New York.- (GreekNewsOnline, Reuters)
The United States on Monday imposed sanctions on Turkey over its purchase of Russian ground-to-air defenses and targeted the top Turkish defense development body, its president and three employees.
It’s the first time that the United States imposed sanctions designed by Congress to to heart adversaries (Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act) to an ally, such as Turkey.
The move, while focused on the defense sector, including Turkey’s Defence Industries Directorate (SSB), has drawn a condemnation from NATO-ally Ankara and is likely to further strain Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan’s relations with Western allies.
The sanctions, first reported by Reuters last week, include a ban on all US export licences as well as asset freezes and visa restrictions for SSB’s president, Ismail Demir, and three other employees. They threaten to damage Turkey’s economy at a time when it is struggling with a coronavirus-induced slowdown and double-digit inflation.
As Assistant Secretary of State said in a conference call with reporters, the U.S. is specifically, we are imposing the following penalties upon SSB:
“First, a prohibition on granting specific U.S. export licenses and authorizations for any goods or technology.
Second, a prohibition on loans or credits by U.S. financial institutions totaling more than $10 million in any 12-month period.
Third, a ban on U.S. Export-Import Bank assistance for exports.
And fourth, a requirement for the U.S. to oppose loans by international financial institutions to SSB.
In addition to those penalties on SSB the organization, we are imposing full blocking sanctions and visa restrictions on SSB President Dr. Ismail Demir as well as upon three other SSB officials, specifically Vice President Faruk Yigit, Air Defense and Space Department head Serhat Gencoglu – and I’m sure I’m pronouncing that wrong, my apologies – and Program Manager for Regional Air Defense Systems Mustafa Alper Deniz. The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, or OFAC, is adding all four of those men to its Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List – known as the SDN list. As a result, all of their property and interests within the United States jurisdiction are blocked, and U.S. persons are generally prohibited from transacting with them.”
Ankara acquired the Russian S-400 ground-to-air defenses in mid-2019 and says they pose no threat to NATO allies. Washington disagrees and has long threatened sanctions, and last year removed Turkey from an F-35 jet program.
Just ahead of the US announcement, Erdogan said the sanctions rhetoric was upsetting. “From our NATO ally the United States, we expect support in our battle against terrorist organizations and forces that have plans for our region, not sanctions,” he said after a cabinet meeting.
“Turkey is a valued ally and an important regional security partner for the United States, and we seek to continue our decades-long history of productive defense-sector cooperation by removing the obstacle of Turkey’s S-400 possession as soon as possible,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo wrote in a statement announcing the sanctions.
State Department officials downplayed the timing, saying that the process of implementing sanctions was “very serious” and “deliberative.”
“It took time to work through this complex set of issues, including, in particular, the fact that Turkey is a NATO ally, so I would not read too much into the timing of this and why today and not yesterday or three months ago,” said Matthew Palmer, deputy assistant secretary in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, during a call with reporters. “This is the time that was necessary for us to conclude that deliberative process.”
The latest revelation comes less than two months after reports surfaced that Turkey’s military began testing the S-400 system.
Asked to what extent there was coordination between the United States and the E.U., Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Palmer said:
“The sanctions that were under consideration at the recent European Council aren’t related to the S-400; they’re about Turkish activities and behaviors in the Aegean and off the Cypriot coast, exploratory activities and drilling operations.
So we’ve certainly been talking to the European member states and to representatives of the European Union about potential EU sanctions, but we haven’t coordinated this announcement with Europeans. I don’t think they would expect that of us. And neither do we have a vote in whatever sanctions the European Council might eventually choose to pursue.”
AHEPA Commends the
United States’ Decision
AHEPA commends the United States’ decision today to impose sanctions on Turkey for its procurement of the Russian S-400 missile defense system, announced Supreme President George G. Horiates.
“Turkey has demonstrated it is an unreliable and dubious NATO ally,” Horiates said. “We commend the United States for holding Turkey accountable under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act for its purchase of the S-400s, which is a clear threat to the United States’ national security. Although overdue, this policy measure by the Trump administration, with bipartisan pressure from Congress, sends a strong and pointed message to Turkey. It is a victory for accountability and the community, and we applaud all groups and individuals for their advocacy.”
In November 2019, Supreme President Horiates wrote to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to request the secretary, under authority designated to him by Executive Order, to impose sanctions on Turkish entities pursuant to Section 231 of CAATSA based upon press accounts that reported Turkey tested the S-400 missile defense system against F-16 aircraft.
Horiates’ November 2019 letter followed-up on his October 2019 letter to Secretary Pompeo that inquired about the status of the United States sanctioning Turkey under CAATSA.
Also in November 2019, Supreme President Horiates met with key policymakers in foreign policy on Capitol Hill, including Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jim Risch (R-ID) and House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel (D-NY), among others, to work to hold Turkey accountable for its actions.
