Turkey will continue to maintain its trade ties with other countries, regardless of whether the US imposes sanctions on them, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters in New York yesterday.
The president made the comments in relation to US President Donald Trump’s statements on Russian energy at the NATO summit in Brussels in July, where he claimed that Germany was held hostage to Russia due to its dependence on the country for natural gas.
“We are supposed to be guarding against Russia, and Germany goes out and pays billions and billions dollars a year to Russia,” Trump had argued.
Erdogan yesterday highlighted that Turkey also receives some 50 per cent of their natural gas from Russia, but emphasised that such a situation was not likely to change.
“If we don’t take it [natural gas], our citizens will be cold in the winter,” Erdogan said he told the US president. “Turkey’s stance on sanctions is clear since … We cannot take steps backward in [the trade of] strategic products.”
He added that Turkey would look to strengthen ties with Russia and China, particularly in the area of defence. Russia has pledged to provide Turkey with the S-400 missile system next year, in a deal worth some $2.5 billion.
“We have to meet the needs of our country in the best conditions,” he concluded. “It is not appropriate to try to block a country if there is free market economy involved.”
Earlier this week, Erdogan told reporters that Turkey also had no plans to cease trading with Iran, despite Trump’s threats against those who violate the renewed sanctions.
The US president, who chaired a UN Security Council meeting on Iran on Wednesday, urged other member states to work with America by complying with the sanctions, warning that anyone who failed to do so would “face severe consequences”.
In his speech to the assembly, Erdogan, without explicitly naming the US, criticised the Trump Administration’s utilisation of economic policy as a punitive measure against other states.
“None of us can remain silent to the arbitrary cancellation of commercial agreements and the use of economic sanctions as weapons,” he said.
The Turkish premier also penned an op-ed for Foreign Policy this week, entitled “How to Fix the UN—and Why We Should”, in which he directly accused the US of attempting to “undermine the liberal international order”.
“…If some of the UN’s architects, including the United States, continue to damage multilateralism by taking increasingly unilateralist steps, it will be time to redefine global leadership,” Erdogan wrote, calling on the UN Security council to increase its members to 20 countries, and adopt new rules under which all nations will take turns sitting on the committee.
Tensions between the US and Turkey have continued to rise after America placed sanctions on Turkish products in response to Ankara’s refusal to release an American citizen who Ankara is holding on terrorism-related charges.