The Turkish people are against the presence of US troops at the Incirlik air base in southern Turkey due to Washington’s unfriendly policy and “wrong moves” with regard to Turkey, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Wednesday.
“We try to improve our relations with the United States. To normalize them, the United States should take steps regarding [the Syrian city] Manbij, the extradition of [Islamic cleric Fethullah] Gulen… When it comes to these issues, our people say: ‘Close the Incirlik, Kurecik bases [for the US]’… We are waiting for the United States to abandon its wrong actions,” Cavusoglu told the A Haber broadcaster.
“As regards the F-35 jets, I have no concerns, this contract is legally binding, it cannot be easily terminated. But if these jets are not supplied to Turkey, we will satisfy our needs somewhere else,” Cavusoglu said, as quoted by the NTV broadcaster.
“There are no reasons why the US will not supply F-35s to us. We do not want to spoil relations with our US ally. The F-35 aircraft should be delivered to Turkey as planned. But in case of problems, Turkey will not be left without an alternative. It may buy [aircraft] both from Russia and from a NATO country. There is an agreement on F-35s, and if one side withdraws from it, the necessary steps will be taken,” the minister added.
Secretary of the US Air Force Heather Wilson has said earlier that Washington is hopeful it can resolve some operational problems over Turkey’s purchase of Russia’s S-400 air defense system before sending F-35 stealth fighter jets to the Turkish Air Force.
On Sunday, the Yeni Safak media outlet reported Turkey could purchase Russian fifth-generation Su-57 fighter jets if the United States blocks deliveries of F-35 planes because of Ankara’s decision to buy Russian S-400 air defense systems.
Earlier in April, Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Wess Mitchell said Turkey’s purchase of the S-400 air defense system from Russia could negatively affect the delivery of the F-35 jets to Ankara. In addition, a group of senators comprising both Republicans and Democrats wants to block the supply of F-35s to Ankara due to the arrest of US Pastor Andrew Brunson, who is being tried on charges of aiding terrorist groups.
In December 2017, Russia and Turkey signed a loan agreement to supply S-400 air defense systems to Ankara. According to a statement by the Turkish defense industry secretariat, two S-400 batteries will be operated and serviced by the Turkish military.