Turkey ready to receive Russia offer for air defence system

Sunday 09/10/2016
Turkey is willing to improve ties in every field

ISTANBUL - Turkey is ready to receive an offer from Russia in a long-running multi-billion dollar tender for an air defence system, Turkish media reported on Tuesday.

The reports came almost a year after Ankara cancelled a preliminary deal with China amid concerns from its NATO partners.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin vowed at a meeting in Istanbul on Monday to tighten cooperation in all areas including the military-technical sphere.

Turkey is ready to take an offer from Russia for a Turkish tender to build long-range air defence systems, the private NTV television reported, citing Turkish foreign ministry sources.

Turkish officials said they had no information about any development.

If confirmed, it would be the latest sign of improving relations between Turkey and Russia after an unprecedented crisis in ties sparked by the downing of one of Moscow's warplanes on the Syrian border in November by the Turkish air force.

After their meeting at the Ottoman-era Yildiz Palace on Monday, Putin said Moscow was ready to cooperate with Ankara in the defence industry, adding: "We are hoping to translate that into concrete projects."

For his part, Erdogan expressed Turkey's willingness to improve ties with Russia in every field, including defence.

On Monday, Turkey signed a deal with Russia to build a planned TurkStream gas pipeline to pump Russian gas through two lines under Black Sea toward Europe in a symbol of improved ties after the crisis.

Back in November, Turkey announced it had cancelled a deal with the China Precision Machinery Import-Export Corporation (CPMIEC), saying that the Chinese company refused to meet Turkish demands including technology transfer.

At the time, Turkish officials said Ankara had instead an ambitious plan to build a Turkish-made missile defence system.

Turkey entered negotiations in 2013 with the Chinese company to finalise a contract worth $3.4 billion (three billion euros).

French-Italian consortium Eurosam and US-listed Raytheon had also submitted offers but the government had prioritised talks with the Chinese company.

This alarmed Turkey's NATO partners over the compatibility of CPMIEC's systems with NATO missile defences and the prospect of such tight cooperation with a non-alliance member.