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US Senator Menendez lambastes Erdoğan for threats of missile strikes on Athens

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US Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) Chairman and Democratic Senator Bob Menendez has harshly criticized recent remarks by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who threatened to launch missile strikes on Athens, saying the Turkish leader shares the same worldview as Russian and Iranian leaders whom he called “some of the world’s most brutal dictators.”

Menendez on Monday delivered remarks on the Senate floor following Erdoğan’s threats of a missile strike on Athens.

Erdoğan, who was speaking in the Black Sea province of Samsun on December 11, said Greece is uneasy about the development of the Turkish national defense industry since Turkey has even begun to manufacture its own missiles.

“This production certainly scares the Greeks. When you say ‘Tayfun,’ they get scared. They say, ‘It may hit Athens.’ It certainly will do so,” Erdoğan said, adding that Turkey will not remain idle if Greece continues to arm the Aegean islands with weapons procured from the United States and elsewhere.

Tayfun, which is Turkish for “typhoon,” is a short-range ballistic missile developed by Turkey. The missile, which was test-fired in October over the Black Sea, hit a target at a distance of about 560 kilometers, a range more than double that of the current missiles in Turkey’s arsenal.

“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 said.

“And so, Madam President, I come to the Floor today to condemn the recent actions of the Turkish President which are not only disturbing—they are totally unacceptable,” he added.

Menendez called on the United States and the international community to take concrete steps to hold Erdoğan to account for his growing ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin and for his pursuit of repressive and anti-democratic norms, human rights abuses and continued violations of international law.

Giving a rundown of Erdoğan’s foreign and domestic actions, Menendez condemned the Turkish leader’s aggression toward Greece, Kurds in Syria and Armenia, which accused Turkey of supporting Azerbaijan’s military campaign against a self-proclaimed Armenian enclave backed by Yerevan.

“And so 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,” Menendez said, calling on the international community not to 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,” the senator said.

Turkey and Greece are bitter rivals involved in contentious geographic disputes, including exploration for natural gas off the divided island of Cyprus and the Dodecanese — a group of islands off the Turkish coast that were ceded to Greece by Italy following World War II. They mobilized their navies and warplanes in opposition to one another in the Mediterranean in 2020.

Erdoğan has lately accused Greece of “occupying” Aegean islands and equipping them with weapons and aircraft purchased from the United States.

In response, Athens accuses Turkey of conducting hundreds of illegal military sorties over the islands.

In September, the United States said Greek sovereignty was not in doubt after Turkey lodged a protest over the deployment of Greek armored vehicles on the islands of Lesbos and Samos.

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