Sarbanes Joins Members of the Hellenic Caucus in Reaction to Biden Administration’s Statement Regarding F-16 Sales to Turkey

Today, Congressman John Sarbanes (D-Md). joined members of the Congressional Caucus on Hellenic Issues, Representatives Dina Titus (D-Nev.), Chris Pappas (D-N.H.), Charlie Crist (D-Fla.), Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.) and Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), in issuing the following statement addressing the Biden Administration’s recent statement on F-16 sales to Turkey:

“On June 30, President Biden reaffirmed his intentions to proceed with the sale of F-16 fighter jets to Turkey. In his remarks, he noted that before proceeding with any sale and transfer of weaponry Congress would need to approve. While Turkey’s relenting on their opposition to Sweden and Finland joining NATO is a welcome development, there are still too many outstanding issues to move forward with the sale of F-16s to Erdoğan’s government. Over the last decade, Turkey has not been a productive member of NATO nor a reliable ally to the U.S.

“Turkey, specifically their Presidencies of Defense Industries, remains under sanctions through the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) as a result of their purchase of Russian S-400 missile defense system. The Biden Administration has not provided answers to how Turkey would qualify to be exempt from these sanctions and how the Administration would mitigate the risks of co-locating F-16s and modernization kits with a Russian weapons system, which is why Turkey was removed from the F-35 program.

“Since the beginning of 2022 Turkey has violated the airspace of fellow NATO ally Greece over 2,377 times, including 120 overflights over Greek territory. Turkey’s antagonistic actions in the Aegean Sea, as well as their hostile stance towards the Greek government, make it clear that they do not intend to suspend these aggressive and destabilizing actions soon. If the United States were to proceed with the sale of F-16s, American-made warplanes would undoubtedly be used to enter Greek airspace. This would violate the Arms Export Control Act, which only allows the transfer of equipment for legitimate self-defense operations. Over the past seven months, none of Turkey’s actions in the Aegean Sea related to Greece could be classified as defensive but rather are simply intimidation. The Administration has provided no information as to how they are working to have Turkey cease these antagonistic actions toward a U.S. ally.

“Finally, in addition to Turkey's aggression in the Eastern Mediterranean, President Erdoğan has announced he is on the verge of reinvading Syria with the specific intention of targeting Kurdish forces in the North. Many of these forces have previously fought alongside and assisted U.S. operations in the region. If Turkey were to obtain F-16 fighter systems, they would clearly be used in this new offensive against our Syrian Kurdish allies. The Administration has provided no information on how it would ensure these individuals, whom we have relied on in the past and may need to do so in the future, will be protected from U.S.-developed weaponry.

“Until the Administration can provide suitable answers on how they intended to mitigate the above-listed concerns, we will continue to object to this weapons transfer and do everything we can to ensure that these F-16s are not delivered to the Turkish government.”