Chief advisor to Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and columnist İlnur Çevik on Thursday wrote that US concerns about Turkey’s purchase of an S-400 air defense system from Russia are unrealistic and that it has become clear that Turkey cannot trust its NATO allies.
Accusing NATO allies of not taking into consideration the fact that Turkey is in NATO’s most sensitive region and hence in need of a proper air defense system, Çevik targeted the US, Germany and the Netherlands, who withdrew their missile systems during the conflict with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), saying that Turkey was using violence against Kurds.
“It has become clear that our NATO allies are not to be trusted and that our country needs to immediately procure an air defense system. … Our concerns are real based on past experience,” Çevik wrote in his column in the YeniBirlik daily.
Claiming that the air defense systems recommended by the Western allies would leave Turkey without any form of defense against “all kinds of threats,” Çevik accused the US of supporting the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) even though it is against Turkey’s regional interests and said the US was being hypocritical by expressing concern over Turkey’s purchase of the S-400 system.
Commenting on Turkey’s planned missile purchase from Russia, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has reportedly said that it is “up to each member state” of the alliance to make its own decisions on the purchase of weapons. “It’s up to each individual ally to decide on what kind of equipment it acquires,” the Russian Sputnik news agency quoted him as saying on Thursday.
“This is a Turkish national decision. What is important for NATO is that our different systems are working together, that we have what we call interoperability. For this system, there has been no request for integrating it into the NATO air defense system. So that has not been on the table,” Stoltenberg added.
His comments came one day after France said Ankara’s decision to buy a missile defense system from Russia was not a “cause for comment” by NATO allies, in remarks that contrasted with other members that have raised concerns over the deal. “The purchase of military equipment by Turkey is a sovereign choice that does not need to be commented [upon] by members of the Atlantic alliance,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Agnes Romatet-Espagne said in response to a question.
Turkey considers the People’s Protection Units (YPG) a terrorist group and an offshoot of the PKK in Syria, while the US-led coalition against the terrorist Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) support the YPG and its political wing PYD in the fight against ISIL.
Erdoğan recently criticized Turkey’s NATO allies for reacting negatively to Turkey’s decision to purchase the S-400 missile system from Russia and suggested Ankara would make its own decisions on what to buy, regardless of NATO’s wishes.
“They went crazy because we made the S-400 agreement. What were we supposed to do, wait for you? We are taking and will take all our own measures on the security front. There are easier ways of doing it, but of course, you cannot talk about everything everywhere. That is why we will take care of ourselves. There is no alternative,” Erdoğan said on Wednesday in a speech addressing ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) mayors in Ankara.
Pentagon spokesman Johnny Michael said on Tuesday that the US has relayed its concerns to Turkish officials over the purchase of an S-400 air defense system from Russia.
In a written statement to CNBC on Tuesday, Michael said that a NATO inter-operable missile defense system remains the best option to defend Turkey from the full range of threats in the region and added, “We have relayed our concerns to Turkish officials regarding the potential purchase of the S-400.”
According to AFP, Moscow confirmed the agreement, with Vladimir Kozhin, Putin’s adviser for military and technical cooperation, saying, “The contract has been signed and is being prepared for implementation.”
“The US and Israel made it extremely difficult for us to buy unmanned aerial vehicles from them. And when they did give them to us, their repair and maintenance caused us a lot of headaches. Now this country [Turkey] has reached the point of producing its own UAVs. And they don’t like that,” added Erdoğan, in reference to the domestic production of armed drones. (SCF with turkishminute.com)