Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, while speaking to the BBC for a special edition of “HARDtalk” scheduled to air on Monday, said his opponents would be “jumping for joy” should he lose the elections slated for June 24 and stressed that Turkey’s deal with Russia to purchase S-400 systems was a done deal.
The Turkish president announced last month that parliamentary and presidential elections, originally scheduled for November 2019, would take place on June 24. The new political system that will increase the powers of the president is thus set to take effect a year early as Erdoğan aims to remain in his position as a more powerful president.
Responding to a question on his chances and those of his Justice and Development Party (AKP) of winning the June 24 elections, Erdoğan said: “Why do you ask this question? If it’s likely that we won’t win, the potential winners will be celebrating. There shouldn’t be any concern about this in the West. The BBC should relax.”
Following a question on Turkey’s controversial S-400 missile defense system purchase from Russia and a statement by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that the system is not compatible with those of NATO, the Turkish president said: “I reject your suggestion. NATO’s Secretary-General Stoltenberg made a clear statement that member states are free to purchase weapons from any country they choose. So if Turkey is unable to purchase the weapons we need from the United States or another NATO ally, we will buy them from whichever source we can. We have signed a joint manufacturing contract with Russia, and we are buying the S-400 missiles from them.”
The Turkish president said he “told President Donald as we could not get them from him, we would get them from the Russians.”
“We are buying them from Russia, and we have signed the agreements.”
Turkey signed an agreement last year to buy the S-400s, which could be delivered as early as next year. The move has angered US officials, who say the system is not compatible with NATO systems and may jeopardize Turkey’s purchase of American-made F-35 fighter jets.
(Ahval with Turkish Minute)