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Greek Heritage Legislators Stand Against Turkey

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Rhode Island State Senator Leonidas (Lou) Raptakis presides over the World Hellenic Inter-Parliamentary Association to support Greece. Credit: image courtesy of World Hellenic Inter-Parliamentary Association

With more than 200 politicians across 20 countries, legislators with a Greek heritage are taking a stand against Turkey to support Hellas with their efforts from abroad.

Rhode Island State Senator Leonidas (Lou) Raptakis is leading a group of dozens of
Hellenic-American State Legislators from around the country who are calling on US President Joe Biden and US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken to reject appeals from Turkey seeking the sale of Lockheed Martin F-16 fighter jets to upgrade their air force and requesting 80 modernization kits for their existing aircraft.

Raptakis Presides Over Association of Greek Heritage Legislators

Raptakis, aside from his elected position as a State Senator from Rhode Island for a decade, is currently the president of the World Hellenic Inter-Parliamentary Association (PADEE-WHIA), an interparliamentary organization of the Greek diaspora bringing together legislators of Greek origin from around the world.

WHIA was first established in 1996 and was formally established as an Association under Greek law in 2005. The purposes of PADEE-WHIA include: building relations and communication among members of legislator who are of Hellenic origin in non-Greek speaking countries; strengthening relations of friendship and co-operation between Greece and the respective countries of the Association’s members and their Parliament to bring forth and promote the principles of Greek language and Hellenic culture in their respective countries.

“We have an opportunity to make this organization a resource for all of its members, a vehicle for keeping Hellenes from all over the world connected to the work being done in different countries to promote issues of concern to Greece and Cyprus,” Raptakis said.

Raptakis and colleague State Senator Stephan Pappas, R-Wyoming, will arrive in Athens on Monday to participate in meetings with Greek leaders and the celebration of OXI Day on October 28th.

Raptakis and his colleagues, who are legislators of Greek heritage, noted that in July of 2019, Turkey was expelled from the F-35 fighter jet program after the Erdogan regime accepted delivery of the Russian S-400 missile system. They argue that Turkey’s behavior has only gotten worse and there is no compelling reason for the United States to reward a nation that is undermining U.S. security interests in the region and threatening NATO allies.

Mitsotakis Tassoulas Raptakis
Raptakis with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and President of the Hellenic Parlaiment Constantinos Tassoulas in July. Credit: Image courtesy of World Hellenic Inter-Parliamentary Association

Turkey Trying to Destabilize Mediterranean

“Turkey has been a destabilizing force in the eastern Mediterranean, seeking to intimidate its neighbors and playing the role of chaos agent in the region,” said Raptakis. “The Erdogan regime has violated a United Nations arms embargo in Libya, deployed its troops and Syrian militias in the region and undermined U.S. security interests.”

He added, ”To reward them now with a sale of new fighter jets would be unconscionable.”

Legislators of Greek heritage State Representative Leon Stavrinakis D-South Carolina and State Senator Spiro Mantzavinos D-Delaware also emphasized that “We need to see a sustained commitment by the Turkish government to stop playing the role of chaos agent in the region before providing them with additional tools to continue their aggressive actions.“

The World Justice Project recently ranked Turkey as one of the world’s worst countries for the rule of law, ranking 117 on a list of 139 countries. Turkey earned worst or second-worst scores in five of the eight categories, including open government and security.

In calling on the Biden administration to reject the F-16 sales, the legislators of Greek heritage, said such a deal would significantly undermine the long-standing US-Greece Mutual Defense Cooperation Agreement recently renewed by Blinken and Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias.

They said this agreement represents the best path forward in terms maintaining our strategic partnership and containing the territorial ambitions of the Erdogan regime.

Individual legislators will also have forwarded letters to their United States Senators and members of Congress which included the following at press time:
State Senator Andreas Borgeas R- California
State Representative Eleni Kavros Degraw D- Connecticut
State Representative Nicole-Ditria Klarides R- Connecticut
State Representative Spiros Mantzavinos D-Delaware
State Senator John Velis D- Massachusetts
State Senator Sandra Pappas D- Minnesota
State Senator James Ohrenshall D- Nevada
State Representative John Lemondes R- New York
State Representative Efstathia Booras D- New Hampshire
State Senator Maria Tzanakis Collett D-Pennsylvania
State Representative Steven Malagari D-Pennsylvania
State Senator Leonidas Raptakis D- Rhode Island
State Representative Leon Stavrinakis D- South Carolina
State Representative John Spiros R- Wisconsin
State Senator Stephan Pappas R-Wyoming


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