ANKARA – Despite an amendment passed by the US House – still facing the Senate – President Tayyip Erdogan said there wouldn’t be any restrictions if Turkey gets more US-made F-16 fighter jets that could be used to violate Greek airspace.
The conditions were set in language proposed by New Hampshire Democrat Chris Pappas and supported by the Hellenic Caucus in the Congress, including a bevy of supporters for Greece.
Those would bar Turkey from using the jets to invade Greek airspace – a fellow NATO member although the defense alliance has said nothing about the provocations that are continuing.
But US President Joe Biden, so keen to make sure that Turkey gets the jets and modernization kits for the Turkish Air Force that he reassured Erdogan at a NATO meeting, can get around the restriction simply by declaring the sale is in the national interest for America.
Erdogan said the conditions aren’t binding after his government called on NATO not to fall for a “game” by US lawmakers, after the House approved legislation that would stop the F-16 sale unless the administration certifies it is essential for US national security and sets out steps to prevent violations of Greek airspace, said the Reuters news agency.
Erdogan said had not set out any conditions for the sale when the two met on the sidelines of a NATO summit in Madrid in June but didn’t indicate how that clashed with the House vote that did impose restrictions.
He had said that Turkey wouldn’t accept any conditions but didn’t say if he would reverse that to get the jets and then use them against Greece, essentially daring any kind of response from the US or NATO.