ANKARA – After getting US President Joe Biden’s promise to sell more F-16 fighter jets – it must be approved by Congress – Turkey won’t abide by any attempts to keep them from violating Greek air space or any conditions.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu set those rules while also accusing Greece of lobbying against the sale of the jets, adding that Turkey won’t buy them if there are restrictions attached.
He told Haber Global TV that a Greek-American Congressman he didn’t name was behind efforts to block the sale of the Lockheed Martin-made planes, adding Turkey would never agree to conditions “that could tie our hands.”
“Why should we buy a product that we can’t use? We’re expecting the US administration to continue to work to convince Congress for the sale,” he said, with Biden suddenly turning on Greece after being considered a friend.
Biden reiterated his intention to sell the F-16s at a NATO meeting where it was seen as a condition for Turkey dropping opposition to Finland and Sweden being able to join the defense alliance although Turkey bought Russian-made S-400 missile systems that undermine NATO and could be used against Greece in a conflict.
Congress passed a bipartisan amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to stop the Biden Administration from selling F-16s to Ankara and add Congressional oversight to make sure NATO-member Turkey does not use the warplanes to violate Greek sovereignty.
But Biden could get around that simply by declaring the sale is in the national interest, allowing Congress to register its majority declaration but not being able to do anything about it.
Turkish Defense Ministry sources not named claimed that Greek fighter jets locked on to Turkish F-16’s while they were conducting NATO operations in the East Mediterranean and tried to obstruct them.
That comes as Turkey disputes Greece’s air sovereignty and said that it’s Greek jets violating Turkish space just as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also claims waters near Greek islands where he said Turkish ships will hunt for energy.
Turkey said it forced off intercepting Greek jets but offered no proof beyond its assertions and that the Greek military attache in Ankara was summoned to explain the situation to the Turkish Defense Ministry.
Greece responded with a complaint against Turkey for sending F-16s into the Aegean and violating Greek air space, which NATO has allowed without any attempt to intervene over it.