News / Europe

    Turkey Under Pressure Over Likely Purchase of Chinese Missiles

    FILE - NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen.
    FILE - NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen.
    Dorian Jones
    Ankara is facing mounting pressure from its NATO allies over its announcement that a Chinese company is favored to win a contract to co-produce a Turkish missile defense system. NATO's secretary general has now added his voice to the growing chorus of concern.  
     
    On Monday, Anders Fogh Rasmussen warned Ankara that any arms procurement it makes must be compatible with its allies. That comment follows Turkey's announcement that a Chinese company is favored to win the multi-billion-dollar missile defense system contract.  Other NATO member states have voiced similar concerns.

    But Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Levent Gumrukcu says it’s up to Turkey decide which weapons its buys.

    "It is definitely, it’s going to be national capability first and foremost, and it’s going to be a national decision. In the end, whatever our decision is to be, we will make it compatible with our own defense and NATO defense as well, so there is no problem there," said Gumrukcu.
     
    Ankara insists no final decision has been made, but that it is likely to sign a deal with China’s Precision Machinery Import and Export Corporation. The Chinese firm's bid was significantly cheaper than its European and U.S. competitors, and it also offered technology transfers as part of the deal. Experts say making the Chinese system compatible with NATO systems is technologically feasible.

    However, Sinan Ulgen, a visiting scholar at Carnegie Europe in Brussels, says NATO is unlikely to agree.

    "NATO allies will not allow a Chinese system to be integrated in sensitive infrastructure. There is a number of risks attached to it. One is that the work of integration will certainly involve a number experts from China and therefore there is fear some of the sensitive information will be obtained by China. And secondly, there is also a fear of potential cyber attacks through the integration of a Chinese system in this NATO infrastructure," said Ulgen.
     
    Adding to U.S. concerns, the Chinese company is on a sanctions list over its dealings with countries like North Korea and Iran.

    Kadri Gursel, diplomatic columnist for the Turkish newspaper Milliyet, says Ankara was probably well aware of NATO’s concerns before it expressed interest in buying the Chinese weapons system. He says politics are behind Ankara’s inclination to award the contract to China.

    "Every procurement is a political choice when it comes to arms and defense. And then this is a major political step and this move shows another step towards distancing Turkey from the Western alliance, and this is major concern for the Western alliance," said Gursel.

    Observers say the Turkish government has been reaching out beyond its traditional allies in Europe and Washington. Ankara, however, argues that such moves are not incompatible with its commitment to NATO.

    Still, pressure is building on the Turkish government.  Last week, President Abdullah Gul stressed that no final decision had been made on the missile defense system, and he underlined the importance of NATO membership.

    Foreign Ministry spokesman Gumrukcu says his government is aware of the concerns of its NATO allies.

    "We have not yet made our final decision, and then we are at this stage of making a final decision. Of course we will take into account all the necessary considerations and necessary factors," he said.
     
    But with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan unhappy with NATO allies over its failure to intervene militarily in Syria, and similarly disillusioned with Brussels over stalled talks on Turkey's EU membership bid, observers say Erdogan may be less sensitive than in the past to the concerns of his military alliance partners.

    You May Like

    California Republicans Mull Choices in Presidential Race

    Ted Cruz tells California Republican Convention delegates the campaign will be 'a battle on the ground, district by district by district,' ahead of the June 7 primary

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, many Kurds are trying to escape turmoil by focusing on success of football team Amedspor

    South African Company Designs Unique Solar Cooker

    Two-man team of solar power technologists introduces Sol4, hot plate that heats up so fast it’s like cooking with gas or electricity

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora