Erdoğan says U.S. sanctions 'blatant attack' on Turkey

(Updated with presidential spokesman's remarks)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Wednesday called the U.S. sanctions against Turkey announced this week a “blatant attack” the country’s sovereignty.

Turkey is the first NATO member to face such sanctions, state-run Anadolu news agency cited Erdoğan as saying at a highway opening ceremony.

On Monday, the United States imposed sanctions on Turkey over Ankara's acquisition of Russian S-400 air defence systems. 

Turkey acquired the ground-to-air defences in mid-2019 and maintains they pose no threat to NATO allies, while Washington and NATO say the system is incompatible with the alliance’s equipment and a potential threat to allied security.

"For the first time, (sanctions) have been imposed on our country, a NATO member. What kind of alliance is this? This decision is a blatant attack on our country's sovereignty rights,’’ Erdoğan said.

Turkey remains more determined than over to boost its defence industry despite the measure, he added, despite the measure's attempt to make the country’s defence industry dependent.

"The United States does not allow for the sale of the air defence system it maintains,’’ Erdoğan said. "Turkey produces close to 1000 components of the F-35 fighter jets.’’

In July 2019, the United States kicked Turkey out of its F-35 stealth fighter development and training programmeover the S-400 purchase.

Moreover, there was no logical explanation regarding Turkey's exclusion from the F-35 fighter jet programme, he said, with the country having made most of the payment.

Later on Wednesday, Turkish Presidential spokesman İbrahim Kalın called for Turkey and EU to act in solidarity and cooperation in the face of challenges, state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

Kalın urged the bloc to work with Ankara on regional crises, including terror, immigration, Islamophobia, xenophobia and racism, during an online meeting on Wednesday with the envoys of EU member countries.