Apostolakis says Turkey’s purchase of S-400 system is a concern

Apostolakis says Turkey’s purchase of S-400 system is a concern

Defense Minister Evangelos Apostolakis says he is concerned with Turkey’s purchase of Russian-built S-400 air defence system .

In a wide-ranging interview with Open TV on Thursday night, Apostolakis said Ankara’s acquisition of the system will completely change the situation in terms of control of the air space over the Aegean. At the same time, he stressed the need for Greece to acquire  F-35s or other aircraft to boost its air defense so that there is a balance of power.

Turkey, he said, is always makings claims and has problems with its neighbors, the EU and the US. 

“Greece is not Turkey’s first problem,” he said, adding that its claims with regard to Greece have to do with domestic policy reasons due to the presence of a far-right party in the government.  Turkey's claims, he said,  have no legal support.

However, he noted  the good relations he enjoys with his Turkish counterpart whom he described as “sincere” in their discussions and that both men are exploring ways to reduce tension in the Aegean.

He said he was not afraid that a military incident or an accident could take place in the Aegean between the two countries.

“If we don't make a mistake, it won’t happen,” he added.

Meanwhile the US State Department has insisted that Washington has not changed its policy with regard to Ankara’s intention to acquire the S-400s  and that it won’t remain idle if NATO allies buy weapons from its opponents.

The statement came after  Ibrahim Kalin, spokesman of Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan, said  on Tuesday that Ankara hoped a solution would be found to avoid sanctions.

“If it comes to that, that is the sanctions proposed to be implemented by the Congress, of course we will expect President Trump to use his power for a waiver on that issue,” Kalin said.

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