The war in Ukraine once again highlighted the importance of Ankara-Washington ties, a former U.S. assistant secretary of State has said.
Referring to the removal of two amendments introduced by Democratic senators, Bob Menendez and Chris Van Hollen, tying F-16 sales to Turkey on some conditions from the Senate version of the annual U.S. defense spending bill, Mark Kimmitt said in an exclusive interview with daily Milliyet that the war also had an effect on this decision.
The amendments sought to impose several restrictions on the sale of F-16s and modernization kits to Türkiye, including not using the fighter jets to violate Greek airspace and requiring the Biden administration to certify that the sale would be in the national interest.
The bill is expected to pass the Senate and House of Representatives this month and be sent to U.S. President Joe Biden to sign into law as the U.S. said on Dec. 7 that security cooperation with Ankara is of “paramount importance” after the removal of amendments.
Underlining that the war shows how important all NATO members are and that Türkiye is a longtime ally of the U.S., Kimmitt said, “Though relations are as challenging as ever at the moment, we can still work together and achieve common interests.”
“Maybe the only positive outcome of the war in Ukraine is that we realize how important relations are to each other,” he said.
“Most people realized that a European army without the U.S., U.K., or Türkiye is much weaker,” Kimmitt said, recalling the words of Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin and European Commission Vice-President Josep Borrell in the same vein.
Noting that the cost, not the supply, should be questioned regarding the energy crisis that broke out with the war in Ukraine, Kimmitt said: “There will always be enough oil and gas. The real question is, ‘How much will this cost?’ I think it’s more of a diplomatic issue than an economic one as exorbitant prices threaten the world.”
Commenting on the G7 countries and Australia’s limiting the price of Russian oil to $60 per barrel in order to increase the pressure on Russia, Kimmitt said, “The best way to increase oil supply in critical times can be found in [Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries] OPEC rather than controlling Russia’s export prices.”