Today Online says Ankara waiting for American steps on jets sale.
Turkey is willing to delay ratifying Sweden’s NATO membership bid this month as it awaits signs of U.S. support for its request to purchase F-16 fighter jets, according to a report by Today Online.
Citing sources, the article says President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is looking for indications that Washington will move in tandem on the two issues. Though Erdogan promised Sweden’s bid would go before parliament in October, the NATO application has yet to be submitted for debate.
The report notes the State Department is expected to eventually seek Congressional approval for selling $20 billion worth of F-16s and modernization kits to Turkey. It suggests Ankara wants to time ratification of the NATO bid with American steps on the jets deal.
According to the article, one informal proposal called for each side to concurrently advance the NATO application and F-16 sale. But this was disrupted by recent events like the U.S.’s downing of a Turkish drone in Syria.
While still expected to approve Sweden’s accession, the report says Erdogan seems willing to use it as leverage on the warplane purchase given lack of trust with Washington. The U.S. supports Sweden joining NATO and selling F-16s to solidify the alliance.
However, Congress could oppose the fighter jet transfer over Turkey’s human rights record and delays in NATO enlargement. The report notes strains have emerged recently in U.S.-Turkey relations that could also impact the F-16 sale.
Ultimately, Today Online expects Turkey to endorse Sweden’s bid after extracting maximum concessions. But Erdogan appears ready to wait for the right time to gain advantage. The report highlights how NATO expansion remains hostage to ongoing geopolitical maneuvering by Ankara.