> our title:

Israel Withholds UAVs, Turkish Premier Says

> original title:

Erdoğan Accuses Israel of Withholding UAVs

(Source: Globes Israel; posted Sept. 8, 2011)

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has accused Israel of violating the terms of defense contracts with it. He told reporters yesterday that unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) sent to Israel for maintenance had not been returned.

“They are still not being returned because of the problems between us. Is this ethical? You can have problems with somebody but there are international agreements, there are international trade ethics,” he said.

Turkey bought ten Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd. (IAI) Heron UAVs. The number of Herons currently in Israel for maintenance is not known. The Turkish Army uses the Herons for surveillance missions against Kurdish rebels, the PKK.

Erdoğan is digging in his heels in the dispute with Israel. "Whatever the cost, be it $15 million, or $150 million... Turkey will not give value to that when necessary. What matters for us is to not let anyone trample on our honor. It is priceless,” he said, adding, “Turkish warships setting off from Aksaz or İskenderun will be there... We have calculated the pros and cons. We have been present in these waters [east Mediterranean] throughout history and we will be there today and tomorrow.

Erdoğan said that Turkey could enact more sanctions against Israel in the future. “A strategy will be meaningless if you come to reveal it... But we are determined. Our determination must be known."

Opposition leader Republican People’s Party chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has accused Erdoğan of blundering, to which Erdoğan replied that Kılıçdaroğlu should give up his advocacy of Israel and be the spokesman of his own party.