Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said plans to buy the Russian S-400 missile system is a ‘done deal’ during a joint press conference with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.
“If we sign a deal on an issue, that’s a done deal,” Erdogan was quoted by news portal Gazete Duvar reported on Monday.
Erdogan and Putin held a conference in Moscow on Monday, following the third summit of the two leaders in 2019. In 2018, Putin and Erdogan held seven bilateral meetings and participated in numerous international summits.
The Turkish president underlined that the country won’t submit to pressure over the agreement to buy the S-400 missile defense system.
“Those who ask or suggest we backtrack don’t know us,” Erdogan said referring to the United States government’s strong disapproval of the deal.
“If we sign a deal on an issue, that’s a done deal. This is our sovereign right, no one can ask us to back down,’’ he added.
The delivery of F-35 fighter jet equipment to Turkey was halted by the US last week, in an attempt to make Ankara cancel its S-400 missile defense system purchase deal with Russia.
The US, along with several NATO member countries that are part of the F-35 program, has said Turkey’s move to buy the missile defense system would compromise the security of the F 35 aircraft.
They fear the radar on the S-400 missile system will have the ability to spot and track the F-35 fighter jet, making it less able to evade Russian weapons in the future.
Putin mentioned other “promising projects” aimed to deepen defense cooperation with Turkey through “joint development and joint production of high-tech weaponry,” Bloomberg reported.
Putin and Erdogan also focused on the war in Syria, where they have supported opposing groups.
“Steps we’ve taken and will take in Syria are of great importance,” Erdogan said, praising the two governments’ coordination in the country.
Reuters reported on Monday that Putin said Russia and Turkey will jointly patrol Idlib, Syria’s rebel-held province that belongs to Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) militia.
“We are basically entering joint patrolling, at least patrolling from two sides,” Putin was quoted as saying.
The Russian President emphasized that the two leaders are continuing to coordinate efforts to stabilize the conflict in Syria.
“We are coordinating efforts to revitalize the Syrian political process, including with a view to forming a constitutional committee as soon as possible,” he said.
Having a wide influence in Idlib, the last stronghold of opposition groups who rebelled against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in 2011, HTS militia includes the former Syrian al Qaeda affiliate, the Nusra Front.
Moscow and Ankara reached a deal last September that aimed to create a 15 to 20km buffer zone surrounding Idlib province, where Russian and Turkish forces would patrol “radically minded” groups including HTS.
Putin said cooperation between Russia and Turkey in the energy sector has acquired “a truly strategic character”. He explained that Russia is the largest supplier of natural gas to Turkey, covering almost half of the country’s needs.
“The opening of a new gas pipeline, TurkStream, will significantly increase the supply of Russian gas to Turkish consumers,” he added.
“We are implementing major projects that include Akkuyu, a nuclear power plant, that we should launch by 2023 in accordance with the wishes of the Turkish side,” Putin added.
Putin also revealed that the trade turnover grew by 15 percent and the general volume of trade has reached $25 billion dollars. Erdogan said the two countries aim to further boost trade volume to around $100 billion.