The US Congress is sending a clear message to Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the Turkish government about the overflights of Turkish fighter jets over the Greek islands, which included a relevant reference in the accompanying text of the defense budget (NDAA) that was finalized on Tuesday night.
“We believe that NATO allies should not conduct unauthorized overflights into the airspace of other NATO allies,” US lawmakers wrote in the explanatory text accompanying the defense budget, which once approved by the full House and signed by the President will become Federal law.
On the F 16s
The F16 transfer section titled “F16 transfer restrictions” states that the House defense budget text included amendment 1271 (the Pope amendment) which would have prohibited the President from selling or authorizing the export of new F-16 aircraft 16 or F-16 upgrade technology or modernization kits to Turkey or any organization or body of Turkey, unless the President provides certain certifications and reports. Lawmakers go on to clarify that the Senate text did not contain a similar amendment. And therefore, they conclude, no such provision is included in the final text.
Although the effort to pass an amendment for the F-16s did not succeed, it should be noted that the amendments were from the beginning only an additional tool, as Senator Robert Menendez continues to maintain the right of veto as chairman of the Senate International Relations Committee. In fact, in a recent interview with state broadcaster ERT, he repeated once again that he is not going to consent to the granting of fighter jets to Turkey.