Turkey was under fierce pressure from the United States and other NATO countries because of its procurement of Russia’s S-400 anti-ballistic missile systems.

Erdoğan said the trilateral cooperation on SAMP-T systems was discussed in his meetings with both Draghi and French President Emmanuel Macron. Ankara hopes to resume defense industry cooperation between the three countries robustly after the next elections in France, the president said.

“There were some steps we took between Turkey and France. We have decided to continue our efforts to reconsider those steps, the Turkey-France relations, and even to revive the steps we have taken as Turkey-France-Italy. I hope that we will start this new process strongly after the election,” Erdoğan told a group of journalists on March 24 on his flight from Belgium to Turkey.

Recalling Macron’s statement in 2019 that they were “experiencing the brain death of NATO,” Erdoğan said the latest developments had proved the opposite.

“It was a very unfortunate statement. After this unfortunate statement, Macron is currently one of the leaders playing the most active role in NATO. Pretty diligent,” he stated.