WASHINGTON – Greek-Americans in the US Congress are unhappy that President Joe Biden, who was perceived as a friend of Greece, has pivoted toward wanting approval to upgrade Turkey’s fleet of F-16 fighter jets that repeatedly violated Greek airspace.
They told Greece’s state-run ERT TV they oppose the plan, joining Greek-American groups bewildered that Biden would swivel in favor of aiding Turkey, which bought Russian S-400 missile systems and plans to veto hopes of Finland and Sweden to join NATO, undermining the alliance.
Rep. John Sarbanes, a Maryland Democrat, told the TV that, “We are leading an effort in Congress to make sure all of our colleagues are aware of Turkey’s provocative behavior…There is an increasing sense this bad behavior cannot go unaddressed …we have to be very careful about any kind of transaction we undertake with Turkey”
Nicole Malliotakis, a New York Republican, said that Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ address to a Joint Session of Congress on May 17 provides a “unique opportunity to explain why Congress should not approve (President Joe Biden’s) proposal to sell F-16(‘s) and tell the world that Turkey has shown great aggression in and around (the Eastern Mediterranean) and (the) Aegean and that they can pose a significant threat.”
With Greece to renew a military cooperation deal with the US and allow more American military bases in the country, Mitsotakis is expected to delicately raise the F-16 issue in a meeting with Biden on May 16.
Dina Titus, a Nevada Democrat, said that by inviting Mitsotakis to address Congress “we send a clear message to Turkey ‘hey don’t mess with one of our friends,” without explaining why Biden wants to allow Turkey to have the F-16 upgrades after barring purchase of F-35’s because of the Russian defenses, especially with sanctions over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Gus Bilirakis, a Florida Republican said that, “I want to make sure that we have Greece’s back …We have a responsibility and duty to protect Greece and Greece’s sovereignty…We will do everything that we possibly can to block the F-16 sale to Turkey.”