“What do you call a country which violates the airspace and territorial waters of another country without prior provocation? Who exercises in the exclusive economic zone of another country? Who is buying Russian military equipment in violation of US law? Which has more lawyers and journalists in jail than almost any other country and jails its main political opponent before an election? Which seeks by force to block the rights of an EU member state to research on its continental shelf? Which has not only joined the EU sanctions. against Russia, but has exported about $800 million worth of goods to Russia? Continuing airstrikes in Iraq and Syria, including against US partners such as the Syrian Democratic Forces? Where did he stop the critical enlargement of NATO? Which continues to occupy an EU country with 40,000 troops and in violation of UN Security Council resolutions and seeks to open an area frozen by the United Nations? Who denies religious freedom to the religious leader of millions of citizens of the Greek Orthodox faith? Who has turned a church into a mosque in violation of UNESCO commitments? Where there are arrests and imprisonments of US personnel? What do you call such a country?”
A quote from US Senator Bob Menendez as US Secretary of State Antony Blinken was briefing Senators about his hopes for a budget increase in order to be able to handle “Russia’s autocracy and aggression” and “the long-term challenge” from China.
Turkey has long been apart of the US means of countering Russia, but relations between them have been strained as of late, particularly over the issue of F-16’s that Turkey wishes to acquire in order to help modernize its airforce. The Biden Administration is preparing a sale of 40 F-16’s, valued at around 20 billion USD, which it says it intends to follow through on. However, the US has offered several demands to Turkey in order for the deal to go through.
“If they keep pushing Turkey in other directions with F-16 (and) F-35 sanctions, and then Turkey reacts, they blame Turkey again, then that’s not a fair game. It looks like their list of demands is an endless. There’s always something.” -Spokesman for President Erdogan, Ibrahim Kalin
On the American list of demands is the ascension of Finland and Sweden to NATO. Though Turkey has allowed Finland to join, who is seeking to join whether Sweden can or not, they are still blocking Swedish membership, largely over their relationship with various Kurdish groups.
The arms deal will have to pass through a vote in congress, where it is very unlikely to pass at the very least until Turkey allows Sweden into NATO as well.
Blinken replied to Menendez’s list of critiques by saying “I think I would call it a challenging ally”, to which Menendez replied “I call the country Turkey, and I don’t believe that such a country deserves to have F-16s sold to it. I don’t know what messages we are sending to the world”.
Many lawmakers other than Menendez have raised issues with Turkey’s human rights record when the topic of arms sales arises. Menendez also highlighted recent Turkish rhetoric towards Greece, another NATO ally.