Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., listens to United States Trade Representative Katherine C. Tai as she testifies before the Senate Finance Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, May 12, 2021, during a hearing to examine President Joe Biden s 2021 trade policy agenda. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, Pool)
WASHINGTON – The United States and Jewish lobbies in Washington are adding support to Greece’s sovereignty and firing back at Turkey’s growing claims to parts of the Aegean and islands, including a map showing they are Turkish.
The US State Department stood by Greece with an American spokesman saying that, “the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Greece is not in question,” although the US has tried to keep a balance with Turkey.
“Our position on this issue is clear,” the spokesperson said, in response to a question from Greek media. “We continue to encourage our NATO allies, Greece and Turkey, to work together to maintain peace and security in the region and to resolve disputes in a diplomatic manner. We urge our allies to avoid rhetoric and actions that could further escalate tensions,” reported Kathimerini.
The US Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee, New Jersey Democrat Bob Menendez, a strong backer of Greece, told Politico he’s not going to drop his opposition to President Joe Biden’s plan to sell F-16’s to Turkey.
Germany has also jumped into the fray after initially being reluctant and is supporting Greece although it is home to 2.774 million people of Turkish heritage and a major arms supplier to Turkey.
Germany’s Ambassador in Athens, Ernst Reichel, tweeted that “any challenge to Greece’s territorial integrity and sovereignty is unacceptable,” echoing the similar words from the US. “Germany’s position is clear,” he wrote although it first wasn’t.
Greek and Jewish lobbies in the US jointly intervened before the House of Representatives to endorse New Hampshire Democratic Congressman Chris Pappas’ amendment that would block the F-16 sales to Turkey unless Biden takes steps to make sure Turkey doesn’t used them against Greece.
The amendment requires Biden to certify “such a transfer is in the national interest of the United States” and requires “concrete steps taken to ensure that such F-16s are not used by Turkey for repeated unauthorized territorial overflights of Greece.”
But there’s an easy out: all Biden has to do is say the sale is in the US national interest, giving opponents of the sale an opportunity to say they tried to stop it but they couldn’t.
The American Jewish Committee (AJC) and the Hellenic American Leadership Council (HALC) wrote about Turkish violations of Greek airspace and Turkish military exercises with live fire in Greek waters near inhabited islands.
That comes as the chief Greece’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, Konstantinos Floros, is in the US for a series of contacts and met at the Pentagon with US Army Chief of Staff James McConville.
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