The US Congress elected to send a clear message to Turkiye regarding overflights over Greek islands, including a reference to this issue in the explanatory text accompanying the National Defence Authorization Act (NDAA), which was finalised on Tuesday night.
In this document, drawn up by the defence committees of the US Congress and Senate, US lawmakers expressed their view that NATO allies should not carry out unauthorised overflights in the airspace of other NATO member-states.
The specific wording is considered a statement of legislative intent by the Congress to US President Joe Biden’s administration, as it sends the message that Ankara’s provocations in the Aegean should be addressed before the White House sends the official notification on the F-16 agreement to Congress.
The reference to overflights is the result of long negotiations in the Congress for the inclusion of an amendment to the bill. Specifically, the Congress text in the section regarding the transfer of the F-16s, entitled “restrictions on the transfer of F-16s” included
Chris Pappas’ amendment, which forbid the US President from selling or authorising a licence for the export of the new F-16s or any upgrading technology or modernisation kit to Turkiye, unless the President presented certain reports and certifications. The Senate text did not include such an amendment, so it is not part of the final version.
Nevertheless, it should be noted that the amendments were, from the beginning, only an additional tool as Senator Robert Menendez continues to have the right of veto as chairman of the International Relations Committee of the Senate and consequently continues to be considered the politician that holds a key position regarding the F-16s. Recently, in an interview with the Greek public broadcaster ERT he reiterated that he will not agree to the granting of the fighter jets to Turkiye.