US

Biden showers Turkey’s President Erdogan with praise

President Joe Biden praised Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday for lifting his objections to Sweden and Finland joining NATO and thanked him for his work on getting grain out of the Ukraine.

‘You’re doing a great job,’ Biden told him. 

And, behind the scenes, Biden’s administration signaled its support to the sale of F-16 fighter jets to Ankara, a long-standing wish of the Turkish government.

Celeste Wallander, Assistant Secretary for Defense for International Security Affairs at Pentagon, told reporters on a briefing call that strong Turkish defense capabilities would reinforce NATO’s defenses and the F-16 sales plan was working its way through the legal process.

‘The United States supports Turkey’s modernization of its fighter fleet because that is a contribution to NATO security and therefore American security,’ she said.

‘These plans are in the works. And, they need to be worked through our contracting processes,’ she added.

Turkey made a request in October to buy 40 Lockheed Martin-made F-16 fighters and nearly 80 modernization kits for its existing warplanes.

Biden met with Erdogan on the sidelines of the NATO summit on Wednesday.

He thanked him for agreeing Finland and Sweden joining the alliance but made no mention of the F-16s. Ahead of the summit, Erdogan said he would push the issue with the president.

‘I want to particularly thank you for what you did, putting together the situation with Finland and Sweden and all the incredible work you’re doing to try to get the grain out of Ukraine,’ Biden told him. ‘You’re doing a great job.’ 

President Joe Biden praised Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for lifting his objections to Sweden and Finland joining NATO and thanked him for his work on getting grain out of the Ukraine

Ankara has pledged to investigate reports that Turkish buyers were among those receiving grain that Russia stole from Ukraine. Russia and Ukraine account for nearly a third of global wheat supplies but Russia has been blocking Ukraine for shipping the grain out of its ports, sparking a global food crisis. 

Turkey also is planning to host Russian, Ukrainian and United Nations officials for talks in the coming weeks aimed at resuming the export of the grain that is currently stuck in Black Sea ports.

Meanwhile, American officials pushed back against any suggestion that Washington was backing the F-16 request after Turkey dropped its veto threat on Sweden and Finland joining NATO.

‘The U.S. did not offer anything to Turkey and was not asked for anything by Turkey’ as part of its agreement with Finland and Sweden, a senior administration official said.

The official said U.S. officials were engaged in ongoing technical talks about Turkey´s request to buy U.S. F-16 fighter jets. Congress will have the final say about any sales.

NATO on Wednesday formally invited Sweden and Finland to join its alliance.

‘The accession of Finland and Sweden will make them safer, NATO stronger, and the Euro-Atlantic area more secure. The security of Finland and Sweden is of direct importance to the Alliance, including during the accession process,’ the statement from NATO said.

The addition of the two Nordic countries, which must be approved by each of NATO’s 30 allied parliaments, will be the most extensive expansion of the alliance since the 1990s, when the post Soviet bloc countries were added.

It comes as Europe hangs under the shadow of a more aggressive Russia. President Joe Biden and NATO leaders are ramping up military forces along the alliance’s eastern flank.

Biden on Wednesday said Russian President Vladimir Putin is getting ‘exactly what he didn’t want’ – the NATO-zation of Europe.

Biden praised the diplomatic breakthrough that resulted in Turkey pulling its objections from Sweden and Finland joining the alliance and said it will make Europe stronger.

‘Putin was looking for the Finland-ization of Europe and we’re gonna get the NATO-zation of Europe,’ Biden said when he met with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg upon his arrival at NATO headquarters on Wednesday morning.

‘And that’s exactly what he didn’t want to do – it’s exactly what needs to be done to guarantee security for Europe. And I think it’s necessary and I’m looking forward to it happening,’ the president said. 

Moscow reacted with fury to the news, saying NATO expansion will be ‘destabilising’ for Europe.

‘We consider the expansion of the North Atlantic alliance to be a purely destabilising factor in international affairs. It does not add security either to those who are expanding it, those joining it, or to other countries that perceive the alliance as a threat,’ Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said.

On Tuesday evening, after multiple rounds of talks, Turkey lifted its objections to the two Nordic states joining the alliance. 

‘I am pleased to announce we now have an agreement that paves the way for Finland and Sweden to join NATO,’ Stoltenberg said that evening when he announced the deal.

‘Turkey, Finland and Sweden have signed a memorandum that addresses Turkey’s concerns, including around arms exports and the fight against terrorism,’ he added.

The three nations agreed to protect each other’s security as Europe faces its worst security crisis in decades in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 

Turkey made a request in October to buy 40 Lockheed Martin-made F-16 fighters and nearly 80 modernization kits for its existing warplanes

Turkey made a request in October to buy 40 Lockheed Martin-made F-16 fighters and nearly 80 modernization kits for its existing warplanes

President Joe Biden said Russian President Vladimir Putin (above) is getting 'exactly what he didn't want' - the NATO-zation of Europe

President Joe Biden said Russian President Vladimir Putin (above) is getting ‘exactly what he didn’t want’ – the NATO-zation of Europe

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, third left, shakes hands with Sweden's Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson, right, next to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, center, and Finland's President Sauli Niinisto, second right, after signing a memorandum in which Turkey agrees to Finland and Sweden's membership in NATO; NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg (left) looks on

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, third left, shakes hands with Sweden’s Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson, right, next to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, center, and Finland’s President Sauli Niinisto, second right, after signing a memorandum in which Turkey agrees to Finland and Sweden’s membership in NATO; NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg (left) looks on

In its objections, Turkey wanted Sweden and Finland to stop supporting Kurdish militant groups present on their territory, and to lift their bans on some sales of arms to Turkey.

Under the terms of the deal, Stockholm will intensifying work on Turkish extradition requests of suspected militants and both Finland and Sweden will work on amending their laws to toughen their approach to them.

Stoltenberg said both Nordic nations would lift their restrictions on selling weapons to Turkey.

Both Finland, which has a 810 mile border with Russia, and Sweden are now set to bring well-trained militaries into the alliance.

Under NATO treaties, an attack on any member would be considered an attack against all and trigger a military response by the entire alliance. 

President Biden spoke with Erdogan on Tuesday morning before the deal was signed.

A senior administration official said that call was for the ‘president to be able to talk directly with President Erdogan about the membership application to Finland and Sweden and to encourage him to seize this moment and get this done.’

The official said Biden made the call at the request of Sweden and Finland.  

The official spoke to reporters on Tuesday night to describe President Biden’s role in the process and asked for anonymity to speak frankly. 

The official said President Biden didn’t want to get in the ‘middle’ of talks but wanted to put the weight on the scale at the end to get it done.

‘We have been very studious, and rejecting the idea that the United States was wanting to play broker. We did not think that would be productive,’ the official said.

The Biden administration sees the deal as a win. 

‘This obviously, is just a powerful shot in the arm from the point of view of allied unity and also, you know, a historic moment for the Alliance to traditionally neutral countries, choosing to sign up to NATO and being welcomed by NATO,’ the senior administration official said. 

Finland and Sweden will bring with them almost 1million troops, including reserves, along with a huge amount of artillery, jets and submarines

Finland and Sweden will bring with them almost 1million troops, including reserves, along with a huge amount of artillery, jets and submarines

Russia's invasion of Ukraine prompted Finland and Sweden to launch NATO applications

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine prompted Finland and Sweden to launch NATO applications

Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine prompted Sweden and Finland to apply to join NATO.

It’s the biggest expansion of the alliance since former Soviet bloc countries joined the group in 1999. 


Source link

Related Articles

Back to top button