Thursday

9th Feb 2023

Turkey and Germany defend Russia ties

  • 'Turkey must choose' between Nato allegiance and Russian arms, Mike Pence said (Photo: securityconference.de)

Turkey and Germany have defended their ties with Russia following strident criticism by the US at a Nato event in Washington.

The Turkish foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, said the US was wrong in trying to force Ankara to buy US-made anti-aircraft systems called Patriots instead of Russian-made S-400s.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • No turning back on S-400 deal, Mehmet Cavusoglu said (Photo: Bled Strategic Forum)

He compared the situation to Ukraine, saying US pressure for it to join the West had prompted its conflict with Russia.

"Turkey doesn't have to choose between Russia or any others ... nobody, neither the West nor Russia, should or can ask us to choose between [them]," he said at a think-tank event in the US capital on Wednesday (3 April).

"And, it happened with Ukraine, and look at what happened. The West asked Ukraine to choose only them and Russia did the same thing," he added.

He criticised Russia's annexation of Crimea from Ukraine and its recent "aggression" against Ukrainian ships in the Black Sea.

"We have been working with Russia, but it doesn't mean that we are undermining the alliance and we agree with Russia on everything. There is no shift on our foreign policy," Cavusoglu said.

He also ruled out a U-turn on the deal, however.

"The S-400 deal is a done deal and we will not step back from this," he said.

For his part, German foreign minister Heiko Maas, speaking at the same event, defended Germany's decision to build a new pipeline with Russia called Nord Stream 2.

Nato unity should not mean "breaking off all channels of dialogue with Russia," he said.

"We are aware of the concerns of our eastern and central European partners [on Nord Stream 2] in particular and we take these concerns seriously," he added.

He also defended Germany's violation of a Nato pact, back in 2014, for members to spend at least two percent of their GDP on defence.

"I know that our budgetary process is sometimes difficult for outsiders to understand ... [but] we have reversed the falling defence expenditure trend," he said, amid plans to spend as little as 1.25 percent by 2023.

Pence diatribe

The ministers spoke after rebukes by US vice president Mike Pence earlier the same day.

The Turkish S-400 deal "threatens the very cohesion of this alliance" was "deeply troubling", and would see Ankara expelled from a US programme to jointly manufacture F-35 fighter jets, he said.

"Turkey must choose: does it want to remain a critical partner in the most successful military alliance in history of the world? Or does it want to risk the security of that partnership by making reckless decisions?," he added.

"It's also wrong for Germany to allow itself to become energy dependent on Russia," Pence noted.

The Nord Stream 2 pipeline "could turn Germany's economy into literally a captive of Russia", he said.

"It is simply unacceptable for Europe's largest economy to continue to ignore the threat of Russian aggression and neglect its own self-defence and our common defence," he added, on German spending levels.

The Ukrainian deputy minister for euro-Atlantic affairs, Ivanna Klympush-Tsintsadze, also took a swipe at Cavusoglu for overlooking its sovereign rights.

"You said that Russia is pulling my country to one side, Nato is pulling it to another side ... It's our decision. We have decided to move to Nato," she said.

But other speakers, such as Constanze Stelzenmueller, from the Brookings think tank in Washington, poked holes in Pence's argument.

Nord Stream 2 was "geopolitically stupid", but some EU members, such as the Baltic states, imported 100 percent of their energy from Russia and were "not notably in any way captive", she said.

"It is insulting to call us captive of Russia because we're holding together the Russian sanctions consensus in Europe at a very real cost to German business," she added, referring to EU sanctions on Russia imposed over its invasion of Ukraine.

The Washington talks were organised by the Atlantic Council, German Marshal Fund, and Munich Security Conference think tanks as part of celebrations of Nato's 70th anniversary.

Papering the cracks

The talks come amid earlier tensions between the US and Germany on spending and on the Russia pipeline, with US president Donald Trump having in the past questioned America's commitment to the alliance.

But Pence, on Wednesday, ended his remarks on a positive note.

"The United States has been faithful to Europe for generations, and we'll keep the faith ... you can be confident the United States of America is now and will always be Europe's greatest ally," he said.

The Nato secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, was also greeted with applause and standing ovations when he spoke to Congress the same day.

"Of course I will continue to ask Germany to do more," he said on spending.

"We do not want a new arms race. We do not want a new Cold War. But we must not be naive [on Russia]," he added, referring to its alleged violation of nuclear arms control treaties.

"There are no new American missiles in Europe, but there are new Russian missiles," he said.

Belgian spy scandal puts EU and Nato at risk

A Belgian intelligence officer has been accused of working for Russia, amid long-standing security fears in Brussels - the home to EU and Nato institutions.

Opinion

EU must get real on Russia

The EU must call the Ukraine conflict by its true name - Russia's illegal war on its peaceful neighbour - and take commensurate action to protect peace in Europe.

Interview

Russia divides Europe's eurosceptic parties

Divisions on how to handle Russia's "neo-imperial appetite", among other factors, are set to block Italian Matteo Salvini's dreams of a new EU league, Jan Zahradil, a leading Czech MEP and a candidate for EU commission president has said.

Opinion

EU buries head deeper in sand over Israel's apartheid

While every European diplomat knows that a return to the "status quo" means maintaining the daily oppression, humiliation and anguish that comes with living under apartheid, the EU continues to acquiesce to a situation that gets worse by the day.

Opinion

Wales' message to Europe: 'We'll be back'

The scars of Brexit have left their mark in communities across Wales. The Menai mussel industry has experienced a sharp decline having once been a staple in fish counters and restaurants across Europe; its business model wrecked by post-Brexit rules.

Latest News

  1. EU leaders attempt to hash out response to US green subsidies
  2. Russian diplomats in EU: unpaid wages, low morale
  3. Eight EU states press for more Turkey-style migrant swap deals
  4. EU buries head deeper in sand over Israel's apartheid
  5. Polish MEP also went on freelance Azerbaijan trip
  6. Why Europe's interminable compromises are a virtue
  7. Wales' message to Europe: 'We'll be back'
  8. MEPs to vote on risky 'hydrogen for home heating' rule

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EFBWWEU Social Dialogue review – publication of the European Commission package and joint statement of ETUFs
  2. Oxfam InternationalPan Africa Program Progress Report 2022 - Post Covid and Beyond
  3. WWFWWF Living Planet Report
  4. EFBWWEFBWW Executive Committee report on major abuses, labour crime and subcontracting
  5. European Parliamentary Forum for Sexual & Reproductive Rights (EPF)Launch of the EPF Contraception Policy Atlas Europe 2023. 8th February. Register now.
  6. Europan Patent OfficeHydrogen patents for a clean energy future: A global trend analysis of innovation along hydrogen value chains

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Forum EuropeConnecting the World from the Skies calls for global cooperation in NTN rollout
  2. European Committee of the RegionsRe-Watch EURegions Week 2022
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP27: Food systems transformation for climate action
  4. Friedrich Naumann Foundation European DialogueGender x Geopolitics: Shaping an Inclusive Foreign Security Policy for Europe
  5. Obama FoundationThe Obama Foundation Opens Applications for its Leaders Program in Europe
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersLarge Nordic youth delegation at COP15 biodiversity summit in Montreal

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us