US promises Turkey ‘constraints’ in relations as it kicks it out of F-35 program over S-400

Washington is cutting Ankara out of the F-35 program, because the stealth fighter “cannot coexist” alongside the Russian air defense systems currently being delivered to Turkey, the White House announced. 

“The F-35 cannot coexist with a Russian intelligence collection platform that will be used to learn about its advanced capabilities,” White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham announced on Wednesday.

The US has repeatedly threatened to remove Turkey from the international consortium building the F-35 and block deliveries of the jets Ankara has bought and paid for, if the planned purchase of the Russian missiles went ahead. The government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has maintained this would be against the rules and said it would buy whatever weapons it wants.

The White House sought to strike a conciliatory tone, however, calling Ankara a “longstanding and trusted partner and NATO Ally for over 65 years,” even if the S-400 purchase “undermines the commitments” of NATO to not buy Russian weapons.

“The United States still greatly values our strategic relationship with Turkey,” Grisham said in a statement. “Our military-to-military relationship is strong, and we will continue to cooperate with Turkey extensively” though mindful of the “constraints” posed by the S-400, she added.

Also on Erdogan hails Russian S-400 delivery, wants to ‘go much further’ and make weapons with Russia...

No mention was made of Erdogan’s statement on Monday that Ankara would like to go “much further” and set up “joint production” of weapons with Russia going forward. The remarks came on the anniversary of a 2016 coup attempt that the Turkish government has blamed on an exiled cleric currently living in the US.

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Russian S-400 benefits NATO, US should do what strategic partnership entails – Erdogan

Turkey’s Erdogan said NATO “should be happy” that a member state is beefing up security, even with Russia’s S-400 air defense system. He also called on Trump to waive sanctions and sell Turkey fighter jets.

If Turkey “will become stronger in its security area, who will also be stronger? This will strengthen the alliance itself,” President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Sunday, calling the S-400 deal the most important in Turkish history.

Also on Turkey receives more S-400 parts as US holds off retaliation ‘until after coup attempt anniversary’...

Washington officials have other ideas. Purchasing the S-400 opens Ankara up to sanctions under CAATSA, a 2017 act that, among other things, can be used to penalize allies for “transactions” with the Russian defense sector. 

However, the US has not yet applied sanctions to Turkey for the S-400 deal, despite House Foreign Affairs Committee chair and CAATSA co-sponsor Rep. Eliot Engel declaring on Friday that Erdogan “must face stiff consequences” for siding with “Vladimir Putin over the alliance.” 

Though a NATO ally, Turkey has often had an antagonistic relationship with the US. Both countries sparred over trade last year, and Ankara has pressured Washington to extradite Fethulla Gulen, an Islamic cleric Erdogan claims orchestrated the failed 2016 coup against him. 

Also on Pies for missiles: Turkish cook hails S-400 deal by... shipping spinach pastry to Putin...

Despite the frequent animosity, Erdogan remained optimistic on Sunday that Trump will “find the middle ground” and refrain from sanctioning Turkey. Trump “has the authority to waive or postpone CAATSA,” he added, pointing out that he had enjoyed a warm discussion with the US leader on the matter at last month’s G20 summit in Osaka, Japan. 

Speaking after the meeting, Trump blamed the current spat on the Obama administration for refusing to sell the US’ Patriot missile system to Turkey. Erdogan echoed these words on Sunday, saying “offer us the patriots and we’ll take the patriots from you. But we need to have alternatives.” The Obama administration refused to supply the missiles as Ankara wanted the deal to come with a transfer of technology.

In the run-up to Turkey’s S-400 purchase, the US used the threat of withholding the next-generation F-35 stealth fighter jet from Ankara as a bargaining chip, citing concerns that the S-400 could learn the jet’s ‘secrets’ if operated alongside it. 

Also on ‘No delays’: Putin, Erdogan reaffirm S-400 deal, talk trade & bilateral ties at G20 sidelines...

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan warned his Turkish counterpart, Hulusi Akar last month that Turkey would find itself excluded from the F-35 program if it did not reverse course on the purchase by July 31. Turkey has invested $1.25 billion in the program, is one of nine partner states developing the warplane, and has ordered 100 units. The Pentagon and State Department, however, remained silent over the weekend as Turkey took delivery of its first S-400s.

Erdogan told journalists that Turkey had remained “loyal” to the F-35 program, making its payments on time, and that his apparent loyalty should be repaid with future defense cooperation. “We are strategic partners,” he said. “Let's do what strategic partnership entails.”

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Cuba and Turkey seek to boost tourism

Havana, July 12 (RHC)-- Authorities from Cuba and Turkish Airlines signed a memorandum of understanding this week “to boost tourism between the two nations,” Juventud Rebelde reported.

The agreement was signed at Havana’s Hotel Nacional de Cuba by Bárbara Cruz, marketing general director of the island’s Ministry of Tourism (MINTUR), and Mustafa Dogan, sales vice president for the Americas of the Turkish airline.

After signing the agreement, Cruz said the document will allow “having closer links in tourism and promoting mutually beneficial actions for the two nations.”

She commented that since the opening of that airline’s direct flights to the island at the end of 2016, the number of visitors from that country has multiplied, exceeding 17,500 in 2018, a figure “with the possibility of increasing.”

For his part, Dogan reported that Turkish Airlines flies to 124 countries and 320 destinations, and that thanks to the agreement signed it will be able to promote the Cuba destination in many countries, “because about 46 million tourists annually visit Turkey.”

Cuba and Turkey have signed several instruments on tourism since the intergovernmental agreement signed in 1999, Prensa Latina news agency recalled.

