U.S. sanctions spark rare show of unity in Turkey’s parliament

Ankara (Reuters) – Turkey’s parliament showed rare near unity on Tuesday in condemning U.S. sanctions over its procurement of Russian defence systems, and said the country will not hesitate to protect itself in the face of threats.

On Monday, Washington imposed the sanctions targeting NATO member Turkey’s Presidency of Defence Industry (SSB), its chairman and three other employees in a move Ankara called a “grave mistake”.

In a joint declaration, four of parliament’s five major political parties said U.S. relations should be based on mutual respect and said the sanctions over the S-400 Russian defences are “not in line with the spirit of alliance”.

“We call on the United States to turn back from this grave mistake immediately,” the declaration said. Turkey will not “turn back in the face of threats or sanctions”.

The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Iyi Party, both usually bitter rivals of President Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling AK Party, signed the declaration, as did the AK Party and its nationalist MHP allies.

The pro-Kurdish HDP, the second largest opposition party, did not sign.

The sanctions come at a delicate moment in the fraught ties between Turkey and the United States as President-elect Joe Biden prepares to take office.

Washington says the S-400s, which Ankara acquired from Moscow in mid-2019, pose a threat to its F-35 fighter jets and to NATO’s broader defence systems. Turkey says they will not be integrated into NATO and therefore pose no danger.