Mustafa Şentop, the Speaker of the Turkish Parliament, said in an August 5, 2019 Arabic-language interview on Russia Today TV that Turkey's recent deal to acquire S-400 missile systems from Russia does not have any implications on Turkey's commitment to NATO or on its alliance with the United States, despite American objection to the deal. Saying that using the S-400 deal as a pretext for expelling Turkey from NATO is absurd, Şentop explained that Turkey had initially attempted to purchase Patriot missiles systems from the U.S., but that when the deal fell through and when NATO withdrew its Patriot batteries from Turkey in 2015, Turkey had no choice but to seek out other options for its defense. Şentop also said that any attempt on the part of the U.S. to sanction Turkey by means of preventing it from acquiring F-35 jets would have catastrophic implications on U.S.-Turkey relations, particularly since Turkey has played a part in the F-35 project.
Interviewer: "When you received the advanced Russian S-400 system, there was objection on the part of the United States. Is Turkey still an ally of the United States and an indispensable member of NATO?"
Mustafa Sentop: "Turkey is a country that abides by the international agreements that it signs. As you know, NATO is an international organization that was founded on international agreements that Turkey abides by. To this day, Turkey has fulfilled all its commitments. Turkey’s ties with NATO exist for purposes of security – that is, the need to preserve the security of all the member states in a reciprocal fashion. The establishment of NATO was done with this security vision in mind. Turkey joined NATO in order to preserve its security. Therefore, using any one of Turkey’s acts that is meant to preserve its security as a pretext for expelling Turkey from NATO is absurd and illogical. Turkey has expressed a desire to acquire defense missiles in the past, and it has acted to acquire missiles from its allies in NATO. It even held several meetings with the U.S. regarding [the acquisition of] Patriot missiles. After long meetings with the Americans, the Patriot deal did not come through. In 2015, NATO removed its Patriot systems from Turkish soil, despite Turkey’s protest. Facing this reality, what should Turkey do? Of course, Turkey started searching for options with which it could defend itself. It tried to acquire them from NATO, but when this was not possible, it turned to other markets and countries in order to secure its needs. Turkey did not decide to abandon the Patriot in favor of the S-400 system. Turkey sought out the S-400 system only since it could not acquire other systems.
"The talk about imposing sanctions on Turkey by means of the plans to supply it with F-35 fighters is unacceptable in the framework of international law, of bilateral relations, and of the friendly relations between the countries. Doing so would have catastrophic consequences on future international contracts and agreements between the countries. The F-35 fighters are not a system that are manufactured by the U.S. on its own, and Turkey did not issue a request to acquire planes that are produced only by America. Turkey is one of the countries involved in the production of F-35s. It allocated funds for the project, and some of the parts are produced in Turkey. Any action aimed at canceling the rights of one of the partners [in the project] and at denying Turkey’s rights that are enshrined in those agreements is illegal. If the activity continues like this, distrust will prevail between the countries. Turkey is not just a contractor of the F-35 [project] – it is also a partner in its production. Therefore, I see the talk about imposing sanctions on Turkey with regard to the F-35s as a horrible matter with regard to future international relations."