Turkish defense industry sources told Today's Zaman that the letter of intent to be signed between the two countries is a sign of the level of political relations reached between Turkey and Syria.
"Otherwise, it does not mean that the two countries will immediately enter into cooperation in arms production," the same sources emphasized.
The letter of intent is expected to be signed between visiting Syrian Defense Minister Hassan Turkmani and Turkish Defense Minister Vecdi Gönül either today or tomorrow.
In 1999 Turkey and Syria signed what was known as the Adana agreement following the capture of Abdullah Öcalan, the leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) who is currently serving a life term at the prison island of İmralı in the Sea of Marmara, that envisaged security cooperation among the two countries. Öcalan was allowed to reside in Syria for decades before he was deported from this country and was finally apprehended in Kenya in 1999. Since then Turkish-Syrian relations have improved both in terms of security as well as in the economic and political arenas.
As a sign of Damascus' trust, Turkey has played the role of facilitator between Syria and Israel to solve their disputes stemming from the control of Golan Heights. However, the talks were ended because of Turkey's strained relations with Israel due to the Israel's attacks on Gaza and the national elections held in Tel Aviv.
Turkey, Germany to cooperate in defense
In a related development, Turkey and Germany today will sign an agreement over cooperation in defense equipment research, development, production, procurement, support in training and industrial cooperation on the sidelines of the IDEF'09 in İstanbul.
The agreement will lay the groundwork for a strategic partnership between the two countries in the defense industry, said a statement released by the German Embassy in Ankara on Thursday.
Turkey's intention to forge cooperation with Germany in the production of strategic Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), which can fly at an altitude of over 30,000 feet and have a long range, has prompted Ankara to sign defense industry cooperation with Berlin. The EADS consortium of Germany and France is currently developing a strategic UAV.
The agreement will also pave the way for Turkish-German cooperation in the production of standard jammers for the air force that prevent enemy radars from detecting F-16 fighter jets.
However, the Undersecratariat for the Defense Industry (SSM), Turkey's main civilian procurement agency, is said to be in favor of cooperation with Germany on the acquisition of standard jammer systems while the Turkish Air Force Command has allegedly been opposing cooperation with Germany.
In a separate development, Germany has refused to provide Turkey with the national software source codes of submarines with air-independent propulsion (AIP) systems. The SSM selected Germany's Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft (HDW) and Marine Force International (MFI) to provide its Type 214 (AIP submarines) craft in July 2008.
Contract negotiations for the 2.5 billion euro program are continuing and the boats are to be built at Turkey's Gölcük naval shipyard, with the first boat to be delivered in 2015.