Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan asked his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron in a phone call earlier this week to drop his opposition to co-production of Eurosam SAMP/T air missile systems, Bloomberg reported on Sept. 25, citing anonymous officials.
Macron reportedly responded by saying that Turkey must clarify its objectives in Syria before deployment of European made systems could be considered.
Turkey signed an agreement with the French-Italian consortium Eurosam in 2018 for the potential joint production of a developed version of SAMP/T anti-ballistic missile system. However, following the Turkish military’s launch of “Operation Peace Spring” in northern Syria in late 2019, France is said to have blocked progress in the air missile system’s joint production.
Erdoğan’s alleged request from Macron comes after Turkey’s S-400 missile system deal with Russia has sparked criticism from its Western allies, including the United States. In return, the U.S. suspended Turkey from a joint F-35 fighter jet program and is considering further sanctions if Ankara activates the Russian missile battery.
Turkey says it needs the advanced air defense system and was forced to purchase it from Russia because U.S.-made Patriots as well as SAMP/T have been proposed at a higher cost.
Turkey and France disagree on a number of issues, including Syria, Libya and eastern Mediterranean gas reserves.
Animosity between Erdoğan and Macron has been building up since around the time Macron said in November of 2019 that NATO’s lack of response to Turkey’s military operation in Syria showed that the alliance was undergoing “brain death.”
Apart from that, Ankara accuses Paris of politically backing Libya’s Khalifa Haftar against the Tripoli-based government recognised by the United Nations.
Also relations between Turkey and France have deteriorated over Turkey’s dispute with Greece with regards to energy resources, and the two sides have traded barbs in recent weeks.