Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who spent four days hustling in New York, held almost all of his bilateral meetings at the Turkish House that was inaugurated on Monday. That very same day, he had a meeting with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson at 5 p.m. local time. As Johnson was leaving the Turkish House, he was asked how the meeting went, to which he replied: “Always good.”
Apart from this, no other statement was made from either side.
According to my sources who are familiar with what went on during the meeting, the Erdogan-Johnson chat not only went “very well” but “very interesting” too. The British premier reportedly sang praises of Turkey’s armed drones during their discussion concerning military and defense industry topics. Johnson’s Turkish roots also apparently came up during the meet, where he objected to hailing from Çankırı and instead said he was from Kalfat, which is actually a village connected to Çankırı’s Orta district.
Johnson’s ‘funny’ allusion
Another topic that came up was the joint “aircraft carrier” project, which has been discussed between the two allies for a while now. As they touched upon how long it would take for the project to be completed, something very interesting indeed did happen.
You see, Johnson is an audacious politician whose tongue has no bone at all.
As this matter was being perused, he alludes to the 107-year stain of shame the British committed through a quip. He articulates a sentence that basically means: “Our side took the money and didn’t send the ships,” while making some odd hand gesture.
Now, it is time for me to relate the 107-year tale alluded to by PM Johnson:
After the Ottoman empire commissioned two warships from Britain, it pays for them in cash with the aid money it collected from its people.
In 1914, the ships are complete.
Just as “Sultan Osman-ı Evvel” and “Rashadiye” were about to be delivered, the British administration made a sudden U-turn and refused to deliver the ships which the Ottoman had already paid for.
In other words, these vessels were seized.
To add insult to injury, the money was never returned.
This decision, which is known as “Churchill stabbing the Turks in the back,” was justified by alleging that the Ottoman Empire was in cahoots with Germany.
Another claim is that, in contrast, this very decision drove the Ottomans and the Germans into a close rapport.
It’s a lot like the F-35 story, is it not?
This story is similar to the Americans expelling Turkey from the F-35 fighter jet program today, using the S-400 missile defense system purchased from Russia as an excuse. Despite paying for these jets, Turkey has been expelled from the program and, furthermore, has been unable to retrieve the money it spent.
Funnily enough, another confession about the American double standard came from U.S. President Donald Trump during the G-20 Summit in Osaka in 2020.
Let me remind you.
As he defended Turkey’s claims about the S-400 missiles in front of the cameras, Trump had basically admitted Turkey was in the right to seek Russia’s help since the U.S. had not only suspended Turkey from the F-35 program even though it had paid for it, but also denied Turkey the right to purchase U.S.-made Patriot missiles.
Now, let’s get back to the Brits, shall we?
It is my personal opinion that a joint aircraft carrier project with the British might not be such a bad idea.
However, both our experience with the F-35 program and President Johnson's not-so-subtle allusion to the 107-year tale of extortion point to how significant it is to tie your camel especially tightly in these situations.
Before Erdogan met with Johnson, he spoke to a group of journalists hailing from the New York Times.
From what I have gleaned, Erdogan was asked whether it was “worth purchasing the S-400s” after reminding him of the developments that followed such as Turkey being ejected from the F-35 program.
After listing the facts of what led Turkey to this particular decision, Erdogan replied: “Yes, it was worth it.”
They attempted to make Turkey pay the price by means unique to bandit states and to add fuel to the fire, Turkey is interrogated and asked whether it was all worth it.
I have nothing to say on the curiosity of journalists, of course, but it hardly seems fair to me that instead of questioning the U.S.’s not-so-fair approach, they attempt to point the finger at Turkey.
This is exactly what they must mean when they talk about the law of power instead of the power of the law.