I had the chance to attend both of Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s overseas trips a week apart.
We visited Japan on the night of June 5 and after staying half a day in China, we accompanied him on his trip to Bosnia Herzegovina.
I’m not sure if it’s worth it but I’d like to say a few words to those people parading around social media criticizing that we “gallivant here and there with the country’s resources.”
On these excursions, apart from the plane fare, journalists’ expenses are paid by the company they work for. The hotel they stay in and food stipends included.
Hence, it is just a matter of journalists joining the flight carrying the president and his delegation.
Those who think this too is extravagant think that the president goes on these trips for touristic purposes.
In such a situation, it would be harder to persuade them than to talk to an ignorant person.
Let’s get on with our column...
On Tuesday morning after learning that president Erdoğan wanted to return to Turkey, we set off for the airport two hours earlier than schedule after attending the Southern European cooperation Summit.
As the Ankara-bound flight was flying over Istanbul we asked the president our questions.
After Erdoğan made statements regarding the trip to Bosnia, he beckoned us to ask our questions.
I asked him two questions about the S-400 missiles purchase: “Are the S-400s only to be used during an emergency?” and “Is complete cooperation being conducted with Russia regarding technology transfer?”
Both questions were aimed at various speculations made on the subject.
The president started with the second question: Well firstly, we have no problem with Russia on joint manufacturing and since the very beginning when we started negotiating with President Putin this subject has been on our agenda. God willing we will start joint production. There are no problems. Unfortunately such speculations are put forth by those who want us to backpedal on the purchase.”
Last week reports circulated saying that “the missiles would only be activated in the case of an emergency and would be dormant during times of peace.” The source of my question was based on this.
Erdoğan answered by asking “Why would such a purchase or investment be made?”and momentarily paused, waiting for me to say something.
When I replied: To use I presume,” he confirmed and continued:
"We have the right and opportunity to use it wherever and whenever we need to. This is an air defense system. As such, we will activate this system if we were to come under any attack. This is why we have made such an investment.”
During the talk, Erdoğan was also asked questions relating to internal politics such as whether there would be revisions made in the presidential governing system, regarding the sacking of Turkey’s central bank governor Murat Çetinkaya and Ali Babacan’s preparations to found a new political party.
It is known that Erdoğan has given way to a debate within the party regarding the new system.
However, from Erdoğan’s words we are able to glean that he isn’t leaning toward a permanent change in this field.
Erdoğan saying: “With this we have initiated various different processes. Of course there may be some insufficiencies during this trajectory, but we know the struggles our people had to deal with and the price they paid during the parliamentary system” was an indication of this.
Erdoğan also reminds us that this transition was made through the people’s say:
“We held a referendum on this, and the referendum we transitioned into a new system. This wasn’t a decision made in parliament, but a decision made by consulting the people. And our people with a 52 percent yes vote made the decision,” he said.
It was known that Erdoğan met with Babacan, who is making preparations to establish a new political party, before the Istanbul elections.
The president shared the details of this meeting with us after the question was asked.
Babacan said “I will resign after the elections because I’ve lost my sense of belonging to the party.”
The same statement also announced that Babacan had resigned as an AK Party deputy.
With these words, Erdoğan confirmed that they had parted ways.