President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has pledged to provide the military with a range of new weapons in the anti-terror fight, signaling the production of more indigenous guns and criticizing a main opposition deputy over recent remarks on the issue.
“We will do whatever is necessary to keep this state alive. We will do this with armed drones and with tanks and cannons. We will do it by equipping our security forces with all necessary weapons,” Erdoğan said on Sept. 13, speaking at a meeting of his ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) mayors in the capital Ankara.
He also slammed a reaction from NATO allies over Ankara’s recent decision to purchase S-400 missile systems from Russia, stating that there had “gone crazy” over the deal.
“They went crazy just because we made the S-400 deal. What were we supposed to do? Wait for you? We are taking care of ourselves. We are taking security measures and will continue to do so,” Erdoğan said.
“America and Israel were always very reluctant to give their unmanned air vehicle products. And when they did give them, their repair and maintenance put us in a difficult position. Now, Turkey can produce its own UAVs, even armed ones. And they are disturbed by that fact. We will do better things. We are taking important steps,” he added.
A day earlier, Erdoğan had declared that Ankara had “signed [an agreement on] S-400s,” and that a deposit had already been paid for the systems.
In addition, he blasted recent remarks by main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Istanbul deputy Sezgin Tanrıkulu, who expressed concern over the use of armed drones in the southeast, which he said have caused civilian casualties.
“Hey, [CHP leader Kemal] Kılıçdaroğlu and the irresponsible ones by his side, the unmanned drones are working to eliminate terrorists who betray this homeland and this nation,” Erdoğan said, claiming that some party deputies are “aching to be on the same side with terrorists.”
“Turkey is a country that has not made any concessions in its policy of avoiding harm to civilians, even during cross-border operations, let alone ones within our borders,” he claimed, adding that no MP has the right to object to success in the country’s anti-terror fight.
Erdoğan also mocked CHP head Kılıçdaroğlu’s recent vow “to end the terror issue in the country within four years” if he is elected.
“Who are you? What will you end? Talk is cheap,” he said.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım also slammed the main opposition party over Tanrıkulu’s remarks.
“What are you against when we defeat, through the opportunities provided by technology, the villainous people who aim guns at security guards, police officers, soldiers and gendarmerie forces?” Yıldırım said, speaking at the same party meeting.
The issue has been hotly-debated since last week, when Tanrıkulu expressed his concerns over reports that an armed drone in the southeastern province of Hakkari had shot four civilians, leaving one dead.
An Ankara prosecutor later filed an indictment against him on Sept. 8, after which Tanrıkulu blasted the move as “unconstitutional.”