Europe, Russia-Ukraine War

Allies' restrictions on Turkiye's defense industry should be lifted: Turkish president

Secret, open embargoes among allies should not even be raised for discussion, Erdogan says after NATO leaders' summit

Rabia Iclal Turan and Seda Sevencan   | 24.03.2022
 Allies' restrictions on Turkiye's defense industry should be lifted: Turkish president

ISTANBUL

Lifting of restrictions that some of Turkiye's "allies" had placed on the country's defense industry is a "common interest," the president said after the NATO leaders' summit on Thursday.

Speaking at a news conference in Brussels after the extraordinary summit, Recep Tayyip Erdogan said: "While the success of the Turkish defense industry products are evident, there can be no reasonable justification for the obstacles we face in this field."

"It is in our mutual interest to lift the restrictions on our defense industry that have been implemented by some of our allies themselves," he added.

"Secret and open embargoes among allies" should not even be raised for discussion, let alone implemented, he stressed.

Noting that he had conveyed Turkiye's expectations on this issue with allied leaders attending the summit, Erdogan said Ankara would continue contributing to NATO's deterrence and defense measures but expects the same solidarity in return.

Regarding the leaders' summit, Erdogan said: “It is noteworthy that NATO has once again given messages of unity and solidarity after the virtual summit on Feb. 25."

On the Russia-Ukraine war, Erdogan said Turkiye’s strong support for Ukraine’s "territorial integrity and sovereignty" has been "known by everyone" since 2014, adding that his country "has never recognized and will never recognize Crimea’s annexation."

"The destruction and humanitarian tragedy caused by the war are evident. The war-torn cities, hospitals, schools, and houses that have nearly turned into wrecks, and weeping refugees who packed all their assets in one suitcase have all reminded us once again of the bitter face of wars," he said.

“As the conflicts continue, the destruction of the war, unfortunately, increases as well for both sides,” he added.

The Turkish president said he is in close contact with the leaders of both Ukraine and Russia with a "view to putting an immediate end to the war."

Erdogan noted that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy wants Turkiye to mediate in talks with Moscow.

He added that Russia also viewed the Turkish mediation in a positive light, stressing that Ankara continued to be in "intense contact" with both Ukraine and Russia to end the war "as soon as possible."

"If there is a demand for Turkiye's mediation role, we're ready for it," he noted.

Saying his country's main aim was to reconcile the parties, Erdogan added that "any method of approach to the Russia-Ukraine crisis that doesn't prioritize peace will result in disaster."

The trilateral meeting of Turkish, Russian, and Ukrainian foreign ministers in Antalya was a "turning point," he said, noting: "We believe that the final solution should be based on a reliable formula to be accepted by both countries and the international community."

"Ukraine’s sovereignty and independence must be the main priority," he stressed.

Erdogan said he sees some progress in negotiations "with cautious optimism," while also adding that Turkiye is using its powers under the 1936 Montreux Convention to reduce tensions between the two sides.

He also said NATO must act realistically and strategically while maintaining political and practical support for Ukraine in the current war environment.

Repeating his long-time call for reform in the global security architecture, the Turkish president said the UN Security Council in particular "must inevitably be subject to serious reform."

On the ongoing refugee crisis, Erdogan recalled the "past experiences," adding that the "international community does not give a good test" in this issue.

"We regret that desperate people who have to flee their homes and countries are discriminated against based on their eye color, language, belief, and culture," he said.

He said everyone, "particularly European countries," should support, help alleviate the problems of refugees who come to their door.

Since Russia launched the war on Ukraine on Feb. 24, at least 1,035 civilians have been killed in Ukraine and 1,650 injured, the UN said. It has warned, however, that the exact toll is likely much higher as it has not been able to gain access to areas of increased hostilities.

Over 3.6 million Ukrainians have also fled to the neighboring countries, according to the UN refugee agency.

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