“I always receive assurances, and the State Department has its position, that America will protect Greece’s sovereignty,” but the Greeks cannot “take any chances” with Ankara in its present state of escalation, says US Congressman Gus Bilirakis, adding that Washington should “not be selling any type of weapon to Turkey.”
Speaking to Skai TV on Monday night, the Greek-American member of Congress said that he was “very disappointed” by the outcome of US President Joe Biden’s meeting in Madrid with Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan and stressed that an arms deal struck on the sidelines of the NATO Summit in the Spanish capital has to be prevented.
“We should not be selling any type of F-16 or any weapon to Turkey, or giving them any upgrades to their present F-16s,” said Bilirakis, speaking via video link.
“Greece is an outstanding ally to the United States, and other countries in the region, such as Cyprus and Israel, are outstanding allies, and I don’t believe that Biden took that into consideration when he made that decision with Erdogan,” he added.
“Then there are also Armenia and some of the surrounding countries; it’s a dangerous area with Turkey in charge,” he said.
“I believe that we can fight this back. We’re going to do everything we can to prevent this sale,” said Bilirakis, who is also a member of the Congressional Hellenic Caucus, which has been a vocal opponent of arms sales to Turkey.
“I’ve already spoken to the ranking member of foreign affairs and the ranking member of the armed services committee. I have a reputation of working with Democrats and Republicans,” he said, also stressing the positive impression made by Kyriakos Mitsotakis during his recent visit to Washington.
The Greek prime minister, he said, “did an outstanding job” in his address to a joint session of Congress, and “Greece has even more credibility now.”
However, he added, “Turkey, unfortunately, has a strong lobby in the United States; they give a lot of money to members of Congress and have a lot of influence over these administrations, and particularly now the Biden Administration.”
Bilirakis also commented on suggestions that the deal with Erdogan may have been a quid pro quo for Turkey to lift its veto against NATO’s induction of Finland and Sweden to the Alliance.
“That would be awful,” he said. “I’m not saying that it happened but we have to get to the bottom of it.”