– Erdogan asked Macron to drop opposition, Turkish officials say.
– France wants Turkey to clarify Syria goals before any progress.
Turkey approached France to procure European-made air defense systems, Turkish officials familiar with the matter said.
In a phone call earlier this week, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan asked his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron to drop his opposition to co-production of Eurosam’s SAMP/T missile-defense systems, the officials said, asking not to be named because the discussion was private. Macron responded by saying that Turkey must clarify its objectives in Syria before deployment of European made systems could be considered, according to an Elysee official, who also asked not to be named.
The outreach, along with repeated requests to the U.S. for Patriot systems, shows Ankara giving Western allies another opportunity to provide its air defense systems, and comes as Macron sides with Greece and Cyprus in their territorial disputes with Turkey in contested waters of the eastern Mediterranean. Erdogan spoke with Macron on Tuesday, when Turkey and Greece announced an agreement to resume talks.
Turkey’s previous purchase of Russian a S-400 missile system has sorely tested relations with its NATO allies including the U.S., which says deployment could help Moscow gather critical intelligence on Western military projects, including America’s most sophisticated warplane.
Ankara has not yet activated the Russian missile battery, which was delivered last year. Yet despite the threat of U.S. sanctions, Erdogan has refused to abandon them or trade them for an American system. Moscow has proposed joint production as part of a possible second contract, which Turkey has deliberated for nearly a year.
Turkey says it needs the advanced air defense system and was forced to purchase from Russia because its allies wouldn’t meet its defense needs on Turkish terms. The U.S. has rejected Turkey’s demand for technology transfer as a part of any Patriot purchase.
With assistance by John Follain, and Alberto Nardelli (Updates with context in third paragraph.)