Greece will soon begin negotiations with the US on the purchase of fifth-generation F-35 fighters as part of efforts to strengthen both the Greek armed forces and NATO’s eastern and southeastern flanks, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said.
“We will launch the process for the acquisition of a squadron of F-35 aircraft, and we do hope to be able to add this fantastic plane to the Greek Air Force before the end of this decade,” Mitsotakis said at a White House reception hosted by US President Joe Biden on Monday.
The Greek prime minister noted that bilateral relations between Athens and Washington are currently at their highest level, as evidenced by the recently signed defense and cooperation agreement. In particular, the Greek navy and NATO forces have been working together at the naval base at Souda Bay on Crete and in the port of Alexandroupolis, located about 500 miles south of the Ukrainian border.
Mitsotakis also pointed out the need for the US and Europe to stand together in supporting Ukraine and the core values of liberal democracies.
“Neo-imperial fantasies belong to other centuries. They must not succeed. And they must not succeed not only for the sake of Ukraine but to send a very clear signal to other authoritarian leaders that any violation of sovereignty will be met by a unified and a forceful response,” the Greek prime minister said.
Mitsotakis called for further sanctions against Russia, stressing the need to bring down high energy prices that have put a heavy burden on populations.
“As we reduce our dependence on Russian hydrocarbons, we also need to use our market power as larger purchases of gas to deliver short-term relief to our households and our businesses,” the Greek prime minister said.
In addition, he urged Biden to promote the resumption of negotiations on the Cyprus settlement.
“You are extremely knowledgeable about the Cyprus issue. And please, use all your influence to put the negotiation process back on track in accordance with the U.N. Security Council resolutions. No one — no one can or will accept a two-state solution in Cyprus,” Mitsotakis said.
The Greek prime minister concluded by noting that relations between Athens and Washington go far beyond shared security and can boast active cooperation in trade, tourism and technology, as well as a large number of cultural exchanges.
Turkey Likely To Acquire F-16 Fighters
According to Turkish media reports, Turkey and the United States are currently engaged in negotiations on the sale of US new generation F-16 fighter jets to Ankara.
The countries are holding negotiations on the modernization of the existing aircraft and procurement of new-generation aircraft, Turkish newspaper Yeni Akit reported adding that Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin is expected to visit the US in the coming days, where he will discuss the sale of the F-16s with members of Congress.
In 2019, the US suspended Turkey’s participation in its F-35 program over Ankara’s purchase of the Russian S-400 air defense system and later completely removed it from the project. Despite harsh backlash from the US and NATO over the purchase, Turkey has insisted that it will continue to use the S-400s.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan later announced that the US suggested that Ankara procure the fourth generation of the F-16 fighter jets instead of the fifth generation F-35s.
The US Congress has yet to approve the deal, while the US State Department is lobbying for it, convincing congressmen that it will “serve Washington’s interests.”
Turkish newspaper Star recently reported that ‘arch-rival’ Greece is trying to put pressure on the United States so that Washington does not sell upgraded F-16 combat aircraft to Turkey.
The normalization of relations between Turkey and the Middle East countries, as well as the country’s entry into the Eastern Mediterranean energy market and Greece’s exit from it, have created a feeling of “loneliness” in Athens, the newspaper said.
Erdogan’s role in resolving the Ukrainian crisis also caused a sense of jealousy in Greece, according to Star, leading to it trying to put more pressure on the US regarding the F-16 deal.
- Via Sputnik News Agency
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