But let it be a lesson to us. There are no such thing as "stable relationship" in this world. The major factor of Turkey interest in Israel were military ties. Now when it doesn't need us, Turkey, most probably, quickly join anti-Israel chorus. I will watch the development with curiosity.
Jerusalem Post May. 15, 2004 18:30
Turkey cancels multi-billion defense tenders
By ARIEH O'SULLIVAN
Diplomatic and defense industry officials reacted with dismay at reports of a surprise announcement by Turkey that it was canceling billions of dollars worth of military tenders.
Some of the tenders could include potential sales by Israeli defense industries to Turkey.
A special meeting held on Friday by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan concluded with the cancellation of tenders to purchase 145 attack helicopters, build 1,000 tanks and procure unmanned aerial vehicles. The tenders are reportedly worth over $11 billion.
According to a statement issued by the Defense Industry 2004 Year Executive Committee, Turkey would seek to manufacture these items domestically. Besides Erdogan, members of the committee including Turkish General Staff Chief Gen. Hilmi Ozkok, Turkish National Defense Minister Vecdi Gonul and Turkish Defense Industry Undersecretary Murat Bayar.
"It has been decided to meet the needs of the Turkish armed forces with new models based on domestic production and original designs and by making maximum use of national resources," said a statement issued after the meeting and carried by the Anatolia news agency.
It added that it would encourage domestic firms as well as partnerships between Turkish and foreign firms to take an interest in the projects. The statement also reportedly said it would cancel existing tenders to modernize Turkish tanks.
TAAS Military Industries and Elbit have been modernizing 170 US-made M-60 tanks for Turkey since 2000 in a deal worth $668m. TAAS is seeking to win a tender to upgrade 250 M1A1 tanks the United States has offered Turkey in a draw down package. No decision had yet been made on this deal.
An official from TASS could not be reached for comment on the reports.
Israel has long dropped out of the bid to sell 1,000 tanks to Turkey. Four countries -- Germany, France, the United States and Ukraine – had been bidding for this $5 billion tender.
But Israel Aircraft Industries had teamed up with Russia to offer Turkey an upgraded Kamov attack helicopter. They were competing with U.S. defense firm Textron's Bell helicopter in a deal also worth some $5 billion.
Officials at IAI said that they had not heard of the announcement and downplayed its importance, saying negotiations had been dragging on for the attack helicopter project for years.
Industry sources said that IAI and Kamov had already been told the Turks had preferred the American chopper. They said the report was not significant.
Also downplaying the report were Foreign Ministry officials who said Saturday night they had not received any official confirmation from Turkey.
"We are examining the report," said Foreign Ministry Spokesman Jonathan Peled. "We have nothing to add at this time."
The report came as a Lebanese daily quoted anonymous Turkish government officials as saying Turkey had taken the decision as a snub to Israel and the United States. The daily al-Mustaqbal reported that Ankara wanted to downgrade Turkey's strategic ties with Israel and increase its ties with European countries in a bid to join the European Union.
Sources in Ankara told al-Mustaqbal that Turkey's hostile attitude to Israel was marked by PM Erdogan's refusal to welcome Prime Minister Ariel Sharon at Ankara International Airport on his last visit to Turkey, and his rejection of a visit request by Labor, Trade and Industry Minister Ehud Olmert.
In addition to its Euro hopes Turkey is trying to improve its chances of joining the Arab League as an observer, al-Mustaqbal reported.
Joseph Nasr contributed to this report