The US House of Representatives voted to approve a measure that will likely block the sale of F-16 fighter jets to Turkey on Thursday.
The measure prohibits the US President from selling or transferring the fighter jets or kits to Turkey unless the President can show Congress that Turkey has “not violated the sovereignty of Greece” in the last 120 days.
It also requires the President to stipulate that providing the materials to Turkey is in the national interest of the United States, a high but not impossible bar to clear.
The amendment was added to the National Defense Authorization Act, the country’s massive military spending bill for 2023, and was approved by a House of Representatives committee this week. After its approval, it had to be passed by Congress.
The amendment, which was pushed by Greek-American Democrat Chris Pappas from New Hampshire and Frank Pallone, Democrat from New Jersey, was passed by Congress in a 244 to 179 vote on Thursday.
Although passed by Congress, the entire bill, including the amendment, must be voted on by the Senate before becoming law. The massive bill, which allots a stunning $800 billion in defense spending, will likely go through a round of changes before it is passed by the Senate in the coming months.
The amendment also mandates that the US President show concrete steps have been “taken to ensure that such F-16s are not used by Turkey for repeated unauthorized territorial overflights of Greece.”
US Congress passes amendment to block sale of F-16 fighter jets to Turkey
The amendment comes at a particularly tense moment in Greece-Turkey relations.
In recent months, the Turkish military has conducted overflights of its aircraft above Greek islands without approval, prompting rebuke from Greece and other nations. In June, a spokesperson for German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said “the violation of Greek air space and overflights above Greek islands is not correct.”
Turkey’s refusal to talk to allies within NATO was “counterproductive and contrary to the spirit of the alliance,” the spokesperson added.
However, late last month, hours after Turkish President Racep Tayyip Erdogan agreed to lift the threat of a veto on Finland and Sweden joining NATO, the US announced it fully supported the modernization of Turkey’s F-16 fleet.