Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan bashed Germany, NATO, the U.S. and Israel in a speech to his party on Tuesday, signaling an accelerated political realignment away from the West as he seeks to conclude a missile defense deal with Russia.
The Turkish president accused foreigners of attempting to break Turkey apart and vowed to continue to crush “agents” acting against the country. He also dismissed U.S. concerns about Turkey’s negotiations with Russia to buy S-400 missile defense batteries that would be incompatible with NATO systems, saying the agreement was moving ahead and denouncing the U.S. for partnering with Kurdish militant groups in Syria.
Erdogan’s rhetoric comes after Germany announced a “reorientation” of its Turkey policy following the arrests of 10 human rights activists, including the director of Amnesty International and a German citizen, at a hotel off Istanbul’s coast where they were conducting a workshop. Relations between the two countries have turned increasingly hostile this year after Turkey arrested a German-Turkish journalist in February and Germany refused to allow Turkish ministers to campaign for expatriate Turks’ votes before a referendum giving Erdogan sweeping powers in April.
“You’re going to prevent Turkey’s president and ministers from speaking in your country, but your agents are going to swarm in, come to hotels here and break my country up into pieces?” Erdogan said. “That’s not going to happen. Either you’re going to show respect for our sovereign rights, you’re going to be partners, friends and allies on just and equal terms, or you’re going to get a response to every act of disrespect.”
Agreements to buy Russia’s most advanced missile defense systems have been signed and “God willing, we’ll see them in our country soon,” Erdogan said. Turkey had worked for years to buy similar systems from the U.S. but was unable to conclude a deal allowing joint production, he said. “If we can’t get what we want from America, we have to search elsewhere,” he said.
(c) 2017, Bloomberg · Benjamin Harvey