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Chair Cardin Welcomes Turkey’s Action on Sweden’s NATO Accession, Approves Sale of F-16s to Turkey, Expresses Concern on New Hungarian Intransigence

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, issued a statement welcoming Turkey’s ratification of Sweden’s accession to NATO and noting that he will now permit the sale of F-16 fighter jets to Turkey.

“I commend the Turkish Parliament for its important vote in favor of approving Sweden’s NATO accession protocol, and President Erdogan for signing it. Sweden has long met all requirements necessary for accession to the Alliance, and this move represents a significant step forward in strengthening our Euro Atlantic community and interoperability in the face of the Putin regime’s unprovoked and illegal incursion into Eastern Europe.

“My approval of Turkey’s request to purchase F-16 aircrafts has been contingent on Turkish approval of Sweden’s NATO membership. But make no mistake: this was not a decision I came to lightly. While Turkey plays a critical role in the region as a NATO ally, there is an urgent need for improvement on its human rights record, including the unjust imprisonment of journalists and civil society leaders, better cooperation on holding Russia accountable for its invasion of Ukraine, and on lowering the temperature in its rhetoric about the Middle East. My concerns have been strongly and consistently conveyed to the Biden administration as part of our ongoing engagement, and I am encouraged by the productive direction of their discussions with Turkish officials to address these issues.

“This week’s heightened Hungarian obstruction of Sweden’s path forward to NATO, however, means that the Turkish action is not yet a moment to celebrate the overdue expansion of NATO. Prime Minister Viktor Orban has once again shown himself to be the least reliable member of NATO, in addition to playing the role of spoiler in the European Union’s effort to provide much-needed economic assistance to Ukraine.

“I look forward to beginning this new chapter in our relationship with Turkey, expanding the NATO alliance, and working with our global allies in standing up to ongoing Russian aggression against its peaceful neighbors.”