Is the US out as Turkey’s top Western arms dealer?

  25 May 2018    Read: 850
Is the US out as Turkey’s top Western arms dealer?

Britain may replace the U.S. as Turkey’s major Western weapons supplier, as the two European nations are set to take a “strategic” turn in an already growing defense relationship.

Turkey and Britain have been negotiating a comprehensive trade agreement in anticipation for the latter’s exit from the European Union.

According to a British diplomat in Ankara, the two NATO allies agree on the importance of “doing the maximum in their capacity in the field of defense.”
“Both partners have a long-term, strategic view of their cooperation on defense technologies,” he said.

A Turkish presidential aide said both countries agree “a significant part of the [post-Brexit] trade deal will involve defense technologies and cooperation on several systems.”

Defense cooperation was a major part of government-to-government talks during Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s state visit to London on May 15. Turkey’s top procurement officer, Ismail Demir, was, among other senior officials, in Erdogan’s delegation.

“There were several rounds of discussions between officials and company executives,” said one Turkish procurement official who was in Erdogan’s delegation. “There will be follow-on meetings before new programs and their partnership modalities mature.”

Britain is the only European heavyweight with no occasional rifts with Turkey’s Islamist strongman, Erdogan, over Ankara’s increasingly visible democratic deficit. Instead, according to a London-based Turkey specialist, Britain is focused on trade and transactional relations with the country. “That keeps the Turks happy and trade ties prosper,” he said.

A senior Turkish diplomat noted that “Turkey is one of Britain’s most strategic post-Brexit trade partners. In turn, we view the kingdom as a reliable partner in sensitive defense technologies.”

 

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