Ruling AKP Vice Chairman expects no issue with Biden, no U.S. sanctions

Numan Kurtulmuş, vice chairman of Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), told Reuters that he didn’t expect any sanctions from the United States or any problems with President-elect Joe Biden after he takes office in January.

Biden won’t want to continue tense relations with Turkey, “most likely (watching) the balance in the Middle East very carefully for U.S. interests, Kurtulmuş said.

U.S. lawmakers have shown bipartisan support in both the Senate and the House to enact sanctions on Turkey over the purchase of Russian-made S-400 missile defence systems, saying they are incompatible with NATO weapons and pose a security risk. Senate Majority leader, a Trump ally, Mitch McConnell has successfully prevented the sanctions package to reach the floor.

U.S. President Donald Trump has refrained from authorizing CAATSA sanctions on the other hand, but Turkey was removed from the F-35 next generation stealth fighter jet programme. Washington has been working to convince Ankara to return the weapons, or keep them inactive.

“Sorry, but we didn’t procure these to hide them,” Kurtulmuş said. “We got them to meet Turkey’s security needs.”

Turkey is not thinking of its western allies when planning reforms, Kurtulmuş said, responding to a question on whether the government was seeking to ease tensions with Europe and the United States.

“We act by thinking about what we need, what steps to democratization will benefit our people, and move on that path,” Kurtulmuş said. “Not by thinking what act or rhetoric would please them.”