United States (US) Senator from New Jersey Bob Menendez, known for his anti-Türkiye stance, resigned as the chairman of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee due to bribery and corruption charges against him. Democratic Party Senator Ben Cardin took the place of Menendez, who prevented the sale of F-16s to Türkiye.
To a question about his stance on the sale of F-16s to Türkiye after taking over,
"I have to meet with the administration on this issue because it involves many issues, not just one issue," new US Senator from New Jersey Ben Cardin responded.
He emphasized that Türkiye and Sweden discussed the issue of Sweden's NATO membership at the NATO Ambassadors meeting on September 27, 2023.
"Türkiye says that this will be done in the first half of next month. If this happens, at least the NATO issue will be solved. But as the negotiations progress, we need to discuss many more issues in addition to this," Cardin said.
Another statement on the F-16 sale to Türkiye came from Republican Senator Jim Risch.
"If Türkiye decides to act like a responsible NATO ally and does what it should have done last year, I expect the F-16 path to be open," Risch, a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said.
The chairmanship of the committee passed to Cardin earlier this week when Senator Menendez temporarily resigned due to corruption allegations against him. Under Democratic Party rules, a member of Congress in a leadership or chairman position must resign from that position if an accusation is brought against him.
Former US Senator Bob Menendez and his Armenian wife Nadine Arlanian, who were tried for three separate offenses such as abuse of office, taking and giving bribes, are known to be enemies of Türkiye. He continued his harsh anti-Türkiye rhetoric throughout his tenure. As the long-time chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which has a say in military aid to foreign countries in Congress, Menendez opposed the US sale of F-16 fighter jets to Türkiye.
Menendez was one of the names behind the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) sanctions imposed by the US on Türkiye during the S-400 crisis. He also frequently raised concerns about Turkey's policies in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Aegean and Erdogan's human rights record.
Türkiye sees Menendez's resignation as a positive development. Answering the questions of journalists on the plane yesterday on his return from a visit to Nakhchivan,
"One of our most important problems regarding the F-16s was the activities of US Senator Bob Menendez against our country," President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said.
"Menendez and those of his mentality are carrying out obstructive activities against us, not only on F-16s but on all other issues. Menendez's disengagement gives us an advantage, but the F-16 issue is not a matter that depends only on Menendez," Erdogan added.
Following the easing of tensions in Turkish-American relations, Türkiye made an official application to purchase 40 F-16 fighter jets and 79 modernization kits from the US in October 2021 in order to avoid weakness in its air power due to its exclusion from the F-35 fighter jet program.