The United States is set to transfer F-16 fighter jets to Turkey, despite previous objections from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. This announcement was made by the White House on July 11, during the NATO summit in Vilnius, Lithuania.
U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan emphasized President Joe Biden’s unwavering support for the transfer of F-16s to Turkey. Sullivan stated that this move is in the national interest of the United States and NATO, with no conditions or caveats attached.
Turkey initially requested F-16 fighter jets and modernization kits from the United States as compensation for being removed from the F-35 joint strike fighter program. This removal was a consequence of Turkey’s purchase of Russia’s S-400 missile defense system.
Despite ongoing tensions between Turkey and Greece over oil and gas deposits in the eastern Mediterranean, the United States has engaged in discussions with Turkey regarding the sale of F-16 fighters and modernization kits. However, the United States has made it clear that these aircraft should not be used for unauthorized overflights of Greece.
U-Turn on Sweden’s NATO Bid
In a surprising turn of events, President Erdogan has agreed to support Sweden’s bid to join NATO after months of objection. Turkey had accused Sweden of harboring members of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which is designated as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States, and the European Union.
However, Erdogan’s approval of Sweden’s NATO accession comes with conditions. It is reported that Sweden must assist Turkey in its progress towards joining the European Union. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg described this change of heart as a “historic” step, emphasizing the benefits of Sweden’s accession to the bloc for the security of all NATO allies.
While Turkey’s demands for EU membership were not mentioned by Stoltenberg, he acknowledged Sweden’s efforts to address Turkey’s security concerns. These efforts include amending the constitution, changing laws, enhancing counter-terrorism cooperation against the PKK, and resuming arms exports to Turkey.
During a news conference, the European Commission’s deputy chief spokeswoman, Dana Spinant, emphasized the clear steps that all countries must take to join the EU.
Another condition set by Erdogan for Sweden’s NATO membership is the provision of F-16 fighter jets to the Turkish military.
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