Republicans do not support the sale of F-16s to Turkey, US congressman says
US Congressman Gus Bilirakis said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s recent remarks claiming that the Republicans support the F-16 sales to Turkey, do not reflect the truth.
“Perhaps Erdogan is confusing his dreams with reality,” the Greek-American congressman said in social media on Wednesday.
“Erdogan will have to learn the hard way that being a bad ally and bully isn’t the way to get the things he wants,” Bilirakis said.
Turkish President on Monday said they have spoken to the Republicans and received the support for the sale of the F-16 fighter jets, in an interview with US TV show PBS NewsHour.
On Tuesday, Erdogan also told Reuters that the two US senators he met in New York on the sidelines of a UN summit, gave “positive” feedback on their potential support for the sale of F-16s to Turkey. During his New York visit, Erdogan met with Republican senator Lindsey Graham and Democratic senator Chris Coons, according to Reuters.
“I was joined by the majority of my colleagues, including 59 Republicans in restricting any further sale of F-16s to Turkey,” Bilirakis said.
Members of Congress from both the Republicans and Democrats, including Bilirakis, sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken to oppose the sale of F-16 jets to Turkey in October last year, after Ankara made an official request to buy 40 F-16s and some 80 modernization kits for its existing fleet of warplanes.
Washington excluded Turkey from the F-35 stealth fighter jet program over its acquisition of Russian S-400 air defense missiles in 2019 and imposed sanctions on the country under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).
While the President Joe Biden in June said the US administration supports the sale of the aircraft to Ankara, a possible deal needs approval from the Congress.
The US House of Representatives in July adopted an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to restrict the ability of Washington to sell the weaponry to Turkey, unless the Biden administration “certifies that doing so is essential to U.S. national security” and so long as Turkey does not make unauthorised overflights of Greece with the new planes.
Bilirakis also commented on the statements Erdogan made during a speech at the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday, that Turkish president urged Greece to “shun its politics of provocations” and respond Turkey’s calls for “cooperation”.
“A rich statement from the leader of a country that chronically violates the airspace of a fellow NATO ally and calls into question Greece’s sovereignty over its islands,” the Republican congressman said.
“Erdogan continues to prove this week that he lives in an alternate universe. His statements about wanting ‘everything to be resolved based on the rules of good neighborliness and on the basis of international law’ stand in stark contrast to Turkey’s continued illegal occupation of Cyprus, Turkish military overflights of Greek islands, and violations of Greece’s territorial waters,” Bilirakis said.
Turkey and Greece, both NATO allies, have long been at odds over a string of issues, including territorial claims, the status of Greek islands in the Aegean, hydrocarbon exploration rights in the Eastern Mediterranean, Cyprus and migration.