Turkey not drifting away from NATO or Europe: Turkish FM
“Turkey has not been drifting away from Europe and NATO nor is it approaching Russia. There is no such thing. We have no problems with European countries,” Çavuşoğlu said on Nov. 23 at a joint meeting with his Italian counterpart Angelino Alfano in Rome.
“Turkey will continue conducting works with NATO,” he added.
His comment came a day after Turkey’s Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli announced that the first Russian S-400 missile system is being planned to be delivered to Turkey in 2019.
As a NATO ally, Turkey’s purchase of a defense technology that is not interoperable with NATO systems from Russia has prompted debate on whether Turkey is drifting away from its Western military alliance.
Çavuşoğlu said “Turkey prioritizes NATO countries to fulfil their needs including air defense systems,” but the purchase was a result of “resistance from NATO allies” to sell systems to Turkey.
“Some NATO countries have been resisting giving some defense systems that we needed, including some basic weapons, to Turkey. We, as Turkey, need to build an air defense system but cannot purchase it from our allies. Then, we have to buy it from somewhere else. We are in urgent need,” he said.
Turkey and Russia have been normalizing relations after a diplomatic crisis erupted over Turkey’s downing of a Russian jet in 2015.
The two countries’ leaders gathered for a meeting in the Russian resort of Sochi on Nov. 22 with the leader of Iran to discuss the future of Syria.
Çavuşoğlu stressed that many European countries had supported the normalization of relations between Turkey and Russia, but added that “now they are criticizing the repair of relations.”
Stating that Turkey does not have problems with EU countries, Çavuşoğlu said they were adopting a multi-dimensional foreign policy.
“We have to understand this, we are all adopting multi-dimensional foreign policies, and we have the right for that,” he said.
“The problem here is that some European countries think they are the big bosses,” he added.