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AHI Opposes Proposed Sale Of Two Oliver Hazard Perry Class Guided Missile Frigates To Turkey
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: CHRYSOULA ECONOMOPOULOS
January 31, 2002 No. 3/02 (202) 785-8430

AHI Opposes Proposed Sale Of Two Oliver Hazard Perry Class Guided Missile Frigates To Turkey

On January 23, 2001, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) notified the U.S. Congress of a possible Foreign Military Sale to Turkey of two Oliver Hazard Perry class frigates with associated equipment and services. The total value, if all options are exercised, could be as high as $110 million.

Gene Rossides, General Counsel for the American Hellenic Institute (AHI), issued the following statement regarding this proposed sale:

"AHI opposes the proposed sale of two FFG-7 Oliver Hazard Perry class guided missile frigates to Turkey as contrary to the best interests of the U.S and the interests and values that the U.S. should be advancing in the region. The estimated cost is up to $110 million. Turkey should be using that money instead to boost its beleaguered economy or to pay part of its $5 billion military sales debt to the U.S.

"The proposed sale will not contribute to the foreign policy and national security objectives of the U.S. as asserted by the DSCA. Turkey's proposed purchase harms U.S. interests. The U.S. should be taking advantage of recent improvements in regional stability to place primacy on economic, political and human rights reforms in Turkey and good neighborliness.

"More weapons deliveries will have the opposite effect. Payment will place an additional burden on Turkish resources, already strained by the current economic crisis. The result will be to retard Turkey's economic reforms and development, and postpone even further the economic and political reforms that are needed if Turkey is to be a serious candidate for accession to the European Union.

"The proposed sale will also strain regional relations. Turkey is the leading regional military power. Turkey already has seven Perry class frigates and has no legitimate need for additional frigates or other military equipment from the U.S. or any other country. Adding to Turkey's military capabilities will adversely affect the military balance in the region and, contrary to the assertion of the DSCA, 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 in Turkey to the detriment of U.S. interests.

The proposed sale would clearly be harmful, contrary to the DSCA's assertion, to U.S. efforts to encourage a negotiated settlement of the Cyprus question through the current talks.

"In Turkey the military controls foreign and national security policy under its constitution and dominates domestic policy. Former French Ambassador to Turkey, Eric Rouleau, in an exceptional article inForeign Affairs entitled "Turkey's Dream of Democracy" (November/December 2000, pp. 100-114) describes the Turkish military's control over the Turkish state and the Turkish military's vast economic holdings. He writes:

'A rigid, nationalist ideology and a powerful, activist officer corps: this is what the EU is up against in trying to persuade Turkey to totally revamp a constitution that institutionalizes the army's dominant power and blocks any move toward democratization.' (p. 105)

"Following September 11, the U.S. should be projecting American values in our foreign relations, not unnecessary arms sales. This proposed sale gives the wrong signal to Turkey's brave human rights activists and organizations.

"Turkey has repeatedly broken Foreign Military Sales Agreements it has signed with the U.S. and is in violation of the Arms Export Control Act. In its 1974 invasion of Cyprus, in its campaign against its Kurdish minority, and in its attacks into Northern Iraq, Turkey has ignored written agreements with various administrations that it would not use American weapons in offensive operations or against civilians.

"The proposed sale is a continuation of a disastrous arms racefostered by the U.S. State and Defense Departments and is harmful to the economies of Turkey and Greece. The proposed sale is also a danger to regional stability in an area of strategic significance to the U.S.

"There is no sound reason to support such a sale. There are several reasons, as set forth above, to oppose such a sale as contrary to U.S. foreign policy and national security objectives."

For additional information or to receive a copy of the DSCA's news release announcing the possible sale, please contact Chrysoula Economopoulos at (202) 785-8430 or at [email protected]. For general information on AHI, see our Web site at http://www.ahiworld.org .