Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Sept. 23 that Turkey's ties with the United States were not healthy and that he and U.S. President Joe Biden had not "started off well."
"After 19 years in office as the prime minister and president, the point we have come to with the United States is unfortunately not a good one. I have worked well with the son [George] Bush, worked well with [Barack] Obama, worked well with [Donald] Trump, but I can't say that we have started off well with Biden," broadcaster Habertürk quoted Erdoğan as saying.
Erdoğan made the remarks as he addressed reporters in the newly opened Turkish House ("Türkevi") after attending the UN General Assembly in New York.
Erdoğan said that Washington needed to "sort out" issues over Ankara's purchase of Russian S-400 defence systems.
Ties between the NATO allies struck a low point earlier this year when Washington sanctioned the Turkey's defence industry over the S-400s. It has also expelled Ankara from its F-35 jet program, where it was a buyer and manufacturer.
"I cannot say that a healthy process is running in Turkish-American ties... We bought F-35s, we paid $1.4 billion and these F-35s were not given to us. The United States needs to first sort this out," Erdoğan said.
The Turkish president said Ankara would meet its defence needs from elsewhere if Washington did not help.
Turkey had hoped to forge cooperation with the United States over Afghanistan after NATO's withdrawal by operating Kabul airport, but had to revise its original plan after the Taliban's rapid takeover of the country.
Erdoğan has since been critical of the U.S. withdrawal decision, saying Washington had to "pay the price" for its move.
The two countries should work together as friends but "the current direction does not bode well," Erdoğan said. "My wish is that as two NATO countries, we behave towards each other not in a hostile way, but in a friendly way. But as two NATO countries, the current direction does not bode well."
Biden's first phone call to Erdoğan came three months after assuming office in January and that was on April 23 to give him advance warning that he would be using the term “genocide” in the White House’s annual message to mark the April 24 anniversary of the mass slaughter of the Armenians in 1915.
The pair did eventually meet on the sidelines of the NATO summit in Brussels on June, 14, and the Biden administration has toned down its earlier critiques of Erdoğan.
Ankara's purchase of the Russian-made S-400 missile defense systems, however, continues to strain ties with the U.S. and NATO allies over concerns that the systems are not compatible with the alliance's defenses and may threaten the U.S. F-35 fighter jets.
Erdoğan in June said that he had told Biden at their first meeting that Turkey would not change its stance on its S-400s.
In response, a senior U.S. diplomat in July said that Biden is committed to maintaining sanctions on Turkey under the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) for buying the systems and would impose further sanctions if Ankara bought additional major arms systems from Moscow.