In 2015, the Ministries of Tourism of both countries signed a memorandum of understanding, and on February 27 they signed a Tourism Cooperation Action Plan aimed at the areas of health tourism, thermal tourism, investments in tourism and hotel management.

Edited by Jorge Ruiz Miyares
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Russian-Made S-400 Air Defense System is En Route to Turkey

“The preparations for the journey, the loading (of the S-400) is continuing ... The S-400 will arrive by planes. May it be beneficial for our country, our region and especially for the world.”

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced on Monday morning that Russia’s S-400 air defense missiles are currently being prepared to be flown to Turkey.

RELATED: Cuba, Turkey to Attend Venezuela's Transplant Patients

Speaking to reporters before leaving for Bosnia on Monday, Erdogan wouldn’t say, however, when the Russian missile defense system would reach Turkey or where they will be deployed.

“The preparations for the journey, the loading (of the S-400) is continuing ... The S-400 will arrive by planes. May it be beneficial for our country, our region and especially for the world.”

The delivery of the systems could bring Turkey closer to U.S. sanctions. U.S. officials have warned that Turkey would face economic sanctions as well as being expelled from a program to produce the F-35 fighter jets.

Turkey has refused to pull back from the deal, despite the ongoing pressure from Washington and their NATO allies.

The S-400 is one of the newest anti-aircraft missile systems produced inside the Russian Federation. In addition to Turkey, world superpowers India and China currently possess this anti-aircraft system.

Turkey and Russia first discussed the purchase of the S-400 system shortly after Ankara’s reconciliation with the Kremlin.

Previously, Russia and Turkey were at odds following the downing of a Russian plane inside Syria; however, they would later settle their differences and agree to work together.

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US offer not ‘as good as S-400’: Turkey says no turning back on missile deal with Russia

Turkish president Recep Erdogan has said a US consolation offer of Patriot air defense systems was no match for the offer made by Russia on its S-400. Turkey won’t step out of the deal with Moscow, despite US pressure, he added.

The White House has been threatening NATO-ally Turkey with sanctions for quite a while already, urging it to ditch the $2.5-billion S-400 accord with Moscow. The US cites security concerns and incompatibility of the Russian equipment with American systems.

“There is an agreement here and we are committed to it,” Erdogan countered, when speaking to journalists. “It is out of the question for us to take a step back.”

Also on Purchase of S-400 systems will be ‘devastating’ for Turkey’s F-35 program – Pentagon...

The president added Ankara had proposed to work with Washington on the issue and had asked the White House to offer Ankara a better deal on its military gear. However, Washington failed to do that.

Unfortunately the US side has not given us an offer as good as the S400s

As Ankara expects to receive the first S-400 batteries this month, the US is persisting in urging Ankara to drop the purchase.

Also on US threatens ‘serious implications’ for defence ties with India as it stands defiant over S-400 deal...

Turkey is not the only state that faces retaliation from Washington for military shopping in Russia. India also had to fight off American threats of sanctions for purchasing an advanced surface-to-air missile system from Moscow last year.

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Turkey supports mediation talks for Venezuela

Turkey on May 31 voiced support for mediation talks between Venezuela's Maduro government and the country's opposition.

“Turkey welcomes the talks held in Oslo between the Maduro Government and Venezuelan opposition with the mediation of the Norwegian Government,” Hami Aksoy, Foreign Ministry spokesman, said in a statement.

"Turkey supports initiatives aiming for a political solution that can be accepted by all parties to the deadlock in Venezuela and does not believe that any method excluding dialogue and compromise will bring a lasting solution,” he added.

Aksoy also stressed that Turkey is ready to support dialogue “in the framework of its principled approach and the Constitution of Venezuela.”

Venezuela has been rocked by protests since January, when President Nicolas Maduro was sworn in for a second term following a vote boycotted by the opposition.

Tensions escalated days later when Juan Guaido declared himself acting president, a move supported by the U.S. and many European and Latin American countries.

Russia, Turkey, China, Iran, Bolivia and Mexico have thrown their weight behind Maduro.

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Turkey, Cuba to cooperate in vaccine production

Turkey and Cuba agreed to establish a study group to work on various vaccines, including for cancer, and medical drugs, the Turkish Health Ministry said on May 27.

Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca met his Cuban counterpart Angel Portal Miranda last week at an international health conference in Geneva, the statement said.

It added that a senior Cuban delegation would soon arrive in Turkey to meet with Turkish health officials.

Also, separate protocols on health cooperation were signed with Indonesia and Kyrgyzstan in conjunction with a 2014 collaboration agreement, it added.

The statement underlined that the ministry accelerated international bilateral cooperation in line with targets of localization and nationalization.

Noting that 80 of every 100 parcels of medicine bought in Turkey were produced domestically, Koca had stressed that the country aimed to localize all vaccine production by 2023.

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Russia Trains Turkish Military on Air Missile System

Ankara, May 22 (Prensa Latina) Turkey has sent military personnel to Russia for their training on how to use the S-400 missile system, the most advanced Russian ballistic technology, Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said on Wednesday.

Purchasing this weaponry from Russia led Turkey to a strong diplomatic confrontation with the United States, which is trying by all means to prevent its NATO ally from acquiring this type of armament, even threatening to suspend the participation of Turkish companies in the manufacture of the Lockheed Martin F-35 combat aircraft.

On this issue, Akar said that Turkey was fulfilling its responsibilities in the F-35 project and that Ankara expected the program to continue as scheduled, while talks between the two countries are ongoing.

The Minister also said Ankara and Washington are assessing the possibility of Turkey acquiring US-made Patriot missiles based on a price-fixing, technology transfer and joint production agreement.

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