Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday lashed out against NATO in response to criticism regarding a $3.4 billion deal for Chinese missiles, the integration of which would according to Western officials functionally introduce a “virus” into NATO’s command and control infrastructure. The deal would see Turkey purchase missile assets from the China Precision Machinery Import and Export Corp (CPMIEC), a company that is currently under U.S. sanctions for violations of the Iran, North Korea and Syria Nonproliferation Act. NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen had emphasized on Tuesday that Turkey’s international and NATO partner commitments require that it conduct arms purchases with an eye toward interoperability.
“Our position is very clear. It’s a national decision to decide which equipment to purchase,” Rasmussen told a press conference at the close of the first day of a two-day NATO defence ministers meeting. “However, seen from a NATO perspective, it’s of utmost importance that the systems nations plan to acquire can work and operate together with similar systems in other Allied nations,” he said.
Erdogan brushed aside the criticism, declaring – per Turkish media – that ‘there was no problem with the deal in terms of Turkey’s national preferences.’
“Nobody has the right to overshadow our understanding of independence,” Erdoğan said Oct. 23 before departing for Kosovo…“We tell the undersecretariat to start negotiations on certain conditions, and then we make the final decision based on the talks. Currently the Chinese offer has the highest points. Undersecretariat officials and China are currently working on it,” Erdoğan said, adding that comments by NATO or any country would not have effect on the decision.
NATO officials had previously declared themselves “speechless” over the Turkish move, and the State Department had expressed “serious concerns” over the deal. The controversy has deepened worries of Turkish realignment, away from its traditional allies in the West and toward the West’s geopolitical rivals. A recent Washington Post expose revealed that Erdogan’s government had deliberately burned 10 Iranian operating on behalf of the Israeli Mossad in Iran, an act that experts and former intelligence officials evaluated would badly damage Turkey’s intelligence sharing relationships.
[Photo: PressTV / YouTube]