Kathimerini Greece Newsroom
By Lena Argiri
Washington’s concern over upsetting Turkey and jeopardizing Sweden’s NATO membership appears to have drawn the Greek F-35 issue into the mix, delaying the official congressional notification, Kathimerini understands, until after the Vilnius Summit in July.
The delay in the planned procedure is thought to be due to a last-ditch effort to maintain the balance between Greece and Turkey, and not to any misgivings or second thoughts on the part of the US.
This balance in fact, no longer exists, as everyone in the American capital acknowledges.
It appears Washington has no solid plan for dealing with Turkey in general, or with Sweden’s membership in particular, and is merely hoping for a shift in Turkish attitude, even at the last minute
In the months-long efforts by the US to resolve the complex issue whereby Turkey linked the Sweden issues to its acquisition of American F-16s, the view which eventually prevailed was that if Greece takes one step closer to getting the F-35s, any attempt to persuade Turkey to ratify Sweden’s membership risks blowing up. The risk is high, according to the US government, and Athens has been put on hold, despite the fact that the chairs of the Senate and House Foreign Relations and International Affairs Committees, respectively, have made all four required signatures, which is the biggest obstacle to any international arms sale.
When the Republican vice chairman of the relevant Senate committee, Jim Reese, was putting the final signature to the document in early June, congressional sources told Kathimerini that formal notice would be a matter of hours or a week at most, in a process that is practically automatically launched, they underscored. It should be noted that when Congress approved a limited package for the sale of upgrading systems to Turkey in April, the notification was issued on the same day.
As it turns out, however, the linkage of the two proposed sales to Greece and Turkey, which was devised and initiated months ago by a certain member of the White House National Security Council, continues to produce problematic developments even today. The contentious decision to submit the F-35 and F-16 requests to Congress on the same day so that they are either passed or frozen together did not work, as lawmakers recognized the covert blackmail and responded by granting the Greek request while freezing the Turkish one.
It now appears that Washington has no solid plan for dealing with Turkey in general, or with Sweden’s membership in particular, and is merely hoping for a shift in Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s attitude, even if it comes at the last minute.
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