Turkey’s decision to procure S-400 air defense systems from Russia is not a shift of the axis of the country, a senior ruling party official has said, underlining that it has to increase its defense capabilities in a highly unstable neighborhood.
“Turkey has just one axis. It’s its own axis,” Numan Kurtulmuş, deputy leader of the Justice and Development Party (AKP), said in an interview with the private broadcaster, CNNTürk, on May 20 in Ankara.
Kurtulmuş was responding to a question whether this purchase would mean a shift in Turkey’s axis from NATO towards Russia. Turkey will deploy anti-ballistic missile systems from Russia despite strong opposition of the United States, which has made sanctions threats against its NATO ally.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has reiterated that it was a done deal and Turkey is not planning to retreat from its agreement with Russia, which foresees the deployment of the first parts of the weaponry in June or July.
“Turkey has to be strong and therefore needs to develop its capabilities,” Kurtulmuş said, recalling that the country has been subject to scores of missile attacks from Syria since the turmoil began in 2011.
“We demand the Patriots (air defense systems) from the U.S., and they say ‘No.’ But we need defense. And now they oppose our decision to supply from other countries as well,” he added.
“This S-400 issue is not a fantasy and not an effort to shift Turkey’s axis. It’s about security and Turkey has to procure them until it develops its own weapons. We have arrived to this point because the U.S. has not introduced similar conditions (with Russia) to us,” he added.
Kurtulmuş refuted claims that the deployment of S-400s would risk NATO equipment in Turkey, recalling NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg’s statement on the fact that each allied country has the sovereign right to supply weapons.
Hurriyet Daily News