Is Turkey Returning to the SAMP / T Air Defense System Project?

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The extraordinary NATO summit, which expressed support and solidarity with Ukraine, and the decision to increase the deterrence of the alliance against Russia became more important to Turkey at the bilateral meeting held by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The fact that a tripartite group has revived between France, Italy and Turkey and cooperation with the SAMP / T air defense system, which had been frozen for some time, could be on the agenda again is the most concrete result of Prime Minister Erdogan. Speaking is considered.

President Erdogan also has the opportunity to inform leaders at the summit that Turkey will serve as a NATO member in the changing security environment of the war between Russia and Ukraine, but that the arms embargo of some allies has created a contradiction. was there.

On March 24, coincident with the first month of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, leaders of 30 NATO countries gathered in Brussels, giving Ukraine a message of support and solidarity, as expected. They called on Russia for an immediate ceasefire and the withdrawal of troops from Ukraine.

As NATO Secretary-General Jason Stoltenberg re-emphasized at a press conference, the alliance has strengthened its military presence in Eastern Europe, but has announced that it is not part of the war.

The NATO Summit, which did not bring any surprises in these respects, created an opportunity for Turkey to strengthen its important role in the recent alliance and develop positive bilateral relations with major European member states.

At the forefront of the message at the press conference after President Erdogan’s meeting, his official Twitter account was determined to continue Turkey’s policy since February 24, when Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began.

He emphasized that Turkey was not aware of and will not be aware of the 2014 Crimean invasion and annexation of Russia, and reminded Erdogan that he is using authority stemming from the Montreux Convention.

Another message from Prime Minister Erdogan was that the measures NATO took in the name of deterrence were not against any third party, especially Russia. Prime Minister Erdogan noted that NATO should act “realistically and strategically” while continuing to support Ukraine in the current war environment, “the decision made at the summit is NATO’s deterrence and defense. It’s a step to strengthen the structure, not in it. “

“End of MBARGO” Call to allies

Another problem mentioned by President Erdogan was that major NATO members such as the United States, Germany and Canada did not procure some of Turkey’s required weapons systems for political reasons. In his speech at his summit, the president noted that he had communicated this criticism directly to his leaders, and expressed his view:

“In the spirit of alliance solidarity, Turkey will continue to contribute to NATO’s deterrence and defense measures as needed. We expect allies to do the same. The success of Turkey’s defense industry is clear. But the obstacles we face in this area. The limitation that some allies impose on the defense industry is that it is our common interest to remove the bans between allies. It shouldn’t even be discussed, let alone implementation. We openly shared our expectations for this issue with our leaders. “

Turkey also took advantage of improved dialogue with the West after Russia invaded Ukraine to end the arms embargo imposed on it. In a statement to the Turkish press, Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said, “We impose restrictions on implicit or explicit export licenses by friends, brothers, and those known as allies. There are times. Applications, we are allies. It is not given. It is in Germany, France. “There is Canada, there is America, there are all of them. Thanks to the UK, they are restricted. They hope this will serve as a model for our other allies and other friends.

Turkey-France-Italy group is against

Meetings held within the summit brought to the fore a meeting between President Erdogan, French President Emmanuel Macron and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi. Prime Minister Erdogan described the meeting with European Union Presidency France leader Macron as “efficient and informative” and decided to continue developing the long-tensioned relationship between Ankara and Paris. He said he did. What normalization measures have been taken recently after the elections in France were completed?

The recent increase in contact between Ankara and Paris has ended the mutual criticism, especially between the two leaders, and eased tensions. The convergence of the positions of both parties in Libya is also one of the factors that reduce tensions. The beginning of the Ukrainian War created an important opportunity to further normalize bilateral relations.

A similar process is taking place in Italy. Italy’s Prime Minister Draghi used the term “dictator” for Erdogan last year, causing serious confusion in the relationship between Ankara and Rome. Tensions eased at the Erdogan Draghi conference at the G20 Summit hosted by Italy in October 2021. The last meeting in Brussels took place in another positive atmosphere.

Draghi explained the meeting with Prime Minister Erdogan to the Italian press: “One of the cooperation forums that was created in the last few years but was later suspended was a group between Turkey, France and Italy. Decided to resume. Soon a trilateral meeting. “

SAMP / T system may be used again

In 2017, Turkey, France and Italy began a study that included a joint production of a SAMP / T air defense system with the French-Italian consortium EuroSam. Within this step, which took place shortly after Turkey signed the S-400 system agreement from Russia, it was decided to conduct an 18-month identification survey in early 2018.

Towards the end of 2019, when the work on the SAMP / T air defense system, which could be integrated into the NATO system, reached a critical stage, the process was interrupted as Turkey launched a peaceful spring operation in Syria.

It is noteworthy that this measure was taken as a result of the recent softening of relations and the occupation of Ukraine by Russia. In response to journalist questions after last year’s G20 summit, President Erdogan said the SAMP / T project could be revived: “We will take a positive step in the next period, especially in the field of SAMP / T. France. , Italy, the defense industry as a trio of Turkey, and with these positive steps we will also be in us. “We need to significantly increase our current trade volume,” he says. I did.

Turkey was subject to US sanctions for deploying Russia’s S-400 air defense system on its territory in mid-2019 and was removed from the F-35 fighter program. Keeping in mind that the United States did not supply the Patriot system and had to purchase the S-400 from Russia, Turkey will work with Italy and France to co-produce a high-end model of SAMP / T air defense. I issued the message. A system compatible with NATO systems.