Shaheen, Tillis Lead Bipartisan Letter to POTUS Urging Delay of F-16 Sales to Türkiye Until Its Approval of NATO Accession Protocols for Sweden & Finland
(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Thom Tillis (R-NC), Co-Chairs of the Senate NATO Observer Group, today sent a bipartisan letter to President Biden expressing concern about Türkiye’s continued delays around ratifying the NATO accession protocols for Sweden and Finland. The letter states that Congressional consideration of F-16 fighter jet sales to Türkiye should not begin until the NATO protocols are ratified. The Senators note the importance of welcoming Sweden and Finland into NATO to further strengthen the alliance amid Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine and broader attempts to destabilize the global order.
“We write with concern about President Erdoğan and the Republic of Türkiye’s continued delays ratifying the accession protocols for Sweden and Finland to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Failure to ratify the protocols or present a timeline for ratification threatens the Alliance’s unity at a key moment in history, as Russia continues its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. A productive and mutually beneficial bilateral security relationship with Türkiye is in the interest of the United States, and we are awaiting the government’s ratification of the NATO accession protocols for Sweden and Finland,” the Senators wrote.
They continued: “However, a failure by Türkiye to uphold its commitments made under the trilateral Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Türkiye, Finland and Sweden should be taken into consideration, as Congress cannot consider future support for Türkiye, including the sale of F-16 fighter jets, until Türkiye completes ratification of the accession protocols.”
“When Putin invaded Ukraine, he was counting on the transatlantic alliance to fracture; instead, the United States and our allies are meeting an unprecedented moment in history with unprecedented unity and strength. We urge you to continue to engage with the U.S. Ambassador to Türkiye, the U.S. Mission to NATO and with our allies, including Sweden and Finland, to encourage Türkiye to act swiftly in support of transatlantic unity and ratify Sweden and Finland’s accession protocols to the NATO Alliance,” the Senators concluded.
In addition to Senators Shaheen and Tillis, U.S. Senators Chris Coons (D-DE), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), John Boozman (R-AR), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Angus King (I-ME), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Rick Scott (R-FL), Patty Murray (D-WA), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Catherine Cortez-Masto (D-NV), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), John Hickenlooper (D-CO) and Chris Murphy (D-CT) also signed onto the letter.
A copy of the text of the letter is available here.
As co-chairs of the Senate NATO Observer Group, Shaheen and Tillis led a bipartisan congressional delegation to the NATO Summit in Madrid, with additional stops in Finland and Sweden regarding accession into NATO. They previously led a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers in a joint statement of support and a letter to President Biden, calling for Finland and Sweden’s swift accession into NATO in response to the respective nations announcing their intent to join the transatlantic Alliance. The Senate NATO Observer Group, re-established by Shaheen and Tillis in 2018, has an expanded mission to closely monitor and inform Senators outside of national security committees about defense spending commitments of Alliance members, the process of upgrading military capabilities, the Alliance’s counter-terrorism capability, NATO enlargement and the ability of NATO member states to address unconventional warfare threats.