“The meeting took place at a time when anti-Turkey sentiments are highest in the US Congress and mainstream media and when there was huge pressure over Trump to impose sanctions on Turkey. … In such a hostile environment, the meeting with Trump was a success itself”, said Hüseyin Alptekin, assistant professor of political science at Istanbul Şehir University and researcher at SETA Strategy Studies.
Turkish presidential foreign policy adviser Professor Mesut Casin said that the “meeting happened in a very crucial timing and I think it has started a new era”.
The negotiations were held amid heightened tensions between the two NATO allies over the operation in Syria and the subsequent US threats of sanctions. Washington has also repeatedly denounced Turkey's decision to buy Russia's S-400 missile defence system.
“Trump made it clear that S-400 is the biggest issue on the table from the American perspective”, Alptekin noted.
The US leader stressed that it is on the agenda and that the US and Turkish national security teams will start working on solving it:
“We are talking about it constantly. We talked about it today. We are talking about it in the future. Hopefully, we’ll be able to resolve that situation”, Trump said during the joint presser following his meeting with Erdogan.
“[The] Trump administration has tried to solve the S-400 problem by threatening and blackmailing Turkey. It apparently hasn’t worked”, Dr Hasim Turker, academic coordinator at the Ankara-based Bosphorus Centre for Asian Studies, explained.
“Now Trump, being well aware of the fact that the stick hasn’t worked, prefers the carrot instead now. He emphasised the trade relations between Turkey and the US. A goal of trade volume of $100 billion has been set in this context”, Dr Turker added.
But Erdogan reaffirmed Turkey’s commitment to the Russian S-400 air defence systems, saying that he could buy the US Patriot missile defence systems too.
“It is out of the question to completely leave Russian S-400 to buy US Patriots. We can buy Patriots too. However, we will buy S-400 as well”, Erdogan told reporters during his flight to Ankara from Washington on Wednesday.
Ankara’s acquisition of the S-400 system prompted the Trump administration to remove Turkey from its F-35 fighter jet programme in July.
But pressure on Ankara from Washington will only keep growing over the issue, Casin believes.
“The pressure is rising in the Senate to set an economic embargo and military embargo of F-35 war jets towards Turkey”, the Turkish presidential foreign policy adviser said, adding that it may need to look for alternatives.
“Turkey may consider the option of cooperative production of Su-57 planes, selling of Su-35 planes unless USA delivers F35 war jets. It has been stated by NATO commanders that an embargo towards Turkey would weaken the Western Alliance. This claim is supported with the statement of USA Secretary of Defence Mark Esper, where he said that they want Turkey with them back again”, Casin explained.
He also noted that Turkey will continue its cooperation with the US, but will not compromise on its security interests:
“The most important outcome of this summit is that Turkey is a NATO member, wants to continue cooperating with the USA, yet, unlike the Cold War era, Turkey has shown determination in continuing military and economic cooperation with Russia”, Casin summed up the results of the talks.
Alptekin echoed similar views, saying that Erdogan’s visit has proven that Turkey and the US continue to see each other as important partners.