Turkey looks forward to Erdoğan-Biden meeting: FM Çavuşoğlu
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan meets with then-U.S. Vice President Biden at the Presidential Palace in Ankara, Turkey, Aug. 24, 2016. (Reuters File Photo)

Turkey looks forward to Erdoğan-Biden meeting: FM Çavuşoğlu

Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said late Wednesday that Turkey is approaching the upcoming meeting between President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his U.S. counterpart Joe Biden with a positive agenda, adding that Ankara has received similar optimistic signals from Washington.

In an interview with state broadcaster TRT Haber, Çavuşoğlu also noted that the U.S. wants to cooperate with Turkey not only on the issues of Libya and Syria, but also in many areas from the Mediterranean to the Black Sea and Caucasus regions.

A face-to-face meeting between two leaders is scheduled to take place on the sidelines of the NATO summit in Brussels on June 14.

He also talked about Turkey’s purchase of air defense systems, underlining that “If the U.S. does not guarantee Patriot, we can get air defense system from our other allies.”

“I believe that our meeting with Mr. Biden at the NATO summit will be the harbinger of a new era,” Erdoğan said in a televised address while holding a roundtable call with a group of executives from large U.S. companies.

In their first phone call since the American president assumed office in January, Erdoğan and Biden last month agreed to meet on the sidelines of a NATO summit.

Ties between NATO allies Turkey and the U.S. were badly strained in 2019 over Ankara’s acquisition of the advanced S-400 Russian air defense system, prompting Washington to remove Turkey from its F-35 Lightning II jet program.

The U.S. argued that the system could be used by Russia to covertly obtain classified details on the Lockheed Martin F-35 jets and that it is incompatible with NATO systems. Turkey, however, insists that the S-400 would not be integrated into NATO systems and would not pose a threat to the alliance.

Washington in December decided to impose sanctions on Turkey over the purchase. It marked the first time a NATO member state has been sanctioned for buying Russian arms.

However, the Russian-made S-300 system has been sold to 20 countries, including NATO member countries like Bulgaria, Greece and Slovakia. The S-300 system, completed in 1978, is designed to defend against short- and medium-range air attacks and is considered one of the world’s most powerful air defense systems. In 1996, Greece signed a deal with Russia for the purchase of S-300s for deployment on Greek Cypriot soil. These missiles could not be deployed in southern Cyprus as a result of Turkish pressure, but in 1998, they were deployed in Crete, whose strategic importance has been rising steadily. Greece signed new agreements with Russia in 1999 and 2004 to purchase TOR-M1 and OSA-AKM (SA-8B) medium- and low-altitude air defense systems. These Russian-made air defense systems are currently an integrated part of the air defense system of Greece and have also been deployed by the Greek Cypriot administration.

This article originally appeared in DAILY SABAH on 10 June 2021.