Erdoğan links Sweden’s NATO accession to F-16 sale


President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has hinted that the Turkish parliament will not proceed to ratify the Swedish accession to NATO unless the United States Congress takes action to approve the sale of 40 F-16 fighter jets to Türkiye.

“If you have your Congress, I have my parliament. You say, ‘I will take a step on F-16s after the approval of the Congress.’ And I have my parliament. It is not possible for me to take a step before the parliament approves [Swedish accession to NATO],” Erdoğan told reporters on his return from Athens on late Dec. 7.

The U.S. has signaled that it will not take action on selling the 40 new F-16s to Türkiye before the latter greenlights the Swedish admission into the alliance. Erdoğan submitted Sweden’s accession protocol to the Turkish parliament, but the Foreign Affairs Committee has not discussed it.

“If we are two allies in NATO, in the spirit of solidarity, you do your part, and our parliament will take the necessary step. That’s it,” Erdoğan stressed. Both the U.S. and Canada, which is restricting the sale of drone cameras to Türkiye, are insisting to see Sweden into the alliance before lifting these restrictions, the president said.

Erdoğan recalled that Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan went to Washington as part of the Contact Group with his counterparts from prominent regional countries. Fidan and the ministers will also go to Canada to hold talks about the continued offensive of the Israeli security forces into Gaza at the expense of claiming the lives of more than 16,000 civilians, mostly children and women.

“Our wish is to see the end of the pro-Israeli stance of the U.S. after what’s happening in Gaza, as a result of [the visit] of the contact group,” Erdoğan said, stressing this can help the contact group to impose more pressure on Israel for peace.

No meeting with Biden

On a question, Erdoğan said there is no planned meeting or conversation with U.S. President Joe Biden. “If he calls me, we’ll talk about all the issues that we need to talk,” he stressed. Erdoğan and Biden did not exchange views on the ongoing Israel-Hamas war, although Foreign Minister Fidan and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken discussed the situation in the Middle East a number of times through in-person meetings or telephonic conversations.

Erdoğan said he discussed the Israeli attacks on civilians in Gaza with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis during his stay in Athens.

Recalling that Greece abstained at the U.N. General Assembly vote on a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, Erdoğan said: “I told Mitsotakis ‘We would like to see you among 121 countries’ (that voted in favor of ceasefire). Our duty is to remind the truth.”

Erdoğan commends Spain’s stance

Criticizing the pro-Israeli response of the Western countries to what’s going on in Gaza, Erdoğan recalled that U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres invoked Article 99 of the U.N. Charter and called an emergency meeting at the U.N. Security Council. “I hope the U.N. Security Council will hear this call. It is time to act for the protection of peace on our earth,” he stated.

President Erdoğan singled out Spain and Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez for its vocal stance in favor of the rights of the Palestinian civilians. “Spanish Prime Minister Sanchez has appeared to be the bravest among the Western countries. Despite all the negativities, Sanchez has demonstrated his firm stance for the recognition of Palestine [as a state] by the EU countries,” Erdoğan said, adding, “That’s why I am applauding him.”

New page with Greece

Commenting on his talks with Mitsotakis that resulted in the announcement of the Athens Declaration on friendly ties between Türkiye and Greece, Erdoğan said this visit has pledged a new page in the bilateral ties.

The Athens Declaration is confirming the two sides’ will to improve ties and resolve all the problems through peaceful means, Erdoğan said, stressing that energy is one of the areas on which Türkiye and Greece can further deepen cooperation.

“We are in an effort to expand this cooperation not only in the field of energy but also on all issues, including nuclear energy. For example, we can [send] Greece the energy [to be produced] by our nuclear plant to be built in Sinop,” Erdoğan said.

On energy resources in the eastern Mediterranean, Erdoğan admitted that tensions in the region will mostly affect Türkiye and Greece. “We should be in an effort to find out what sort of actions we can take to the benefit of our peoples. I can say that Mr. Mitsotakis is also positive on this,” he said.

Explaining that Türkiye does not have an eye on any country’s rights while it also won’t allow its rights to be violated, Erdoğan underlined that a fair distribution of the energy sources in the region is possible as long as the two parties will not pave the way for the provocations and they establish a sound road map to this end.__Daily Hurriyet