COVENTRY, RI – Rhode Island State Senator Lou Raptakis is leading a group of Hellenic-American State Legislators from around the country who are calling on President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken to reject appeals from Turkey seeking the sale of Lockheed Martin F-16 fighter jets to upgrade their air force and requesting 80 modernization kits for their existing aircraft.
Raptakis and his colleagues noted that in July of 2019, Turkey was expelled from the F-35 fighter jet program after the Erdogan regime accepted delivery of the Russian S-400 missile system. They argue that Turkey’s behavior has only gotten worse and there is no compelling reason for the United States to reward a nation that is undermining U.S. security interests in the region and threatening NATO allies.
“Turkey has been a destabilizing force in the eastern Mediterranean, seeking to intimidate its neighbors and playing the role of chaos agent in the region,” said Raptakis. “The Erdogan regime has violated a United Nations arms embargo in Libya, deployed its troops and Syrian militias in the region and undermined U.S. security interests.”
“To reward them now with a sale of new fighter jets would be unconscionable,” he added.
State Representative Leon Stavrinakis (D-South Carolina) and State Senator Spiro Mantzavinos (D-Delaware) also emphasized that “we need to see a sustained commitment by the Turkish government to stop playing the role of chaos agent in the region before providing them with additional tools to continue their aggressive actions.”
The World Justice Project recently ranked Turkey as one of the world’s countries for the rule of law, ranking 117 on a list of 139 countries. Turkey earned worst or second-worst scores in five of the eight categories, including open government and security.
In calling on the Biden administration to reject the F-16 sales, the legislators said such a deal would significantly undermine the long-standing U.S.-Greece Mutual Defense Cooperation Agreement recently renewed by Secretary of State Blinken and Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias.
They said this agreement represents the best path forward in terms maintaining our strategic partnership and containing the territorial ambitions of the Erdogan regime. Individual legislators who will also forward letters to their United States Senators and members of Congress include the following at press time:
State Senator Andreas Borgeas R-California
State Representative Eleni Kavros Degraw D-Connecticut
State Representative Nicole-Ditria Klarides R-Connecticut
State Representative Spiros Mantzavinos D-Delaware
State Senator John Velis D-Massachusetts
State Senator Sandra Pappas D-Minnesota
State Senator James Ohrenshall D-Nevada
State Representative John Lemondes R-New York
State Representative Efstathia Booras D-New Hampshire
State Senator Maria Tzanakis Collett D-Pennsylvania
State Representative Steven Malagari D-Pennsylvania
State Senator Leonidas Raptakis D-Rhode Island
State Representative Leon Stavrinakis D-South Carolina
State Representative John Spiros R-Wisconsin
Stephan Pappas R-Wyoming