Pro Turkish Rep. Calls for sale of warships to Turkey

Two-term congressman from Kentucky has emerged as leading advocate for Turkey

WASHINGTON–D.C. — In an attempt to counter increasing Congressional opposition to U.S. arms sales and transfers to Turkey–Congressman Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.) has initiated a campaign to urge the Clinton Administration to transfer three "Perry" class frigates to the Turkish navy–reported the Armenian National Committee of America.

In a February 12 letter to the President–signed by five of his House colleagues–Rep. Whitfield asked the President to ignore "unsubstantiated assertions" against the transfer made by other members of Congress–and to immediately order the transfer of the frigates. The letter went on to note that "Turkey is a valuable ally of NATO and has stood consistently by the United States and provided crucial support in times of war and peace." Joining Rep. Whitfield in signing the letter were the chairman of the Appropriations Committee–Rep. Bob Livingston (R-La.) and Reps. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.)–Jack Metcalf (R-Wash.)–Dan Burton (R-Ind.)– and Amo Houghton (R-NY).

The signatories of the letter specifically criticized the negative impact of Congressional efforts to "block" the sale. They pointed out that "Relying upon the good faith and credibility of the United States–several hundred Turkish Naval personnel were sent to the U.S. in late April of 1996 to train on and transport the frigates to Turkey at an expense of approximately $31 million to the Turkish Government. Unfortunately–the United States did not honor its commitment and the Turkish sailors returned to Turkey without the frigates in July 1996."

Congressman Whitfield–serving now in his second term–has consistently spoken out against issues supported by the Armenian American community.

With the defeat of former Congressmen Greg Laughlin and Jim Bunn in the 1996 elections–he has emerged as one of the most vocal advocates of Turkish interests in the House. In June of 1995–he spoke on the House floor against the Porter Amendment–arguing instead for increased U.S. support for Turkey despite that nation’s violations of internationally accepted standards for human rights and humanitarian practices. More recently–in June of 1996–he voted against both the Visclosky Amendment–to pressure Turkey to lift its blockade of Armenia–and the Radanovich/Bonior Amendment to sanction Turkey for its denial of the Armenian Genocide. He has received an "F" rating from the ANCA.

In recent months–bipartisan Congressional opposition has blocked the sale to Turkey of SuperCobra helicopters and called into serious question a planned sale of Seahawk helicopters.


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