Mahathir lauds Turkey’s success as arms-maker

Dr Mahathir Mohamad. (Bernama pic)

ISTANBUL: Malaysia appreciated Turkey’s willingness to offer opportunities for technology transfer in the field of “aerospace and defence industries” and such opportunities should be grabbed by Malaysia, said Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

The prime minister said Turkey had now achieved extraordinary success in the “aerospace industry” within a short period of time and it was something outstanding.

“During my visit here, they have shown their ability in technologies such as those concerning aeroplanes, helicopters and the UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle). Twenty years ago, when I came here (Turkey), they could only assemble the F16 aircraft.

“Now they can design, test their own products. Their helicopters look very sophisticated. Within a short time, they have succeeded to acquire sophisticated technology,” he told Malaysian journalists at the end of his official visit to Turkey at the Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen International Airport, here on Saturday.

Mahathir arrived in Ankara, the Turkish capital city on Wednesday to begin his four-day visit and has been here since Friday.

Turkey offers aid in aircraft and drone technology

Mahathir said Turkey was prepared to give positive access to technology, something that was difficult to obtain from other parties.

“They offered cooperation in specific fields, and we do not have to look from other countries to obtain such technologies because they are prepared to offer their technology.

“We believe the opportunities offered should be taken to leapfrog others, to gain technology in the fields of aircraft and UAV (unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones). The UAV is most important. This had been exhibited by Turkey who displayed their capabilities, performing numerous military action,” he said.

The Prime Minister said Turkish companies had shown strong interest in Malaysia.

“Usually companies possessing sophisticated technology would not be willing to expose their ability, but here they stated their willingness to take our engineers (from Malaysia) in the various fields, in the designing sector, manufacturing, testing and so on. Cooperation in the field of defence is very important to us. We can control technology but it would take a long time,” he said.

On Turkey as a Russia supporter

Asked about the perception of Turkey as being no longer pro-US but now leaning towards the Russian bloc, Mahathir said that it would not have any effect on Malaysia’s friendly relations with Turkey.

“We were slightly earlier than Turkey (in being friendly with Russia). We did not buy American aircraft only…we bought the Sukhoi and MiG much earlier and there was cooperation in the field of helicopters with Russia.

“We are neutral, not bound (to any country). Turkey is a member of Nato (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation) and there are certain constraints. At the same time, Europe was not prepared to accept Turkey as a member of EU (the European Union). It appears there is a misconception against Turkey,” he added.

Mahathir has been in Turkey on a four-day official visit during which he had a meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

On Friday, he visited Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen International Airport which is wholly-owned and managed by Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad.