Turkish Minute

Turkish gov’t and parliament condemn US sanctions over purchase of Russian missile defense system

S-400 Triumf surface-to-air missile launchers

Turkey’s vice president, speaker of parliament, foreign ministry, defense minister and four political parties comprising 90 percent of the Turkish parliament have all denounced a US move to sanction Turkey over the purchase of a Russian-made S-400 missile defense system, Turkish media reported on Tuesday.

On Monday, Washington imposed sanctions targeting Turkey’s Presidency of Defense Industry (SSB), its chairman and three senior officials.

“No country’s sanctions will sway Turkey’s determined stance. We condemn this decision and call on the US to step back from this mistake as soon as possible,” Vice President Fuat Oktay tweeted on Tuesday.

Parliament Speaker Mustafa Şentop said the sanctions ill fit the spirit of alliance. “We will continue to take every step necessary for the defense of our country,” he said on Twitter.

Turkey’s Foreign Ministry denounced the sanctions in a written statement.

“We condemn and reject the decision to impose unilateral sanctions against Turkey as announced today by the US in the context of Turkey’s acquisition of S-400 air defense systems,” the ministry said.

Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said US sanctions over Ankara’s purchase of the Russian defenses had shaken all values in the alliance and called for renewed cooperation between the NATO allies.

“This sanctions decision has shaken all values in our countries’ alliance,” Akar said. “Returning to cooperation and solidarity with the United States … will provide an important contribution to regional and global peace and security.”

The deputy chair of Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) also called for the US to “immediately” reconsider its sanctions decision, adding that the move will not stand in the way of the country’s defense industry goals.

“On the eve of new Turkey-US relations, the US declaration of unilateral sanctions against our country is extremely irrational and damaging to the future of our relations,” Numan Kurtulmuş said on Twitter.

The Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the IYI (Good) Party, two opposition parties forming the national alliance, signed a joint statement denouncing the sanctions also signed by the ruling AKP and its ally, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).

“The wrong step taken by the US cannot be reconciled with the spirit of alliance. It is obvious that it won’t do any favors for our bilateral ties, which should progress based on mutual respect. Turkey does its part to contribute to peace and stability. It is among the respectable and indispensable members of NATO,” the joint statement said, calling on the US to urgently retreat from “a grave mistake.”

CHP spokesman Ünal Çeviköz also condemned the sanctions, saying Turkey had to purchase the S-400s, calling on the government to activate the missile system.

Meral Akşener, chair of the IYI Party, labeled the US move as “impertinent,” saying that it is not in accord with the alliance and friendship between the two countries.

Communications Director Fahrettin Altun, meanwhile, described the decision as “illogical,” “inconclusive” and “against the spirit of partnership.”

Altun stressed that Turkey has acted to ensure its national security as well as to support regional and global stability, not to create tension with any country.

“Our commitment to our national sovereignty is unshakable and closed to the impact of sanctions threats,” Altun said.

The sanctions include a ban on all US export licenses and authorizations to Turkey’s Presidency of Defense Industries as well as asset freezes and visa restrictions against the organization’s president and three other senior officials.

Turkey and the US have been at odds since Ankara’s procurement of the Russian S-400s as they are incompatible with NATO systems.

In 2019 the White House removed Turkey from the F-35 joint strike fighter program over concerns that Ankara’s decision to enter a missile defense relationship with Moscow would compromise the security of the program’s sensitive cutting-edge technology.

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