To Promote Peace and Security in the Eastern Mediterranean, enact the Pappas Amendment to Restrict the Sale of F-16 Jets to Turkey
By Eleni Piliotis
Greeks all over the world celebrated Oxi Day, or “Day of No”, last month. Oxi Day commemorates Greek Prime Minister Ioannis Metaxas famous rejection of Mussolini’s ultimatum to allow Axis forces to occupy Greece during the Second World War. Greeks and Americans alike admire courage and commitment to freedom. Greece, the birthplace of democracy and the rule of law, inspired America’s own founding principles. Our shared values promote peace and security. Especially with the ongoing war in Ukraine, the United States must play a pivotal role to support peace and security in the eastern Mediterranean.
Turkey continues to escalate tensions by threatening Greek sovereign rights to the Aegean islands. It violates Greek airspace and waters, weaponizes migration, and continues its illegal occupation of Cyprus. Like Putin, Turkey’s President Erdogan has imperial fantasies claiming Greek and Cypriot territories as his own, what he calls the “Blue Homeland”. Turkey deliberately and continuously provokes Greece by violating Greek airspace every day. Its violations threaten not only the safety of the Greek Navy and pilots, but waste precious NATO resources. The Biden Administration and the Senate must support the Pappas amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that prevents Turkey from purchasing F-16 jets and modernization kits until it shows compliance with international law.
Greece is a longstanding NATO and EU member, and a reliable and valuable U.S. ally. Turkey is also a NATO ally, but our toleration of Turkey’s violations of Greek sovereignty only invites further aggression. Under the House-passed NDAA amendment to restrict the sale of F-16 jets and modernization kits to Turkey, the President could only authorize the sale if it was deemed necessary for the security of the United States and if Turkey commits to permanently ending violations of Greek airspace. Enactment of the NDAA amendment would have a positive impact. It would:
Encourage Turkey’s adherence to international law. The NDAA amendment sets conditions and incentives for Turkey to comply with international law. NDAA oversight will ensure Turkey’s compliance.
Promote peace and security. The eastern Mediterranean is a geostrategic and critical location for the United States. It is in the U.S. interest to de-escalate conflict and tensions between Greece and Turkey by preventing the sale of F-16 jets to upgrade Turkey’s air force. Fewer illegal Turkish overflights over Greece is the first step towards less hostility in the region.
Support constructive Greece-Turkey relations. Decreasing overflights will create a better environment for diplomatic talks between Greece and Turkey.
The Biden administration is eager to sell F-16 jets to promote the U.S. defense relationship with Turkey. However, it is not in the U.S. interest to reward Turkey if it continues to violate international law and human rights. President Erdogan demonstrated erratic behavior in his deal with Russian President Vladimir Putin to purchase the S-400 missile system, a major threat to US security and NATO defenses. Turkish acquisition of the S-400 missile system prompted US sanctions and Turkey’s removal from the F-35 joint strike fighter program. Turkey is also violating the human rights of the Kurdish people both inside and outside its borders.
We are witnessing the evils that emerge when state sovereignty is threatened. We are seeing what tragedies occur when an aggressor acts recklessly. The United States should use its strength and influence to support Greece, its reliable and strong NATO ally. Greece has always been there for the United States and inspired our founders and our core values. The Pappas Amendment upholds these values. Let us stand together in defense of rule of law, democracy, and sovereignty. Let us stand together in the eastern Mediterranean in support of peace and security.