MADRID – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will meet US President Joe Biden – who wants to sell Turkey more F-16’s – at a NATO meeting in Madrid June 28-29 but refuse to talk to Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.
Erdogan said the focus of talks with Biden would be the United States’“stalling” over Turkey’s request to purchase new F-16 fighter jets. He added that there are “diversionary tactics” at play, but did not elaborate.
Erdogan also said he was frustrated with a growing US military presence in Greece after the countries renewed a military co-operation deal that could see more American bases.
He also complained that the US is “fixated” over Turkey’s purchase of Russian-made S-400 missile defense systems that underine the security of NATO and, like the F-16’s, could be used against Greece in a conflict.
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Erdogan also refused to abide by European Union sanctions against Russia over the invasion of Ukraine and wants to buy US F-35 fighter jets too that were denied after Turkey bought the missile defenses from Russia, an ideological enemy of NATO.
“A bilateral meeting with Mitsotakis is not possible. I have said so before, which means that you are not paying attention to what we are saying,” Erdogan told reporters before leaving for the Spanish capital.
The meeting is being held to discuss the hopes of Finland and Sweden – European countries like Greece – of joining the defense alliance but Erdogan said he would block it, claiming they harbor terrorist groups.
But some analysts said Erdogan’s threat of a veto is aimed at getting concessions, including the F-16’s from the United States after he was irked that Mitsotaking, addressing the Congress, urged lawmakers to reject it.
That set off the Turkish leader to say he would no longer talk to Mitsotakis whom he said “doesn’t exist” for him and now he said he will stick by that at the NATO meeting although Mitsotakis hoped they would talk.
“That door has closed until they get their act together and when they do, then we can clarify the roadmap and to what extent meetings can take place,” Erdogan said about possibly reopening communication.
He has, however, allowed his defense chief to talk to Greece’s Defense Minister, the two saying they wanted talks to go on although Erdogan said they won’t and that they are broken off.