Amid warming ties with Russia, PM says Europe ‘prejudiced’ towards Turkey

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad holds a press conference in Sabiha Gocken Airport Istanbul, July 27, 2019. — Bernama pic
Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad holds a press conference in Sabiha Gocken Airport Istanbul, July 27, 2019. — Bernama pic

ISTANBUL, July 27 — Following a productive official visit to Turkey, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has allayed any concerns that the ties between the two countries would also extend to Russia.

Following a rift between Turkey and other Nato allies following its warming ties to Russia, the prime minister said that the international community especially Europe has long harboured “prejudice” towards Turkey.

“We are more advanced (than Turkey). We have long bought Sukhoi and MiG fighter jets, helicopters from Russia,” Dr Mahathir told a press conference, referring to Turkey’s controversial purchase of S-400 missile system from the superpower.

“But we are neutral and not bound. Unlike Turkey that has certain restrictions for being a Nato member.”

Dr Mahathir gave the example of the European Union not accepting Turkey’s application to become a member despite its position in the continent.

“There seems to a prejudice towards Turkey here. But that’s Turkey’s problem, it has nothing to do with us,” he added.

Turkey has also recently came under fire from the United States and its Nato allies for breaking sanctions and purchasing the S-400 missile system from Russia, with an eye on co-producing the anti-aircraft arsenal with the superpower.

The US has since taken Turkey off its list of buyers for the F-35 fifth generation fighter jet, but Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is still insistent that the missile defence system will be operational by April next year.

Malaysia’s Defence Ministry has been operating Sukhoi Su-30MKM and MiG-29 fighter jets.

In a bilateral meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in November last year, Dr Mahathir had said that Russia is offering Malaysia to buy more of its airplanes.

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