Turkish president defiant about turning to Russia for defense needs

'In the future, nobody will be able to interfere in terms of what kind of defense systems we acquire,' he said.

Turkish president defiant about turning to Russia for defense needs

WASHINGTON — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said in an interview aired Sunday that he has no qualms about buying a Russian defense system despite condemnation from the United States and its other NATO allies.

“I explained everything to President Biden,” Erdoğan said in an interview with host Margaret Brennan that aired on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

He said that the United States’ refusal to deliver F-35 aircraft that Turkey agreed to purchase and Patriot missiles it wished to acquire gave Turkey no choice but to turn to Russia for its S-400 antiaircraft missile system, a point of contention between Turkey and the NATO alliance during both the Trump and Biden administrations.

“In the future, nobody will be able to interfere in terms of what kind of defense systems we acquire, from which country at what level. Nobody can interfere with that. We are the only ones to make such decisions,” Erdoğan said.

He added: “Are we going to keep on expecting delivery of weapons from other countries that didn’t give us those weapons?“

NATO fears that deploying Russia’s S-400 missiles alongside the F-35 would allow the S-400 to collect vital data about the aircraft it otherwise would not have access to, potentially compromising security.

Discussing another point of contention with the United States, Erdoğan said the U.S. must choose between supporting Turkey and offering support to Kurdish groups that wish to carve out a state from an area that includes parts of Turkey. The Kurdish forces had joined the U.S. and Turkey in combating ISIS forces in Syria.

Erdoğan called these Kurdish groups “terrorist organizations.“

“Receiving this kind of support should be stopped once and for all,” he said, adding: “Turkey is [a] NATO member and we are in a position to be obliged to forge a solidarity under the roof of NATO. But so long as the terrorist organizations receive such logistical support that upset us … we would be vocal about this.”

The Turkish leader said he would like to see the remaining U.S. forces withdrawn from Syria, something that critics have said could give Turkey a free hand in persecuting the Kurds.

Erdoğan was critical of U.S. actions in Afghanistan. “With the American footprints dating back to two decades, the region was not any safer,” he told Brennan.

He also said that Turkey hopes to maintain some sort of relationship with the new Taliban regime in Afghanistan, though it withdrew amid the chaos accompanying the American withdrawal there.

“We have historic relations with the Afghan people,” he said, “and we’ve always been very supportive of [Afghanistan] in an unprecedented fashion, unlike any other. And in terms of infrastructure, in terms of superstructure, we were involved in major investments, which we will continue for the future. But because of the mistakes made in the field, we had to withdraw our troops and evacuate our civilians. And right now, we are not present in Afghanistan.“

Source : Politico EU More   

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German election too close to call as polls close

Social Democrats and conservatives neck and neck in first projections.

German election too close to call as polls close

BERLIN — Germany’s general election was too close to call after polls closed Sunday, with one projection giving the Social Democrats a slight lead over the conservatives and another showing the two camps in a dead heat.

Public TV channel ZDF put the Social Democrats (SPD) on 26 percent and the conservative CDU/CSU bloc of outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel on 24 percent. The two parties were both on 25 percent in a projection for another public broadcaster, ARD.

The figures indicated that it could take hours for a clear picture to emerge on who has the best chance of succeeding Merkel as chancellor — the Social Democrats’ Olaf Scholz or the CDU/CSU’s Armin Laschet.

The Greens came third in both projections, on around 15 percent of the vote, and the Free Democrats (FDP) were in fourth with 11 percent in one forecast and 12 percent in another.

If the projections are borne out by the election results, building a new coalition is likely to prove a fraught process because neither of the two largest parties can boast a clear mandate. The SPD is likely to argue that the conservatives, who finished well below the 33 percent they won in 2017, have effectively been voted out of power. 

Yet under Germany’s electoral system, such considerations are largely irrelevant. Unlike in many other European countries, the parties don’t need a mandate from the head of state to attempt to build a coalition, a tap that usually goes to the party that finishes first. Instead, it’s up to the parties themselves to form a government. 

That means it could come down to the negotiating acumen of the leaders of the SPD and Christian Democrats in trying to convince the two smaller parties to join them. 

During the campaign, the FDP, a pro-business party, made clear that it would prefer to join a conservative-led coalition, even if the CDU/CSU placed second, while the Greens said they favored an alliance with the Social Democrats.

The far-right Alternative for Germany party was projected to win 10 or 11 percent of the vote.

The Left, a far-left movement rooted in East Germany’s communist party, won 5 percent, according to the initial projections, placing on the cusp of missing the threshold for entry into parliament.

If the party falls below 5 percent, it will be out. That would remove even the slim possibility of a leftist alliance between the SPD, Greens and Left, considerably narrowing the SPD’s options in the upcoming coalition talks. 

Both the SPD and the conservatives have said they don’t want to renew their current coalition, which has governed Germany for the past eight years.  

That leaves two main options: an SPD-led government with the Greens and FDP or a conservative-led coalition with the two smaller parties.

This article has been updated. Follow the German election results on POLITICO’s live blog.

Source : Politico EU More   

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