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Politics

Sen. Menendez Says Baffled Biden Wants to Sell Turkey F-16 Fighter Jets

ATHENS – US Sen. Bob Menendez told a Greek TV station that he can’t understand why President Joe Biden wants to sell more F-16’s to Turkey and upgrade that country’s Air Force, given its threats against Greece.

That would require approval from Congress although Biden could get around objections by saying it would be in the US’ national interest, after he admitted doing it to get Turkey not to block hopes of Sweden and Finland to join NATO.

Any decision by the United States to go ahead with the sale of F-16 fighter jets and

As Chairman of the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee, Menendez is in a blocking position, and the proposed deal has already seen Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan saying he would block Sweden from getting into NATO anyway.

“I would aspire for Turkey to be different than it is under President Erdogan. For Turkey to be the reliable NATO ally, to follow the international norms, to not be belligerent to its neighbors,” Menendez told Mega TV in an interview.

“It is in that context that I have opposed the sale of the F-16’s, because at the end of the day, the reality is that we have not seen a Turkey under Erdogan that lives up to those expectations,” he added.

“What we have seen is a Turkey that threatens another NATO ally, i.e. the Hellenic Republic, and it threatens it without justification, without cause. So, in my mind, it would be baffling to sell it military equipment when it harbors such actions and when it has clearly stated time and time again some of its intentions.”

He added: “Maybe the Biden Administration will use my hold on the sale as a way to get Turkey to act in a different way. If that takes place that can be a positive thing. But as of now, I intend to continue to do what I have said I would do, which is that I would not use my ability to approve the sale at this time.”

Asked whether the sale could be approved if there were restrictions – Turkey said it wouldn’t accept any – he said, “That would ensure that there was a sense of responsibility by the government of Turkey.”

“We are nowhere near that at this point in time. “We may come to that point if, and only if, we can have Turkey abandon its belligerent position both to the Hellenic Republic, to Cyprus, as well as to other actions in the Eastern Mediterranean, which are adverse to our national interest and our national security,” he said.

Noting Erdogan’s repeated threats to invade Greece and demands for Greece to take troops off Aegean islands near Turkey’s coast, Menendez said that it was despite the “outrageous” and “unacceptable” comment that it just pre-election blustering.

nature of comments from the Turkish leadership against Greece, “it is that, it is “When you have people who are authoritarians, sometimes you may think that all of their comments are just rhetoric – maybe careless, maybe hateful rhetoric – but nonetheless, sometimes you have to worry about the fact that they may mean what they say,” he added.

“That is a risk you cannot afford to take,” he said, after he had said that the US should get tougher with Erdogan, who has largely cowed the European Union to back down to his belligerence and demands.

He also added that “NATO needs to have a discussion about what happens if someday, God forbid, one NATO ally attacks another one without provocation. It seems to me that the aggressor is the one that should be punished.”

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