Sputnik: During the talks, President Trump commented on the situation regarding the acquisition of S-400 SAM systems by some of the US’ allies, stressing that the current situation is a consequence of the mistakes of the Obama administration. In your opinion, what steps should be expected from the current US administration in light of its position that Turkey’s purchase of a major Russian missile defence system still is "a problem"?
Professor Murat Yesiltas: President Trump is right that the current situation is the result of the Obama administration's mismanagement. But this does not necessarily mean that Trump can do whatever wants to overcome the S-400 crisis. The president has many options but has also some limitation. He wants to overcome the crisis since he thinks that Turkey strategically very important country and very crucial in economic sense. But different institutions including his house have different perspective vis-a-vis Ankara and President Erdoğan. Therefore, yes it is true that there is a good relation and intention in leadership level, but it does not mean that this is enough to overcome the issue.
Sputnik: Do you think the Americans might gradually lift their pressure on Turkey surrounding the S-400 deal to prevent them foregoing revenue from the sale of F-35 warplanes to Ankara, without losing face?
Professor Murat Yesiltas: There are many options. While some believe that Turkey should be an example for the other countries by imposing harsh sanction to prevent others to purchase S-400, some believe that We should follow a cautious strategy not to lose Turkey. F-35 would be the first reaction for the US administration. Trump has also right to delay to impose sanctions for 180 days. In this case, the crisis would gradually soften.
Sputnik: How significant is the fact that a member of NATO did not sacrifice its national interests under US pressure?
Professor Murat Yesiltas: This is a significant moment for Turkey. Turkey believes that Nato is a strategic asset to consolidate its regional power status, but at the same time, Ankara underlines that this decision is at the centre of Turkey’s own nation decision to protect its ait r defence. I think that this would be a threshold not only for Turkey but also for Turkish-American relations. The US-Turkey relation is not asymmetric, Ankara want is show that.
Sputnik: Meeting President Vladimir Putin, Erdogan said the deal with Russia was "of prime importance" to Turkey. In your opinion, does this mean that Turkey would rather have S-400 SAMs than the F-35 warplanes?
Professor Murat Yesiltas: No, Turkey did not make any chose over F-35 by purchasing S-400. Turkey is a Nato country and F-35 will be a critical component of Turkey’s air power superiority in the region as well next network-centric warfare in the future.
The views expressed in this article are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.