US Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) released a statement on Friday saying he will not seek to block the sale of F-16s to Turkey after receiving assurances from the Biden Administration that it will monitor Turkey’s behavior on a number of sensitive issues including its actions towards Greece.
Van Hollen, a member of the Senate’s Foreign Affairs Committee, said he got word from the administration that it continues to monitor closely whether incursions of Turkish aircraft into Greek airspace will continue “in order to encourage the ongoing dialogue between Greece and Turkey”; that it will “continue to warn Azerbaijan against taking further military action against Armenia and that they will work with Turkey to prevent any further escalation of that conflict”; and that it will continue to voice “strong objections” against Turkish attacks on Syrian Kurds, crucial US allies in the region, and that it “more clearly communicate” to the Kurds the commitment to support them.
“I continue to have serious concerns about President Erdogan’s ongoing attacks against our Syrian Kurdish allies, his aggressive actions in the Eastern Mediterranean, and the role he played in supporting Azerbaijan’s military assaults against Nagorno-Karabakh,” Van Hollen said.
Van Hollen’s full statement follows:
“While Turkey’s ratification of Sweden’s NATO membership was long delayed, it is a welcome step forward and an important signal to the NATO community. That being said, I continue to have serious concerns about President Erdogan’s ongoing attacks against our Syrian Kurdish allies, his aggressive actions in the Eastern Mediterranean, and the role he played in supporting Azerbaijan’s military assaults against Nagorno-Karabakh. I appreciate the Biden Administration taking the time to brief me on these issues and to provide answers around my concerns.
“Though I have been glad to see that President Erdogan has ceased the incursions by military aircraft into Greek airspace, the Administration informed me that they continue to monitor this matter closely in order to encourage the ongoing dialogue between Greece and Turkey. Additionally, I received assurances from the Administration that it will continue to warn Azerbaijan against taking further military action against Armenia and that they will work with Turkey to prevent any further escalation of that conflict. I remain deeply troubled by President Erdogan’s attacks against the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in Northeast Syria; however, the Administration assured me that they continue to voice their strong objections to these attacks, including the threat posed to US forces working with the SDF, and reaffirmed their ongoing commitment to supporting this crucial partner – who has served as the tip of the spear in our campaign to defeat the Islamic State. The Administration told me that they would more clearly communicate that commitment to the SDF to allay concerns that have been expressed about a reduced American commitment to our partnership.
“Based on these assurances and additional information I received from the Administration during this briefing, I will not aim to block the sale of F-16s to Turkey by filing a joint resolution of disapproval. However, I will continue to stay in regular communication with the Administration regarding their assurances on these and other key issues. It is clear that we must keep a close watch on Turkey in the weeks and months ahead – actions speak louder than words.”
Turkish press claims there are no conditions attached ot the use of F-16s by Turkish airforce.
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