In a phone call earlier this week, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan asked his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron to drop his opposition to co-production of Eurosam’s SAMP/T missile-defense systems, Turkish officials who asked to not be named because the discussion was in private said to Bloomberg.
Macron responded by saying that Turkey must clarify its objectives in Syria before deployment of European made systems could be considered, according to a French official, who also asked not to be named, Bloomberg reported.
With Turkey resuming a new round of aggression against Greece by sending a research vessel and warships into Greek maritime space, Macron became one of the biggest critics of Erdoğan.
The beginning of Turkey’s aggression against Greece also coincided with the collapse of the Turkish lira, which yesterday traded at 7.62 to the US dollar, meaning Erdoğan is struggling to control events not just outside of Turkey’s borders, but also domestically.
Turkey’s purchase of the S-400 Russian missile defense system was a major catalyst for the rift that has emerged between much of the West and Turkey.
It is likely that Turkey’s interest in purchasing a European missile defense system is to alleviate pressure at a time when Erdoğan is struggling to contain events not only domestically with an out of control economic and COVID-19 situation, but also in the East Mediterranean with Greece, in Syria, in Libya and in Armenia.
Although Turkey has not yet activated the S-400 system despite being delivered last year, as Bloomberg notes, the threat of sanctions from the US has not been enough for Erdoğan “to abandon them or trade them for an American system. Moscow has proposed joint production as part of a possible second contract, which Turkey has deliberated for nearly a year.”
France had an active illegal military presence in northeast Syria on the border with Turkey and attached to the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) that have been fighting Turkish-backed terrorists, including ISIS. However, a US withdrawal from the region and a rapid Turkish military operation to invade the border region of Syria saw the French military expelled from the region.
The Turkish request to buy European missile defense systems comes as Greece is buying $2 billion worth of French-made fighter jets and missiles.