Apr 13, 2022 - World

Turkey and U.S. work to repair strained relations

Turkey and U.S. flags in Ankara. Photo: Evrim Aydin/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Turkey and U.S. flags in Ankara. Photo: Evrim Aydin/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey and the U.S. recently announced the launch of a "strategic mechanism" aimed at repairing relations and unlocking potential cooperation in areas of defense, the economy and counter-terrorism.

Why it matters: Relations between the two NATO allies have been strained in recent years over a number of issues, including Turkey’s purchase of Russia's S-400 missile defense systems, U.S. support for the Kurds in Syria and human rights issues.

Driving the news: U.S. Under Secretary of State Victoria Nuland met with Turkish Deputy Foreign Minister Sedat Önal in Ankara last week to "review topics of mutual interest." Nuland also met with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s senior adviser Ibrahim Kalin.

Under the rapprochement process with Washington, Ankara said it also prioritized its procurement request for new F-16 jets and modernization kits from the U.S. to upgrade its air force.

  • Turkey’s top defense industry officials were sanctioned in December 2020 over the S-400 acquisition, and Turkey was also expelled from the F-35 fighter jet program.
  • The State Department recently submitted a letter to Congress supporting the sale of F-16 fighter jets to Turkey.

Between the lines: The launch of the "strategic mechanism" comes as Turkey, which shares borders with Russia and Ukraine in the Black Sea, acts as a mediator between Kyiv and Moscow.

  • The Ukrainian crisis helped Turkey to get closer to the West, but long-standing tensions remain over the country's foreign policy and democratic backsliding.

The big picture: Nuland also visited Cyprus, where she stressed the importance of decreasing the region's dependence on Russian oil and gas.

  • She called the proposed plan to supply Europe with natural gas from the eastern Mediterranean too expensive, saying it would be better to build alternative energy resources.
  • She also called for cooperation between Turkey, Greece, Israel, Egypt and Cyprus on the transfer of liquid natural gas to Europe.
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