Ankara earlier proposed a joint working group on sanctions that target Turkey’s Defense Industries Presidency (SSB) and experts from both countries have kickstarted negotiations, Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has said.
Turkish officials have agreed to a US proposal of setting up a joint working group on its sanctions imposed against Turkey's defence industry over its purchase of the Russian S-400 missile defence system.
Such a working group, advocated by Turkey, could point the way forward to lifting the sanctions, imposed earlier this month, if compatibility issues between the S-400 and NATO weapons systems are addressed.
Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that Turkey had itself had earlier proposed a joint working group on the sanctions, which target Turkey’s Defense Industries Presidency (SSB), including SSB head Ismail Demir and three other officials.
“Now the proposal came from the US. As we naturally always favor dialogue, we said yes, and negotiations began at the level of experts,” Cavusoglu said during a meeting reviewing foreign policy developments in 2020.
Underscoring that opinions differ as to whether the sanctions are heavy or not, he said imposing sanctions is a misstep both politically and legally.
“It is an attack on our sovereign rights,” he stressed.
On December 14, through its Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), the US imposed sanctions on the Turkish defence industry over the acquisition of the Russian S-400 missile defense system.
In April 2017, when its protracted efforts to buy an air defense system from the US proved futile, Turkey signed a contract with Russia to acquire the state-of-art missile shield.
US officials have voiced opposition to their deployment, claiming they would be incompatible with NATO systems and would expose F-35 jets to possible Russian subterfuge.
Turkey, however, stressed that the S-400s would not be integrated into NATO systems, and poses no threat to the alliance or its armaments.
Turkish officials have repeatedly proposed a working group to examine the technical compatibility issue.