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AHI Condemns Prospective U.S. Arms Sales To Turkey
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: JONATHAN CLARKE
March 8, 2000 No. 15/2000 (202) 785-8430

AHI Condemns Prospective U.S. Arms Sales To Turkey

According to an AP report of March 6, 2000, Turkey has narrowed its list of possible sources for a $4 billion purchase of 145 military helicopters to three companies: the United States' Bell Helicopter-Textron, Italy's Augusta and a Russian-Israeli joint venture Kamov-Israeli Aircraft Industries. On March 8, 2000 the American Hellenic Institute (AHI) released the following statement by AHI General Counsel Eugene T. Rossides about this matter.

"This prospective purchase by Turkey is sharply contrary to the best interests of the U.S. and raises profound issues for American foreign policy.

In foreign policy terms, Turkey's proposed purchase harms U.S. interests. The U.S. should be taking advantage of recent improvements in regional stability--including a PKK-declared cease-fire inside Turkey, better relations between Greece and Turkey, new opportunities for progress in the Middle East, and the strengthening of the reform forces in Iran--to place primacy on economic development, political reform, human rights and good neighborliness.

New weapons deliveries to Turkey will have the opposite effect. Payment will place an enormous burden on Turkish resources, already strained by the 1999 earthquakes. The result will be to retard Turkey's economic development and postpone yet further the economic advances that are needed if Turkey is to be a serious candidate for accession to the European Union.

The deliveries will also strain regional relations. Turkey is already the leading regional military power. Adding to its military capabilities will unsettle Turkey's neighbors and may trigger a competitive regional arms race. This in turn will undermine economic progress, political reform and democracy building, to the detriment of U.S. interests.

In terms of human rights, the proposed contract is an affront to fundamental American values. In its 1999 Human Rights Report, the State Department devotes 52 pages to Turkey. These present a record of violations and abuses that rank Turkey with the most egregious human rights abusers in the Third World, among rogue states, and in the communist community. Torture, police brutality, corruption among the judiciary and oppression of minorities are part of daily life in Turkey. This report makes shameful reading for a state which is a U.S. ally through NATO.

Other independent human rights organizations such as Amnesty International in its statement of March 3, 2000 and the commendable November 1999 report "Arming Repression: U.S. Arms Sales to Turkey During the Clinton Administration," produced jointly by the World Policy Institute and the Federation of American Scientists, have drawn attention to the fundamental moral unacceptability of supplying weapons to a country such as Turkey.

Furthermore, Turkey's continued illegal occupation of Cyprus constitutes a rank offense against international law. This occupation has been condemned repeatedly by the United Nations. It has been termed "unacceptable" by successive U.S. presidents. Additionally, Turkey's continued unilateral claims against sovereign Greek territory in the Aegean and refusal to refer these claims to international arbitration by the International Court of Justice are destabilizing.

Turkey's claims against Greece and its occupation of Cyprus make it a unique violator of international law among NATO members and U.S. allies.

AHI calls on the Administration to take the following actions:

  • To state publicly now that it will refuse to issue licenses for the export to Turkey of U.S. manufactured weapons systems under this or any future proposed contract;
  • To state publicly now that it will not give financial support, direct or indirect, to this contract or any future weapons contracts for Turkey; and
  • To encourage bidders in other countries to withdraw their bids or, if they do not, to encourage the relevant government to veto the contract.

AHI calls on the Congress:

  • To pass legislation prohibiting the sale or transfer of arms to Turkey; and
  • To pass legislation prohibiting the appropriation of any moneys that might directly or indirectly support the delivery of new weapons systems to Turkey."

A copy of AHI's November 10, 1999 press release on the report "Arming Repression: U. S. Arms Sales to Turkey During the Clinton Administration" is attached. (click here)