President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said he urged U.S. President Joe Biden not to link the sale of F-16 fighter jets to Türkiye with Sweden’s NATO bid, during a pull-aside meeting on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in India over the weekend.
On the sidelines of the two-day summit, Erdoğan had bilateral talks with a number of world leaders, including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Germany, Brazil and India as well as EU Council President Charles Michel. Erdoğan’s meeting with Egyptian President Abdel Fettah al-Sisi came after the two countries exchanged ambassadors for the full normalization of the bilateral ties.
Erdoğan held a comprehensive press conference after the end of the summit and informed the press about the achievements of the G20 as well as his bilateral meetings with the world leaders, including U.S. President Biden.
On a question, Erdoğan said he had brief pull-aside meeting with Biden, and the issue of Türkiye’s demand to supply 40 new F-16 fighter jets was on their agenda.
“But, unfortunately, when we discuss the F-16s, our friends tie this issue with Sweden. This approach is saddening us. When we hear this, we have just one answer, ‘If you have your Congress, we also have one: The Turkish parliament,'” Erdoğan said.
“It’s not right to link the F-16s sale to Sweden,” Erdoğan also said.
Sweden wants to join the NATO, but its deficiencies in the fight against anti-Türkiye terror organizations stand as a barrier for the required legislative approval of the Turkish parliament. The U.S, however, insists that a congressional approval for the F-16s to Türkiye is very much linked with the ratification of Sweden.
“It is not possible for me to say ‘yes’ to Sweden if such an approval is not given by the Turkish parliament. I am not in a position to give this decision on my own. And Sweden has to fulfill its obligations. Otherwise, I will have to wait for the decision to be given by the parliament,” Erdoğan stated.
Türkiye said it will approve Sweden’s bid to join the NATO after Stockholm submits its roadmap on the fight against terrorism, after a trilateral meeting between the leaders of Türkiye, Sweden and NATO.
The Turkish parliament is set to begin its legislative year on Oct. 1, but it is unlikely that the Swedish accession to the NATO will be a priority given the fact that the NATO aspirant country has not yet submitted its roadmap.
Ankara calls on UN to renew proposals for grain deal
Another key issue Erdoğan commented on was Türkiye’s efforts to revive the grain initiative through the Black Sea after Russia suspended the move on July 17. Erdoğan had a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi last week and sought to convince him for the resurrection of the initiative in line with a new package of proposals outlined by U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres in a letter sent to Moscow.
“I am not hopeless for the revival of the grain initiative. There is a letter by Guterres, and we will have a demand for a second letter that will update the proposals on [the return of Russia’s agricultural bank to] SWIFT system and insurances,” he said.
Erdoğan repeated that any initiative that seeks to export grain should not exclude Russia as this can put the security and stability of the Black Sea region in danger. Informing that he also had an in detail meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who represented Russia at the summit, Erdoğan said Türkiye was in favor of transporting 1 million tons of grain after processing them into flour through Turkish companies and with Qatari sponsorship to the needy African countries.
“I told Lavrov that ‘we should not limit this initiative to 1 million tons. Let’s find ways to increase this. Because the poor Africa is looking at us.’ They told us that they will ponder upon it,” he suggested.
Also, Erdoğan congratulated African Union for becoming a permanent member of the G20, stressing this will intensify cooperation with the continent.