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The Crete Mirage: Why Rapprochement with Turkey May be a Long Way Off

Author: Aaron Stein 

Affiliation: Director of Research, Foreign Policy Research Institute (FPRI)

Organization/Publisher: Foreign Policy Research Institute 

Date/Place: February 10, 2021/USA

Type of Literature: Article

Word Count: 2166


Keywords: The Crete Model, U.S., Turkey, S-400, relations.


Turkey has offered the “Crete Model” as a solution for its purchase of the Russian S-400 missile system, which the prior US Administration has used to sour its relations with its NATO ally Turkey. Although Greece and Turkey both joined the NATO alliance the same year (1952), the author claims that the Crete Model would not work for this problem. Turkey was forced to purchase an air and missile defense system from the Russians after the United States refused to sell its Patriot missile defense system, after protracted negotiations with the US and economic decline. Turkish policymakers sought not only the purchase of a defense system but also technology transfer to later improve its air and missile defense industry, but US export restrictions make technology transfer impossible. Ankara received proposals for a defense system from China, which was the lower price and offered technology transfer, but that choice was not welcomed by Washington DC because China Precision Machinery Import-Export Corporation (CPMIEC) was under US sanctions. In 2015, Turkey gave up negotiations with China and turned back to the US and European defense systems. After the failed coup attempt, Turkey’s changing Syrian policy affected its relations with Russia and both countries were willing to negotiate on the purchase of S-400 systems; Russia hastened the deal by offering immediate ownership with little cash up front, but technology transfer was not part of the subject. The US claims that the S-400 is incompatible with NATO, and that its radar system perils the F-35’s stealth system; but Greece possesses a Russian missile defense system and uses it to train pilots in radar avoidance. Despite this double standard, the US removed Turkey from the F-35 program (which Turkey helped to fund) and threatened sanctions under the Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) after Turkey tested the S-400 system in November. The author bewilderingly suggests that the Biden administration give Ankara a cold shoulder and that Turkey must take the first step to improve relations. 

By: Berat Karadeniz, CIGA Research Intern



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