Turkey is determined to get back the $1.4 billion the US owes it over F-35 jets Turkey paid for but were never delivered, the Turkish president has stressed.
“We will get back the $1.4 billion in one way or another,” Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters late Wednesday on the plane returning from a trip to Africa, adding that the Turkish defense minister and US defense secretary have been discussing the issue.
He believed positive steps would be taken, Erdogan said, adding the issue would be discussed with US President Joe Biden during this weekend’s G20 meeting in Rome.
“In no way will we let anyone abuse Turkey’s rights,” he added.
In 2017, when its protracted efforts to buy the Patriot air defense system from the US proved fruitless, Turkey signed a contract with Russia to acquire its S-400 defense system.
Last year the US suspended Turkey from the F-35 jet program, claiming the S-400s would expose the F-35s to possible Russian subterfuge.
Turkey, however, stressed that the S-400 would not be integrated into NATO systems and poses no threat to the alliance or its armament.
It has repeatedly urged a working group to clear up the technical compatibility issues.
Terror group FETO threat in Africa
On his visits this week to Angola, Togo, and Nigeria, Erdogan stressed Turkey’s efforts to forge common ground with African countries against the threat of the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), the group behind the 2016 defeated coup in Turkey.
He added that the dozens of school acquisitions by the Turkish Maarif Foundation in Africa are proof that the FETO terror group has been slowly collapsing on the continent.
The Turkish Maarif Foundation, established after the defeated coup to transfer FETO-affiliated schools to responsible administration, has taken over 216 FETO-linked schools in 19 countries, the president said.
Stating that the terror group still has a presence in Nigeria, Erdogan touched on his meeting with the country’s President Muhammadu Buhari.
Erdogan said they revised bilateral relations between Turkey and Nigeria during the meeting and signed agreements to reinforce the cooperation.
The two leaders also discussed the possibility of Turkey’s taking over a FETO-affiliated university and a hospital in Nigeria, he stated.
FETO and its US-based leader Fetullah Gulen orchestrated the defeated coup of July 15, 2016, which left 251 people dead and 2,734 injured.
Ankara accuses FETO of being behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police and judiciary.
Erdogan said he discussed bilateral relations and regional issues in detail in his meetings with the leaders of Angola, Togo, Burkina Faso, Liberia, and Nigeria.
In a working dinner in Togo’s capital Lome, Erdogan and Togolese President Faure Gnassingbe, Burkina Faso’s President Christian Kabore and Liberian President George Manneh Weah agreed to strengthen cooperation in the field of security.
The four leaders reached a consensus on fighting more actively against FETO, Boko Haram, Al-Qaeda and Daesh/ISIS terror groups, the Turkish leader said.
In the quadrilateral meeting, FETO was listed as a terror group in an international text specific to Africa for the first time, he said.
In a separate meeting with Gnassingbe, Erdogan and his counterpart discussed regional issues and the fight against terrorism, and confirmed mutual will to improve cooperation in political and military fields.
Erdogan and Angola’s President Joao Manuel Lourenco addressed business opportunities and discussed a wide variety of issues during the Turkey-Angola Business Forum, and agreed to improve cooperation on education, security, economy, and cultural life.
Turkey’s vision for Africa
Including the official visits he has conducted since Oct. 17, Erdogan has visited 30 countries in Africa, where he held 41 working visits. Erdogan said these visits “are a concreate indication of Turkey’s determination to improve its relations with the African countries.”
Erdogan said Turkey’s vision for Africa “is based on a win-win principle” as it regards Africa “not as a market, but as a partner.”
Criticizing countries for seeing the African continent not through a perspective of cooperation but interest, Erdogan said: “We defend an approach built on cooperation, solidarity, shared history, knowledge and experience, rather than on arrogance.”
Turkey’s concern is not to exploit the region, he emphasized. “They will win and we will too.”
Citing Buhari, Erdogan said colonial powers had killed a million people in Nigeria, and the French killed another million in Algeria, and 700,000 more in Rwanda. “According to them, you should not reveal these facts, you should not tell,” he added.
“They did not care if the people in miserable conditions there died. All they cared about were the underground resources, which they did not leave there, but took to their countries,” he remarked.