German FM's remarks on arms sales only serve to bolster Turkish defense industry: FM Çavuşoğlu

Published 12.09.2017 20:07
Updated 13.09.2017 11:54
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German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel's comments about halting arms exports to Turkey are not appropriate for a foreign minister, and will only bolster Turkey's defense capacity and the local arms industry, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on Tuesday.

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel announced Monday that his country put most arms exports to Turkey on hold amid ongoing tensions between the two countries. However German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday rejected a total ban.

Speaking to reporters after a meeting with his Pakistani counterpart Khawaja Muhammad Asif in Ankara, Çavuşoğlu asserted that such moves would only serve to strengthen the local Turkish arms industry.

"These kinds of approaches actually help to strengthen our own defense industry," he said.

"And in this sense, we are increasing national and local production in all areas. We're producing our own fighter jets and helicopters. Turkey is never desperate."

Çavuşoğlu also added that he found Merkel's stance more suitable, underscoring that attempts to drum up support by attacking Turkey ahead of Germany's election later this month would yield no result.

Gabriel's Social Democratic Party is a partner in the Angela Merkel-led Christian Democratic coalition government.

"We understand they [Gabriel's Party] started with 30 percent in the polls and now his party's support fell to 22 percent. But I'm not responsible for this. He's responsible for it, he was the head of the party until recently," he said.

Merkel, whose Christian Democratic bloc (CDU/CSU) is leading in the polls, has been under growing pressure by its main rival the Social Democrats and opposition parties to sharpen its tone towards Turkey, due to recent political tensions.

Sales by top Turkish arms companies rose by more than 10 percent in 2015, according to an analysis released last December which also put Turkey's ASELSAN and Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) among the world's top 100 arms firms.

Turkish defense and aviation industry exports to Germany alone rose 17 percent year-on-year in the eight months of 2017, the Turkish Exporters Assembly (TIM) announced last week.

Turkey plans to use only locally designed defense industry technology by 2020, Ismail Demir, undersecretary for the Turkish defense industry, told Anadolu Agency in June.

Ties between Turkey and Germany have been strained since last year, as Turkish leaders slammed Germany for not showing strong solidarity with Ankara against the July 15 coup attempt, and for turning a blind eye to the continued activities of FETÖ in the country.

Ankara has singled out Germany among European countries for embracing some 250 fugitive diplomats and soldiers accused of involvement in the coup with suspected links to FETÖ. A report titled "The FETÖ Settlement in Germany and Germany's FETÖ Policy," says that FETÖ has been using Germany as its main functioning center and that German authorities have embraced the structures of the group with open arms.

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