Prospect of weapons deals drawing Turkey back towards West - Bloomberg

The prospect of military technology and growing tensions with Russia are drawing Turkey back towards its Western allies in an effort to secure crucial military technology, Bloomberg said on Friday.

In recent years, Turkey had “veered closer to Moscow, alienating and antagonizing fellow members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization”, the news agency said.

Turkey and several NATO allies have found themselves at odds over a number of recent issues.  Greece and Cyprus accuse Ankara of violating their maritime borders in competition over hydrocarbons in the eastern Mediterranean. France has condemned Turkey’s military intervention in favour of Azerbaijan in the conflict with Armenia over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region. And on Sunday, German soldiers forcibly boarded a Turkish cargo ship accused of breaking a European Union arms embargo on Libya. 

Turkey is now ready to change course, Bloomberg said: “Ankara believes Biden’s enduring faith in multinational institutions and transatlantic ties will help it repair damage with NATO partners and improve the likelihood of long-sought weapons deals.”

The U.S. excluded Turkey from the next-generation F-35 fighter jet programme following Ankara’s purchase of the Russian-made S-400 missile defence system. And Turkey’s domestic defence industry has struggled to source crucial components from Canada, Germany and France amid political objections to recent military interventions in Syria, Libya and Nagorno-Karabakh.

But Moscow has also failed to live up to Ankara’s expectations of the transfer of military technology following the S-400 deal, and Turkey was therefore willing to use its presence in the Middle East to help NATO “contain an expansionist Russia”, Bloomberg cited Turkish sources as saying. 

However, significant challenges to Turkey’s relationship remain, Bloomberg said: “Repairing ties also roiled by Western support for Kurdish fighters in Syria and U.S. charges against a major Turkish bank for sanctions-busting, won’t be straightforward.”