In a wide-ranging interview with a local broadcaster, Türkiye's President Erdogan says US decision to lift arms embargo on Greek Cypriot administration will not go unanswered and vows to take all steps to protect Turkish Cypriots.
Türkiye's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has voiced displeasure over referendums in eastern Ukraine to be annexed to Russia and hoped that the issue would be resolved through diplomacy.
"I wished such a referendum had not been held and we could have solved all this through diplomacy ... but unfortunately it did not happen," Erdogan told CNN Turk on Wednesday.
Erdogan said that all counterparts at UN General Assembly have appreciated Türkiye's mediating efforts between Russia and Ukraine.
"[Ukraine's President Volodymyr] Zelenskyy wants our support to persuade [Russia's President Vladimir] Putin for four regions," Erdogan said, adding that he will speak with Putin on Thursday.
In July, President Erdogan brought top Ukraine and Russian representatives to Türkiye with the participation of UN chief Antonio Guterres to sign a grain deal that prevented food shortages around the globe.
Russia has been supporting referenda in four Ukrainian regions and has not ruled out nuclear war as the conflict widens. The western military bloc, NATO, said it is taking statements from Moscow seriously.
"I don't even want to think about it. It would be catastrophic," Erdogan said reiterating the need for the Russia-Ukraine conflict to be resolved diplomatically.
Armament race on Cyprus island
Türkiye will reinforce its military presence in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) after the United States lifted its defence trade restrictions on the Greek Cypriot Administration, Erdogan said.
"The United States, which overlooks and even encourages the steps by the Cypriot-Greek duo that threaten peace and stability in the Eastern Mediterranean, will lead to an armament race on the island with this step," Erdogan said.
Türkiye already has 40,000 troops on the island and will reinforce them with land, naval and aerial weapons, ammunition and vehicles, he noted.
"Everyone must know that this last step will not go unanswered and that every precaution will be taken for the security of the Turkish Cypriots," Erdogan said, adding the US move is "inexplicable."
Türkiye is taking all necessary steps at the UN to make TRNC be recognised but he noted that "it takes time."
"If UN Security Council acts fairly on Ankara's request for recognition of Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus," Erdogan said, Ankara will speed up the recognition process.
US military deployments in Aegean 'unacceptable'
Touching on US military deployments in Greece, the Turkish president said Ankara expects the US to not mislead Greece and stop the manipulation of international public opinion against Türkiye.
Turkish drones have captured pictures of a US ship carrying Greek military deployment into the Aegean demilitarised islands, according to multiple international agreements.
"The US sending loads of weapons, ammunition and equipment to Midilli (Lesvos) and Sisam (Samos) islands is unacceptable to us," Erdogan said.
Ankara has warned the US and Greece over military deployments through the Foreign Ministry and sent a letter to the UN on September 17, Erdogan said.
Two days after the Greek PM said, “Greece is not a threat” to Türkiye, video footage was released showing the Greek deployment of armoured vehicles on the Aegean Islands pic.twitter.com/uFf3nulvoh— TRT World (@trtworld) September 27, 2022
On F-16 purchase
President Erdogan recounted his visit to the 77th UN General Assembly in New York and said he met with several US officials and representatives, who were "positive" on selling US-made F-16 fighter jets to Türkiye.
"[US President Joe] Biden promised us, as Democrats, his opinion is to sell F-16s and all other parts and components," Erdogan said.
The $6 billion deal includes the sale of 40 F-16 jets and modernisation kits for 79 warplanes that the Turkish Air Force has in its fleet.
Some anti-Türkiye congresspeople are opposing the jet sale to Ankara but some lawmakers, who met the president will conduct meetings with the opposing side to persuade them, Erdogan said.
Turkish defence officials are conducting meetings with their US counterparts to resolve the F-16 jet procurement.
The last meeting was held in Washington.