Turkey will not change course on buying the S-400 missile defense system from Russia, but the country could also accept a "good offer" on U.S. Patriot missiles, the country's president said Tuesday.
Changing course on Turkey's deal to purchase the S-400s is "definitely" out of the question, Recep Tayyip Erdogan told private channel NTV.
"Regarding the Patriot issue, if you [the U.S.] provide us good conditions, we are open to that as well. We have to work with alternatives," Erdogan stressed.
After protracted efforts to purchase air defense systems from the U.S. with no success, Ankara decided in 2017 to buy Russia’s S-400 air defense system.
Criticizing EU countries for attending a summit hosted by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Erdogan said EU leaders lecture Turkey about executions but then pose for pictures with a man who has executed 42 Egyptians since coming to power and nine young people only last week, referring to al-Sisi.
The two-day summit in Egypt’s Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh on Sunday and Monday saw heavy attendance by European officials
Egypt executed nine men on Feb. 20 who were accused of killing the country’s former top prosecutor. Hisham Barakat was assassinated in 2015 when a car bomb destroyed his vehicle.
Earlier this month, Egyptian authorities executed another six people in two separate cases for the murder of a judge’s son and a senior police officer.
Egypt has remained beset by violence and turmoil since the army deposed Mohamed Morsi, the country's first freely elected president, in a 2013 coup.
Clearing Manbij from terrorists
Turkey's main goal now is completely clearing the terrorist PYD/YPG from Manbij, Syria, and their weapons will be taken back by the U.S. as it promised, Erdogan said.
The June 2018 Manbij deal between Turkey and the U.S. focuses on the withdrawal of YPG/PKK terrorists from the city to stabilize the region, which is located in the northern part of Syria’s Aleppo province.
He went on to say that Syrians trust Turkey so much that the tribes there constantly call for it to take action in Manbij.
Turkey has vowed to carry out a counter-terrorist operation in Syria, east of the Euphrates, following two similar successful operations since 2016.
Ankara has repeatedly criticized the U.S. for supplying weapons to the terrorist YPG/PKK ostensibly for fighting the Daesh terror group, arguing that using one terrorist group to fight another makes no sense.
In its 30-year terrorist campaign, the PKK has taken some 40,000 lives, including women and children. The YPG is its Syrian branch.
Safe zone in northern Syria
Underlining Turkey’s advocacy for the establishment of a safe zone in northern Syria, Erdoğan said Turkey cannot leave a region that could threaten it to anyone, and Turkey would establish a presence in such a zone.
He reiterated that the proposed safe zone must be under his country’s control, adding Turkey cannot leave this to Germany, France or the U.S.
Syria has only just begun to emerge from a devastating conflict that began in early 2011 when the Bashar al-Assad regime cracked down on demonstrators with unexpected ferocity.
Turkey's EU process
Speaking on the latest EU draft report that calls for suspending accession negotiations between Turkey and the European Union, Erdoğan said it is unacceptable.
Turkey's EU accession process can lead the country to proceed on its own way, he added.
He reiterated that Turkey would continue to adopt reforms for accession into the bloc.
Turkey applied for EU membership in 1987 and accession talks began in 2005.
But negotiations stalled in 2007 due to the objections of the Greek Cypriot administration on the divided island of Cyprus as well as opposition from Germany and France.
Kurdish forces in Syria
Erdoğan also touched on comments by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Kurdish forces in Syria, saying they were wrong.
All PKK-related groups are terrorist organizations, he said, adding they can have Kurdish, French, German and Italian members. In other words, it is very wrong to be in efforts to introduce Turkey as an enemy of the Kurdish people because the PKK does not represent the Kurdish people.
Erdoğan also said U.S. President Donald Trump's senior advisor Jared Kushner is due in Turkey on Wednesday to discuss economic and regional issues.