Erdoğan dismisses U.S. sanctions threat over S-400 systems
(Updates with Erdoğan's comments on Macron, Azerbaijan)
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Sunday dismissed the United States’ threat of sanctions if the country activated the Russian S-400 defence systems despite opposition from Washington, CNN Türk reported.
Earlier this month, Turkey carried out a live-fire test of its Russian-made S-400 defence systems on its Black Sea coast, in a move that was condemned by the Pentagon.
"You told us to send back the S-400s. We are not a tribal state, we are Turkey," CNN Türk cited Erdoğan as saying in a televised speech in the eastern province of Malatya.
"Whatever your sanctions are, don't hesitate to apply them," he added.
Turkey faces potential sanctions over the missile systems, which U.S. and NATO officials have said could allow Russia to glean information on the defences of the new-generation F-35 fighter jets.
Washington has already thrown Turkey out of a programme to produce and procure fifth generation F-35 stealth fighter jets, and American lawmakers have pushed for sanctions on Turkey required by U.S. law for doing business with Russia’s defence industry – a measure the administration of Donald Trump has failed to impose.
Erdoğan on Sunday also reiterated Turkey’s support for Azerbaijan in its conflict with Azerbaijan over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh.
“We were blamed for taking sides with our Azerbaijani brothers defending their lands in the Caucasus,” Erdoğan said, noting that certain Americans had called his Azerbaijani counterpart Ilham Aliyev telling him that they could impose sanctions on Turkey.
Turkey has thrown its firm support behind Azerbaijan, saying it is ready to do whatever is necessary to eject Armenian forces from the region, which lies within Azerbaijan’s borders but is governed by ethnic Armenians. That support has included supplying Syrian mercenaries to the front lines, according to independent observers including the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights
In a second day of jabs at French President Emmanuel Macron, Erdoğan said the French leader had “lost his way.''
“The person in charge of France has lost his way. He goes on about Erdoğan all day. Look at yourself first and where you are going. I said in Kayseri yesterday, he is a case and he really must be checked up,” Erdoğan said during his televised speech in Malatya province.
France on Saturday recalled its ambassador to Turkey for consultations after Erdoğan questioned Macron's mental condition while criticising Macron’s attitude toward Islam and Muslims.