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20 May, 2024
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Menendez: 'I will not support the sale of F-16 fighter jets to Turkey'

The NDAA defense budget bill is not a victory for Turkey, according to the chairman of the Senate International Relations Committee in a tweet.

Kathimerini Greece Newsroom

According to Senate International Affairs Committee Chairman Robert Menendez, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for the defense budget is not a victory for Turkey.

He even stated that, as chairman of the committee, he would not approve the sale of F-16s to Turkey as long as Tayyip Erdogan's violations in the region continue.

Congress takes a firm stance against Turkish flights over Greek islands

The US Congress chose to send a clear message to Turkey about overflights over Greek islands, including a reference to this in the accompanying text of the defense budget (NDAA) that was finalized on Tuesday night.

"We believe that NATO allies should not conduct unauthorized overflights in the airspace of other NATO allies," US lawmakers wrote in the House and Senate Defense Appropriations Committees' accompanying explanatory text.

This language conveys to the Biden administration that Ankara's provocations in the Aegean must be addressed before the White House notifies Congress formally of the F-16 deal. It is seen as a declaration of legislative intent from Congress to the Biden administration.

Months of wrangling in Congress to insert an amendment into the bill's text led to the specific mention of overflights. It is worth noting that the House text included an amendment by Chris Pope that would have prevented the U.S. president from selling or approving a license to export new F-16 aircraft, upgrade technology, or modernization kits to Turkey unless the president provided certain certifications, specifically in the section on F-16 transfers titled "restrictions on the transfer of F-16 aircraft." The absence of a comparable amendment in the Senate text is then pointed out, leading to the conclusion that such a clause is not present in the final text.

It should be noted, though, that the amendments were never intended to be anything more than a tool because Senator Robert Menendez, who chairs the Senate International Relations Committee, continues to hold the veto power and is regarded as the official in charge of the F-16, continues to hold the veto power. In fact, he reaffirmed that he will not permit the transfer of the fighter jets to Turkey in a recent interview with ERT.

[This article was translated from its Greek original]


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