Ankara, Sep 26 (EFE).- Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday that the decision to ratify Sweden’s NATO membership lies with the Turkish parliament, emphasizing that the United States must also fulfill its commitment to sell F-16 jets to Ankara.
“If they fulfill their promises, our parliament will also fulfill its own and take its steps accordingly,” Erdogan told reporters on his flight back from Azerbaijan.
When asked if he was referring to the sale of American F-16 fighter jets to Turkey, stalled by the US Congress for years, Erdogan said the two issues were unrelated.
He emphasized that the Turkish parliament holds the discretion to ratify Sweden’s NATO bid, asserting that Turkey has its parliament that cannot be sidelined, much like the United States has Congress.
“We have a coalition of parties, and we work for unity. But the decision on Sweden’s accession to NATO will be made by parliament. When the issue comes to the agenda of parliament, we will see together what the decision will be,” he said, according to the official Anadolu Agency.
He said Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan had spoken several times about the issue with his American counterpart, Antony Blinken.
“Fidan will now follow this process closely. These talks are still ongoing. But now, it would be beneficial to turn this situation into an opportunity and meet with him again,” the president said.
Turkey sought US F-16 fighter jets and modernization kits in a $6 billion deal in October 2021.
The deal would include the sale of 40 jets as well as modernization kits for 79 warplanes already in the Turkish Air Force inventory.
However, key lawmakers on Capitol Hill have vowed to kill the deal over several demands, including the Turkish approval of Sweden’s NATO bid.
Erdogan’s Islamist AKP party, which he founded and leads, maintains an absolute majority in parliament due to its coalition with the ultranationalist MHP. The alliance has consistently supported its partner’s proposals since its formation in 2015.
The Turkish president has stressed that Sweden must limit public expressions of support for Kurdish militants, extradite individuals wanted in Turkey, and address incidents of Quran burning. EFE