Türkiye, France, Italy discuss joint defence missile system

Turkish foreign minister said President Erdogan’s contacts with French and Italian leaders in Brussels were about joint production of Eurosam‘s SAMP/T defence systems Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said France and Italy are curious to have joint production in Türkiye to export SAMP/T defence systems. (AA) Joint Turkish production of a European missile system was discussed when the Turkish president met with Italian and French leaders in Brussels earlier this week, according to Türkiye’s top diplomat

During NATO meetings in Brussels on the Ukraine war, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met with his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi “and the main issue was the Eurosam SAMP/T and defence system,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told CNBC's Hadley Gamble at the Doha Forum on Saturday

Eurosam “is a joint venture of France and Italy. And we signed an agreement, a letter of intention with Eurosam like eight years ago, (but) nothing happened until today. Now those two countries are most curious to have joint production in Türkiye to export SAMP/T, the air defence system, to my country,” Cavusoglu explained

Transferring S-400s 'out of question'

Asked whether after its purchase of Russian S-400 missile defence, Türkiye might buy more such systems from Russia, Cavusoglu said that Turkiye purchased the S-400s and it is a “done deal.”

Touching on rumors that Turkiye might give its S-400 system to Ukraine, Cavusoglu said this “is out of the question.”

Türkiye needs more air defence systems, and would prefer to buy them from the US or other allies, he said, but added: “If we cannot purchase from our allies, I have to find another source.”

Türkiye bought the S-400s after years of efforts to buy US Patriot missiles were rebuffed. After the S-400 purchase, the US suspended Türkiye from the F-35 jet program and imposed sanctions

Both Turkiye and the US have expressed interest in resolving the dispute

Natural gas, defence industry

Pointing out that Turkiye's natural gas dependence on Russia has fallen from 51 percent four years ago to less than 40 percent now, Cavusoglu said: “We are diversifying and finding new energy sources, and we are also investing a lot in renewables.”

On defence products, he said that Turkiye currently produces more than 70 percent of its defense needs

Explaining that they are also working on an air defense system, Cavusoglu said that they are also trying to find alternatives to meet Turkiye’s air defense system needs

Sanctioned wealthy Russians

Asked about Russian oligarchs, who have faced new Western sanctions since the war began last month, he said: “We implement UN-approved sanctions, so if any Russian citizens want to visit Turkiye, of course, they can visit Turkiye. Now Russians are coming to Turkiye, as tourists. that's no problem.”

If you mean that whether these oligarchs can do any business in Turkiye, then of course, if it is legal, and if it is not against international law,” then that is okay, he said

He added: “(But) I will consider if it is against international law, then that is another story.”

On Russia’s war on Ukraine, Cavusoglu added: “Our job is to actually have them (Russia and Ukraine) find this face-saving way out.”

Cavusoglu added that in the end Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelenskyy will make the final decision, “so that's why we have been also trying to bring them together.”

Cavusoglu showed skepticism on Ukraine’s wish for NATO membership, saying: “I think Ukraine understood that that NATO membership will not happen. It was not going to happen anyway. And many European allies were against this NATO membership of Ukraine and Georgia. So Ukraine understood this perfectly.”

Saying that Ukraine does not have the luxury of choosing between West and East, or between Europe and Russia, he underlined that Turkiye and Ukraine, as countries in the region, should have a balanced foreign policy with all

The 20th edition of the Doha Forum kicked off in the Qatari capital on Saturday

The RussiaUkraine war, which began on Feb. 24, has met international outrage, with the EU, US and UK, among others, implementing tough financial sanctions on Moscow

At least 1,035 civilians have been killed in Ukraine and 1,650 injured, according to UN estimates, while cautioning that the true figure is likely far higher

More than 3.7 million Ukrainians have also fled to neighboring countries, with millions more displaced inside the country, according to the UN refugee agency

Source: AA