Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday said he talked about F-16 fighter jets during a brief conversation with his US counterpart Joe Biden on the sidelines of the G-20 leaders' summit, APA reports.
"We had a quick word with Biden. We also discussed the F-16 issue," Erdogan said at a news conference after the G-20 summit in India.
The G-20 leaders, in the absence of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping, gathered in the capital New Delhi for a two-day summit under the theme of "One Earth, One Family, One Future."
"Unfortunately, friends keep bringing Sweden up when it comes to the F-16 issue. Such an approach seriously upsets us," Erdogan said.
Sweden's possible accession to NATO is at the discretion of the Turkish parliament, the president reiterated.
At a July NATO summit in Lithuania, Erdogan agreed to forward to the Turkish parliament Sweden's bid to join NATO for a ratification vote. As parliament is currently on summer recess, it will take up the legislation this fall. All current members of NATO have to agree to any new additions.
Finland and Sweden applied for NATO membership shortly after Russia launched its war on Ukraine in February 2022.
Although Türkiye approved Finland's NATO membership, it is waiting for Sweden to fulfill its commitments not to provide shelter to terrorists or supporters of terrorists and not to facilitate their actions.
"I'm not at a point where I can decide on my own. It must be passed by the parliament. Sweden must fulfill its duties," Erdogan said.
Türkiye stresses Sweden's NATO bid and Türkiye's F-16 purchase from the US are not linked to each other.
Ankara requested F-16 fighter jets and modernization kits in October 2021. The $6-billion deal would include the sale of 40 jets as well as modernization kits for 79 warplanes already in the Turkish Air Force’s inventory. The State Department has informally notified Congress of the potential sale.
However, key lawmakers at Capitol Hill have vowed to nix the deal over several demands, including making the purchase contingent on Ankara's approval of Sweden's NATO membership bid.
Ankara maintains that the jets would strengthen not only Türkiye but also NATO.
Fight against Islamophobia
On recent provocative acts and burning of copies of the Quran, the Muslim holy book, in some Western countries, Erdogan said Türkiye will continue its fight against Islamophobia.
"Unfortunately, most of the countries that defend democracy and human rights are playing three monkeys in the face of this barbarism. The burning of the holy Quran under police protection is an overt provocation, a hate crime. No one can expect us to remain silent in the face of this," he added.
For the common future of all people, Erdogan said he believes that all countries where Islamophobia is on the rise should pursue "more determined" policies against it.
Islamophobic figures and groups in Northern Europe in recent months have repeatedly carried out Quran burnings and similar attempts to desecrate the Muslim holy book, drawing outrage from Muslim countries and the world.
"Through the proposals and efforts of our country, the attack on the holy books was also condemned in the G-20 declaration," Erdogan said.
Turning to Ankara's EU membership process, Erdogan said: "EU member countries have been stalling us for 50 years, and they are still stalling us today. Whether they stall us or not, Türkiye is Türkiye; we will proceed on our way."
On the sidelines of the G-20 summit, Erdogan met with European Council President Charles Michel, with whom he discussed Türkiye-EU relations and steps to be taken for Türkiye’s full accession to the EU.
Türkiye applied for EU membership in 1987 and has been a candidate country since 1999.
Negotiations for full membership started in October 2005 but have stalled in recent years due to political hurdles erected by some countries.