Turkey responds to US over linking S-400 purchase with F-35s
Turkey has to protect its airspace and the United States has failed to guarantee the sale of Patriot missile defense systems, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said after a U.S. Congress delegation urged Ankara to give up purchasing S-400 missile systems from Russia to receive the F-35 fighter jets.
“We have to protect our airspace. This is a must for us. They should understand it. Can the U.S. give us a guarantee to sell Patriots?” Çavuşoğlu said in a press conference in Lithuania on Aug. 28.
Çavuşoğlu also stressed international law regarding the U.S. reluctance to transfer F-35s to Turkey.
“We are a partner in the F-35 program and some parts are produced in Turkey,” he said, calling on the U.S. to “leave the language of threats” to solve the ongoing diplomatic crisis between the two countries.
“If they say they can do anything they want, like in cowboy movies, then they will get a response,” Çavuşoğlu added.
“[The fact that] Congress members are coming to Turkey is important. Because there are different institutions in the U.S., different positions, different beliefs [...] Of course, there are also members of the Congress who know the importance of Turkey and those who strive for the strengthening of Turkey-U.S. relations,” he added.
“Our relations with Russia are not an alternative to our relations with Lithuania or the European Union or our relations with the United States... Turkey can perfectly balance its foreign policy in the region,” he stated.
A three-member delegation headed by Congressman Michael Turner, a member of NATO Parliamentarian Assembly, visited Turkey on Aug. 27. The delegation met with Turkish parliamentarians and discussed the issues of Turkey’s purchase of Russian S-400 systems and delivery of F-35 fighter jets to Turkey.
The congressmen urged Ankara to abandon procurement of S-400 systems to guarantee the delivery of the F-35s, while the Turkish side stressed further cooperation against the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ).
Talks with EU intensify
Çavuşoğlu will attend the Gymnich meeting in the Austrian capital Vienna on Aug. 30-31, the Foreign Ministry said in a written statement on Aug. 28.
The Gymnich meeting will be held with the participation of the foreign ministers of EU member and candidate countries, and Çavuşoğlu will attend the informal meeting upon the invitation of EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and Austrian Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl, whose country currently holds the EU Presidency.
The Gymnich meetings “give the opportunity for an exchange of views on foreign policy developments. During the meeting, the participants will mainly exchange views on multilateralism, digitalization and critical infrastructure areas, as well as on current regional and global developments and challenges,” the ministry said.
Discussions will be held with EU member states’ ministers concerning Turkey’s accession process and bilateral relations, it added.