Biden has ‘positive attitude’ about F-16: Erdoğan
US President Joe Biden has shown a “positive attitude” towards Turkey’s purchase and modernization of F-16 fighter jets, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said at summit press conference of the G-20 in Rome on Sunday.
Before the press conference, Biden and Erdoğan held a meeting on the sidelines of the summit. Responding to a question from a reporter regarding Turkey’s purchase of F-16s before the two leaders began their meeting, Biden said they planned to have a “good conversation.”
The United States is discussing ways for Turkey to buy F-16 fighters after a deal for more advanced F-35s is canceled due to Ankara’s purchase of a Russian missile system, reported officials said recently.
Erdoğan said on October 17 that Ankara wanted to buy the cheaper F-16s using the $ 1.4 billion (TL 13.45 billion) allocated to the F-35 fighter program. Erdoğan said Washington offered Ankara a set of F-16 aircraft and modernization kits in return for payment.
But a US official said any possible F-16 order could be hampered by the same issue that forced the F-35s to be canceled: Turkey’s decision to buy an S-400 missile system from Russia. .
Turkey says Ankara still intends to buy a second batch of S-400s from Russia, despite US opposition
U.S. defense officials met their Turkish counterparts in Ankara on Wednesday to resolve remaining issues with the F-35 program, and U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin held talks with his Turkish counterpart Hulusi Akar on Thursday.
A Pentagon statement said that “the meeting demonstrates the commitment of the US government to respectfully conclude Turkey’s prior involvement in the F-35 program.”
Releasing a statement after the 70-minute meeting, Turkey’s presidential communications leadership said the exchange took place in a positive atmosphere and bilateral relations and regional issues were discussed.
During the meeting, the two leaders declared a common will to strengthen and further develop the relations between Turkey and the United States and agreed to establish a joint mechanism in this direction.
When asked if he could “confirm” Biden’s remark on the Eastern Mediterranean, Erdoğan said it was not discussed because the topic was not on Biden’s agenda or of his.
Tensions have again mounted between Turkey and the Greek and Greek Cypriot administrations over maritime borders and drilling rights in the eastern Mediterranean after several months of relative calm.
Greece has often been embroiled in tensions with Turkey over a range of issues, from competing claims over Aegean oil resources to the demilitarization of the islands. Greece’s burgeoning arms program is designed to counter Turkish challenges in the eastern Mediterranean, against which France is one of the few states in the European Union to have offered public support in recent months.
Turkey, which has the longest continental coastline in the eastern Mediterranean, has rejected claims to maritime borders made by EU members, Greece and the Greek Cypriot administration, stressing that these excessive claims violate the sovereign rights of Turkey and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. The two sides cite a series of decades-old international treaties and agreements to support their conflicting territorial claims.
During Erdoğan’s press conference, he spoke of the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic on the global economy, saying that although it has started to recover in 2021, “our economies are still facing challenges. serious challenges “.
Support for terrorism, major tension
He also referred to the continued US support for terrorist organizations in Syria, namely the YPG, a branch of the PKK, saying he had expressed Turkey’s reservations about this.
“I also told him (to Biden) that these issues were steps that could harm our solidarity. I think the process that has gone on so far will not continue like this from now on,” a- he declared.
The PKK is recognized as a terrorist organization by the United States, Turkey and the European Union, and Washington’s support for its Syrian affiliate has weighed heavily on bilateral relations with Ankara. The United States has mainly associated itself with the YPG in northeastern Syria in their fight against the terrorist group Daesh, but Turkey has strongly opposed the presence of the YPG in northern Syria.
Ankara has long opposed US support for the YPG, a group that poses a threat to Turkey and terrorizes the local population, destroying their homes and forcing them to flee. Under the pretext of fighting Daesh, the United States provided military training and military support trucks to the YPG, despite the security concerns of its NATO ally. Emphasizing that one cannot help one terrorist group defeat another, Turkey has carried out its own counterterrorism operations, thanks to which it has succeeded in eliminating a significant number of terrorists from the region.
On climate change, one of the main topics of the G-20 summit in Italy, he said: “It is shameful that the biggest contributors to environmental degradation are spending twice as much to keep migrants away as they don’t spend to fight climate change ”.
The president also said Turkey did not plan to endure another wave of migration from Afghanistan after the Taliban took control in August.
“We (Turkey) are one of the countries that feel the greatest burden of migration from Afghanistan. We (Turkey) know very well both the human security dimension of the migration crisis and what it means to be left alone in the fight against migration, ”he added.
The president also said that Turkey was seeking to chair a task force he suggested establishing on Afghanistan under the auspices of the G-20.
Responding to a question on the new migratory flows from Afghanistan, Erdoğan said that “such a massive migratory flow from Afghanistan is not expected for Turkey at the moment”. He said some 300,000 Afghan migrants are expected according to official figures from the Turkish Interior Ministry.