ANKARA – Not mentioning the purchase of the S-400 missile defense system from Russia – an ideological enemy of NATO – Turkey said Greece’s purchase of French warships and a mutual defense deal with that country undermine the defense alliance.
NATO has said nothing about Turkey repeatedly violating Greek airspace and waters, Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg admitting he wants no part of that dilemma because it’s too politically sensitive.
The Russian missile defense system could be used against Greece, a fellow NATO member, and also compromises the whole defense alliance, which is reluctant to confront Turkey’s volatile President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar told reporters after a NATO defense meeting in Brussels that, “Given that we are inside NATO, everyone should know that the search for various alliances outside of it will both cause harm to NATO and our bilateral relations, and shake confidence.”
Turkey keeps provoking Greece and plans to hunt for energy around Greek islands, bringing fears of a conflict at times, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ complaints being ignored.
Akar said Turkey – which alternates diplomacy with belligerence – still wants talks that it has repeatedly undermined, and he recently met with Greek Defense Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos.
“We had positive, constructive talks with the Greek defense minister. We expect to see positive results from these talks in the period ahead,” Akar said, using diplomatic language that generally means there was no progress.
Separately, Akar said that “technical work has been launched” on obtaining Viper F-16 jets from the United States as well as modernizing warplanes that Turkey already has at the same time Greece re-signed a mutual defense deal with the US.
Washington didn’t confirm Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan’s claim that the US made an offer to Ankara for the sale of F-16 fighter jets but added that it has not made Turkey a financing offer for the warplanes.
He said the US proposed the sale of F-16 fighter jets to Turkey in return for its investment in the F-35 program, Turkey barred from obtaining them after buying the Russian missile defense system.