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What does Turkey gain from gifting Lithuania a drone?

June 11, 2022 at 12:15 pm

Bayraktar drone in Turkey [Baykar/Anadolu Agency]

Lithuania launched a popular campaign to collect donations to buy the armed Bayraktar drone from Turkey to gift to Ukraine. The required amount was raised within days, but Turkey’s Baykar, the company that manufactures the drones, announced that it is gifting one of the drones to Lithuania and asked the latter to send the amount raised to Ukraine as humanitarian aid.

The move by the Baykar company was a stroke of genius in several respects, the first of which was a promotion and advertisement of the Bayraktar drones, which have proven their effectiveness in many battles across different regions. The entire world – from China and Japan to Europe and the US – has talked about the company and its drones. They also praised Turkey for standing with the Ukrainian people against the Russian invasion.

Turkey rejected Sweden and Finland’s accession to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) before abandoning their support for terrorist organisations threatening Turkey’s security. This position prompted Western parties to accuse Ankara of obstructing NATO’s expansion and serving Moscow. By the pro-government Baykar company donating a drone to Lithuania, Turkey disproved these accusations, proving that it serves NATO more than most other members of the alliance. Certainly, Baykar giving the drone to Lithuania, with the green light from Ankara, will refute the malicious claims made by Western media about the Turkish position on the accession of Sweden and Finland to NATO.

Turkish-Ukrainian relations reached peak levels before the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and after the outbreak of the war, Ankara tried to maintain these relations without giving up its relations with Russia. There are cooperation agreements between Ankara and Kyiv, as well as joint projects in various fields, especially the defence industries. Baykar was even planning to open a factory to produce its drones in Ukraine.

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Baykar’s move sends a message to the Ukrainian government and people that the company is keen on continuing friendship and cooperation with the Ukrainian side, and that Ankara will continue to stand by the Ukrainian people. The Ukrainian Ambassador to Ankara Wasil Bodnar commented on Baykar’s contribution, expressing that a true friend appears in a time of need.

Lithuania is a European country and one of the Baltic states, joining the European Union (EU) in 2004. The move by Baykar confirmed to small European countries that Turkey’s friendship is valuable and beneficial. Lithuanian Defence Minister Arvydas Anusauskas described the gifting of a drone to his country as “unbelievable”, while many Lithuanians, Ukrainians and sympathisers of the Ukrainian people praised Turkey and Baykar.

Such moves are expected to change the European public’s opinion, to some extent, in favour of Ankara, at a time when Turkey is stipulating that Sweden and Finland agree to its legitimate demands related to its national security, in order for Turkey to agree for it to join NATO. Turkey is also preparing to launch a new military operation in northern Syria to fight the Kurdish PKK and the establishment of a safe zone for displaced Syrians on the border strip.

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In the coming days, public opinion in Europe in general, and Sweden and Finland in particular, will increasingly question the reasons for the two countries’ support for terrorist organisations and the benefits of preferring them over Turkey. They will discover, for example, that a parliamentarian of Iranian-Kurdish origins receives her orders from the leaders of the terrorist organisation hiding in the Qandil Mountains In northern Iraq. She alone takes the Swedish government hostage and threatens to topple it if it does not support the PKK, because the Swedish government needs her vote to gain confidence. Sweden’s opposition will also move against its government, which is itself obstructing the country’s accession to NATO because of its insistence on supporting terrorist organisations. The question will be raised: which is better for Sweden – to continue supporting the PKK and stay outside the NATO umbrella or to meet Turkey’s legitimate demands and join the alliance? The Swedish government will see that the price of supporting the PKK will be more expensive with every coming day.

European public opinion will see that Turkey stands by Ukraine and the Baltic states, in addition to the Balkan countries. This comes at a time when European countries allow the PKK to organise protest demonstrations and raise its flags and pictures of its leader in the streets of their capitals, despite the fact that all of these countries classify it as a terrorist organisation. They will see in the near future that the monster that the European countries raised and nurtured could harm them if Sweden and Finland agree to meet Turkey’s demands, angering the terrorist organisation.

Translated from Arabi21, 8 June, 2022.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.