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Turkish FM: Ties with Russia no alternative to EU

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Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu on Tuesday underscored that Turkey’s relationship with Russia “is not an alternative” to relations with the EU or the US, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

“Our relationship with Russia is not an alternative to our relations with Lithuania or to the European Union or our relations with the United States. … Turkey can balance its foreign policy in this region perfectly,” Çavuşoğlu said at a joint news conference with Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius, following their meeting.

Regarding a delegation from the US Congress visiting Turkey, Çavuşoğlu stressed the significance of dialogue between the US and Turkey.

“[The fact that] members of Congress are coming to Turkey is important because there are different institutions in the US. Different positions, different beliefs. … Of course, there are also members of Congress who know the importance of Turkey and strive for the strengthening of Turkey-US relations,” he added.

Turkey and the US are currently experiencing rocky relations after Washington imposed sanctions on two Turkish Cabinet ministers for not releasing an American pastor standing trial on terrorism-related charges in Turkey.

A delegation led by Congressman Michael Turner, a member of the NATO Parliamentarian Assembly and a Republican congressman representing Ohio’s 10th district, visited Turkey on Monday. The delegation met with Turkish deputies and signaled that if Turkey cancels the purchase of a Russian S-400 missile defense system, Washington could withdraw its block on the delivery of F-35 fighter jets to Turkey.

“We have to protect our airspace. This is a must for us. They should understand that. Can the US give us a guarantee that they’ll sell us Patriots?” Çavuşoğlu said in response to the offer, according to the Hürriyet Daily News.

Çavuşoğlu also pointed to international law regarding the US refusal to transfer F-35s to Turkey.

“We are a partner in the F-35 program, and some parts are produced in Turkey,” he said, calling on the US to “abandon the language of threats” to solve the ongoing diplomatic crisis between the two countries.

“If they say they can do anything they want, like in cowboy movies, then they will get a response,” Çavuşoğlu added.

“Turkey is not one of the states of the United States, Turkey is an independent state. We don’t have to agree on every decision or action of one country against another country, particularly when it is not fair, and not just,” he said, referring to US sanctions on Iran.

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