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Politics

Greece Happy with Biden at NATO, Greek-American Lawmakers Aren’t

WASHINGTON – Trying to walk the line after renewing a military co-operation deal with the United States and eager to get American F-35s, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ Adminstration was said satisfied with President Joe Biden’s stance with Turkey at a NATO meeting.

But Greek-Americans in the US Congress weren’t pleased that Biden, who has strong support in the community, wants to sell Turkey more F-16s that could be used against Greece in a conflict.

Biden was said to have reiterated that at NATO, where he met Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan although American officials adamantly denied it was a quid pro quo for the Turkish leader dropping a treat to veto the entry hopes of Finland and Sweden to the defense alliance.

Greece’s government, said Kathimerini, was pleased however that Biden called for calm between the countries over their dispute in the Aegean although Erdogan ignores such entreaties, making them a paper exercise.

Read more: Greece Formally Requests to Buy F-35 Fighter Jets from US

At the end of the meeting in Madrid – where Erdogan refused to talk to him – Mitsotakis said that Biden’s call “was a very clear, a very clear message that tensions in the Aegean and in Syria must be avoided,” saying it should prod Turkey to return to negotiation, which Erdogan said he won’t.

The Greek newspaper, which leans toward New Democracy, said the government isn’t worried about Turkey getting more F-16s because 85 Greek F-16s are being upgraded and F-35s could be coming.

Two Greek-American Republicans in Congress, New York’s Nicole Malliotakis and Florida’s Gus Bilirakis said that, “It’s shocking that President Biden would advocate for the sale of US F-16 fighter jets and modernization kits to Turkey after hearing concerns of Turkish aggression directly from Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis during his visit to Washington last month.”

They added that, “During his visit, Prime Minister Mitsotakis discussed the repeated aggression and military flyovers being conducted over the Greek Islands at the direction of Erdogan and cautioned that any sale to Turkey would be used to continue bullying other smaller nations in the Eastern Mediterranean region, including Greece, Cyprus, and Israel.”

Biden had been perceived as friendly to Greece before he began trying to mend relations between the US and Turkey but Malliotakis and Bilirakis said he’s gone too far.

“As members of the Congressional Hellenic Caucus, we remain strongly opposed to any sale of US military equipment to Turkey and will continue to express our concerns to our colleagues on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.”

They added: “It’s incumbent upon Congress to stand together against aggression whether it comes from an adversary like Russia or a NATO ally like Turkey that continues to violate international law.”

Malliotakis is a member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, where she serves as the Ranking Member for the Subcommittee on International Development, International Organizations and Global Corporate Social Impact, and sits on the Subcommittee on Europe, Energy, the Environment, and Cyber. Bilirakis is the co-chair of the Congressional Hellenic Caucus and the Congressional Hellenic-Israel Alliance.

Read more: Tsipras Says Erdogan KO’d Mitsotakis at NATO Meeting

NOT GROUNDED

Greece didn’t raise the question at NATO of Turkish violations of Greek airspace, Erdogan demanding Greece take troops off Aegean islands near Turkey’s coast and the Turkish leader’s plan to send an energy research vessel and warships off Greek islands to look for oil and gas.

Not did Erdogan talk about Greece, which Mitsotakis said, Erdogan’s failure to mention Greece, he noted, “says something about whether these arguments can really stand up in an international environment such as NATO.”

They are aimed, he said, “more at domestic public opinion and not at an alliance of countries that should think and understand security in the same way as NATO,” the paper reporting, no indication why he didn’t push NATO, which has refused to intervene over Turkish airspace violations.

Erdogan did later, talk about Greece though and alleged that Greek fighter jets violated Turkish airspace 147 time, Turkey disputing the sovereignty of the air as well as the seas.

Mitsotakis acknowledged that there were private talks going on behind the scenes at NATO, particularly between defense alliance chief Jens Stoltenberg – who has sided more with Turkey – and US officials and Erdogan.

Erdogan, irked that Mitsotakis in an address to the US Congress urged lawmakers not to approve Biden’s plan to sell Turkey more F-16s and upgrade the Turkish Air Force, kept to his word not to talk to the Greek leader.

But Mitsotakis said, “We have heard it before,” adding that “we deal with our differences in a civilized manner” and “our door is open to dialogue,” even if Turkey’s is closed for now.

Mitsotakis said he wasn’t fazed by Biden wanting to sell Turkey F-16s that could be used against Greek pilots in a conflict because the US Congress will have the last word on that.

The Greek newspaper, which leans toward New Democracy, said the government isn’t worried about Turkey getting more F-16s because 85 Greek F-16s are being upgraded and F-35s could be coming.

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