U.S. Senator Bob Menendez hosted earlier in the week a virtual meeting with lawmakers from Greece, Cyprus and Israel in the context of the 3+1 inter-parliamentary group.
The chairman of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee was joined in the meeting by Senators Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.V.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.)
“We are pleased to have convened the first meeting of the 3+1 inter-parliamentary group with elected representatives from the United States, Cyprus, Greece, and Israel,” a statement from SFRC said.
“We reaffirmed our shared commitment to promoting security, stability, and prosperity in the Eastern Mediterranean, and discussed ways our legislative bodies can promote joint priorities including energy security, maritime security, economic growth, and overall stability. We look forward to continuing efforts in this format.”
The participating lawmakers from Greece, Cyprus and Israel
Representatives who joined in issuing the statement from Cyprus were: Harris Georgiades, Aristos Damianou, Christiana Erotokritou, and Nikolas Papadopoulos.
Greek representatives who joined in issuing the statement were: Theodora (Dora) Bakoyannis, Anastasios Chatzivasileiou, Theodoros Roussopoulos, Dimitrios Kairidis, Georgios Katrougkalos, and Georgios Papandreou.
Israeli representatives who joined in issuing the statement were: Dan Illouz and Moshe Tur-Paz.
The meeting follows the passage of SFRC Chairman Menendez’s U.S.-Greece Defense and Inter-Parliamentary Partnership Act as an amendment to the FY22 National Defense Authorization Act.
The bipartisan legislation significantly bolstered U.S. support for Greek military modernization and fostered increased multilateral engagement among Cyprus, Greece, Israel, and the United States.
Menendez reitarates opposition to sale of F-16s to Turkey
Menedez, the powerful chairman of SFRC, said earlier in the week that Turkey should not get new F-16 fighter planes and upgrade kits until they “end their belligerence” towards Greece, news site Politico reported.
“They need to end their belligerence against their fellow NATO members [to include] the Hellenic Republic,” he said. “They need to stop overflights, they have to permit the ecumenical patriarch to exercise his rights as the religious leader of millions of people around the world. Those are some of the things.”
Turkey’s request for 40 F-16s and about 80 upgrade kits is valued at $20 billion.
Politico reports that Menendez backed a much smaller modernization contract for Turkey, for a $259 million avionics software upgrade for Turkey’s existing F-16s.
That sale “was just to create interoperability in communications among NATO allies. I felt that was a worthy goal,” Menendez said in an interview explaining his approval, Politico reported. “It shows Turkey that if they change their attitude, the door’s not closed to them, but I’m still against the F-16.”