The outline of the U.S. sanction decision against Turkey became clear with the news received from Washington on Monday. Accordingly, it was reported that the head of Turkey’s Defense Industries Presidency (SSB), İsmail Demir, and Presidency officials Mustafa Alper Deniz, Serhat Gençoğlu, and Faruk Yiğit have been added to the sanctions list.
What does this mean?
Will the sanctions pose a major problem for the Defense Industries, which has become one of Turkey’s most pivotal institutions?
Will critical projects be sidetracked?
So, what’s going to happen?
DEFENSE INDUSTRIES CHIEF DEMİR: WE WILL NOT BE AFFECTED BY SANCTIONS
Upon the announcement of the CAATSA sanctions and their depth, I called Defense Industries head İsmail Demir, who has specifically been targeted by them. Mr. Demir gave clear and concise answers to my questions, and every word he said was critical.
Allow me to share them with you:
We know that as the Defense Industries Presidency you are working on more than 700 projects. How will the U.S. sanction decision affect these projects?
We will repeatedly say this: We will not be affected by these decisions. We are truly determined regarding this matter. If there are certain areas affected by this decision, or if there are certain components we overlooked, then, in this sense, that is a good thing. Because the sanctions will bring them to our attention as well. We may have missed something, perhaps a sub-area or another is dependent on it. We may not be aware of this. Thus, this would be the signal and we will take care of that too. There is no problem at all.
TURKEY UNABLE TO BUY CRITICAL PRODUCTS
Are there no U.S.-made products among critical goods? Will there be no impact in this sense?
We were not able to purchase anything related to the critical products in question anyway. Nothing will change for us. Yet, if there is something here and there, we will be aware of it, and work on it accordingly. We were recently about to commence the mass production of a product. Another country did not provide us with a component that was needed for our system. What happened? We strived for a couple of months and made it ourselves. We got our system to operate.
‘THIS SITUATION WILL MAKE US MORE DETERMINED, ALERT, STRONGER’
Then you see no general problem concerning the objectives of the Defense Industries Presidency?
Concerning objectives, as I said, this situation will only serve to make us more determined, alert and stronger.
The sanctions impose a visa restriction against you as well. I do not know if you have any affairs in the U.S. What can you say about this?
Everything is in Turkey. I stayed in America for eight to nine years. I received my education there; I have friends, good relations, but if I cannot travel there, then so be it.
What sort of a solution strategy could be implemented to overcome this in the future?
I do not know. Of course, they are now going to expect us to backtrack concerning the S-400 matter, but Turkey has repeatedly said that we would make our decisions independently; our independent decisions are in the interest of our country; we will not compromise. We always stated and will continue to state that threats will not work on Turkey, that friendly and alliance relations are important to us, and that we currently and will always want to establish relations within this frame. If they adopt the same approach, then great.
İsmail Demir has been serving as the head of the Defense Industries, the apple of Turkey’s eye, for six years now. When he came to his post, he boosted the number of projects in this field from 300 to 700. The number of Turkish companies on “Defense News Top 100,” which is considered the world’s most prestigious defense industry list and was announced this year, rose to seven. In order to relay the magnitude of this, I would like to reiteratre that there were only three Turkish firms on that very list three years ago.
Based on the answers he provided to my questions above, it is clearly understood that there will be no turning back from the strategic objectives set in this field due to U.S. sanctions. This is good and comforting news for Turkey.
The U.S. has no right to impose sanctions against Turkey due to the S-400 missiles. It was only last year that Donald Trump clearly and publicly stated at the G-20 summit in Osaka that Turkey is right regarding this matter.
The outline of the sanctions indicates that there is no grave, destructive objective targeting Turkey. As a matter of fact, it gives the impression that sanctions were implemented simply for the sake of implementing them.
This is true, but even though they may be “light” sanctions, the U.S. has no right to impose sanctions against Ankara regarding a matter in which it is completely in the right.