WASHINGTON – Fearing they would be used against Greece in a conflict, a collection of Greek-American organizations asked Secretary of State Anthony Blinken to attach safeguards against Turkey getting more F-16 fighter jets.
President Joe Biden, who had been seen as a backer of Greece before starting to side more with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, wants Congress to approve the sale and an agreement upgrading Turkey’s Air Force.
Until the days leading up to his re-election on May 28, Erdogan had been sending fighter jets into Greek air space, demanding that Greece take troops off Aegean islands near Turkey’s coast and warning it would be a cause for war if Greece doubled its maritime boundaries to 12 miles.
Erdogan has cooled down the rhetoric after a deadly earthquake and train tragedy in Greece brought a rapprochement and Greece is caught in limbo with a caretaker government until a second round of elections June 25.
While New Democracy leader and former premier Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who routed the major opposition SYRIZA by nearly 21 points in the first ballot May 21 is seen likely to repeat the rout, it could be without enough of the vote for a parliamentary majority to form a single-party government.
Erdogan hasn’t tipped his hand about his intentions as he enters a third decade in power but earlier had rejected any conditions being put on the sale of the F-16s at any rate.
The Greek-American coalition warned against the sale unless there are assurances that these military aircraft will not jeopardize Greece’s security interests, territorial integrity, and sovereignty.
“Any transfer of F-16s to Turkey must deal with Ankara’s continued belligerence against Greece and must also consider Turkey’s destabilizing use of American weapons in the region, in particular its use of such weapons to continue its occupation of Cyprus,” they said in a letter.
“As the leader of the Western alliance, the United States must ensure that its weapons cannot be used to undermine the security of its allies. We urge you to make the inviolability of Greece’s territorial integrity and sovereignty a primary consideration in any F-16 sales to Turkey,” the letter added.
SINGING THE BLUES
The groups said while they welcomed the break in tensions that, “All of this was negated as President Erdogan and his new Defense Minister once again touted the ‘Blue Homeland doctrine – which makes expansive claims against Greek and Cypriot sovereignty and introduces revisionist aspirations in the region.”
“Any transfer of F-16s to Turkey must deal with Ankara’s continued belligerence against Greece and must also consider Turkey’s destabilizing use of American weapons in the region, in particular its use of such weapons to continue its occupation of Cyprus,” they added.
They said they were also anxious over media reports that Erdogan won’t agree to letting Sweden into NATO unless he gets the jets in a quid pro quo that the Biden Administration denied despite reports the President had agreed to it.
Turkey had also been barred from getting American-made F-35s after buying Russian-made S-400 missile defense systems that undermine the security of the defense alliance and Greece.
The letter was signed by Philip Christopher, President of the International Coordinating Committee, Justice for Cyprus (PSEKA); Jimmy Kokotas, Supreme President of the American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA); Andy Manatos, President of the Coordinated Effort of Hellenes; Bill Matarangas, President of the Hellenic American National Council (HANC); Georgia Logothetis, Managing Director of the Hellenic American Leadership Council (HALC); Kyriacos Papastylianou, President of the Federation of Cypriot American Organizations; Maria Pappas, President of the Cyprus-US American Chamber of Commerce; Nick Larigakis, President and CEO of the American Hellenic Institute (AHI); Markos Marinakis of the Chian Federation; Panos Politidis, Supreme President of the Pan Macedonian Association USA; Savas Tsivikos, Supreme Secretary of AHEPA; Paul Kotrotsios, Immediate Past President of the Hellenic American National Council (HANC); Tasos Zambas, Alternate President of PSEKA; and Endy Zemenides, Executive Director of the Hellenic American Leadership Council (HALC).