Gus Bilirakis Continues the Fight Against Selling F-16s to Turkey

U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Fla., continues to take the lead in opposing the Biden administration’s push to sell F-16s to Turkey.

Earlier this year, Reuters reported that the administration wants to sell 40 F-16s to Turkey.

Reuters reported that Naz Durakoglu, who has been nominated to serve as assistant secretary of state for legislative affairs, sent a letter in March, praising Turkey’s support for Ukraine during the current Russian invasion.

“The administration believes that there are nonetheless compelling long-term NATO alliance unity and capability interests, as well as U.S. national security, economic and commercial interests that are supported by appropriate U.S. defense trade ties with Turkey,” she wrote

“The proposed sale will require a congressional notification if the Department of State were to approve it,” she wrote.

The Hellenic Caucus led by Bilirakis, U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-NY, and U.S. Rep. Chris Pappas, D-NH, has continued to oppose the idea even as the administration is pushing for selling modernization kits for the planes.

“Turkey has consistently demonstrated a complete disregard for following international law,” said Bilirakis at the end of last week. “Erdogan repeatedly acts contrary to American interests, with his dangerous behavior contributing to the instability of the region. For all these reasons, we absolutely must not sell Turkey F-16s or F-16 modernization kits.”

“I am deeply disappointed with the apparent plan to move forward with modernizing Turkey’s F-16s.” said Maloney “We must not forget that Turkey uses their current air fleet to violate the sovereignty of a reliable NATO member and ally, Greece, and that such a modernized force could be used to support their illegal occupation of Northern Cyprus. Furthermore, Turkey still possesses Russian S-400 anti-air systems, which led to their ejection from the F-35 program and the imposition of CAATSA sanctions We must continue to hold Erdogan accountable for violations of U.S. law, human rights, and the security of our ally Greece – not reward him.”

“I’m deeply concerned about Assistant Secretary Wallander’s comments in support of modernizing Turkish F-16s and strongly oppose the sale of advanced weapons and equipment to upgrade Turkey’s F-16 fleet. Turkey has failed to address the issues that led to its ejection from the F-35 program and the imposition of CAATSA sanctions,” said Pappas. “Turkey’s increasingly belligerent rhetoric and behavior towards Greece, a reliable democratic NATO ally, also cannot be ignored. Turkish F-16s have flown over Greek islands and violated its airspace hundreds of times in recent weeks, and Turkey has launched a baseless campaign disputing Greece’s sovereignty over its eastern Aegean islands. We cannot allow the Erdogan government to escape accountability for violating U.S. law and the standards of the NATO alliance.”

Back in November, Bilirakis, Maloney and Pappas led almost 40 other members of the U.S. House in sending a letter to U.S. Sec. of State Antony Blinken on the matter. U.S. Reps. Charlie Crist, D-Fla., Ted Deutch, D-Fla., and Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., signed the letter.

Kevin Derby
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