Greek heritage lawmakers take a stand against Turkey

Rhode Island State Senator Leonidas (Lou) Raptakis chairs the Hellenic World Inter-Parliamentary Association in support of Greece. Credit: Image courtesy of the Hellenic World Inter-Parliamentary Association

With more than 200 politicians in 20 countries, Greek-born lawmakers are taking a stand against Turkey to support Hellas in its efforts from abroad.

Rhode Island State Senator Leonidas (Lou) Raptakis leads a group of dozens of
Hellenic-American state lawmakers across the country calling on US President Joe Biden and US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken to reject Turkey’s calls for the sale of Lockheed Martin F-16 fighter jets to modernize their air force and requesting 80 modernization kits for their existing aircraft.

Raptakis chairs the Association of Greek Heritage Legislators

Raptakis, in addition to his tenure as Rhode Island State Senator for a decade, is currently president of the Hellenic World Interparliamentary Association. (PADEE-WHIA), an interparliamentary organization of the Greek diaspora bringing together legislators of Greek origin from all over the world.

WHIA was first established in 1996 and was officially established as an association under Greek law in 2005. The objectives of PADEE-WHIA are: to establish relationships and communication between members of the original legislator Hellenic in non-Greek countries; to strengthen the relations of friendship and cooperation between Greece and the respective countries of the members of the Association and of their Parliament to bring out and promote the principles of the Greek language and Hellenic culture in their respective countries.

“We have the opportunity to make this organization a resource for all its members, a vehicle to keep Hellenes around the world connected to the work being done in different countries to promote issues of concern to Greece and Cyprus,” said Raptakis.

Raptakis and his colleague State Senator Stephan Pappas, R-Wyoming, will arrive in Athens on Monday to participate in meetings with Greek leaders and the OXI Day celebration on October 28.

Raptakis and his colleagues, who are lawmakers of Greek descent, noted that in July 2019 Turkey was kicked out of the F-35 fighter jet program after Erdogan’s regime accepted delivery of the system. Russian S-400 missile. They argue that Turkey’s behavior has only gotten worse and that there is no compelling reason for the United States to reward a nation that undermines American security interests in the region and threatens allies with NATO.

Mitsotakis Tassoulas Raptakis
Raptakis with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Hellenic Parliament Speaker Constantinos Tassoulas in July. Credit: Image courtesy of the Hellenic World Inter-Parliamentary Association

Turkey tries to destabilize the Mediterranean

“Turkey has been a destabilizing force in the eastern Mediterranean, seeking to intimidate its neighbors and playing the role of agent of chaos in the region,” said Raptakis. “Erdogan’s regime has violated a United Nations arms embargo in Libya, deployed its Syrian troops and militias in the region, and undermined US security interests.

He added: “To reward them now with a sale of new fighter jets would be unreasonable.”

Greek Legacy Lawmakers State Representative Leon Stavrinakis D-South Carolina and State Senator Spiro Mantzavinos D-Delaware also stressed that “We must see a sustained commitment from the Turkish government to stop gambling. the role of agent of chaos in the region before providing them with additional tools to continue their aggressive actions. ”

The World Justice Project recently ranked Turkey as one of the worst countries in the world for the rule of law, ranking 117 on a list of 139 countries. Turkey scored the worst or second worst in five of the eight categories, including open government and security.

Calling on the Biden administration to reject sales of F-16s, Greek legacy lawmakers said such a deal would significantly undermine the recently renewed mutual defense cooperation agreement between the United States and Greece. by Blinken and Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias.

They declared that this agreement represents the best way forward to maintain our strategic partnership and contain the territorial ambitions of the Erdogan regime.

Individual lawmakers will also have forwarded letters to their United States Senators and Congressmen, which included the following at the time of publication:
State Senator Andreas Borgeas R- California
State Representative Eleni Kavros Degraw D- Connecticut
State Representative Nicole-Ditria Klarides R- Connecticut
State Representative Spiros Mantzavinos D-Delaware
State Senator John Velis D-Massachusetts
State Senator Sandra Pappas D-Minnesota
State Senator James Ohrenshall D- Nevada
State Representative John Lemondes R- New York
State Representative Efstathia Booras D- New Hampshire
State Senator Maria Tzanakis Collett D-Pennsylvania
State Representative Steven Malagari D-Pennsylvania
State Senator Leonidas Raptakis D- Rhode Island
State Representative Leon Stavrinakis D- South Carolina
State Representative John Spiros R- Wisconsin
State Senator Stephan Pappas R-Wyoming

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