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German Chancellor Scholz to block Erdoğan’s request to buy fighter jets: report

Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jets of the Austrian Air Force are seen flying over the Red Bull Ring race track in Spielberg, Austria, on July 7, 2022, prior to the Formula One Austrian Grand Prix. (Photo by JOE KLAMAR / AFP)

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is unlikely to agree to a fresh request by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to buy Eurofighter Typhoon jets due to tensions over a number of issues including Turkey’s condemnation of Israel, according to a special report by Bloomberg.

Erdoğan will probably ask Scholz at a meeting in Berlin on Friday to lift a block on the sale of the fighter aircraft he needs to refresh an aging air force, Bloomberg said, citing Turkish officials familiar with the matter. Germany produces the Eurofighter in a consortium with three other countries.

The chancellor is not expected to consent, Bloomberg cited German officials as saying, as they referred to diplomatic strains between US-led NATO allies and Turkey over the country’s acquisition of air defenses from Russia, its military drive against Kurdish forces in Syria and delay in ratifying Sweden’s membership in NATO.

Erdoğan’s declaration of Israel as a “terrorist state,” while calling Hamas elected rulers and defenders of the Gaza Strip, has added to the list of concerns, Bloomberg cited German officials as saying. Unlike the US and the European Union, Turkey does not see Hamas as a terrorist organization.

“This is a visit by a difficult partner with whom we are discussing a whole range of dossiers,” German government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit was quoted by Bloomberg as saying. He added that Scholz would make clear Germany’s firm position that Israel has a right to defend itself following the deadly Oct. 7 attack by Hamas.

Turkey’s government declined to comment to Bloomberg.

Greek rivalry

Erdoğan is expected to ask for at least 20 Eurofighter Typhoon jets with an option to double that total, Bloomberg cited anonymous Turkish officials as saying. Turkey is keen to secure a deal to respond to rival Greece’s acquisition of Rafale fighter aircraft, according to Turkish officials who spoke to Bloomberg.

Turkey and Greece, neighboring NATO allies, sporadically engage in aerial scraps over long-running territorial disputes ranging from the Aegean Sea to the eastern Mediterranean.

Turkey is overdue to retire its fleet of F-4 planes, and modernizing his country’s air force has become a priority for Erdoğan since the US ousted the country in 2019 from the program to buy — and help build — Lockheed Martin’s more advanced F-35 fighter jet. Turkey had previously agreed to purchase Russian S-400 missile systems, and the US feared that might be used to gather intelligence on the stealth jet.

The US has since indicated that the Turkish parliament’s pending ratification of Sweden’s bid to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization is a prerequisite for agreeing to sell the warplanes, according to Bloomberg.

The Turkish parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee started debating the Nordic nation’s accession to NATO on Thursday, and a ratification could come as early as next week, ahead of a ministerial meeting of the alliance in Brussels later this month.

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