Turkish press: Turkey should activate S-400s, demand refund for F-35s: MHP leader

Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli speaks at his party's parliamentary group meeting in Ankara, Turkey, April 27, 2021. (AA Photo)

Relations between Turkey and the United States are at a historical junction, Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli said Tuesday, adding that Ankara should now take steps to activate the advanced S-400 Russian air defense system and demand a refund from the F-35 Lightning II jet program.

Back in December, the U.S. decided to impose sanctions on Turkey over the purchase of Russian-made missile defense systems.

Ties between NATO allies Turkey and the U.S. were badly strained in 2019 over Ankara’s acquisition of the advanced S-400 air defense system, prompting Washington to remove Turkey from its F-35 Lightning II jet program. The U.S. argued that the system was incompatible with NATO systems and could be used by Russia to covertly obtain classified information on the F-35 jets. Turkey, however, insists that the S-400 would not be integrated into NATO systems and would not pose a threat to the alliance.

Bahçeli said his party would support all decisions taken by the state and criticized U.S. President Joe Biden’s recent remarks on the 1915 events. He said Washington “should first give account for the millions of innocents the U.S. killed in Vietnam, Korea, Cambodia, Laos, Hiroshima and Nagasaki.”

Speaking during his party's parliamentary group meeting, Bahçeli further stated that the U.S. has caused the deaths of 1 million people in Iraq and another 1.5 million in Afghanistan.

Underlining that Biden’s words damaged the relations with its ally and will take many years to repair, he said the "U.S.’ alliance was a lie and strategic partnership a fairy tale."

Last Saturday, Biden called the events of 1915 a "genocide," breaking with American presidents' long tradition of refraining from using the term.

Biden's remarks came in a customary statement on the anniversary, a day after speaking with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Biden is said to have acknowledged during the conversation that he planned to go ahead with the statement and was seeking to placate the expected uproar from NATO ally Turkey.

After the remarks, the Turkish nation stood united against the misrepresentation of history, as citizens from all political views flocked to social media platforms to express their anger. The Turkish government and opposition parties have also stood united against Biden’s move.

Erdoğan on Monday following the Cabinet meeting called upon U.S. authorities to come to Turkey and "inspect the evidence with regards to 1915."

"I am speaking based on evidence, unlike Biden. We have over 1 million documents related to the 1915 events in our archives. I am wondering how many documents the United States has," he said.

"Armenian gangs, who were at least 150,000 to 300,000 people, carried out massacres in Turkish territory. Furthermore, they partnered with Russian forces to fight against us. The Ottoman authorities took precautions," he said, underlining the crimes perpetrated by the Armenian gangs at the time.

Erdoğan once again voiced Turkey's proposal to set up a joint history commission.

Turkey's position on the 1915 events is that the death of Armenians in eastern Anatolia took place when some sided with invading Russians and revolted against Ottoman forces. A subsequent relocation of Armenians resulted in numerous casualties, added to by massacres commited by militaries and militia groups on both sides.

The mass arrests of prominent Ottoman Armenian politicians, intellectuals and other community members suspected of links with separatist groups, harboring nationalist sentiments and being hostile to the Ottoman rule before being rounded up in then-capital Istanbul on April 24, 1915, is considered the beginning of later events.

Turkey objects to the presentation of the incidents as "genocide" but describes the 1915 events as a tragedy in which both sides suffered casualties.

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