Relations between Europe, and in particular France, and Turkey have been tumultuous in recent years, to say the least. Between the Turkish intervention in northern Syria against the Kurdish allies of France and the United States, the military support provided by Ankara to the Tripoli regime in Libya, and the tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean, in the Aegean Sea and around Cyprus, the points of friction between Ankara and Paris were not lacking, and relations between the two countries, as between the two heads of state, had become very difficult. At the same time, the Turkish decision to acquire the Russian S-400 long-range anti-aircraft system, breaking with NATO strategy and interoperability, had provoked the ire of Washington, leading to the exclusion Turkey's F-35 program and even severe sanctions on US arms exports to Ankara. Even Turkey's request for modernization kits and new aircraft to upgrade its F-16 fleet was denied by the US Congress as European sanctions halted several key defense industry programs , like the Altai tank.
However, if President Erdogan's attitude with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin has often been ambiguous, Ankara's support for Ukraine and its defense effort has very probably been the most voluntary of the Western camps, to the point of creating in return tensions, muted but sensitive, with Moscow. Since the start of the conflict, this support has grown even more, with the delivery of TB2 Bayraktar drones that have become the icon of resistance in Ukraine, and even going so far as to close the straits to the Russian navy, preventing the transfer of ships from or to the Black Sea. Furthermore, Turkish involvement in NATO's defensive posture has been beyond reproach since February 24, while President Erdogan has played the mediator card as much as possible in an attempt to find a way out of this war. Is this a change of posture on the part of the Turkish president, or the expression of a more complex perception than it seems of Turkey's position within the alliance and the Western bloc on this theater ? It is still difficult to determine, but it is indisputable that the face presented by Ankara since the beginning of the conflict can lead Westerners to revise their judgments.
The first spectacular announcement in this area took place last week, when Turkey, Greece and France, the 3 countries in tension just a few months ago, announced a joint initiative aimed at trying to evacuate the civilian population from the martyr city of Mariupol in the Donbass. If the initiative obviously fizzled, it nevertheless marked a radical change of posture by Paris, Athens and Ankara, to the point of considering joint actions on the international scene in a crisis situation. Consequently, the declarations of President Erdogan made to the Press at the end of last week abouta possible resumption of negotiations with Rome and Paris on the possible acquisition of SAMP/T anti-aircraft and anti-missile systems, must be considered with the greatest attention, especially since the Italian authorities have confirmed the resumption of talks on this subject. According to RT Erdogan, contacts have already been made with Italy and France on this subject, and could advance once the French presidential elections are over, aware that no announcement on this subject can be made before the next French president not be elected.
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