President of the Republic of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks at the United Nations Headquarters on Sept. 20, 2022, in New York City. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo
Feb. 3 (UPI) -- President Joe Biden has been urged to delay the sale of F-16 fighter jets to Turkey by a bipartisan group of lawmakers over the country's opposition to bids by Finland and Sweden to join NATO.
The bipartisan group of lawmakers, including Sens. Bill Cassidy, R-Md., and Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., sent a letter to Biden requesting the pause on the fighter jets on Thursday.
Sweden and Finland last year began the ascension process into the military alliance in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
The Nordic pair already have NATO partnership agreements that began in 1994 but which offer no security guarantees and are now seeking full membership.
However, the process to join NATO requires all 30 member states of the alliance to ratify the agreement -- including Turkey, which has expressed opposition to Sweden joining as it has given asylum to Kurdish refugees that Ankara views as terrorists.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has since expressed that Ankara will not support Sweden's bid for NATO membership.
"We write with concern about President Erdogan and the Republic of Turkey's continued delays ratifying the accession protocols for Sweden and Finland to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization," the letter reads.
"Failure to ratify the protocols or present a timeline for ratification threatens the Alliance's unity at a key moment in history, as Russia continues its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine."
The lawmakers wrote that a "failure by Turkey to uphold its commitments" made under the trilateral Memorandum of Understanding between Turkey, Finland and Sweden "should be taken into consideration."
"Congress cannot consider future support for Turkey, including the sale of F-16 fighter jets, until Turkey completes ratification of the accession protocols," the letter reads.
"Once the NATO accession protocols are ratified by Turkey, Congress can consider the sale of F-16 fighter jets. A failure to do so, however, would call into question this pending sale."