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Gus Bilirakis Leads Bipartisan Opposition to Selling F-16s to Turkey

FloridaDaily
FloridaDaily
 2022-05-17
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With the Biden administration backing the sale of 40 F-16s to Turkey, U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Fla., is leading bipartisan opposition on Capitol Hill.

Last month, Reuters reported that the administration wants to sell the planes 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, expressed their opposition to the idea last week.

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“Like many of my colleagues, I remain vehemently opposed to any sale,” said Bilirakis at the end of last week. “Unfortunately, Turkey has not changed its behavior when it comes to the S-400s and CAATSA, which is the underlying reason Turkey was dropped from the F-35 program. Turkey’s failure to change its behavior demands congressional disapproval of this sale.”

“I strongly oppose the Biden administration’s proposed 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. Actions speak louder than words, and without any meaningful change on Turkey’s part I will continue working to prevent F-16s or any other American-made weapons from falling into Erdogan’s hands.”

“As co-chair of the Hellenic Caucus, I am deeply troubled by reports that Turkey may receive advanced and sensitive missile and radar capabilities, F-16 modernization kits and additional F16s,” said Maloney. “While Erdogan has recently increased his endorsements of international law and respect for sovereignty in his statements on Ukraine, he conveniently ignores Turkey’s continuous violations of both Cyprus’ and Greece’s sovereignty – including 40,000 Turkish troops still illegally occupying parts of the Republic of Cyprus. I made it clear last November in our letter on this issue: Turkey’s purchase and use of Russian S-400 missile systems in defiance of NATO standards and U.S. law, decades-long violations of the Republic of Cyprus’ sovereignty, and continuing destabilizing behavior in the Eastern Mediterranean and West Asia should disqualify them from receiving these systems.”

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 opposing the sale of the F-16s to Turkey. U.S. Reps. Charlie Crist, D-Fla., Ted Deutch, D-Fla., and Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., signed the letter. Bilirakis and Maloney lead the Hellenic Caucus on Capitol Hill.

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