Top US senator says no F-16 sale to Turkey until it ends aggression in East Med
Bob Menendez, a top Democratic senator and the chairman of the US Senate's Foreign Relations Committee reiterated its objection to the sale of F-16s to Turkey unless Ankara ends its aggressive stance against Greece, Cyprus and other actions in the Eastern Mediterranean that he deems to be contrary to Washington’s interests.
The sale should only take place “If and only if we can have Turkey abandons its belligerent position both to the Hellenic Republic, to Cyprus and other actions in the Eastern Mediterranean which are adverse to our national interests and our national security,” the top senator said in an interview with Mega TV channel in Greece, Financial Mirror reported.
“What we have seen is a Turkey that is threatening another NATO member country, the Hellenic Republic, and threatening it without justification, without cause,” Menendez said, arguing that it would be problematic to sell military hardware when Ankara takes such actions.
In October 2021, Turkey made an official request to buy 40 F-16s and some 80 modernization kits for its existing fleet, after Washington excluded it from the F-35 stealth fighter jet program over its acquisition of Russian S-400 air defense missiles in 2019.
While the President Joe Biden said the US administration supports the sale of the aircraft to Ankara, a possible deal needs approval from the Congress.
Also criticizing US State Department’s stance over the tensions between Turkey and Greece and calling on both countries to refrain provocative statements and adopting a peaceful manner to resolve their differences, Menendez said “this is not acceptable when it is one side and only one side that is belligerent.”