Ukraine eyes more joint defense projects with Turkey
Ukraine is interested in strengthening its defense capabilities with the help of Turkey, which has become an undisputed global leader in the pace of national defense industry development, a senior Ukrainian official said.
In an exclusive interview with Anadolu Agency on Tuesday, Finance Minister Serhii Marchenko stressed that Kiev wants to develop its defense-industrial potential with cutting-edge technological developments.
"You know that Ukraine is confronting armed aggression from Russia. In order to win this hybrid war, it is important for us to develop the latest technologies," said Marchenko
Praising Turkey's achievements in the defense industry, he said that in 10 years, the country had made an "innovative breakthrough."
"The Turkish way of reforming the military-industrial complex, which consists of a combination of public and private production, with the introduction of innovation is optimal for Ukraine."
Marchenko stressed that his country is ready for foreign policy agreements with Turkey and production localization.
Ukrainian-Turkish cooperation in the military-industrial complex field extends "from the earth to space," he said, adding that the two countries were already implementing projects to re-equip the Ukrainian army with communication equipment made by the Turkish company Aselsan.
"I'm sure we'll achieve synergy in building joint innovative cases in the defense industry," he said, citing a bilateral deal signed in December on technology transfer and production of corvettes for the navy and combat UAVs for Ukraine's army.
The next step, he added, will be the joint production of the Akinci strike UAV with an engine by the Ukrainian company Ivchenko-Progress.
"Currently, the project of localization of production in Turkey and Ukraine is being developed within the framework of this project.
"I know that not all issues have been resolved there, but I am sure that the parties will find a solution acceptable to all."
These projects will strengthen Ukraine's security and, in general, the security of the Black Sea and Azov Sea region, Marchenko stressed.
Turkish investments in Ukraine exceed $500M
On the bilateral economic ties, Marchenko said that the volume of Turkish investments in Ukraine currently exceeds $500 million.
"According to expert estimates, their [investments] total volume, taking into account the resources raised through banking structures and joint ventures in other countries, reaches $3 billion," he explained.
Marchenko noted that Turkey is the world's fourth-largest market for Ukrainian exports and its sixth-largest partner in terms of trade turnover, with bilateral trade reaching $5 billion in 2019.
The current level is insufficient considering the countries' economic capabilities, he added.
"We are interested in the participation of Turkish capital in the development of Ukraine's technological potential, in investing in the new generation of industries for which Turkey is famous," he added, voicing Kiev's readiness for joint aerospace projects.
Now, Ankara and Kiev have set a bilateral trade volume target of $10 billion.
Unresolved issues in FTA talks
Alongside this progress, the two countries are now trying to iron out "unresolved issues" in their ongoing negotiations for a free trade agreement (FTA).
Marchenko said Ukraine expected Turkey to agree on trade liberalization in metallurgical goods, as well as proposals for market access for goods and services.
Dialogue for a deal will intensify in the near future, he said.
"In the last six months alone, several rounds of discussions and bilateral consultations have taken place."
*Writing by Aysu Bicer