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Politics

Greece Says Turkey Blackmailing NATO to Get US’s F-35 Fighters

ΑΤΗΕΝS – Greek officials are said to believe that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s threat to veto hopes of Finland and Sweden to join NATO is designed to pressure the United States into allowing the purchase of F-35 fighter jets.

US President Joe Biden already wants to sell more F-16s and upgrade Turkey’s air fleet – which Greece said is a threat to its defense – but Turkey was barred from acquiring F-35’s after buying a Russian-made S-400 missile defense system that undermines NATO and could be used against Greece in a conflict.

Erdogan apparently sees the bids from Finland and Sweden, who want the defense alliance’s protection after seeing Russia invade Ukraine, as a chance to use his leverage to get the F-35’s, said Kathimerini.

With Turkey’s economy tanking and inflation soaring and polls showing Erdogan’s party not faring well ahead of 2023 elections, he is seizing the chance to stand up to the Americans and please his conservative base, it was thought.

While in Washington, Greek Premier Kyriakos Mitsotakis, meeting Biden but delicately raising the issue of Turkey getting more F-16’s, said Greece was interested in getting the F-35’s that Turkey can’t, the paper said.

Erdogan wasn’t happy.

“Look at Greece! It owes the West 400 billion euros, but they give it weapons and the US approves building bases. On the other hand, when they meet with us, they say, ‘We want to develop a relationship with you,’” he said.

That was in reference to Greece needing 326 billion euros ($343.85 billion) in three international bailouts to prop up an economy falling apart because of generations of wild overspending and patronage.

It also pointed to a recently renewed US-Greece military cooperation agreement in which the US wants a bigger military presence in Greece while also wanting to mollify Erdogan, the usual tactic of playing both sides against the middle.

Erdogan said he would also send an energy research vessel and warships off Greek islands to hunt for energy and keeps sending waves of fighter jets to violate Greek airspace.

Greece wants the differences settled by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague in The Netherlands but Erdogan wants no part of that as he pushes a Blue Homeland doctrine seeking to expand Turkey’s sovereignty into the Aegean and East Mediterranean.

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