Turkey to seek for alternative in case not getting F-35 jets

Purchase of air defense system urgent need, Turkey had to buy S-400 missile defense system from Russia, foreign minister says

Tugrul Cam   | 28.08.2019
Turkey to seek for alternative in case not getting F-35 jets

TALLINN, Estonia / ANKARA, Turkey

Turkey needs warplane. If it does not get F-35 fighter jets, the country will seek for alternatives, but it does not prefer that, Turkey's foreign minister said on Wednesday.

The purchase of air missile system was an urgent need for Turkey and it had to buy the S-400 missile defense system from Russia, Mevlut Cavusoglu said at a joint news conference with his Estonian counterpart Urmas Reinsalu in the Estonian capital Tallinn.

Nowadays, the U.S. is stirring up trouble. But Turkey is still part of this 9-partner F-35 program, Cavusoglu added.

Turkey produces some parts of the F-35 fighter jets and also is a partner of the F-35 program. It wants to buy F-35s, he said.

Touching on the relations between Turkey and Russia, he said Russia's presence in the region is a reality. ''Turkey has good economic relations with Russia.''

Moreover, he said even if some difficulties were faced in Syria due to Assad regime’s aggression, Turkey and Russia are trying to overcome them through the Astana and Sochi processes.

Also, speaking on his visit on Tuesday to Russia with President Erdogan, Cavusoglu said Turkey has excellent relations with Ukraine and with Estonia. "We have been supporting Ukraine's causes and Ukraine's territorial integrity."

"We never recognized the illegal annexation of Crimea, which is sometimes forgotten by some other Western countries, including EU member states. But Baltic states such as Estonia and Turkey also raise this issue."

Turkey's relation with Russia is not an alternative to its relation with Ukraine. Also, its relation with Russia and with any other countries is not an alternative to its NATO membership or the relation with EU, he noted. 

Russia was suspended from the G8 in 2014 due to its annexation of Crimea as well as its political and military support for separatists in eastern Ukraine. 

Conflicting parties signed the Minsk cease-fire agreement in February 2015, but the fighting continued, claiming more than 10,000 lives, according to the UN.

The Astana peace process, aimed at ending the Syrian conflict, was launched in January 2017 by Russia and Iran, allies of the regime, and Turkey. So far 13 rounds of talks have been conducted in Astana, Kazakhstan.

Syria has been locked in a vicious civil war since early 2011, when the Bashar al-Assad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests with unexpected ferocity.

Since then, hundreds of thousands of people have been killed and more than 10 million others displaced, according to UN officials.

Moreover, commenting on relations between Turkey and Estonia, Cavusoglu said Turkey and Estonia have excellent relations. The two countries are not only NATO allies but also reliable partners.

The two countries agreed that they should establish a trade and economic commission, he underlined. 

Meanwhile, discussing the security issues in the meeting, Urmas Reinsalu for his part said Turkey is an important NATO ally and also one of the best participants of the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence.

Also, touching upon the EU-Turkey relations, Reinsalu said this is a momentum when the friends have to speak to each other. 

Russia and Ukraine have been at loggerheads since 2014, when Russia annexed Crimea after a controversial referendum.

Turkey, as well as the UN General Assembly, viewed the annexation as illegal.

Ukraine has also blamed Kremlin for separatist violence in eastern Ukraine, near the border with Russia.

The situation aggravated after the Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 was shot down over eastern Ukraine en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, killing all 283 passengers and 15 crew members on board, including 28 Australians.

Kiev put responsibility on the pro-Russian militants in Donbass. In turn, Moscow accuses Ukraine of shooting down the plane.

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