Turkey has accused the U.S. of favoring Greece and losing its “neutrality” if Congress approves the sale of F-35 fighter jets to Greece and opposes Turkey’s F-16 purchase.
Turkey’s Presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalın warned on Tuesday that this would be unacceptable for Ankara.
“If some senators, such as (Bob) Menendez, bring this as a precondition in the Congress, but simultaneously respond positively to Greece’s F-35 request, they will clearly lose their neutral position within the NATO alliance. If they make this a prerequisite, it will never be acceptable for Türkiye.”
The U.S. considers selling F-16 to Turkey and F-35 to Greece
The US administration is reportedly considering selling F-16 jets to Turkey and fifth-generation F-35 Lightning II stealth fighters to Greece, a plan that has alarmed Ankara.
The chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, New Jersey Democrat Bob Menendez, issued a statement welcoming a Greek F-35 deal but “strongly” opposing the sale of any “new F-16 aircraft to Turkey.”
“As I have repeatedly made clear, I strongly oppose the Biden administration’s proposed sale of new F-16 aircraft to Turkey,” Menendez said in an official statement.
If Congress makes the F-16 program dependent on Turkey’s ratification of Sweden and Finland’s NATO membership, Kalin said: “It is out of the question for us to take a step back in that direction. These are separate processes.”
Turkey made a request to Washington in 2021 for 40 F-16 jets and modernization kits. The State Department informally notified Congress of the potential sale.
Asked if the F-16 program is finished, Kalin said: “Depends on what condition they put in. We don’t want it to end. We want this program to continue.
“We know that the intention and desire of the (Joe) Biden administration is in this direction, but if they cannot overcome the congressional obstacle or if this issue gets stuck in Congress, then we will look at the situation and make a new assessment.”
Opposition to the sale of F-16s to Turkey grows in the U.S. Congress
Democratic US Senator Chris Van Hollen slammed Turkey as an “unfaithful ally,” while calling for fresh sanctions on Ankara as it continues to block NATO membership for Finland and Sweden.
“We need to be working in more coordination with our EU partners and considering, potentially, different kinds of sanctions if Erdogan continues to block the entry of Finland and Sweden,” Van Hollen, who serves on the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, said during an Al-Monitor PRO event Tuesday.
Van Hollen warned Washington will block the sale of Lockheed Martin F-16 fighter jets if Ankara does not approve the Nordic expansion.
“There are going to be no F-16s going to Turkey if Turkey is not admitting Sweden and Finland,” he said.