ANKARA – Turkish Daily News

Turkey and South Korea are bringing their defense industries ever closer. Korean Defense Minister Sang-Hee Lee met with Turkish Defense Minister Vecdi Gönül yesterday for discussions on ongoing and future joint defense projects.
Gönül stated after meeting with his Korean counterpart that a deal on cooperation in Turkey's �National Tank� project will be signed tomorrow in the northwestern province of Sakarya, where a large factory belonging to the Turkish Otokar company, the project's contractor, is located. �Works on the National Tank, that started two years ago, have now reached a certain point,� Gönül said. The Otokar Company will receive technological aid from Korea, Gönül noted, and added that Lee will be present at the signing ceremony since the support is not so much between companies but is an intergovernmental effort. Gönül referred to an earlier project that Turkey and South Korea worked on together, the Thunder Howitzer Casa plane simulator, as well as the purchase and joint production of basic training aircraft. He also added that the Transportation Ministry is conducting important projects on railways with the Korean government. �As a sign of Turkey's cooperation in the Korean War, Korea is now an important country for Turkey in the area of technology sharing,� Gönül said.
Lee echoed Gönül's views and pointed to similar external threats that Turkey and Korea both have to tackle. Both countries' situation with regards to their neighbors are similar, and both countries are surrounded by ocean on three sides, said Lee, who is a former Korean chief of Staff. �Turkey and the Korean Republic are taking major steps in defense, targeting 2020,� he said. Turkey and Korea can also strengthen joint efforts in developing munitions carriers and shipbuilding, Lee noted, and stated that the tank project is a major step in bilateral defense cooperation. Korea adopted a policy of technology sharing to manufacture more advanced hardware rather than make mass purchases, Lee said, and added that the success achieved in the tank project can be repeated concerning torpedoes. Both ministers praised Turkey's participation in the Korean War in 1950-1953 and its significance in friendly bilateral relations.