By Enes Kaplan, Esin Isik, Yildiz Nevin Gundogmus
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday said his country is aiming to produce unmanned tanks.
Erdogan was speaking at the 11th Development Plan Publicity Meeting in Turkish capital Ankara.
He expressed gratitude to manufacturers of unmanned aerial vehicles used in Turkey's counter-terror operation in Afrin and said: "Almost all armored personnel carriers in Afrin are domestically made.”
On Jan. 20, Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch to clear YPG/PKK-Daesh terrorists from Afrin in northwestern Syria.
The Turkish General Staff has said the Afrin operation is aimed at establishing security and stability along Turkish borders and the region as well as protecting Syrians from terrorist oppression and cruelty.
It said the operation was being carried out under the framework of Turkey’s rights based on international law.
The military also said "utmost care and sensitivity" was being put on avoiding harm to civilians.
Speaking about Turkey's unmanned aerial vehicles, Erdogan said Turkey produces its own. "We will take a step further. Now we have to produce unmanned tanks and we will do it."
He said both public and private sectors in Turkey are cooperating in the field of defense.
Erdogan added Turkey’s budget for defense projects was $5.5 billion in 2002 and it has exceeded $41 billion in 2017.
The Turkish president said the country’s exports, which was $36 billion in 2002, have crossed $157 billion in 2017.
"We developed our 2023 vision to make Turkey one of the biggest 10 economies in the world on the 100th anniversary of foundation of Turkish Republic,” he said, and added: "I believe that nations, who are unable to plan their own future, are obliged to be a part of others' plans."
Erdogan said the country has been investing in both physical infrastructure and human resource since 2002, when the Justice and Development (AK) Party came to power.
The president said they enabled Turkey leap forward in all fields with investments towards infrastructures of transportation, energy and agriculture as well as for education and health.
"As it is known, Turkey isn't rich in terms of natural resources compared to many countries in our region… However, we are very good at industrialization based on information and technology,” he added.
Erdogan said that they have increased Turkey's per capita income to the level of $11,000 from $3,500 and "it's a historic achievement.”
He added they have increased Turkey's national income to $863 billion in 2016, which was $236 billion in 2002 and with this growth performance they created 8.3 million jobs in the last 10 years.