The Democratic lawmaker pledged to continue pushing for language in the defense bill that would prevent Turkey from using F-16s in overflights in the Aegean
Greek-American relations have a strategic nature and therefore enjoy cross-party support, notes the federal parliamentarian in an interview granted to APE-MPE Chris Pappas regarding the new balances that will be formed in the Congress, after the completion of the mid-term elections.
At the same time, he pledges that despite the difficulties he will continue to push through to the end a wording in the National Defense Budget Bill (NDAA) that would prevent Turkey from using American F-16s to carry out overflights because, as he explains, such it is in the interest of US national security.
Finally, the Democratic congressman from New Hampshire talks about his own difficult election race, the issues, such as the economy and abortion, that will decide the election, but also the huge challenge facing American democracy with the new wave of candidates that questions the inviolability of the elections
The following is the detailed interview given by Chris Pappas to APE-MPE correspondent in Washington, Petro Kasfikis:
We went through a pre-election period that unfolded in an environment of 8.2% inflation. So what do you think will be the issue that decides the election? Will it be primarily the economy or social issues such as abortion that will drive people to the polls?
I don’t think it should be either one or the other. People are really worried about the economy and we need to have policies to help reduce costs. We have worked in this direction by providing a heating allowance and by pressuring the pharmaceutical industry to reduce the cost of prescription drugs. However, people are really worried about the Supreme Court ruling taking away women’s right to choose. We see a third of American women do not have reproductive freedom based on the laws passed in their states. So there has to be a decision at the federal level. This we can do if we retain our majority and elect two more senators. And people in New Hampshire agree with that. This is the main difference with my opponent. So in addition to focusing on making our economy work for everyone, reducing costs for things like energy and housing, we need to protect people’s personal liberties. And that is a key motivation that drives people to this election.
From the moment we arrived in New Hampshire we saw your own political ads criticizing your opponent on the issue of abortion while she criticized you harshly on the economy. Do you think the reason we have a lopsided showdown, even in the Senate, is because you as Democrats have been slow to show off your economic agenda?
Yes, it’s a close match, but I think it was a difficult match to begin with. And I think both things happen at the same time. Voters are concerned about both the economy and abortion rights, as well as a host of other important issues, including mental health, addiction and the environment. And the question is what are we going to do about them. And I think the best indicator is to look at our history. We passed a major bipartisan infrastructure bill. We have taken the initiative to strengthen American manufacturing with the goal of supporting our workforce and bringing the production of critical components here in the United States. We have done significant work to reduce health care costs, which have escalated for many years. And that’s something we can do in a cross-party way because that’s how good politics is always done. And that’s another contrast you see in this matchup (in New Hampshire). My opponent has all these inflammatory slogans. She is a far-right extremist. It does not represent the values of our state. And I think that will be the most important thing in the end.
In this election we have a record number of candidates formally challenging the validity of the electoral process. Many people look at the USA and wonder what exactly is happening in the country?
I think that many people in our country are also wondering what is happening here. We have people denying what happened in the 2020 election, saying the election was stolen by Donald Trump, when we know that’s not the case. My opponent, like hundreds of others running for a seat in Congress across the country, say they would not have voted to ratify the election, thus denying the result of a democratic election. And that’s something that’s just creepy. For the first time in American history we have not had a peaceful transition of power in this country, which has been the hallmark of our American democracy. So, it’s a topic that will be of great concern to us. We see threats to democracy around the world. And for the United States and our allies to be able to respond, we need America to have a strong and secure democracy. So this means that election naysayers and people who want to undermine our institutions should not be rewarded.
In the area of foreign policy and specifically the issue of the Eastern Mediterranean, do you think there will be changes in US policy if Republicans control both houses of Congress?
I think it is important that our foreign policy is always conducted on a cross-party basis. This is something we have done in Greek-American relations and in the development of critical partnerships in the Eastern Mediterranean. We worked cross-partisanly with members of the House and Senate to make sure Turkey is held accountable for its actions. There is no reason to sell weapons systems, including F-16s, to Turkey when they violate the sovereignty of Greece and Cyprus by violating their airspace on a regular basis. So this is an issue that we will continue to work on on a bipartisan basis. We’ve had some success in the House and we’re working with our colleagues in the Senate to pass (the F-16 amendment) and prevent those sales. But whether it is on this issue or on so many others that fall within the US-Greece relationship, we are always better off when we operate cross-party. So I hope that regardless of who controls Congress, we will have leaders on both sides of the aisle who will advance the active foreign policy that we need to support this relationship, recognizing that the Greek-American relationship is more meaningful than it has ever been. in the past.
Regarding the F-16 amendment, are you optimistic that in the end a political formula will be found to ensure that Turkey will not be able to use US fighters to conduct overflights over the islands in the Aegean?
I hope so. I think that’s something we should continue to pursue. We are working on language that we will advance (in the amendment) toward the end of this year in the defense budget (NDAA) to provide an answer to this concern. And that’s important not just for Greece, but it’s important for our foreign policy strategy and our national security here in the United States. So we are building a cross-party coalition in the House for this amendment and we are not backing down.
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