Sen. Robert Menendez

Foreign Relations Chairman Sen. Menendez Condemns Erdogan’s Threat to Attack Athens with Ballistic Missiles

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WASHINGTON – Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) on December 19 delivered remarks on the Senate Floor following Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s threatened missile strike on Athens, Greece. Menendez called on the United States and the international community to take concrete steps to hold Erdogan to account for his growing ties to Vladimir Putin, and for his pursuit of repressive and anti-democratic norms, human rights abuses, and continued violations of international law.

“As violent as Erdogan’s tenure has been at home, his foreign policy has been absolutely awful .… But one thing is clear — the United States must take the Turkish President’s actions seriously …. We need to hold Erdogan accountable for his behavior when he violates international laws, or challenges democratic norms, or allows his forces to commit human rights abuses. And that’s why I’m calling for free and fair elections in Turkey,” Menendez said. “But if standing up to human rights abuses makes me an enemy of Erdogan — if calling out Turkey for arming Azerbaijan and enabling the massacre of innocent Armenian civilians makes me an enemy of Erdogan — if demanding Turkey recognize Greek and Cypriot sovereignty makes me an enemy of Erdogan — then it is a badge I will wear with honor.”

“That is why, as Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, I will not approve any F-16s for Turkey until he halts his campaign of aggression across the entire region,” Chairman Menendez continued. “To my colleagues here in the Senate, I’ll close by saying — do not be afraid to stand up for American values in the face of Erdogan’s aggression. To the international community — do not hesitate to hold Turkey accountable for violating international law. To the citizens living in the shadow of Erdogan’s Typhoon missiles—do not forget the United States stands shoulder-to-shoulder with you. And to those people in Turkey who still hope for a free, democratic future—do not give up. One day soon, with your bravery, peace and prosperity will return to your homeland.”

He said, “This is a NATO member—directly threatening to target Athens, a city of three million civilians. According to the United Nations—an intentional attack on civilians is a war crime.”

Menendez also condemned the domestic policies of Erdogan. “From criminalizing insults of Turkey and freedom of expression to the suppression of dissent and political opposition figures, Erdogan has jailed and silenced so many pro-democracy and human rights activists that at one point there were more lawyers and journalists in Turkish jails than anywhere else in the world. His government continues to try and hide the truth about the Armenian Genocide, prosecuting writers and historians.”

 

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