Politics

Turkey’s S-400 purchase ‘move for security’: Opposition

IYI Party deputy slams US, NATO attitude towards Turkey over its purchase of Russian missile defense system

Muhammet Emin Avundukluoglu   | 19.07.2019
Turkey’s S-400 purchase ‘move for security’: Opposition

ANKARA

Turkey’s S-400 purchase is a move to defend its national security against threats surrounding it, an opposition party deputy said Friday.

"We are a state. We preserve our sovereignty rights, and we use them to defend our national security," Yavuz Agiralioglu, the deputy chairman of IYI (Good) Party told Anadolu Agency.

He said that the attitude the U.S. and NATO assumed towards Turkey during the purchase process of Russian S-400 anti-air system has not complied with the “spirit of alliance”.

"Our Foreign Ministry needs to carefully examine whether the U.S. and NATO are trying to push us toward a Russian-Iranian axis on purpose, or if they are trying to push Turkey out of the alliance," he said.

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

The delivery of S-400 components began last week, with 15 shipments of related equipment having landed so far in Turkey over the last six days.

Deliveries are set to continue through April 2020.

Agiralioglu said NATO "has left Turkey alone" against security threats arising from Syria.

"Our relations with NATO had ups and downs before. The procurement process of S-400 missiles begun after our NATO ally U.S. has supplied weapons to PKK/PYD that is just 25 kilometers [15.5 miles] away from our southern border," he stressed.

The U.S. has allied itself with the PKK/YPG to fight Daesh in Syria. Turkey has long objected to the U.S. giving support and weapons to the PKK/YPG/PYD, arguing that using one terrorist group to fight another makes no sense.

"… these weapons were killing our children,” he said. "This means we are not allies anymore, but we are enemies.”

The U.S. pledged to track all weapons sent to the PKK/PYD and share the information with Turkey.

However, Turkey’s National Security Council said in June 2017 that some weapons sent to Syria had been seized in raids on the PKK in Turkey.

Eastern Mediterranean

"It is impossible for us to take a even a tiny step back from our rights in the Eastern Mediterranean," Agirlioglu said.

"If we take a step back, we let our sovereignty rights be violated," he stressed.

The opposition deputy expressed support for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan over the Eastern Mediterranean issue.

"We can discuss Erdogan's domestic policy. However, we should band together -- I am not referring just to the S-400 issue -- for the security issues related to our state and all of our nation," he added.

Turkey has consistently contested the Greek Cypriot administration’s unilateral drilling in the Eastern Mediterranean, asserting that the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) also has rights to the resources in the area.

Since this spring, Ankara has sent two drilling vessels -- Fatih and most recently Yavuz -- to the Eastern Mediterranean, asserting the rights of Turkey and the TRNC over the resources of the region.

The Turkish-flagged drillship Fatih launched offshore drilling operations this May in an area 75 kilometers (42 nautical miles) off the western coast of the island of Cyprus.

Athens and Greek Cypriots have opposed the move, threatening to arrest the ships’ crews and enlisting EU leaders to join their criticism.

In 1974, following a coup aiming at Cyprus’ annexation by Greece, Ankara had to intervene as a guarantor power. In 1983, the TRNC was founded.

The decades since have seen several attempts to resolve the Cyprus dispute, all ending in failure. The latest one, held with the participation of the guarantor countries -- Turkey, Greece, and the U.K. -- ended in 2017 in Switzerland.

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