Turkey said on Saturday there was no setback in its plan to buy Russian S-400 missile defence systems, despite U.S. opposition, and President Donald Trump expressed understanding for the decision but did not rule out sanctions in response. NATO allies Turkey and the United States have been at odds over Turkey’s decision to procure the S-400s, with the United States warning of sanctions if the deal goes through. Turkey has dismissed the warnings and said it would not back down, as already strained ties between the two countries have deteriorated further over the dispute. Speaking before talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of a G20 summit in Japan, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said the deal for the S-400s showed improving ties between Turkey and Russia. “Now, I believe eyes are on the delivery process of this issue, but there are no setbacks in our agreement,” Erdogan said, adding that it was a priority for Turkey that the deal includes joint production of the systems and a technology transfer. Erdogan also said it was important for Turkey to finish the first reactor in the Akkuyu nuclear power plant, its first nuclear plant, by 2023. He said non-nuclear equipment at the plant should be procured from Turkey. The plant is being built by Russia’s Rosatom at a cost of more than $20 billion. Buying military equipment from Russia leaves Turkey vulnerable to U.S. retribution under a 2017 law known as the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA). The
A newcomer to mainstream politics, Ekrem Imamoglu’s election slogan of “Everything will be great!” has dented the dominance of Erdogan. The pro-government candidate Binali Yildirim has run a mild-mannered campaign focusing on his achievements as prime minister and transport minister. His slogan: “We did it and we’ll do it again.”
Several Kurdish lawmakers and thousands of prison inmates in Turkey have ended their hunger strike after a call from jailed militant leader Abdullah Ocalan, one of the MPs said on Sunday, 200 days after the protest was launched. Pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) lawmaker Leyla Guven began a hunger strike in November in a bid to end Ocalan’s years of isolation by securing him regular access to his family and lawyers. “Comrades who have committed themselves to hunger strikes and death fasts, I expect you to end your protest,” Abdullah Ocalan said in a statement read out by one of his lawyers in Istanbul, four days after they visited him for the second time this month. One of the MPs who had been on hunger strike said at a news conference in Diyarbakir, the largest city in the mainly Kurdish southeast of Turkey, that the protest was ending in response to Ocalan’s call. The resumption of lawyers’ visits came a month before a mayoral election re-run in Istanbul, prompting speculation of steps towards a new peace process four years after Ankara’s talks with Ocalan on ending conflict in the southeast of the country fell apart. However, Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul has denied there is any connection. Ocalan is the founder of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), designated a terrorist group by Turkey, the European Union and United States. He has been held in an island prison since Turkish special forces captured him in Kenya in 1999 and is revered by
Turkey and the United States have been at odds on several fronts including Ankara’s decision to buy the S-400s, which cannot be integrated into NATO systems. Washington says it would jeopardise Turkey’s role in building Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter jets, which it says would be compromised by S-400s.