(WASHINGTON) The US government on Friday gave the green light to the sale of F-16 fighter jets to Turkey and F-35s to Greece after months of negotiations ended, after Sweden's Ankara approved this week. Membership in NATO.
In accordance with US law, the State Department officially notified Congress of the dual sales late Friday, a US official told reporters on condition of anonymity.
To do this, the US waited until the instruments of ratification of Turkey's Swedish membership in NATO were physically deposited in Washington, the official said, testifying to the extremely sensitive nature of the negotiations at this time.
As depositaries of the North Atlantic Treaty, all instruments of ratification must be deposited in the federal capital, which will host a summit in July to mark the 75th anniversary of the Atlantic Alliance.
US law requires that Congress be notified of any sale of US arms to a foreign government.
The F-16 issue for Turkey, which needs to modernize its air force, is the story of a long story that stalled discussions between the US and Turkey in the wake of Sweden's candidacy for the Atlantic alliance.
The Turkish parliament approved the Stockholm merger on Tuesday, ending 20 months of negotiations that tested the patience of Ankara's Western allies, eager to form a united front against Moscow in the wake of the Ukraine invasion.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan led a standoff by first demanding a series of reforms from Sweden and then setting a condition for the simultaneous sale of US F-16s.
To meet Ankara's demands, Sweden reformed its constitution and adopted a new anti-terrorism law, with Turkey accusing Sweden of being soft on Kurdish fighters who have taken refuge on its soil, some of whom are considered terrorists by Ankara.
Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Sweden announced its candidacy for NATO, while Finland did on 31 April.e A member of the organization.
While the U.S. government has always favored the sale of F-16s to Turkey, elected representatives in Congress, especially Democrats, have opposed it and blocked the file, citing negative impressions of human rights in Turkey and tensions with Greece.
They directly linked the agreement to Turkish approval.
As a result, the Biden administration held off on notifying Congress until Friday.
Ben Gardin, the influential Democratic chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, expressed his agreement to the sale in a press release issued Friday evening, stressing that he “does not take this decision lightly.”
Congress has the power to block it by passing a joint resolution, but no one expects this as the condition of Swedish membership recognition has now been removed.
U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken led an intense diplomatic row between Athens and Ankara to secure the deal, repeatedly telling the Turkish president three times that there would be no flights to Ankara after the earthquake in February 2023. According to the official, without consent.
The agreement originally required that sales to Athens not be blocked, and according to this source, Athens was simultaneously supplied with advanced F-35s.
Athens has strongly opposed the sale of F-16 fighter jets to Ankara due to long-standing territorial disputes with Turkey in the energy-rich Eastern Mediterranean.
However, this new expansion of NATO was not completely over.
Hungary will not be the last country to give the green light, despite assurances from Budapest that it will recognize Swedish membership.
“Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has shown once again that he is the most unreliable member of NATO,” lamented Senator Ben Cardin.
In Washington, they expect it will take weeks, but Hungary is committed to moving forward, making it possible to consider a flag-raising ceremony at NATO's next ministerial meeting at its headquarters in Brussels. April.
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