Turkey rejects ‘threatening language’ from US on F-35 purchase: FM Çavusoğlu
WASHINGTON - Anadolu Agency
The delivery of the United States F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jets to Turkey will be on June 21 as planned, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on June 4 following a meeting U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Washington.
“Turkey rejects ‘threatening language’ from the U.S. on the issue, it is not constructive,” Çavuşoğlu added.
A U.S. committee passed its version of a $716 billion defense policy bill on May 24, including a measure to prevent Turkey from purchasing Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jets.
The amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, from Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen and Republican Senator Thom Tillis, would remove Turkey from the F-35 program over its detention of U.S. citizen Andrew Brunson, Shaheen’s office said.
Brunson, a Christian pastor who could be jailed for up to 35 years, denied terrorism and spying charges in a Turkish court this month. He has been in pre-trial detention since 2016.
NATO ally Turkey was also faulted for its agreement with Russia in December 2017 to buy S-400 surface-to-air missile batteries.
Ankara wants the system to boost its defense capabilities amid conflicts across its borders in Syria and Iraq.
Purchase of missile systems
Criticizing the U.S. for forcing Turkey not to purchase S-400 air defense systems from Russia, Cavuşoğlu recalled that Turkey had been trying to purchase Patriot air defense systems from the U.S., but the missiles have never been sold to Turkey when they were needed the most.
“This is the reason why Turkey, which is in urgent need of these weapons, has chosen to purchase them from Russia,” he said.
Giving F-35 fighter jets as an example, Cavuşoğlu said if Washington as the worst-case scenario decides not to sell F-35s to Turkey, then no one can tell Turkey not to buy aircraft from a second country or not to produce its own.
“But we do not think we will come to this stage,” he noted.
Ankara will respond if Washington suspends delivery of F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jets to Turkey, Turkish Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hami Aksoy warned on May 25.
“Some senators in the U.S. have drafted bills to prevent the transfer of F-35 fighter aircrafts to our country. In this bill, the F-35’s shipment is attributed to the abandonment of Priest Brunson’s detention, and giving up on the S-400 purchase. These are different issues. One should not put apples and pears in the same basket,” Aksoy said.