The approval this week of a relevant amendment by the US Congress which is seen as a first step to stop the sale of new F-16 aircraft to Turkey and the upgrading of its existing ones has caused optimism in Greece that its positions are being heeded. But there are also several opposing forces at play, which are making the situation complicated.
According to Dr Triantafyllos Karatrantos, an analyst at the Hellenic Foundation for European & Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP) think tank, a clearly positive development would be that any agreement to sell or upgrade aircraft to Turkey is accompanied by a strict framework stipulating good neighborly relations and avoiding provocations, disputes or engagement with third countries.
However, he expressed reservations as to whether Ankara would agree to such a restrictive framework at the current juncture.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, he said, is in pre-election mode and with the issue of nationalism high on the agenda would not accept such an agreement.
He added that it is no coincidence that Ankara, in an attempt to exert pressure on the US administration, is signaling that, just as it did not hesitate to go ahead with the Russian S-400 deal, it will not hesitate to seek another solution for the purchase of fighter jets if the prospect of buying the F-16s does not come to fruition.
Meanwhile, in light of Turkey’s stance on Sweden and Finland’s NATO accession process, the discussion has even opened up about a possible expulsion of Turkey from the Alliance.
This position was put forward in a letter to the Financial Times by Mark Wallace, former US ambassador to the United Nations, and Madeleine Joelson, executive director of the NGO Turkish Democracy Project.
Karatrantos points out that there is practically no mechanism for expelling a member from NATO, only a voluntary withdrawal procedure.