The need for F-16 upgrades from the US once again occupied Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's conversation with Turkish journalists, this time upon his return from Azerbaijan.
The Turkish president emphasised that a single senator (Bob Menendez) cannot determine the entire process, adding, however, that even if work with the US does not progress, Turkey may turn to other options, "as it did with the S- 400".
“As you know, our work on the F-16 started last year and this process continues according to our schedule. In his meetings with Hulusi Akar, the US Secretary of Defense stated that they support it as an administration, as a ministry and militarily," the Turkish president said.
"Previously, our own Ministry of National Defense held four meetings between delegations, three in Turkey and one in the United States. The process continues," he added.
Referring to Menendez's negative attitude, the Turkish president said: "The statements of senators like Menendez are of his personal opinion, his personal claims and do not in any way reflect an institutional situation.
"In addition, their relations with Greece are also the subject of a separate study. Why are they so biased about it? Stoltenberg himself expressed his impartiality on this issue in recent days at the meeting of NATO defence ministers.
"He stated that the delivery of F-16s to Turkey is an important event not only for Turkey but also for NATO, and that the stronger Turkey is, the stronger NATO will be.
"Therefore, we are closely monitoring the developments and the process. We have done and continue to do everything we need to do for a positive result."
And he continued, blackmailing the US in his own way, saying that if the process with the F-16s does not proceed, Turkey may turn to other options, as it did with the Russian-made S-400s. It is the very reason that Turkey bought the S-400 that it got locked out of the F-35 program and F-16 upgrades.
"On the other hand, the global market is big, so there are various solutions. Menendez's opposition alone does not hinder this work," the Turkish president said.
"Anyone can propose something, but the bill must pass through Congress. During my last visit to America, I had some very positive meetings with representatives of the Senate and Congress.
"In those meetings, I also saw senators who said, 'I'm going to meet with Menendez personally,' and I saw that they didn't accept that approach from Menendez. So the whole point here is how Congress and the Senate will act in general.
"Of course, America is not the only way out for us. When necessary, we also discuss alternatives outside of the United States, just like with the S400."
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