Sen. Menendez Demands Action Against Turkey For Aggression Toward Greece, Cyprus

Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) has sent a letter to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo demanding action regarding Turkey’s recent acts of aggression in the Mediterranean.

In the letter, dated June 22, the ranking member of the Foreign Relations Committee, expresses his deep concern about recent actions by Turkey which “mark an escalation in aggression in the eastern Mediterranean in a way that threatens US interests.”

Senator Menendez states that “in recent months President Erdogan has been threatening regional stability by increasing aggression against our Greek and Cypriot partners.”

The letter refers to the Turkish purchase of the Russian S-400 missile system “which calls into question Ankara’s commitment to the (NATO) alliance.”

Turkey has repeatedly violated the sovereignty of countries on its borders and across the Mediterranean, the Senator charges, adding “Since January, Turkey has become the latest country to violate the UN arms embargo on Libya and has leveraged support for Libya’s Government of National Accord to push an ill-conceived maritime border agreement that ignores not only the legitimate claims of Greece and Cyprus, but also basic international law.”

Turkish violations of the Cypriot Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) are well documented, Menendez declares. “In recent weeks, Turkish ships have increased exploration activities in Cyprus’s EEZ, seeking to capitalize on the suspension of international energy companies’ exploration activities during the COVID-19 crisis.

“The European Union has taken welcome steps in sanctioning Turkish individuals involved in violating the Cypriot EEZ. In solidarity with our allies and friends in Europe, the United States should follow suit and immediately impose sanctions on these same individuals.”

Turkish military jets violate Greek airspace nearly every day, endangering Greek pilots as well as civilians going about their daily lives beneath these overflights, the senator adds.

“Turkey’s repeated violations of Greek and Cypriot sovereignty highlight President Erdogan’s lack of commitment to the rule of law,” Senator Menendez charges.

The Senator expresses his hope that in the future the US can count on Turkey as a fellow democratic partner in NATO. But he underlines that for now, “we must uphold our own laws in pursuit of our interests, and stand with our allies in the face of aggression.”

Menendez urges Secretary of State Pompeo to “fully implement appropriate CAATSA* sanctions and core components of the Eastern Mediterranean Energy and Security Act, a critically important expression of commitment to our relationship with Cyprus, Greece and Israel.”

*On August 2, 2017, the President signed into law the “Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act” (Public Law 115-44) (CAATSA), which among other things imposes new sanctions on Iran, Russia, and North Korea.

You can read the full text of the letter by clicking here.