Turkey is ready to purchase the Patriot air defence system from the United States under certain conditions, but Ankara’s position on purchasing and keeping Russian S-400 air defence systems has not changed, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Tuesday.
“We are ready to purchase Patriots if we have a good offer”, Cavusoglu said.
“And our stance on the resolution of S-400 issue has not changed. We offered the US to establish a technical working group with NATO’s inclusion and NATO can lead this technical working group actually. And this offer is still on the table”, he added.
Cavusoglu explained that Turkey needs to purchase air defence systems given that the ballistic missile threat the country faces is very real.
“This fact is accepted by everyone, including the United States and NATO. Turkey’s decision to purchase the S-400 system is a result of the United States’ reluctance to meet our urgent needs for many years, for ten years”, he said.
Cavusoglu noted that previous attempts by Turkey to purchase the US Patriot system were inconclusive and Congress played a negative role.
“In the future, we’ll need more air defence systems. If our allies can provide it – doesn’t have to be only Patriot from the United States, it can also be SAMP/T of Eurosam.. .or any similar system from other allies, and we prefer to purchase from our allies. If not, we’ll have to seek alternatives”, he said.
In March, US Defense Department spokesperson Jonathan Hoffman said the United States continues to condition the supply of the Patriot air defence system to Turkey on returning the already purchased S-400 systems back to Russia.
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Hoffman’s comment followed the statement by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the United States has softened its stance on Turkey’s purchase of the Russian S-400 air defence systems
and reduced its demands to asking Ankara not to put the weapon on active service.
Russia began delivering the S-400 to Turkey in July 2019. The United States has demanded that Turkey cancel all purchases of the S-400, saying it expects Ankara to purchase US-made Patriot air defence systems instead. The United States also threatened to delay or cancel any deliveries of the fifth-generation F-35 jets to Turkey.
However, Turkey has refused to make any concessions regarding the S-400 purchase.