Türkİye, Politics, World

No change of course from Turkey on F-35s, S-400s: President

Favoring terror groups that your ally is fighting is 'historic mistake,' says Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Enes Kaplan  | 17.06.2021 - Update : 17.06.2021
No change of course from Turkey on F-35s, S-400s: President


Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told his US counterpart this week that Ankara will not change course on F-35 fighter jets or Russian S-400 missile defense systems, he said on Thursday.

"I told (Joe Biden), don't expect us, as Turkey, to take a different step on either the F-35 or S-400 issue because we did our part on the F-35s," Erdogan told reporters in the Azerbaijani capital Baku, referring to his Monday recent face-to-face meeting with the US president at a NATO summit in Brussels.

In 2019 the US suspended Turkey from the F-35 program after objecting to its buying Russian S-400 missile defense, claiming the Russian system would endanger the fighter jets. Turkey has said repeatedly that there is no conflict between the two, and proposed a commission to study this issue. Turkey has also said it fulfilled its obligations on the F-35s and that its suspension was against the rules.

Fight against terrorism in northern Syria

On the US stance towards the fight against terrorism, especially in northern Syria, Erdogan also underlined that it was a "historic mistake" for a country to favor terrorist groups that its ally is fighting against, instead of siding with its ally that is being targeted by terrorism.

"Those who support terrorist groups and encourage them will sooner or later realize what a big mistake they made," he added.

Turkey has long objected to US support for the YPG/PKK in northern Syria, a group the US claims it is allied with to fight Daesh/ISIS. Turkey has said using one terrorist group to fight another makes no sense.

In its more than 35-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK – listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the US, and the EU – has been responsible for the deaths of 40,000 people, including women, children, and infants. The YPG is the PKK’s Syrian branch.

Erdogan told how he presented a book on Turkey’s counter-terrorism efforts to the leaders he met at the NATO summit, saying Turkey has once again conveyed its fight against the YPG/PKK, Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), and Daesh/ISIS at the highest level to its counterparts.

"We will continue our fight against terrorism. We do this for our country, our region, for global peace and justice. Terrorism is a universal challenge," he underlined.

Turkey has proven its power in Syria and Libya with its armed forces, and security forces, and will continue to do so, said Erdogan, adding: "I spoke about this very clearly with Biden."

Zangezur corridor

He added that Moscow was being "helpful" on the opening of the Zangezur corridor between western Azerbaijan and the Nakhchivan autonomous region, and said he would soon meet again with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"This route will naturally provide great opportunities for Azerbaijan. Likewise, it will provide great advantages to Armenia. Russia also has a positive view on this issue," he stressed.

It is an important corridor, he said, adding: "I hope that it will add considerable wealth to the agriculture of the region."

Zangezur was part of Azerbaijan, but in the 1920s, the Soviets gave the region to Armenia. With this, Azerbaijan lost its link with Nakhchivan, an autonomous republic, and some parts of the railway between the two regions were destroyed.

Once those parts are repaired, Azerbaijan will be able to reach Iran, Armenia, and the Nakhchivan exclave uninterruptedly by train.

Cooperation with Azerbaijan

Speaking on cooperation between Turkey and Azerbaijan in the field of energy, he said the two currently have solidarity with Azerbaijan from the Trans Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline (TANAP) and Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP).

The two countries might cooperate in third countries such as Libya, even on refining, he said.

"I proposed this to Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev. He also said he would be pleased with such a thing and that they could take such a step themselves," Erdogan said.

Inaugurated in 2019, TANAP has a capacity of 16 billion cubic meters (bcm) to deliver 6 bcm to Turkey. Another 10 bcm is delivered to Europe via TAP.

TAP began the transport of commercial gas from Azerbaijan to Europe last Dec. 31. It connects with the 878-kilometer (546-mile) TANAP at the Turkish-Greek border in Kipoi and crosses Greece and Albania and the Adriatic Sea before coming ashore in Southern Italy.

Departure of US-led NATO force from Afghanistan

Turkey is one of the countries that make the most efforts for stability and peace in Afghanistan, Erdogan said.

"We will continue to make contributions to the establishment of a sustainable environment of peace in Afghanistan, where we are with the NATO mission," he added.

After the US decision to withdraw from Afghanistan, Turkey can take on much more responsibility there, he underlined.

"I believe that we will make the peace process permanent with the constructive contributions of all parties in Afghanistan and the countries of the region," he said.

President Joe Biden has announced that all US forces would withdraw from Afghanistan by Sept. 11, and NATO allies are following suit.

According to the United States Central Command, the US withdrawal from Afghanistan is more than half done.

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