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Turkey strongly rejects US sanctions decision

Turkish officials stress country's decisive stance on taking every step to achieve its national defense industry goals

Burak Bir, Seda Sevencan and Merve Berker  | 15.12.2020 - Update : 15.12.2020
Turkey strongly rejects US sanctions decision


Turkish officials denounced a US decision to impose sanctions on Turkey over its purchase of the Russian S-400 missile defense system.

Criticizing the move, Vice President Fuat Oktay said the sanctions will only boost the country's determination to strengthen its national interests and defense industry under the leadership of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

"No country's sanctions will sway Turkey's determined stance. We condemn this decision and call on the US to step back from this mistake as soon as possible," Oktay said on Twitter.

Parliament Speaker Mustafa Sentop said the sanctions ill fit the spirit of alliance. "We will continue to take every step with determination necessary for the defense of our country," he said on Twitter.

Presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin also stressed Turkey's determined stance in the face of sanctions, adding that Turkey will decisively continue to take steps to achieve its defense industry goals.

"No decision taken abroad towards myself or our institutions will change the stance of me or my team," Ismail Demir, head of Turkey's Defense Industry Presidency -- which the sanctions specifically target -- tweeted after the sanctions announcement.

The sanctions will not be able to hinder the Turkish defense industry in any way, he added.

The acting chair of Turkey's ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party called for the US to "immediately" reconsider its sanctions decision, adding that the move will not stand in the way of the country's defense industry goals.

"On the eve of new Turkey-US relations, the US declaration of unilateral sanctions against our country is extremely irrational and desperate for the future of our relations," Numan Kurtulmus said on Twitter.

In a written statement, Turkey's Foreign Ministry denounced the sanctions.

"We condemn and reject the decision to impose unilateral sanctions against Turkey as announced today by the US in the context of Turkey's acquisition of S-400 air defense systems," the ministry said.

Communications Director Fahrettin Altun, meanwhile, described the decision as illogical, inconclusive and against the spirit of partnership.

Altun stressed that Turkey has acted to ensure its national security, as well as to support regional and global stability, not to create tension with any country.

"Our commitment to our national sovereignty is unshakable and closed to the impact of sanctions threats, said Altun.

"Instead of targeting Turkey with sanctions, we expect the US, our NATO ally, to support our fight against terrorist organizations and third parties pursuing manipulative accounts in our region. The strategic partnership between Turkey and the US is too important to be sacrificed for short-term political goals or for the sake of pleasing anti-Turkish lobbies."

He added: "We continue to believe that the US will return from this grave mistake without delay."

US sanctions

The US Treasury Department on Monday imposed sanctions on Turkey over its purchase of the Russian S-400 missile defense system.

The sanctions, coming under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), target Turkey's Defense Industries (SSB) Presidency, including its head Demir and three other officials.

US Secretary of State  Mike Pompeo said in a statement that the SSB knowingly engaged in a significant transaction with Rosoboronexport, Russia's main arms export entity, by procuring the S-400 surface-to-air missile system.

"The sanctions include a ban on all US export licenses and authorizations to SSB and an asset freeze and visa restrictions on Dr. Ismail Demir, SSB’s president, and other SSB officers," he added.

President Donald Trump said in June 2019 that his predecessor President Barack Obama had treated Turkey unfairly when Ankara requested to purchase US Patriot missile defense systems.

In April 2017, when its protracted efforts to buy an air defense system from the US proved fruitless, Turkey signed a contract with Russia to acquire the S-400 shield. 

Opposing deployment of the Russian system, US officials claimed that they would be incompatible with NATO systems and would expose next-generation F-35 jets to possible Russian subterfuge. 

Turkey, however, stressed that the S-400 would not be integrated into NATO systems, and posed no threat to the alliance or its armaments. 

Turkey also proposed a commission to clarify any technical issues, but the US has failed to respond. 

Ankara has also rebuffed suggestions from US leaders that it leave the Russian S-400 system inactivated to avoid sanctions. 

The S-400 is seen as one of the most advanced missile systems in the world, capable of tracking several targets simultaneously.

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