2 Jun 2021
Turkey has said it will send Russian missile experts home overseeing S-400 air defense technology that has strained ties with the United States, addressing one of Washington’s concerns with the system.
These remarks, which precede a scheduled meeting between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his American counterpart Joe Biden on the sidelines of a NATO summit in Brussels in mid-June, signal Ankara’s willingness to compromise on one element American concerns.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said the system would be under Turkish control when the experts left.
However, he reiterated that Ankara would not budge in the face of Washington’s broader demand to drop missiles so that related US sanctions are lifted.
“The S-400s will be under our 100% control. We have sent many technicians for training. Russian military experts will not stay in Turkey, ”Cavusoglu said during a visit to Greece.
But he rejected US calls on Turkey not to activate the missiles. “It is not possible to accept calls from another country so as not to use them,” he stressed.
Ankara has submitted a roadmap to Washington in order to resolve outstanding bilateral issues, he said, noting that it is currently under review.
“There are outstanding issues between Washington and Ankara, overcome by Russian S-400 missiles, US support for Kurdish people protection units in Syria and Fethullah Gulen’s Hizmet (service) movement, as well as recognition by Biden of the Armenian Genocide.
The US administration is ready to establish good relations with Turkey through dialogue and joint cooperation, either within the framework of NATO or bilaterally, Cavusoglu said.
Two US delegations visited Ankara, during which intelligence, military and political figures from both sides held talks.
Ankara and Washington disagree on issues such as Syrian policy, human rights, and the acquisition of S-400 air defense, for which the United States has sanctioned Turkey and removed it from its position. F-35 fighter program.
In March, Cavusoglu and Antony Blinken held their first face-to-face meeting since the US Secretary of State took office.
“We can discuss the differences with Washington and the future steps to be taken on strategic matters by creating a bilateral working group,” he said at the time. “We have to work on a road map.