The position that Congress should continue to block the sale of F-16s to Turkey until the US government certifies that they will not be used to violate Greek sovereignty and territorial integrity is expressed by its leadership Greek Affairs Group and the Group for the Greek and Israeli Alliance in the House of Representatives.

The specific position was expressed in a letter sent to the Republican chairman of the House International Affairs Committee, Michael McCalland the Democratic minority leader, Gregory Meeks.

These MPs are two of the four lawmakers who must give the go-ahead, in order for Congress to approve the defense contract for the F-16s that Turkey wants to acquire. The other two lawmakers are Senators Robert Menendez and Jim Reese, who head the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

In their letter, the MPs welcome on the one hand the recent calm observed in the Aegean, but at the same time point out that Ankara insists on the same revisionist policy, which is expressed by the casus belli but also by the promotion of the “blue homeland” doctrine which includes expansive claims against Greece.

For this very reason, the US lawmakers point out in their letter that “it is up to the government to provide clarification on how US-supplied F-16s will not be used as a tool by a NATO ally to violate of the dominance of another, especially given the very real risk of conflict between the two. Without certification from the administration that US weapons will not be used against Greece, Congress must block the transfer of these weapons to Turkey.”

Finally, in their letter, the lawmakers recall that during the recent defense budget debate, the House overwhelmingly voted (73%) for an amendment that placed specific reasonable limits on the government’s ability to sell F-16 fighter jets and modernization kits to the Turkey. The letter is signed by MPs Gus Bilirakis, Chris Papas, Nicole Malliotakis, Dina Titus and Bradley Snyder.

The Letter of the Parliamentarians to the Presidium of the International Affairs Committee of the Parliament

“We are writing to express our concern about the intensifying public debate about Turkey’s blackmailing of the United States – and holding Sweden hostage – in order to acquire new F-16 fighter jets and modernization kits.

You may recall that during the 2023 National Defense Budget (NDAA) debate, the House of Representatives passed an amendment that placed reasonable restrictions on the government’s ability to transfer F-16 aircraft and modernization kits to Turkey. This provision, Article 1271, passed the Parliament on a bipartisan basis and with an overwhelming majority (73% of MPs voted in favor).

The purpose of such conditions is clear and narrowly defined. At a time when we need to promote NATO unity – which is, after all, why F-16 upgrades and sales to Turkey are being considered – we must ensure that US weapons are not used to undermine the alliance.

While we welcome that at this stage Turkey has ceased using its existing fleet of F-16s to repeatedly violate Greece’s sovereignty and territorial airspace, the Erdogan government has not changed policy. The impression that Turkey has improved relations with NATO ally Greece is belied by the fact that Ankara maintains the casus belli against Athens. In presenting his new government, President Erdogan this week referred to the “Blue Homeland” doctrine, which makes expansionist claims against Greece.

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Turkey has chosen to use US F-16s to violate Greek airspace instead of supporting Ukraine’s fight against Russia. A pause in overflights without a declared policy change cannot erase the fact that Turkish F-16s violated Greek airspace 110 times in one day, or that Turkish F-16s flew within 2.5 nautical miles of Alexandroupolis, which has developed into an invaluable asset for US and NATO forces. This bellicose behavior towards Greece – a truly reliable, democratic NATO ally – cannot be ignored.

It is up to the administration to provide clarity on how US-supplied F-16s will not be used as a tool by one NATO ally to violate the sovereignty of another, particularly given the very real risk of conflict between two. Without certification from the administration that US weapons will not be used against Greece, Congress must block the transfer of those weapons to Turkey.

As leaders of the Greek Affairs Caucus and the Hellenic-Israeli Alliance Caucus in the House of Representatives, we commend you for your leadership and commitment to the NATO alliance and regional peace and stability. For these reasons, we urge you to ensure that the transfer of US F-16s will be contingent on the protection of the entire Alliance and that (the fighters) will not be used to challenge the sovereignty of one of its members.”