S 400 DEAL SHOULD SHAPE UP THE WEST

The S-400 deal could be the be­gin­ning, not the end, of Tur­key's re­la­tions with NATO and the West

Daily Sabah (Turkey) - - Front Page - MELIH ALTINOK

THE S 400 deal could be the be­gin­ning of Tur­key’s re­la­tions with NATO and the West, if our al­lied friends care about the fur­ther re­ces­sion of NATO bor­ders and their priv­i­leges

Ger­many has an­nounced that it has stopped sell­ing weapons to Tur­key. “We have put on hold all big re­quests [for arms ex­ports] that Tur­key has sent us, and th­ese are re­ally not a few,” Ger­man For­eign Min­is­ter Sig­mar Gabriel said. Gabriel jus­ti­fied this at­ti­tude, say­ing they are “con­cerned that the Turk­ish govern­ment is us­ing th­ese weapons as pres­sure el­e­ments in the coun­try.”

On the other hand, Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel seemed more pru­dent. She even made state­ments that frus­trated Gabriel, who could not bring con­crete ev­i­dence for the anx­i­ety he voiced about Tur­key.

Speak­ing to Ger­man State Television NDR a couple of days ago, Merkel re­jected a to­tal ban on arms ex­ports to the NATO mem­ber state. She also re­minded that Ger­many and Tur­key, which faces threats about arms em­bargo, are jointly fight­ing Daesh.

Nev­er­the­less, it is clear that there is still a prob­lem. In fact, the Ger­man govern­ment, which has sold 25 mil­lion eu­ros worth of weapons to Ankara since Jan­uary 2017, has not rat­i­fied arms ship­ments to Tur­key 11 times since Novem­ber 2016.

Be­yond th­ese hur­dles, it is im­pos­si­ble for Tur­key to make its de­fense plans, a cru­cial is­sue, in ac­cor­dance with the pop­ulist at­mos­phere of the Ger­man elec­tions.

How­ever, it was the last straw when the U.S. Se­nate Com­mit­tee on Ap­pro­pri­a­tions ap­proved the bill that stip­u­lated a ban on arms sales to Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­doğan’s body­guards.

Un­doubt­edly, the U.S. Se­nate’s de­ci­sion is sym­bolic, and it can­not be even thought to cre­ate weak­ness in Tur­key’s de­fense.

But all th­ese at­ti­tudes are push­ing Ankara to re­shape and di­ver­sify its de­fense poli­cies.

Tur­key was left alone by NATO dur­ing the July 15 coup at­tempt last year and the U.S. is overtly pro­vid­ing arms to Peo­ple’s Pro­tec­tion Units (YPG) ter­ror­ists in Syria - both of which cause the peo­ple to sup­port this new pol­icy from Ankara.

There is such a back­ground in the process that has pushed Tur­key, a NATO mem­ber, to pur­chase the S-400 air de­fense sys­tem from Rus­sia.

It seems hard to re­turn from this path. Er­doğan said Tur­key has al­ready paid a de­posit to Rus­sia for S-400 mis­siles. And Moscow is mak­ing sup­port­ive state­ments in this re­gard.

A Turk­ish proverb says, “Bet­ter lose the sad­dle than the horse.”

Great part­ners of the U.S. and NATO, such as Ger­many, should un­der­stand that Tur­key couldn’t choose an­other way than seek­ing an al­ter­na­tive to threats, con­sid­er­ing that no sov­er­eign state on earth can act against its ex­is­tence.

That is why they should give up pop­ulist in­tim­i­da­tion poli­cies that they sup­port with lame ex­cuses and should stop fur­ther push­ing Tur­key to the “east.”

They should un­der­stand that the U.S. State De­part­ment’s re­cent state­ment about their "con­cerns" no longer con­cern any­one on this ter­ri­tory.

The only thing they need to do is to be more rea­son­able and to ful­fill the min­i­mum re­quire­ments of the re­la­tion­ship be­tween equals.

Thus, the S-400 deal could be the be­gin­ning, not the end, of Tur­key's re­la­tions with NATO and the West, if our "al­lied friends" care about the fur­ther re­ces­sion of NATO bor­ders and their priv­i­leges in this ter­ri­tory, which is the only tran­sit route of en­ergy lines.

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