In July 2020, AHEPA asked the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to press Secretary Pompeo on the issue during a committee hearing, which Ranking Member Robert Menendez (D-NJ) correctly did. (watch video)
During the summer, Supreme President Horiates again wrote to Secretary Pompeo, stating the U.S. must impose sanctions on Turkey, which received a response from the State Department.
Ahepans mobilized following a September 2020 memo Supreme President Horiates sent a memo and provided a mobilization tool kit to chapters that included talking points on the policy matter. AHEPA also placed an advocacy ad in several Greek American publications.
The Trump administration announcement comes as Congress imposed mandatory sanctions on Turkey for its violation of CAATSA with its passage of the FY2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which AHEPA applauded.
AHEPA supported the bipartisan measures to sanction Turkey that legislators included in the defense bill during the amendment process over the summer.
ANCA, HALC, IDC
WELCOME INITIAL US
SANCTIONS ON TURKEY
The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) the Hellenic American Leadership Council (HALC) and In Defense of Christians (IDC) hailed the Trump Administration’s imposition of sanctions on Turkey’s military procurement agency and its officers in response to Turkey’s purchase of Russian S-400 missile systems.
The U.S. sanctions include a ban on all U.S. export licenses and loans to Turkey’s defense procurement agency. They also freeze the assets and restrict visas of the organization’s president and three other senior officials. and an asset freeze on its president, Ismail Demir, among other government officials.
Over the last two Congresses, ANCA, HALC and IDC have prioritized holding Turkey accountable for its violations of US and international law and its destabilizing behavior in multiple regions. The joint advocacy efforts included in person lobbying, social media campaigns, an advertisement in the New York Times, and call-in/email campaigns to members of Congress and the Trump Administration.
According to Toufic Baaklini, President and Chairman of IDC, “While we have much more work to do, today’s announcement is a welcomed U.S. response to an increasingly rogue Ankara. We look forward to continuing to ramp up the pressure in 2021”
“We join today with our HALC and IDC partners in welcoming this first step to hold Turkey accountable for its reckless conduct,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. “We look forward to working with our advocacy allies during the next Congress and with the incoming Biden Administration to build upon today’s actions,” added Hamparian.
“US policy on Turkey has finally shifted from appeasement to accountability,” said HALC Executive Director Endy Zemenides. “These sanctions are a positive first step and a clear signal to Ankara that it is not above the law. Yet they remain a first step. Sanctions are not the end game. Ending Turkey’s rogue state like behavior is. We remain committed to work with our partners at ANCA and IDC to ask the next Congress and the incoming Biden Administration to build on today’s development,” concluded Zemenides.
Last week, the U.S. Senate and House overwhelmingly approved the Fiscal Year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which also called for sanctions against Turkey for their purchase of the Russian S-400s.
SENATOR VAN HOLLEN
Senator Chris Van Hollen (@ChrisVanHollen) commended the decision with a Twit:
“This is a long-overdue action. Glad Congress held Trump’s feet to the fire and forced him to implement #CAATSA sanctions against Turkey for its purchase of the Russian-made S-400. We won’t stand down when it comes to protecting our national security and our faithful NATO allies.”
RANKING MEMBER McCAUL
In a statement House Foreign Affairs ranking member Michael McCaul supported Sanctioning Turkey for Purchasing Russian Air Defense System.
“Today, the United States levied sanctions against Turkey under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) for Turkey’s purchase of a Russian missile defense system, known as the S-400. When it was first revealed that Turkey was attempting to purchase the S-400 system from Russia, House Foreign Affairs Lead Republican Michael McCaul urged President Erdogan to work with the U.S. government to come to a NATO-compatible solution. And, since Turkey took delivery of the S-400 system last year, McCaul has repeatedly called on the Administration to impose sanctions under CAATSA. Below is a statement from Lead Republican McCaul on today’s announcement.
“We have given Turkey every opportunity to correct their dangerous decision of purchasing an air defense system from Russia that would act as a surveillance system against all NATO aircraft for the Putin regime, posing a significant security threat to NATO member countries including the United States. I’m pleased the White House has finally levied these sanctions against Turkey, making it clear to President Erdogan that his country must fully recommit Turkey to the NATO alliance and remove this Russian asset from its arsenal.”
In multiple efforts to deter Turkey from buying the S-400, the State Department offered in 2013 and 2017 to sell the country Raytheon’s Patriot missile system. Ankara passed on the Patriot both times because the U.S. declined to provide a transfer of the system’s sensitive missile technology.
“We have repeatedly tried through our diplomatic overtures to find a way to resolve this by means that don’t involve the imposition of these mandatory sanctions,” explained Christopher Ford, assistant secretary for International Security and Nonproliferation, during a call with reporters.
“We have also repeatedly offered them military equipment to help meet their operational needs in a way that doesn’t trigger sanctions and that is, in fact, a better answer in terms of the NATO interoperability of the Turkish Defense Forces. Unfortunately, Turkey turned down every single one of these efforts over the past several years now,” Ford said, adding the United States had “no choice.”