Linking F-16s sale with Nordic states’ NATO bids ‘illogical’: Kalın

Linking F-16s sale with Nordic states’ NATO bids ‘illogical’: Kalın

Linking F-16s sale with Nordic states’ NATO bids ‘illogical’: Kalın

The efforts to link Türkiye’s demand to buy F-16 jetfighters from the United States with its delayed ratification of Sweden and Finland’s bid to join NATO are “illogical and counterproductive,” a senior Turkish official has said, repeating that these two Nordic states will enter the alliance once they fulfill their commitments on the anti-terror fight.

İbrahim Kalın, chief foreign policy adviser and spokesman of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, attended Türkiye-U.S. Business Forum in Washington late on March 13, where he addressed the participants and answered some questions.

According to the press reports, one of the most frequently asked questions was on Türkiye, along with Hungary, not ratifying the accession protocols of Sweden and Finland, while all the rest 28 allies have already done so.

Türkiye looked at its own security checklist after these two countries applied to the alliance, Kalın said, recalling the three countries signed a trilateral memorandum that outlined the steps Sweden and Finland should take to meet Türkiye’s security needs, especially regarding terrorist threats staged by the PKK, FETÖ and others.

The presidential adviser stressed that the Swedish authorities first did not understand the depth of the terrorist presence in their country.

“I think we are in a much better place now than we were a year ago. The Swedish government has underlined that they still need time to put a necessary legal framework in place as Sweden’s new anti-terror bill will go into force on June 1,” Kalın said, noting, “So this is a timeline that they have, not us. We didn’t impose this timeline.”

The U.S. and some other prominent western nations are pressing on Türkiye for swift ratification of these two countries’ entrance into the alliance. But the fact that Sweden should take more concrete steps and that Türkiye will go to the presidential and parliamentary polls in two months, expectations are low to this end. Sweden said it aims to be a part of NATO with Finland latest in mid-July, when NATO leaders will gather at an important summit in Lithuania.

“Now we are severely being criticized again by some of our friends here, especially in Washington, and I know this is the sentiment among some Congress members as well,” Kalın stressed, citing a bipartisan call to the White House not to approve the sale of F-16s to Türkiye before it ratifies the two Nordic states’ bid.

Türkiye and the U.S. were in talks since early 2022 for the sale of 40 new F-16s and 79 modernization kits for the reinforcement of the Turkish air forces after Washington removed Ankara from the F-35 fifth-generation warplane program.

Although the Biden administration endorses the delivery of the F-16s, it needs to get the approval of Congress. But in a recent attempt, a sizeable group of congressmen called on the administration not to move forward with the sale as Türkiye did not ratify the applications of Sweden and Finland.

When asked about the same, Kalın said linking Finland and Sweden’s NATO bids with F-16 sales is “completely illogical, unacceptable and counterproductive.”

“It sends a very wrong message, and it doesn’t help the process,” he added.

On ties between Türkiye and the U.S., Kalın suggested that the two countries should develop a strategic geopolitical dialogue not only for the future of the two countries but the entire world. He also thanked the U.S. for sending search and rescue teams as well as humanitarian aid and shelters to Türkiye in the immediate aftermath of the devastating earthquakes of Feb. 6 that killed more than 48,000 people in the country’s 11 provinces.

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