Turkey to continue talks with Russia on 2nd batch of S-400s as planned: Erdoğan

Turkey to continue talks with Russia on 2nd batch of S-400s as planned: Erdoğan

Turkey to continue talks with Russia on 2nd batch of S-400s as planned: Erdoğan

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pledged to continue talks with Moscow for the procurement of the second batch of the Russian-made S-400 air defense systems and said they would discuss details at the end of the month.

He stressed that Turkey is determined to proceed with the S-400 deal despite U.S. opposition.

“No country can determine the steps we will take towards our defense industry. This is entirely up to us. We had handled the first package for the S-400 with Russia, and now [talks] for the second package continue based on our previous negotiation,” Erdoğan told reporters on Jan. 15 after Friday prayers.

Turkey will have meetings with Russia at the end of the month, Ankara and Moscow will discuss many issues including the defense industry, Erdoğan said.

“We don’t know what the incoming [John] Biden administration would say, but we’re not in a position to ask for permission,” he added.

Recalling that Turkey is a NATO member, the Turkish government would not accept any fellow members to “guide” Turkey, Erdoğan added.

The president has criticized the United States for kicking Turkey out of the F-35 fighter jet program after Ankara purchased the Russian missile defense system, a move that also triggered U.S. sanctions.

Turkey paid “very serious money’’ for the F-35 stealth jets, he said and added, “This is a very serious mistake that America, as an allied country, has done to us.”

“I hope with Mr. Biden assuming office and with discussions, he will take more positive steps and we can straighten this out,’’ he added.

Turkey was removed from the F-35 program even though it produced some parts for the jets. The U.S. said the Russian system could jeopardize the safety of the F-35s. The U.S. halted the training of Turkish pilots and said Turkey would not be allowed to take final possession of the four aircraft it bought.

Washington also sanctioned four Turkish defense officials last month under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), a U.S. law aimed at thwarting Russian influence. The sanctions, which included a ban on issuing export licenses to Turkey’s Presidency of Defense Industries, were the first time the law was used to punish a NATO ally.

Elaborating on resuming exploratory talks with Greece, Erdoğan said the decision is a positive development.

“Unfortunately, the European Union has never kept its promises made to us. We are now in a new process,” Erdoğan said, noting that he has been conducting talks with EU officials along with leaders of some member states. He also welcomed a meeting demand by Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis. “The request of Mr. Miçotakis for a meeting has also been a positive matter for us,” Erdoğan said.

Culture, arts used as invisible army to invade countries: Erdoğan

Culture and arts have been used as an “invisible army for the invasion” of countries, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said, speaking at the renovation ceremony of the National Palaces Directorate.

“Turkey suffered the worst of physical attacks lived for civilization,” he said.

“It can even be said that we had difficulty in raising as many and successful painters as in the Ottoman period in the Republic period. There is a similar situation in architecture,” the president noted.