Aide says Erdoğan, his team don’t care much about call from Biden

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Amid debates about the lack of a phone call from US President Joe Biden, who reached out to his counterparts across the world after taking office in January with the exception of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, an aide to Erdoğan said he and his team do not much care about Biden’s call.

When asked about the debates over the lack of a phone call from Biden, Kalın said, “It will sound a bit harsh, but this situation does away with the inferiority complexes of the past. We don’t much care about it.”

His remarks came during a TV program on Haber Global on Thursday evening.

Erdoğan has repeatedly signaled his willingness to cooperate with the new administration in Washington and has taken some steps that were interpreted as aiming to gain Biden’s attention; however, Biden has still not talked to him several months after his election.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters last week that Biden would call Erdoğan “at some point,” but gave no specifics.

Erdoğan congratulated Biden following his election in November, expressing Turkey’s determination to work closely with the new administration.

“I believe that the strong cooperation and the bond of alliance between our countries will continue to make vital contributions to world peace in the future, as it has done so far,” Erdoğan said in his congratulatory message.

Kalın also talked about Turkey’s determination to use a Russian missile defense system, the S-400, which has strained Turkey’s relations with its NATO allies, mainly the US.

“We, as Turkey, will not take a backward step from the S-400s. Our determination [to use them] continues. The S-400s do not pose a threat to the F-35s. We see these debates are not about technical issues but political ones. We, as Turkey, tell them [the US] to solve this issue politically,” said Kalın.

The S-400, a mobile surface-to-air missile system, is said to pose a risk to the NATO alliance as well as the F-35, America’s most expensive weapons platform.

Washington says the S-400s pose a threat to its F-35 fighter jets and NATO’s broader defense systems. Turkey rejects this and says the S-400s will not be integrated into NATO.

Washington also imposed sanctions in December on Turkey’s military procurement agency as punishment for its purchase of the S-400 under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, or CAATSA, which mandates penalties for transactions deemed harmful to US interests.

“CAATSA sanctions are meaningless and void. We will not be affected by threats,” said Kalın.

The US had also previously removed Turkey from its F-35 stealth fighter development and training program over the S-400 purchase.

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