Greek leader warns U.S. Congress against arms sales to Turkey

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis warned the U.S. Congress against approving arms sales to Turkey, the Hill said.

The last thing that NATO needs is another source of instability in the region at a time when it is focused on Russian-Ukraine war, Mitsotakis told a joint session of Congress in Washington D.C. on Tuesday. He did not refer to Turkey by name.

“I ask you to take this into account when you make defence procurement decisions concerning the eastern Mediterranean,” Mitsotakis said.

The Biden administration has asked Congress to approve the sale of advanced weapons and other equipment for Turkey’s existing fleet of F-16 jet fighters, in a move that meets a request by Ankara, The Wall Street Journal reported last month.

In October Turkey applied to purchase 40 F-16 fighter jets and around 80 modernisation kits for its F-16s from Lockheed Martin. It made the request after Washington imposed sanctions on its defence procurement agency and expelled it from a programme to develop and buy F-35 stealth fighter jets for its acquisition of S-400 air defence missiles from Russia in 2019.

On March 17, the U.S. government sent a letter to Congress stating that the purchase of the F-16s and modernisation kits would be in line with the national interests of the United States and serve NATO’s long-term unity, Reuters reported.

Neighbours Turkey and Greece are at loggerheads over a series of historical issues, including territorial rights in the Aegean and Mediterranean. Mitsotakis said recent Turkish overflights of Greek islands in the Aegean must stop immediately.

“I want to be absolutely clear, we will not accept open acts of aggression,” Mitsotakis said.

Arguments over territory have almost led to direct military clashes, most recently in 2020, when Greek warships neared a Turkish hydrocarbon survey ship searching for natural gas off a Greek island in the Mediterranean.

Military tensions have built again in the past two months after the two neighbours accused each other of violating their airspace and Turkey conducted military exercises close to Greek islands.

Mitsotakis also spoke of Turkey’s invasion of Cyprus in 1974, calling for an end to the island’s ethnic division in line with international law and United Nations resolutions.

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