Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan hits back hard against United States threats
KUALA LUMPUR (AA): Turkey’s president on Friday blasted the threat of U.S. sanctions on Turkish companies involved in a pipeline project as a “violation of our rights.”
“Now they say ‘we will impose sanctions on TurkStream’,” Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters in Malaysia, where he attended this week’s Kuala Lumpur Summit of Muslim world leaders.
“This is a complete violation of our rights,” Erdogan said, vowing that Turkey would retaliate with sanctions on the U.S.
A defense budget passed by Congress this Tuesday included sanctions on companies involved in the Nord Stream 2 as well as the TurkStream project, arguing the projects would make Europe dependent on Russia for energy.
On Friday, Turkey condemned the use of “negative language targeting Turkey” in the U.S. budget bill.
“This is the latest outcome of the agenda pursued by Members of Congress who are bent on damaging our bilateral relations by any means,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy said in a statement.
“Turkey condemns the exploitation of even an ordinary budgeting process for the sake of the short-term political ambitions of U.S. politicians,” Aksoy said.
The Nord Stream project — operational since 2011 with an annual capacity of 55 billion cubic meters — brings Russian gas directly to Germany via the Baltic Sea.
The Nord Stream 2, spearheaded by Russia’s state-owned energy company Gazprom, is nearly completed and has the same annual capacity, running almost parallel to the first pipeline route.
Together they will meet the annual gas demands of a quarter of the European continent.
The TurkStream natural gas pipeline has a total capacity of 31.5 billion cubic meters, out of which the first line will carry a capacity of 15.75 billion cubic meters of Russian gas to Turkish consumers. The second line will carry another 15.75 billion cubic meters of gas to Europe via Turkey.
Libya and Syria
Saying that the summit also discussed developments in Libya and Syria, Erdogan said that commander Khalifa Haftar in Libya — the leader of eastern Libyan-based forces — is not a legitimate politician.
“There are those who strive to give him legitimacy,” Erdogan added.
“[Fayez] Al-Sarraj is a legitimate leader, a legitimate representative,” he added, referring to the leader of Libya’s Tripoli-based, UN-recognized government.
Countries such as Egypt, United Arab Emirates, France, and Italy as well as a Russian-linked company are trying to sideline Al-Sarraj, Erdogan added.
Since the ouster of late leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, two seats of power have emerged in Libya: one in eastern Libya supported mainly by Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, and the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA), which enjoys UN and international recognition.
In April, Haftar’s forces launched a military campaign to capture Tripoli from the internationally recognized government, but have so far failed to progress beyond the city’s outskirts.
However, on Dec. 12, Haftar announced that he had ordered his militants to launch a “decisive battle” to capture the capital.
According to UN data, more than 1,000 people have been killed since the start of the operation and more than 5,000 injured.