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Former president says Turkey’s purchase of Russian missiles was a mistake

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Former Turkish President Abdullah Gül has said Ankara’s decision to procure a Russian S-400 missile system was a mistake since Turkey has been a NATO member for decades.

In an interview with the conservative Karar daily published on Tuesday, Gül revealed his support for Ali Babacan, a former deputy prime minister who has been engaged in efforts to establish a new political party.

According to the Turkish media, Babacan will announce the new party in March.

Once allies, both Gül and Babacan are now critical of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Russian-Turkish relations have exceeded the level of a strategic partnership to a point well beyond diplomatic ties, Gül, a former top diplomat under Erdoğan’s government, stated, adding that incompatibility between the Russian weapons system and NATO equipment has undermined the Turkish army’s power.

Gül also said he has been critical of an executive presidential system that was adopted in a narrowly backed referendum in 2017 and expressed his support for a fully democratic parliamentary system for Turkey.

Regarding Turkey’s military efforts in Syria, the former president warned the government that the country desperately needs an exit strategy.

Meanwhile, Gül said Turkey should find a way to repair its relations with Egypt, one of the most important countries in the Arab and Islamic world.

Ankara has been at odds with Cairo since a military coup overthrew ex-President Mohamed Morsi’s government, a close ally of Turkey’s Erdoğan.

According to Gül, the United States had prior information about a 2016 coup attempt, in Turkey which he said was orchestrated by Fethullah Gülen, a US-based Islamic cleric.

“The head of [this organization] and prominent members have been living in the US for a long time. One would be naïve to think that such an attempt took place without the knowledge of US intelligence and security institutions,” he said.

Gülen has repeatedly denied any involvement in the failed coup.

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