Turkey will retaliate against any US sanctions: FM Çavuşoğlu
Turkey will retaliate if the United States takes negative steps against it, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on Dec. 11 when asked about the prospect of Washington imposing sanctions over Ankara’s purchase of the Russian S-400 defense systems.
“Members of the U.S. Congress need to understand that they cannot achieve anything by imposition. If the U.S. approaches positively, we will approach positively too,” he said in an interview with Turkish broadcaster A Haber.
Asked if Turkey will consider closing the İncirlik Airbase in southern Turkey to U.S. aircraft in the event of any sanctions by the U.S. administration against Ankara, he said Ankara will decide upon its assessments in the worst-case scenario and İncirlik Airbase and Kürecik radar system of NATO could be among those retaliation plans.
“İncirlik may come up, and Kürecik may come up. Everything may come up. I don’t want to talk on assumptions. The decision of the administration is important, not the congress. We will evaluate and decide on the worst-case scenario.”
Çavuşoğlu also said Turkey was open to alternatives to buying U.S. F-35 jets, including from Russia, after Ankara was suspended from the program over the S-400 purchase.
The U.S. has not positively responded to Turkey’s proposal to establish a working group for the technical assessment of possible engagement between S-400 systems and F-35 fighter jets, but Washington said it has made its work, Çavuşoğlu said. Ankara asked for a copy of that technical work, but the U.S. has not agreed to share, he added.
He also added that Turkey and Britain have agreed to speed up work on a project to build fighter jets.
The two countries agreed on a 100 million British pound ($133 million) deal in 2017 to develop Turkish fighter jets, and Turkey’s Kale Group said it was setting up a joint venture with Rolls-Royce to work on the project. In March Rolls-Royce said it had scaled back efforts to join the program.
On a recent deal between Turkey and Libya for maritime boundaries, the minister said Turkey would block if any parties tried to make seismic or drilling activities in this region without permission from Ankara.
In a separate press conference with his Croatian counterpart on Dec. 11, Çavuşoğlu said the Turkish president has yet to sign the deal with Libya, which was ratified by Turkey’s parliament last week.
Ankara will inform the United Nations after the process in Ankara is finalized, he said.
But the memorandum is valid as of Dec. 8 when both authorities of Libya and Turkey ratified it, he added.
The memorandum with Libya for military cooperation envisages training and technical assistance, but not deploying troops, the minister also said. But if the Libyan authorities ask Turkey to send troops, first Ankara must ratify a motion for cross border deployment to Libya, Çavuşoğlu noted.