Ankara is not only an F-35 fighter jet customer but also a partner, Turkish President Erdogan underlined at a Justice and Development Party's parliamentary meeting.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during AK (Justice and Development) Party meeting at the Grand National Assembly of Turkey in Ankara on November 19, 2019.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during AK (Justice and Development) Party meeting at the Grand National Assembly of Turkey in Ankara on November 19, 2019. (AA)

Turkey told the US it would be forced to "look elsewhere" to satisfy its defence needs if the current dispute surrounding F-35 fighter jets continued, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday.

"We said (to the US president) that if the current disagreement on F-35 fighter jets continues, Turkey must look elsewhere to meet medium-term needs," Erdogan told his governing Justice and Development (AK) Party's parliamentary group about a meeting he had with President Donald Trump in Washington on November 13.

"We are not a customer, we are a partner," he underlined.

Turkey's acquisition of the advanced Russian air-defence system prompted the Trump administration to remove Turkey from the F-35 fifth-generation joint strike fighter program in July.

The US maintains that the system could be used by Russia to covertly obtain classified details on the jet and is incompatible with NATO systems.

Turkey, however, counters that the S-400 would not be integrated into NATO systems and would not pose a threat to the alliance.

Erdogan also slammed accusations against Turkey in the US that Ankara was hostile towards Kurds.

"We are not against our Kurdish brothers, we are against the PKK, PYD and YPG, which are terror groups," said Erdogan.

Erdogan also criticised US support to the YPG in Syria.

"Those trying to show the separatist terror group as fighting against Daesh now try to hide that group's civilian massacres," Erdogan said.

Turkey is aware that the engagement between the US and YPG/PKK terror group in Syria will not end soon, he added. However, he said, it was a "reality" that the terror group found itself in an increasingly difficult position in the region.

The YPG is the Syrian offshoot of the PKK terrorist organisation. 

In its 30-year terror campaign against the Turkish state, more than 40,000 people, including women and children, have been killed.

Turkey, the US and the EU recognise the PKK as a terrorist organisation.

Turkey launched Operation Peace Spring on October 9 to eliminate the YPG/PKK from northern Syria in order to secure the border, aid in the safe return of Syrian refugees and ensure Syria’s territorial integrity.

On October 22, Ankara and Moscow reached a deal under which YPG/PKK terrorists would pull back 30 kilometres south of Turkey’s border with Syria and Turkish and Russian security forces would conduct joint patrols there.

Source: AA