Ankara: US sanctions over the S-400 air defence system, controversially purchased from Russia, would be “disrespectful”, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in comments published Friday after US media reported the measures were imminent.
Russia delivered the system to Ankara last year, and Turkey tested the system in October-in the face of repeated warnings from Washington to condemn and warn of punitive measures.
US President Donald Trump once called Erdogan a “good friend” but avoided sanctions on Turkey under the 2017 law called CAATSA. The law imposes sanctions on countries that purchase large amounts of weapons from US opponents, including Russia.
But with a few weeks left in his term, the Washington Post reported on Thursday that Trump plans to “buy and test” S-400 aircraft in the next few days to impose sanctions on Ankara.
“While they (US administrations) say with pride ‘We have a NATO country like Turkey’, for them to now stand up and confront Turkey with CAATSA, once more it’s a disrespect to a very important NATO partner,” Erdogan said.
“I don’t know where this will lead to before Trump leaves but during the four-year Trump period, I didn’t have any problems in communicating with America,” Erdogan told Turkish journalists as he returned from a visit to Azerbaijan.
The tension between the United States and Turkey involved multiple issues, including the United States’ support for Syrian Kurdish militias, which are considered terrorists by Ankara and the S-400.
But Erdogan seems to suggest that the relationship under Biden may improve because he said he knows the former vice president of Trump’s former President Barack Obama.
“He is someone who knows me very well. And I know him very well,” said Erdogan, who has been president since 2014 and prime minister before that from 2003.
While experts say Biden will be more engaged in multilateral diplomacy than Trump, they also warn he could introduce democracy and human rights issues into relations.
The US threat comes as European Union leaders agreed Friday to draw up a list of Turkish targets for sanctions, in response to Turkish energy exploration in the eastern Mediterranean Sea’s disputed waters.
The embattled Turkish lira declined further Friday to reach 8.02 against the US dollar, before rallying to 7.96 towards 1000 GMT, a loss of over one percent on the day.
The lira has lost around 25 percent in value against the greenback since the start of 2020.