ISTANBUL, Turkey (Hurriyet Daily News) – Turkey has already paid a deposit to Russia for the purchase of the S-400 anti-ballistic missile system despite opposition from its NATO allies, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said, underlining that both Ankara and Moscow were committed to accomplish the sale process of the high-tech defense equipment.
“Our friends have already signed [an agreement on] S-400s. A deposit has also been paid, as far as I know. The process will continue by the transfer of a credit from Russia to us. Both [Russian President Vladimir] Putin and myself, we are determined on this issue,” Erdoğan told journalists on his return from Kazakhstan on September 10.
Erdoğan’s remarks debunked some news reports published in different Western newspapers that suggested that Turkey will backtrack from purchasing Russian-made anti-ballistic missiles system as they wouldn’t be interoperable with NATO’s radars.
But Erdoğan denied these reports, stressing that no other country has the right to discuss Turkey’s sovereign and independent decisions in upgrading its defense.
“It’s us who will make decisions regarding our independence. We are responsible over taking security measures for the defense of our country,” said Erdoğan. “We’ll save ourselves if we face difficulties in procuring defense systems.”
Recalling that Turkey’s demands to purchase drones from allied countries have not been positively responded to as they were seeking enormous amounts of money, Erdoğan said, “They give tanks, cannons and armored vehicles to the terror organization but we can’t procure some of our needs, although we want to pay the price. What happened in the end? We started to produce our own drones and armed drones. We have killed 90 terrorists [with the armed drones] in the last week,” referring to the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), which the U.S. has been funding in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
When asked about the state of cooperation between Turkey and Russia over Syria especially with concerns that a military operation could take place to expel al-Qaeda-linked terrorists from Idlib, Erdoğan emphasized the importance of a meeting that will take place in Astana on Sept. 14 and 15 with the participation of Turkey, Russia and Iran.
“Currently, the process in Idlib is being run as we agreed with Russia. There are no disputes with Russia on it. No controversy was brought to the agenda during our meeting with Iran. I am of the opinion that healthy talks will continue following the Astana summit. The process is developing positively,” he said.
The three countries will discuss the establishment of de-conflict zones in four different regions in Syria, where they will observe the continuation of a cease-fire between the Syrian regime and opposition groups. Turkey is believed to have deployed monitoring mechanisms in the Idlib region in northern Syria.
Erdoğan also responded to a question over claims that he held a secret meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad at Putin’s request. “Some people are spreading these on purpose. I did not meet al-Assad and I have no intention in meeting him,” he said.
A referendum set to be held on September 25 in northern Iraq by the Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) was also brought to the attention of Erdoğan in the interview. When recalled KRG President Massoud Barzani’s statements that they could even fight for a referendum in the face of Iraqi Turkmen groups’ opposition to include Kirkuk, Erdoğan said he wouldn’t find making emotional assessments on this issue correct.
“First, we should get accurate information from our foreign ministry over these claims. Are these true? We have to see them first to make an evaluation. If we speak about it out of emotions, it would be wrong,” he stressed. Turkey never wants to see Turkmen groups leaving their homelands, Erdoğan stressed, recalling Turkey would do its share to keep them in their territories.
On an ongoing tension with Germany, Erdoğan stressed that the problem is not with German people but with their government. “We feel resentful toward the German government because of some of their wrong stances. Yes, they are in an election period. But we don’t care much on who will win the polls. This is Germany’s internal issue,” he said.
Calling on German leaders to bring an end to these policies against Turkey, Erdoğan stated, “We have seen what they have done during our referendum process. We will surely not give concession of our honor as the Republic of Turkey should these attacks against us continue. We cannot deem Germany’s abetting of terrorists normal.”