Bob Menendez: Alexandroupolis has become the Souda of North Greece
Πηγή Φωτογραφίας: Αρχείου
Robert Menendez spoke about the importance of Greece in the Eastern Mediterranean and the “belligerent attitude” of Turkey, during a hearing to ratify the appointment of a candidate for Assistant Secretary of State. The assessment that the “clear messages” that have been sent by the Congress have proved useful in the effort of the US government to manage the issue of F-16 throughout the discussions with Turkey, expressed the candidate for assistant secretary of state, James O’Brien.
He is an experienced career diplomat who is slated to succeed Karen Donfried in the European and Eurasian Affairs portfolio. Bryan made the assertion in response to a question from Senator Chris Van Hollen during the Committee’s confirmation hearing. The deputy minister-designate agreed that Turkey should not use F-16 fighters to violate Greek airspace.
“We can be advocates for stronger stability in the Eastern Mediterranean”
During the debate, Menendez stated, “I want to echo what Senator Van Hollen said, regarding the administration’s consideration of the possibility of providing F-16s to Turkey. Unsurprisingly, Sweden has yet to receive the vote from Turkey, even though Erdogan said yes. Sweden had to be in (NATO). He could convene Parliament. He could have gone ahead with the vote. He hasn’t done it,” he added.
He even noted: “And, you know, we cannot have a belligerent attitude in the eastern Mediterranean. We have another NATO ally, Greece, in which we not only have the long-standing base in Souda Bay, but we have Alexandroupolis, which has become the Souda of the North and an important NATO energy and transshipment hub.”
During his position, Menendez highlighted his concerns about the sale of F-16s to Turkey, which he accused of maintaining a “belligerent attitude” towards Greece. “Now, how is it workable for us to have a NATO ally that takes a bellicose stance against another (ally) and somehow sell them F-16s?” he said, noting that he hoped “that this will be one of the issues that you will focus on, if the ratification of your appointment is still pending.” “I hope we can be advocates for stronger stability in the Eastern Mediterranean because it is incredibly important. I hope that we will work on the 3+1 scheme in a way that will strengthen the relations between Israel, Cyprus, Greece and the United States”, he underlined.
Broader F-16 delivery concerns
Regarding the placement of the new Assistant Secretary of State nominee, James O’Brien, when asked by Senator Van Hollen about a recent breach incident that occurred in the Aegean, he claimed he was not aware of it and pledged to come back when he has more information. The Maryland senator had remarked that the recent incident of violation is strange given that it comes to interrupt the period of calm that had preceded the previous period.
For his part, O’Brien replied “yes (I agree). And as you pointed out, I think we’re at a moment where the two leaders met just last month. They have organized a regular cycle of their meetings. I know that foreign ministers and their advisers are often in touch. So I think we are at a point where the two governments can manage the relationship well. But let me look into this incident (of the breach) and come back.”
Van Hollen expressed his satisfaction that the Turkish president verbally committed to Sweden’s accession, noting that Congress will closely monitor the final completion of the process. Beyond that, though, he made it clear that American lawmakers have broader concerns about the delivery of the F-16s.
“So let’s find a way to continue working together on this.”
In light of this, he asked the deputy secretary-designate whether he agreed that the US administration should seek assurances that would ensure Turkey would not use the fighters against both NATO allies such as Greece and critical peripheral partners such as its Kurds. Syria.
In his response, James O’Brien noted that “the clarity of views coming from Congress has been very helpful as we manage these issues with our Turkish allies. So I think if we can keep the communication going (between Congress and the administration), we can make sure that the issues will be raised.”
Regarding assurances that would ensure the security of Washington’s regional allies, Chris Van Hollen explained that “there are two ways to do it. I’d like to see both. One is some assurances from Turkey in some form. The other, of course, is for the Biden administration to give assurances to members of Congress that there will be consequences if Turkey violates these terms.” At this point, James O’Brien agreed, saying “let’s find out, then
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