Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Tuesday that the Turkish parliament will ratify Sweden’s NATO membership as long as the US follows through on its plans to sell Turkey F-16 fighter jets.
Erdogan told NATO in July that Turkey’s parliament would approve Sweden’s membership when it reconvenes this fall, but there has yet to be a vote. The F-16 deal that Turkey is seeking is expected to be worth $20 billion, and President Biden has indicated it would go through if Ankara ratifies Sweden’s NATO bid.
“I hope that, so long as they remain true to their promises, our parliament will also remain loyal to the promise that was made,” Erdogan told reporters.
While the Biden administration supports the F-16 deal for Turkey, there has been opposition from Congress. The deal’s main opponent has been Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), who just stepped down from his influential post as the head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee after the Department of Justice indicted him for corruption over allegations that he accepted bribes to benefit Egypt.
Erdogan said Menendez stepping down provided an opportunity for Turkey. “Thanks to this development, we may have an opportunity to speed up the process regarding the F-16 sale. Menendez and those who share his mentality are not only creating obstacles on the F-16s but on all other issues,” he said.
Erdogan said his foreign minister, Hakan Fidan, met with Secretary of State Antony Blinken last week and discussed several issues, including the F-16 deal. “These talks continue but it would be useful to talk with him [Blinken] once again to turn this situation into an opportunity,” Erdogan said. “Now, we are waiting for a clear answer from the US. We hope that we will get the expected positive outcome without further delay.”