Turkey, Politics

Russian S-400 order arriving in July: Turkish president

Recep Tayyip Erdogan says Turkey will not take step back from its order of Russian S-400 air defense system

Muhammet Emin Avundukluoglu   | 25.06.2019
Russian S-400 order arriving in July: Turkish president


Turkey will start receiving its order of Russian S-400 air defense systems in July, according to the Turkish president.

"We will hopefully start receiving the S-400 air defense systems which we ordered next month," Recep Tayyip Erdogan told his ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party's parliamentary group.

Erdogan said the S-400 issue is directly related to Turkey's sovereignty rights.

"We will not take a step back from this," he added.

Tensions between the U.S. and Turkey have escalated in recent months over the S-400 purchase, which Washington said will jeopardize Turkey's role in the F-35 fighter jet program and could trigger sanctions.

Following protracted efforts to purchase an air defense system from the U.S. with no success, Ankara decided in 2017 to purchase the Russian S-400s.

U.S. officials urged Turkey to buy U.S. Patriot missiles, arguing the Russian system would be incompatible with NATO systems and expose the F-35s to possible Russian subterfuge.

Turkey, however, emphasized the S-400 would not be integrated into NATO systems and would not pose a threat to the alliance.

Turkey has urged formation of a commission to clarify any technical issues, but the U.S. has failed to respond to this proposal.

Istanbul mayoral election rerun

Turning to last Sunday's Istanbul revote, Erdogan said “there is no offense at the nation or blaming the nation" over the poll, which saw an opposition candidate win the mayor’s seat.

Main Opposition Republican People's Party's (CHP) candidate Ekrem Imamoglu won the do-over election by receiving 54.21% of the votes (4,741,870) according to the unofficial results.

The election was a rerun from the March 31 local elections, ordered in Istanbul after election authorities ruled the polls suffered from irregularities and illegalities.

Erdogan added: "With its will on March 31 and June 23, the nation, said, 'No stopping, let’s move on down the road'."

With 100% of ballots counted, Imamoglu received more than 800,000 votes than ruling AK Party's candidate Binali Yildirim.

After the results, both Erdogan and Yildirim congratulated Imamoglu on his victory.

Asked about any possible cabinet reshuffle in the wake of the do-over polls, Erdogan said it will be the decision of the ruling party.

“If [the cabinet reshuffle] needed, we will do it. It will not be upon an order [of others].

Eastern Mediterranean issue

Turkey would not allow any initiative that ignores Turkish Cypriots' rights in the Eastern Mediterranean, Erdogan said. 

He criticized Greek premier Alexis Tsipras's remarks on Turkey's rights in the region.

"We have rights there. Our drilling vessels will continue their search operations and our armed forces will take the necessary steps," said Erdogan.

After an EU meeting in Brussels on June 20, Tsipras said: "I hope the EU sends a clear message to Turkey to stop its illegal activities in [Greek] Cyprus’s Exclusive Economic Zone."

Turkey has consistently contested the Greek Cypriot administration’s unilateral drilling in the Eastern Mediterranean, asserting that Turkish Cypriots also have rights to the resources in the region and that Ankara has the right to conduct hydrocarbon drilling.

Turkey’s Fatih drillship launched offshore operations on May 3 in an area 75 kilometers (42 nautical miles) off the western coast of the island, and is set to be joined by another drillship, Yavuz.

"France has nothing to say on this issue. Turkey is a guarantor of [Cyprus issue], Greece is a guarantor, England is a guarantor," Erdogan stressed.

On June 14, French President Emmanuel Macron called on Turkey to stop "illegal activities in Cyprus's exclusive economic zone."

"I want to reiterate my solidarity with Cyprus and my support and respect for its sovereignty. Turkey must stop its illegal activities in Cyprus’s exclusive economic zone," he said.

In 1974, following a coup aimed at Cyprus’ annexation by Greece, Turkey intervened as a guarantor power. In 1983, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus was founded. 

The decades since have seen several attempts to resolve the dispute, all ending in failure.

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