Ankara plans to mend ties with the West next year, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday, as he complained about double standards his country faces in its relations with Washington and Brussels.
President Erdogan told lawmakers from his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) on Wednesday that he will try to improve ties with Western states despite “artificial agendas” they may pursue now. “Turkey is facing double standards both over the eastern Mediterranean and the S-400s. We want to turn a new page with the EU and United States in the new year,” Erdogan said.
The president made it clear Turkey will focus on foreign policy next year, saying that “Turkey has no luxury of turning its back on either the West or the East.”
Admitting that Turkey had “a challenging year in terms of our ties with the US and Europe despite our efforts,” Erdogan expressed hope that US President-elect Joe Biden “will also pay due attention to Turkish-American relations.”
The US imposed sanctions on Turkey on December 14 over Ankara’s purchase of the Russian S-400 missile defense system after Washington claimed it would be incompatible with NATO weaponry.
Ankara sees the sanctions as a “grave mistake,” and Erdogan stressed on Wednesday that Turkey would not “bow down to the language of sanctions and blackmail.”
At the same time, the EU imposed sanctions on several Turkish officials and entities who were allegedly involved in gas drilling activities in the eastern Mediterranean amid Ankara’s disputes with Greece and Cyprus. However, Brussels postponed trade tariffs or an arms embargo until March.
Erdogan also said in his speech on Wednesday that Ankara will not “ignore Africa and Asia,” and the Turkish parliament agreed on the same day to extend for 18 months a law that allows the deployment of troops to Libya.