Erdogan says U.S. sanctions an attack on Turkey's rights

ANKARA (Reuters) – President Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday that U.S. sanctions imposed on Turkey over its purchase of Russian defence systems were an attack on Ankara’s sovereign rights aimed at deterring its defence industry, a move which he said was bound to fail.

FILE PHOTO: Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan speaks during a news conference following a cabinet meeting in Ankara, Turkey, December 14, 2020. Presidential Press Office/Handout via REUTERS

On Monday, Washington imposed the sanctions targeting NATO member Turkey’s Defence Industry Directorate (SSB), its chief Ismail Demir and three other employees over its acquisition of Russian S-400 missile defence systems.

In his first public comments on the move, Erdogan said that problems stemming from the sanctions would be overcome and vowed to ramp up efforts towards an independent defence industry, while criticising Washington for sanctioning a NATO ally.

“What kind of alliance is this? What kind of partnership is this? This decision is an open hostile attack against our country’s sovereign rights,” he said in a televised address.

“The real goal is to block the advances our country started in the defence industry recently and to once again render us absolutely dependent on them,” he added.

“Surely there will be problems, but each problem will push open a door for us for a solution.”

Washington says the S-400s pose a threat to its F-35 fighter jets and to NATO’s broader defence systems. Turkey rejects this and says S-400s will not be integrated into NATO. On Wednesday, Erdogan repeated that the U.S. concerns had no technical basis.

He added that Ankara still produced close to 1,000 parts for the F-35 jets, despite being removed from the programme over the S-400 purchase. Turkey had also been due to buy more than 100 F-35 jets.

Ending his remarks, Erdogan unveiled footage of Turkey’s new domestic missile defence system, HISAR-A+, which he said had been delayed due to an embargo on a part Turkey was importing. He did not say which country Turkey was importing from.

“Thank God, Turkey has long left behind the period of being stuck by such sanctions,” he said.

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