In his comments to a Mega Channel current affairs program, Menendez made it clear that he’ll oppose the F-16 deal if Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan continues his steady diet of threats.

Influential US Senator Bob Menendez reiterated his high-profile objections to the sale of new F-16s and the upgrading of Turkey’s current fleet of the US-made warplane, in an exclusive soon-to-be broadcast interview with Mega Channel.

Menendez (D-NJ), the chairman of the powerful Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, has attracted the Erdogan government’s ire over this opposition to the procurement, as well as his sharp criticism of Ankara’s provocations in the Aegean, the eastern Mediterranean and the continuing Turkish occupation of one-third of Cyprus’ territory. Turkish anger, in fact, was again expressed by Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, after his unproductive meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken last week in Washington.

In his comments to a Mega Channel current affairs program, Menendez made it clear that he’ll oppose the F-16 deal if Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan continues his steady diet of threats.

In fielding questions by journalist Niki Lymberaki, the US political leader underlined that Erdogan-led Turkey is threatening Greece, a NATO member-state, without any reason or justification. He said this situation makes it “problematic” to sell military hardware to Ankara when the latter repeatedly expresses such intentions.

Moreover, Menendez called on the US State Department to change its stance when answering questions on Greek-Turkish disputes, stressing that American diplomacy shouldn’t call on both sides to ease tensions and resolve differences through dialogue based on international law when only one side is the aggressor. Along these lines, he said it was a mistake by the State Department and NATO to follow a policy of “equal distances” between Greece and Turkey, when only the latter is the belligerent.

At the same time, he assessed that the poll-trailing Erdogan (a general election in Turkey has been declared for this spring) will not make good on his threats, especially in light of the signing of a US-Greece Mutual Defense Cooperation Agreement (MDCA).

Furthermore, he called on NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg to open a discussion on what the Alliance foresees in the unfathomable case of one member-state attacking another, emphasizing that Washington should support the side under attack.

US ambassador George Tsunis

In a separate interview on the same program, the US ambassador to Greece, George Tsunis, offered a much more diplomatic, yet clear-cut message vis-à-vis Turkish saber-rattling and jingoism.

Tsunis, a New York attorney and noted Greek-American businessman, was asked what Greece should expect from the United States in case the Turkish president turns his threats into action.

He merely noted that Washington understands the situation, and if summoned, the US side will be very helpful and committed to the idea of avoiding conflict.

Tsunis also echoed standing US position of avoiding any action or situation that could lead to an “accident”.

He added that US President Joe Biden knows the region very well and knows Erdogan, while reiterating that the US leader knows and loves Greece.

The US ambassador, who succeeded the widely popular and by all accounts very successful Geoffrey Pyatt as Washington’s top diplomat in Athens, reminded that the United States has a huge interest in maintaining peace and stability in the wider east Mediterranean region.

Finally, he referred to a disappointment with the rhetoric being used, which necessitates dialogue even more to overcome conflict-laden language, stressing that both countries have capable diplomats who can communicate and ease tensions.

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