February 02, 2024

Van Hollen Statement on Sale of U.S. F-16s to Turkey

U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) released the following statement regarding the sale of U.S. F-16s to Turkey after receiving a briefing from Administration officials on the pending sale as well as the status of several concerns the Senator has raised around Turkey:

“While Turkey’s ratification of Sweden’s NATO membership was long delayed, it is a welcome step forward and an important signal to the NATO community. That being said, I continue to have serious concerns about President Erdogan’s ongoing attacks against our Syrian Kurdish allies, his aggressive actions in the Eastern Mediterranean, and the role he played in supporting Azerbaijan’s military assaults against Nagorno-Karabakh. I appreciate the Biden Administration taking the time to brief me on these issues and to provide answers around my concerns.

“Though I have been glad to see that President Erdogan has ceased the incursions by military aircraft into Greek airspace, the Administration informed me that they continue to monitor this matter closely in order to encourage the ongoing dialogue between Greece and Turkey. Additionally, I received assurances from the Administration that it will continue to warn Azerbaijan against taking further military action against Armenia and that they will work with Turkey to prevent any further escalation of that conflict. I remain deeply troubled by President Erdogan’s attacks against the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in Northeast Syria; however, the Administration assured me that they continue to voice their strong objections to these attacks, including the threat posed to U.S. forces working with the SDF, and reaffirmed their ongoing commitment to supporting this crucial partner – who has served as the tip of the spear in our campaign to defeat the Islamic State. The Administration told me that they would more clearly communicate that commitment to the SDF to allay concerns that have been expressed about a reduced American commitment to our partnership. 

“Based on these assurances and additional information I received from the Administration during this briefing, I will not aim to block the sale of F-16s to Turkey by filing a joint resolution of disapproval. However, I will continue to stay in regular communication with the Administration regarding their assurances on these and other key issues. It is clear that we must keep a close watch on Turkey in the weeks and months ahead – actions speak louder than words.”