Cites Threat of Turkish Arms Build-up to Regional Stability

February 4, 2002

WASHINGTON, DC – The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) has joined with the American Hellenic Institute (ANI) in encouraging Congressional opposition to a sale of two U.S. Oliver Hazard Perry class frigates to the Turkish military on the grounds that the proposed $100 million arms deal would destabilize the military balance in the Eastern Mediterranean and further contribute to Turkey’s growing economic crisis.

The Defense Department’s formal announcement of this proposed sale on January 23rd came only a week and a half before today’s decision by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to approve a $12 billion increase in lending to Turkey, expanding the IMF’s total loan program to Turkey to $31 billion and, according to Reuters News Service, making Ankara the IMF’s largest ever debtor.

“We join with our friends at the American Hellenic Institute in bringing to the attention of legislators and the Administration the dangers that this proposed sale would represent to the stability of the Eastern Mediterranean, and, more broadly, how Turkey’s decision to accelerate its military build-up in the midst of a severe economic crisis threatens Armenia, Greece, Cyprus, and Turkey’s other neighbors,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. “The Republic of Armenia cannot be secure as long as Turkey remains an over-armed and unrepentant perpetrator of genocide on its border.”

On January 23, 2001, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified the U.S. Congress of a possible Foreign Military Sale to Turkey of two 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, commented on the proposed sale, stating, in part, that:

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.

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.

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For Immediate Release
Media Contact: Elizabeth S. Chouldjian
Armenian National Committee of America
888 17th Street, NW, Suite 904, Washington, DC 20006
Tel. (202) 775-1918 * Fax. (202) 775-5648 *