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Turkish Defence Minister authorised to say (Our comment)

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BY IKRAM NUR

Turkish Minister of National Defence Hulusi Akar took part in the webinar on 'Turkey's National Defence Strategy and Recent Developments in the Region,' during which he made a number of important statements.

The resignation of two most influential generals of the Turkish Armed Forces, which took place at the end of the annual meeting of the Supreme Military Council (YAŞ), held a week ago, on July 23, showed the main thing: the 'actions' and the political weight of the current Minister of Defence, Hulusi Akar are constantly growing, and today he is one of the most influential military and political leaders of the country.

And therefore what he says deserves the closest attention. This is also because, being a very extraordinary politician, he nevertheless prefers a military-style direct and open dialogue, avoiding ambiguity. This is a kind of professional deformation of a military leader of any kind: an indistinct and ambiguous order can lead to defeat.

Hulusi Akar

So, during a recent webinar hosted online by the Washington-based think tank Turkish Heritage Organisation, the general spoke very clearly. Noting that Turkey has a coastline of nearly 1,800 kilometres in the Eastern Mediterranean, Hulusi Akar made the following statement: 'Any energy projects in the Eastern Mediterranean that exclude Turkey from the energy equation are doomed to fail. We are convinced that peace and stability in the region can be achieved through dialogue.'

The general did not ignore the 'Kurdish problem,' saying on this occasion, I quote: 'We have no problems either with the Kurds or with other ethnic groups. We have lived with Kurds for centuries and will continue to live. Just as ISIL does not represent Muslims, the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) is not a representative of the Kurds. Kurds are our brothers. We are exclusively fighting the PKK/YPG and other terrorist organisations.'

'But where the Kurds are, there is inevitably Syria. Here, Minister Akar recalled that Turkey, in order to protect its borders and the safety of its citizens, carried out four major operations in Syria. 'We conducted these operations with the utmost care,' he continued. 'We have never targeted civilians, historical or religious sites. We stand for a civil, democratic and politically united Syria. At the same time, Turkey, within the framework of the right to self-defence, will continue to respond to attacks from the regime or any terrorist organisation.'

Noting that Libya and Turkey are linked by a common 500-year history and culture, Minister Akar said: 'Our main goal in Libya is an independent and sovereign country with intact territorial integrity and national unity, in which the leading role belongs to the Libyans themselves and the interests of all Libyans are represented. Some countries, such as the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Russia, France and Saudi Arabia, claim to support a political settlement, but, unfortunately, continue to supply Haftar with weapons and military equipment. This outside support is the biggest obstacle to peace and stability in Libya.'

Hulusi Akar also drew attention to the tension between Azerbaijan and Armenia, noting at the same time: 'Turkey condemns the aggression of Armenia and supports the peaceful settlement of this problem within the framework of the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. The US and the international community should urge Armenia to avoid such aggressive actions and take a constructive position to resolve this problem.'

As for the differences between Turkey and the United States, as well as the ups and downs in bilateral relations, the two countries have overcome many difficulties, said Minister Akar. Further, the head of the defence department voiced the following theses of Ankara for Washington:

'The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that the Turkish-American alliance and partnership is as vital as never before.

We believe that the language of threats and sanctions is an inappropriate way to indicate differences between allies. Nevertheless, we believe that Turkey and the United States will take a more positive path, as they have done so many times in the past.

They say geography is destiny. In our case, the fate of the region also depends on Turkey. I think the US should recognise this and prioritise Turkey as the main regional partner in overcoming global challenges.'

Well, Hulusi Akar ended his multifaceted speech explaining some of Turkey's foreign policy priorities for the near future quite intriguingly: 'The US government reports on the F-35 program showed that Turkey's removal from the program created production risks for key components of the F-35. This affects production times and increases costs. Turkey is not just a client, but also a partner of the F-35 program. The safety of the F-35 technology is important to both Turkey and the United States. We are ready to consider any concerns of the United States regarding the compatibility of the S-400 and F-35 in technical terms.'

One feels that the intrigue regarding the S-400 and the associated pitfalls is not over yet and may well get a fascinating twist in the Moscow-Ankara-Washington triangle.

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