Turkey doubted on Monday that US President Donald Trump will impose sanctions against it over its purchase of the Russian S-400 missile defense system.
Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu warned however, that Turkey would retaliate if Washington resorts to such measures.
“If the United States portrays an adversarial attitude towards us, we will take retaliatory measures, as we’ve told them. This is not a threat or a bluff,” he said in an interview with broadcaster TGRT Haber.
“We are not a country that will bow down to those who show animosity towards Turkey,” he said, reiterating a threat of retaliation that Turkey made last month.
Cavusoglu added that he did not expect the US administration to take such action.
“Trump does not want to impose sanctions on Turkey and he frequently says that his administration and the previous US administration is also responsible for Turkey not being able to buy Patriot systems. This is true,” Cavusoglu said.
Turkey began receiving deliveries of the surface-to-air S-400 systems earlier this month, prompting the United States to begin removing the NATO ally from its F-35 stealth fighter program over security concerns.
Last week, the United States announced that it was beginning the process of removing Turkey from the program for the F-35 stealth jets, the most advanced aircraft in the US arsenal, which is used by NATO and other partner countries.
Turkey, like other partners in the F-35 program, was part of the manufacturing supply chain for the high-tech jet aircraft, producing some 900 parts. A US official said it would cost some $500 million to $600 million to shift F-35 manufacturing from Turkey.
Separately, the TASS news agency cited Sergei Chemezov, head of Russia’s Rostec state conglomerate, as saying that Russia and Turkey were in talks about the possibility of jointly manufacturing some components of Russia’s S-400 missile defense system in Turkey.
On Syria, Cavusoglu said that if a planned safe zone in northern Syria is not established, and if threats continue against Turkey, Ankara will launch a military operation east of the Euphrates River.
Turkey has been in talks with the US over the establishment of a safe zone across its border in northeast Syria, where Washington supports the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG). Ankara sees the YPG as a terrorist organization.
Cavusoglu also said he hopes an agreement will be reached after talks on Monday with US special envoy for Syria James Jeffrey, who is visiting Turkey.
Ankara wants YPG fighters to withdraw from the border area, while Washington wants guarantees that its Kurdish-led allies in the campaign to defeat ISIS in Syria will not be harmed.
Cavusoglu said on Monday that talks with the United States on the safe zone have slowed, adding that Turkey had told Washington that it should not use the fighting in Syria’s northwestern Idlib province as a pretext for disregarding the proposed safe zone further east.
He repeated Turkey’s frustration that a deal with the United States for the withdrawal of YPG forces from the town of Manbij had still not been implemented, more than a year after it was agreed, and warned that Turkey will act unilaterally if talks on the safe zone stall.
“If the safe zone is not established and threats towards our country continue, we will launch the operation in the east of the Euphrates,” he said.
“The Americans sent Jeffrey and said there were new proposals in the talks that will start today. We hope an agreement can be reached on this. Concrete steps are needed on this now.”
This article has been adapted from its original source.
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