“If the administration chooses to override the F-16 veto, I will oppose it and there will be consequences,” Senator and Chairman of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee Robert Menendez told reporters on the sidelines of the Eastern Mediterranean Business Summit in New York.
“My veto on F-16s for Turkey is not something that is written in the law. It is something that is an unwritten rule,” he stressed.
In fact, he added, the administration has come one step closer to the position of Congress that there should be a safety valve for the F-16.
Menendez expressed the assessment that Sweden meets all the criteria and values for NATO membership which should be done by itself.
“NATO, however, works with unanimity and this means that countries like Hungary and Turkey have a say. One thing I can assure you is that regardless of the efforts that may be made, we will ensure that those NATO allies, like Greece, who ultimately share our values and act in a way that reflects those values, their position will be strong no matter what happens. So, we will see what, if anything, the government will propose on this matter.
“Erdogan is using the opportunity to lobby, but I think at the end of the day Sweden will join NATO,” the US official commented.
Menendez also said that he has discussed with Antony Blinken the importance of Greece in terms of being a reliable NATO ally and he has also discussed the matter with Jake Sullivan, the national security advisor to President Joseph R. Biden.
“I have to make sure that our real partners, like Greece, will be in a good position regardless of what happens in the next few days in terms of NATO and Turkey,” he added.
During his speech at the Economist Conference, the Senator spoke of “Turkey’s threats” to NATO member countries such as Greece and Cyprus, urging them to be vigilant as “Erdogan can change his stance at any time” while he expressed his satisfaction that “Greece is preparing to become the next recipient of the F-35”.
Menendez spoke of the restriction of freedoms in Turkey and referred to the Turkish economy, stressing that it is facing “unnecessary problems” due to Erdogan’s unorthodox monetary policy.
At the same time, he described the US-Greece military alliance as vital to deter Russia in the SE Mediterranean region.
Finally, he expressed the belief that the defense of Ukraine against invasion of Russia preserves the concept of international law and is thus in the global interest.