Turkey’s Hurriyet Daily News disclosed on Wednesday that figures from European and U.S. defense firms have been heavily lobbying their counterparts in Turkey’s defense industry for help in blocking a controversial move by Ankara – announced last September, only to be met with immediate pushback by the West – to purchase a missile defense system from a Chinese company blacklisted by Washington for violating anti-proliferation measures:
The U.S. partnership of Raytheon and Lockheed Martin and the Italian-French consortium Eurosam have been holding talks with C-level executives of local defense companies, like military electronics specialist Aselsan, defense software specialist Havelsan, missile manufacturer Roketsan and Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI), according to information obtained from sources close to the matter.
According to sources, European and American companies, which have billion-dollar joint projects with the Turkish companies at issue, gave an ultimatum to Turkish companies, saying “If Turkey buys missiles from China, our partnerships in certain fields will be over.”
The FD-2000 system, made by China Precision Machinery Import-Export Corporation (CPMIEC), would have to be integrated with Turkey’s existing defense assets. One top NATO official has described the dynamic as being equivalent to implanting a Chinese computer virus inside NATO’s command and control infrastructure, and then-NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen had been quite explicit that he expected the Turks to reverse their position.
Last December Congress considered legislative responses to Turkey’s moves, amid something of a lash-out by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Hurriyet reported that officials from Western defense firms are emphasizing to top Turkish officials that it will become impossible for them to establish or maintain partnerships “in certain fields” should Ankara go through with the purchase.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry announced on Wednesday that it would this week host the third “Joint Working Group” between Turkish and Chinese officials:
In a statement issued by the Foreign Ministry Tuesday, Undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioglu and China’s Deputy Foreign Minister Zhang Yesui and their delegates are to have discussions focusing on “bilateral relations between Turkey and China as well as the current developments in the region and internationally.”
Other Turkish media outlets assessed that while no details had been disclosed regarding the various meetings, “the Turkish acquisition of Chinese long-range air and missile defense system has remained one of the most important issues between the countries” and that “talks between Turkey and China on the missile tender are expected to be concluded by the end of April.”
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