Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez on Monday slammed Turkey’s President Erdogan who recently threatened a missile strike on Athens, Greece.
“I come to the Floor today to condemn the recent actions of the Turkish President which are not only disturbing—they are totally unacceptable,” Menendez said.
Erdogan warned that Turkish missiles could hit Athens if its neighbor doesn’t “stay calm.”
“Now we have started to make our own missiles,” the Turkish President said during a speech last week in Samsun in northern Turkey. “Of course, this production scares the Greeks. When you say ‘Tayfun,’ the Greek gets scared and say, ‘It will hit Athens.’ Well, of course, it will.”
Tayfun, which is Turkish for “typhoon” is a short-range ballistic missile developed by Turkey. The missile, which was test-fired in October over the Black Sea and hit a target at a distance of about 560 kilometers, a range more than double that of the current missiles in Turkey’s arsenal.
Referring to Erdogan’s threat to hit Athens Menendez said: “This is a NATO member—directly threatening to target Athens, a city of three million civilians. According to the United Nations—an intentional attack on civilians is a war crime.”
The Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee recalled that Erdogan has challenged Greek sovereignty repeatedly by sending fighter jets over the Greek islands in the Aegean Sea.
“His threats to strike Athens fit a pattern of Turkish claims to what is Greek territory. He has said Turkish forces may land in Greece ‘suddenly one night.’”
Menendez: The US should not put F-16s on Erdogan’s hands
Erdogan seems to be increasing his “illegal, autocratic behavior” in the run-up to the elections in Turkey next year, Menendez said.
Menendez called on the United States and the international community to take concrete steps to hold Erdogan to account for his growing ties to Vladimir Putin, and for his pursuit of repressive and anti-democratic norms, human rights abuses, and continued violations of international law.
“Given all of this recent behavior, the United States should not be putting F-16 fighter jets in President Erdogan’s hands. That is why, as Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, I will not approve any F-16s for Turkey until he halts his campaign of aggression across the entire region,” Menendez stressed.
The Senator who has been accused by Erdogan as an enemy of Turkey said his stance will not make him many friends in Ankara.
“But if standing up to human rights abuses makes me an enemy of Erdogan – if calling out Turkey for arming Azerbaijan and enabling the massacre of innocent Armenian civilians makes me an enemy of Erdogan – if demanding Turkey recognize Greek and Cypriot sovereignty makes me an enemy of Erdogan – then it is a badge I will wear with honor,” he added.