US Secretary of State supports Turkey's purchase of F-16s
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has voiced support for Turkey's purchase of upgraded F-16 fighter jets and modernization kits. Blinken made the remarks during his testimony before the US House Foreign Affairs Committee on Thursday, where he was asked about the sale of F-16s to Turkey and the Biden administration's efforts to prevent American weapons from being used to threaten allies.
"We believe that Turkey should get the upgraded F-16 and the modernization package for the existing F-16," Blinken said. "We think it's important to NATO, important to the alliance."
However, Blinken also emphasized the importance of calming tensions between Turkey and its NATO ally Greece, saying that the US is "working assiduously" to ensure that neither country engages in actions or rhetoric that could inflame the situation. He also stated that the US is committed to making sure that any equipment or technology provided to its NATO allies is not used to further any disputes between them.
The sale of 40 new F-16 jets and 79 modernization kits to Turkey has been negotiated between Ankara and Washington, and is currently awaiting approval from the US Congress.
However, US Senator and Chairperson of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Bob Menendez sharply criticized Turkey's stance towards NATO enlargement, its relations with Greece and Cyprus, and its human rights record, saying that it does not "deserve" to acquire new fighter jets from the United States.
Menendez accused Turkey of violating other countries' airspace and territorial waters without provocation, buying Russian military equipment in violation of US law, and having more journalists and lawyers in jail than almost any other country.
"I call the country Turkey and...I don't believe that such a country...deserves to have F-16s sold to it. I don't know what messages we are sending to the world," Menendez said.