The talks with Russia on the second batch of S-400s continue as planned and no country can determine Turkey’s moves on defense, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Friday.
“We don’t know what the incoming Biden administration would say but we’re not in a position to ask for permission,” Erdoğan told reporters, as he reiterated Turkey’s determination to proceed with the S-400 deal despite U.S. opposition.
Erdoğan noted that Turkey will hold talks with Russia regarding the second batch of the S-400s by the end of January.
“We are a NATO member and will not accept any fellow members to shape our policy,” Erdoğan said, as he noted that the U.S. has failed to give Turkey the F-35s even though Ankara had paid for them already.
Referring to the U.S.’s failure to give the F-35s a “mistake,” Erdoğan said he hopes the incoming Biden administration will take positive steps in this regard.
In December, the U.S. imposed sanctions on Turkey’s Presidency of Defense Industries (SSB) and its chief Ismail Demir over the country’s purchase of the Russian S-400 missile defense system.
Ties between NATO allies Turkey and the United States were badly strained last year over Ankara’s acquisition of the advanced S-400 Russian air defense system, prompting Washington to remove Turkey from its F-35 Lightning II jet program.
The U.S. argued that the system could be used by Russia to covertly obtain classified details on the Lockheed Martin F-35 jets and is incompatible with NATO systems. Turkey, however, insists that the S-400 would not be integrated into NATO systems and would not pose a threat to the alliance.
Previous talks between Turkey and the U.S. on the purchase of Patriots collapsed over a host of issues, from the S-400s to Ankara’s dissatisfaction with Washington’s terms. Turkey has said it will only agree to an offer if it includes a technology transfer and joint production terms.
Ankara has repeatedly stressed it was the U.S.’ refusal to sell Patriots that led it to seek other sellers, adding that Russia had offered a better deal, including technology transfers. Turkey even proposed setting up a commission to clarify any technical issues. During a visit to Washington last November, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan met his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump and agreed on setting up a working group.
Meanwhile, regarding Turkey’s relations with the EU, Erdoğan said Turkey has been trying its best to keep relations favorable.
“Unfortunately, the EU has not kept any of its promises,” Erdoğan said, adding that the relations have entered a new phase amid ongoing developments like the Eastern Mediterranean issue.
He said the relaunch of exploratory talks with Greece is a positive development.