Erdoğan calls on NATO allies to end arms embargoes on Turkey

by Cristian Florescu

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Thursday called on NATO allies to end arms embargoes on his country following a summit meeting of the alliance as he praised the success of Turkish-made drones in the ongoing war in Ukraine, writes

Turkey expected “solidarity from our allies” as it contributes to the bloc’s defence and deterrence capabilities with war raging in Europe, Bloomberg cited Erdoğan as saying, referring to Turkish drones used by Ukraine against the Russian invasion.

“There can be no logical explanation for obstacles that we’ve been facing amid the success of Turkish defence products,” Erdoğan said. “It is in our common interest to remove the restrictions placed on our defence industry by some of our allies.”

Turkey has for years voiced concerns over the refusal of its Western partners, including the United States, Canada, the U.K., Germany and France, to provide missile-defence systems as well as critical equipment, including engines for tanks, warplanes, drones and helicopters developed by Turkish companies.

Most of those countries maintain concerns over Turkey’s acquisitions potentially bolstering Turkish military offensives against a Kurdish insurgency on its own soil and in neighbouring Syria and Iraq.

 Turkey’s acquisition of the S-400 in July 2019 caused a serious rupture in relations with its largest ally. Washington responded by booting the Turkish Air Force out of the F-35 joint strike fighter programme and ended the participation of Turkish firms in the industrial production of parts for the jet. Prior to its expulsion, the Turkish military planned to acquire 120 F-35s.

In December 2020, the outgoing Trump administration levied sanctions against Turkish defence industry officials and its main procurement agency after the first operational test of the S-400 in October 2020. Prior to this test, a tacit agreement between Washington and Ankara existed where the sanctions would be avoided if the S-400 remained in storage

Erdoğan on Thursday also said Turkey was engaged in “intense” contact with Russia and Ukraine to end the war, adding that a solution to the conflict should be based on a formula accepted by both sides and the international community.

Russia and Ukraine, whose war has entered its fourth week, are in agreement on technical issues at peace talks, state-run Anadolu news agency cited Erdoğan telling reporters following a NATO summit in Brussels, but the countries are unable to make progress over territorial matters such as Crimea.

Turkey, which maintains good relations with Kyiv and Moscow, has criticized Russia’s invasion of Ukraine that began on February 24 as unacceptable but has also pledged to maintain its close relations with both countries.

Ankara has offered to act as a mediator between the two sides and earlier this month hosted the countries’ foreign ministers in a meeting that failed to yield results. A maritime neighbour to both countries, Turkey has also closed the Turkish Straits at the entrance of the Black Sea to some Russian warships but has stopped short of imposing sanctions on Moscow.

Calling on NATO to act realistically and strategically, the Turkish president urged the alliance to maintain political, practical support for Ukraine in the current war environment.

Turkey will continue to contribute to NATO’s deterrence, defence measures based on alliance solidarity, Erdoğan said, adding he expects the same solidarity from NATO.

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