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Minister of Foreign Affairs Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu answered the questions of journalists at state-run Anadolu Agency’s Editor Desk today (June 14).
Çavuşoğlu addressed a series of issues including Turkey’s purchase of S-400 air defense missile system from Russia, the debate with the U.S. on purchase of F-35 fighter jets and the offshore drilling activities of Turkey in Eastern Mediterranean. Some highlights from his remarks are as follows:
“We have been trying to purchase an air defense system form the last 10 years, but we could not buy them from our allies. We could not purchase the Patriots, either. Therefore, we started to look for other ways. We received the best offers in terms of technology and costs.
“In other words, Russia’s offer was the most suitable one, both technologically and financially. We decided to buy them. We signed [the deal], we purchased it and made some part of its payment.
“The U.S. cannot give any guarantees for the Patriots. Even when we agree on the price and the time of delivery, can you ensure that it will be passed by the Congress? ‘No, we cannot.’ If you cannot give us any guarantees and if we cannot buy Patriots, then we will buy other systems.
“We will never take a step back on this issue (purchase of S-400s).
“Our message to all countries in the Mediterranean is the following: ‘No agreements isolating or excluding Turkey are valid.’ We are here in Mediterranean as well, we also have our continental shelf there.
“We are also doing seismic exploration and drilling in places where the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (KKTC) has granted license to the Turkish Petroleum Corporation (TPAO) within our own continental shelf. We used to do only seismic exploration before, because we did not have drilling ships. Now, our ship has started drilling in western Cyprus.
“Despite our all warnings, the Greek side has unilaterally started exploration, seismic exploration and, now, drilling around Cyprus. Why do we say ‘unilaterally’? Because the KKTC and the people of Turkish Cypriots have a right there as well. Neither the Greek side, nor the EU accepts it.
“We told them, ‘Take such steps when the rights of Turkish Cypriot people are guaranteed.’ They say, ‘If we do, it will mean we recognize it.’ Now, they say, ‘We will guarantee it not now, but when it is sold.’
“If you cannot do it now, you cannot do it while selling, either. You don’t do it and don’t guarantee it. We don’t trust it.” (HA/SD)